The Philadelphia Eagles avenged their Week 7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in dramatic fashion with a crucial Week 16 victory over their bitter rivals to take firm control of the NFC East with one week remaining in the regular season.
With the win, Philly improves to 8-7 and takes sole possession of first place in the division, while Dallas drops to 7-8. As a result, the road to the playoffs is simple. If the Eagles beat the Giants at MetLife Stadium next Sunday, they are the NFC East Champions and will host a playoff game during Wild Card Weekend. Should the Eagles lose, the Cowboys would have to also lose at home against Washington in order for the Eagles to claim the division crown. If both teams end up with identical records, Dallas wins the NFC East based on tiebreakers.
The NFC East isn’t secured, but a win over the Dallas Cowboys in a big moment always feel great for the Eagles.
“We are built for this moment,” Wentz said. “Play with so much confidence, so much swagger, that everyone in the stadium can feel you.”
The tight end tandem of Ertz and Dallas Goedert proved to be particularly lethal against the Dallas secondary – the duo combined for 119 yards and a score on 13 grabs. For Goedert, the nine receptions 91 yards and a score were both career highs. For Ertz – who has been the primary tight end option this year – a rib injury sustained after taking two big hits in the first quarter, forced No. 86 to see limited time.
Zach made trips to the blue medical tent as well as the locker room, but was cleared to return. He battled all game, bringing in four receptions for 28 yards. When the ball wasn’t in his hands, the big tight end made his presence felt in the blocking game, opening up lanes for teammates down field.
However, Goedert’s clutch playmaking is exactly how the Eagles have thrived this season, with a next-man-up mentality. So many unlikely heroes have contributed to the Eagles’ success this season, and Sunday against the Cowboys was no different.
Greg Ward Jr. and J.J.Arcega-Whiteside both stepped up and made some crucial receptions. That duo combined for 110 yards on six receptions in the win.
Carson Wentz was outstanding, completing 31-of-40 attempts for 319 yards and a touchdown, his 18th consecutive game with at least one scoring throw – the NFL’s longest active streak – and no turnovers.
Equally impressive was the way that Wentz spread the ball around to a plethora of different Philadelphia pass-catchers. The 31 successful completions were caught by seven different Eagles.
The run game was also solid with running back Miles Sanders building on his career outing last week in Washington with 79 yards rushing, 77 yards receiving, and he added a touchdown on the ground. Sanders could have had another touchdown on what would have been Philly’s final offensive snap, but to close out the game, he slid in bounds so that the Eagles could run out the clock, showing great awareness for a rookie with their season on the line.
Defensively, The Birds needed to limit the Cowboys two biggest offensive weapons – Zeke Elliott, who had 111 rushing yards and a touchdown, and Amari Cooper, who accounted for 106 receiving yards in their contest earlier this year.
Not only did the Eagles shut down the Cowboys’ two biggest offensive options, they also limited the entire Dallas offense – holding them to just three Kai Forbath field goals for just nine points. Additionally, the defense held Zeke to just 47 yards on 13 carries. Most importantly, they kept Dallas out of the end zone for a full 60 minutes. This, a truly impressive feat given the Cowboys entered this game with the league’s top offense in terms of total yards, second in passing yards, tied for fifth in points, and the best on third down.
“We heard what people were saying, all the whispers out there about our team,” defensive tackle Tim Jernigan said. “I don’t think a lot of people out there believed in us, so all week we bonded together and knew that we had to come in here today and ball out. We know what kind of team we have. We showed it for 60 minutes today.”
With one game remaining, the Eagles are happy to be in control of their own density, but they aren’t satisfied yet with plenty of work still to do.
A win in New Jersey next Sunday means that they are NFC East Champs and playoff bound. This win though, much like their eight others won’t come easy as a slew of players wearing the Green & White went down with injury on Sunday at The Linc. But, as has been the case all season, the Eagles will count on the next man up.
“Without that win (next week), this one doesn’t mean anything,” guard Brandon Brooks said. “We have a job to do. We’re not finished yet. We have one more to win before the playoffs and we know how tough the Giants are. We have to go up there and play a great football game.”
The Eagles, and Zach in particular, will be looking to replicate their second-half performance from a few weeks ago against the Giants. In their last meeting in Philadelphia on Monday Night Football earlier this month, Zach put on a show.
No. 86 recorded a two-touchdown performance – including the game-tying score with 1:53 remaining in the fourth quarter and, ultimately, the game-winner with just north of five minutes left in overtime to get the victory in walk-off fashion. In total, he caught nine passes for 91 yards and the pair of touchdowns.
Kickoff from MetLife for the regular season finale is set for 1 p.m. ET, and the game can be seen on FOX.