ARLINGTON, Texas — Entering Sunday night, the only team that had a legitimate shot to catch the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East was the Dallas Cowboys. That’s a serious long shot now. With the division nearly in hand, the home stretch becomes all about NFC superiority for Philly.
Quarterback Carson Wentz and the offense rebounded from a sluggish first half, and the defense harassed Dak Prescott as the Eagles plowed past the Cowboys 37-9 on Sunday. The Eagles (9-1) own the best record in football, while Dallas (5-5) is four games back with six to play. The Washington Redskins (4-6) and New York Giants (2-8) are dots in the rearview mirror.
The Cowboys, who had a 2-0 division record and both dates with the Eagles in the second half of the season, came in with a fighting chance. And they were well-positioned after the first 30 minutes, holding a 9-7 lead despite two Prescott interceptions.
Then the Eagles turned on the jets and throttled the Cowboys 30-0 in the second half.
“I think it just shows we’re resilient,” Wentz said. “I think we knew coming into the locker room at halftime that we left a lot out there. I think we knew we were much better than that, and that we just had to go execute.”
Wentz, an MVP candidate, was off early, going 7-of-18 in the first half while averaging just 4.4 yards per attempt. He spent some time on the trainer’s table after absorbing a hit late in the first quarter but stayed in the game. He acknowledged afterward that he was in the concussion protocol.
“We were fine. It was just back of the neck. I was just trying to speed it up and get back there as quick as I could,” he said.
The entire offensive operation was disjointed, perhaps evidence of rust coming off their bye week.
The No. 2-scoring team in football kicked it into gear in the second half to pull away, scoring on three straight possessions. Rookie Corey Clement got the ground game going with an 11-yard TD run, and the recently acquired Jay Ajayifollowed with a career-high 71-yard run the following series. Wentz threw back-to-back TD passes — one to Torrey Smith and another to Alshon Jeffery. Seemingly all of his new playmakers were on display.
The Eagles’ defense, meanwhile, made life miserable for Prescott. The QB threw three interceptions for the first time in his career and was sacked four times, including a strip by rookie Derek Barnett that linebacker Nigel Bradhamscooped up and returned 37 yards for a touchdown.
“It is huge, especially when you beat the division champs from last season,” Bradham said. “We felt like we had these guys last season; we went into overtime out here [and lost]. We knew we were a better team this year. That was it. We knew we had the ability to do it, we just had to come out and execute.”
The Eagles lost kicker Jake Elliott to a head injury late in the first half, but linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hillstepped in and performed well on kickoffs. Grugier-Hill’s performance, and the second-half domination, made Elliott’s absence a non-factor.
Next up for the Eagles is a home game against the Chicago Bearsbefore heading West for games against the Seattle Seahawks (6-3) and Los Angeles Rams (7-3). Those are two teams, along with the New Orleans Saints(8-2), Minnesota Vikings (8-2) and Carolina Panthers (6-3), that will be competing for playoff position. With the NFC East close to locked up, the Eagles can turn their attention to the rest of the conference and securing home field throughout the postseason.
“We don’t really think about all that, we just think that we got the Bears next week,” Wentz said. “Win the day, that’s what it’s all about. So hopefully we can just keep this thing rolling.”