Prescott, Cowboys complete comeback to down Eagles in OT

Dak Prescott found a wide open Jason Witten for the game-winning touchdown, 7:12 into overtime and the Dallas Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles 29-23 to move to 6-1 and into possession of a two-game lead in the NFC East.

The touchdown pass capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive to start overtime, that featured some of Prescott’s best play of the evening, on a day in which he struggled otherwise. On the final drive, Prescott was 5-of-5 for 56 yards and the touchdown pass. He also ran the ball for two yards on fourth-and-one at the 28 to keep the drive going.

The overtime drive also featured a healthy dose of Ezekiel Elliott, who finished the day with 96 rushing yards on 22 carries. He carried the ball five times in the overtime period, for 18 yards.

"I've never been any more proud. This is one of the best wins I've ever been around," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after the game. "We overcame a lot out there tonight.

"When you're a little sloppy and things aren't fitting just right for you, and you come along and beat a team like Philadelphia? That says a lot about you and the character of this team," Jones continued.

"It was a great team win for us to be able to overcome the different adversities that happened throughout the game," head coach Jason Garrett said. "A number of different times we had opportunities go away and the guys kept fighting, they kept battling, they kept picking themselves up and picking each other up."

The Cowboys decision to go for it on 4th & 1 at the Eagles 28, rather than kicking a lead-taking field goal and relying on their defense to get a stop, was only the final gutsy call from Garrett. He also called a fake punt that worked beautifully for a 30-yard pickup down the left sideline, to energize a Cowboys team that had been listless for a quarter and a half prior.  And the Cowboys nearly hit on a double-pass from Prescott to Cole Beasley to Terrance Williams, but the ball was over the outstretched hands of Williams, too far downfield.

"It just felt like we were down there, and it was time to go and win the game," Garrett said of the 4th and 1 decision. "We have such great faith, trust, and belief in our offensive line to control the line of scrimmage, and we were within a yard. It was a play that we liked. They executed it well."

"[Garrett] was asking if we should kick it. I was going back and forth with coach on what to do," Prescott said. "I said 'I've got those big guys in front of me, we can get that yard,' and that's exactly what we did. They made some space for me to get that yard."

An 11-play, 90-yard touchdown drive, capped by Dak Prescott’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant tied the game at 23, in the fourth quarter. Bryant’s extended, contorting grab around the defensive back was a thing of beauty, and bailed out what had beforehand been a dicey Cowboys drive.

The play prior, Prescott nearly threw an interception, as he escaped a would-be sack, but threw an errant pass into the arms of Leodis McKelvin. McKelvin couldn’t quite haul it in -- and the Cowboys capitalized on the next play.

The Cowboys also overcame what appeared to be a debilitating holding penalty on Travis Frederick earlier in the drive. Ezekiel Elliott broke free down the left sideline, for a 63-yard run that would’ve been his longest as a Cowboy. But Frederick’s hold brought it all the way back, and forced the Cowboys to start the drive anew.

No matter – the Cowboys still drove the length of the field. In effect, for a second time.

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Prescott hit Bryant for 15 yards. Then on third-and-five, he hit Beasley for 10 and a first down.  Then he found Brice Butler for 19 yards, and the Cowboys were in business. Two Elliott runs of seven and three yards, and the Cowboys had another first down.

After an incompletion, Dak scrambled out of the pocket and scooted down the left sideline for 12 yards and another first down. Then came the near interception. And then jubilation at AT&T Stadium, when Dez hauled it in.

On four combined drives that followed the Cowboys game-tying touchdown, the two teams combined for -15 yards.  The Cowboys defense made a number of impressive plays on those final two Eagles drives.  Orlando Scandrick nearly had an interception, and also sacked Carson Wentz, nearly forcing a fumble.  On two drives where Philly could have gotten in range for a game-winning field goal, the Cowboys defense stepped up and forced consecutive three and outs, allowing a grand total of -5 yards.

Earlier in the fourth quarter, a huge fumble by Eagles rookie running back Wendell Smallwood helped turn the game around. The Eagles led 23-13 and were in control of momentum.  But Smallwood's fumble -- caused by Terrell McClain and recovered by Tyrone Crawford -- gave the Cowboys the football back, and added some life to the Dallas sideline.

The Cowboys didn't do much with the gifted possession -- five yards on three plays -- but it was enough for Dan Bailey to line up a 49-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7, leading to the game-tying drive later in the quarter.

Bryant's return to the lineup after three games missed was an impressive one. He caught four passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.

"I got to the stadium pretty early," Bryant said. "Probably thirty, forty-five minutes early."

Asked if he was open on the play where he caught the game-tying score: "It don't matter. We got that 'W' man."

The Cowboys seemed to control the game through much of the first half. In the first quarter alone, Elliott ran for 40 yards and caught two passes for 35 yards more. But he hardly touched the ball in the second quarter -- only two carries, and one reception.  Penalties -- many on the Cowboys special teams -- allowed the Eagles to remain in the football game in the first half, and ultimately take the lead heading into the break, on a 55-yard Caleb Sturgis field goal.   It was 13-10 Eagles at halftime.

Philly took their first 10-point lead in the 3rd quarter, on a Ryan Matthews touchdown run to make it 20-10. An exchange of field goals made it 23-13, before the Cowboys mounted their comeback.

Dallas plays Cleveland next week. Jerry Jones says that Tony Romo "isn't ready to play".

****NOTES****

- Dallas ran for 187 yards against the Eagles defense. That's the second highest total that Philadelphia has allowed this season (230, Washington). In the Eagles other fives games, they've allowed an average of 77 rushing yards per game.

- Prescott's passer rating of 79.8 was his second lowest of the year (69.4, vs. New York).

- Dez Bryant was targeted 14 times. Some of those targets were not good throws. The ones he could catch, he did. It was an impressive return for 88.

- Sean Lee had his best day of the season, totaling 11 tackles. He had 13 against Green Bay, but his plays against Philly came in bigger spots and in clutch situations. His read on a 3rd & short run by Darren Sproles was like watching magic.

- This is the third time Dallas has started the season 0-1 and gone onto win the next six games (1982, 2014)

- The victory was the Cowboys second straight win on Sunday Night Football and 29th overall, most all-time.

- Bryant’s 100-yard receiving game was the 17th of his career, sixth-most by a Cowboys receiver in team history.

- With his yardage output tonight, Bryant (6,088) became the sixth player in team history to reach 6,000 career yards. By doing so in his 88th career game, he became the third-fastest to reach that mark (Bob Hayes [78], Michael Irvin [85])

- Barry Church recorded his 500th tackle, but also may have broken his forearm. Jerry Jones said afterward they may be dealing with a fracture.

- Chris Jones 30-yard run on the fake punt was the fourth longest run by a punter in NFL history

- With 287 passing yards, Prescott (currently at 1,773 yards on the season) surpassed Chad Hutchinson (1,555 – 2002) and Troy Aikman (1,749) for the most passing yards by a Cowboys rookie quarterback during his first pro season

- Jason Witten made his 204th career start to pass Ed “Too Tall” Jones (203, 1974-78, 1980-89) for the most games started in franchise history.

- Witten also made his 154th consecutive start to tie Lee Roy Jordan (154) for the most in team history.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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