PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles decided not to try. The Dallas Cowboys decided to try.
And while it took until late in the second quarter to finally look like it, it does. The Cowboys lead Philadelphia, 30-17, at halftime. Dallas will also have the ball to start the second half.
Against an Eagles defense that played just one starter tonight, the Cowboys offense looked exactly as they should -- five possessions, five scores. Four of them touchdowns. And two of those touchdowns came in the final two minutes of the half.
The Cowboys got the ball back with 24 seconds remaining in the first half, with excellent field position thanks to a shanked punt by the Eagles Arryn Siposs, and capitalized quickly. A four-play, 43-yard touchdown drive ended the half, as Dak Prescott hit Dalton Schultz for his second touchdown of the game.
The Eagles have played only a handful of their regular 22 starters tonight. Dallas has played most of their starters the entire game.
In a game that has felt far more like a preseason game than the final week of the regular season, the Cowboys turned it into the Cedrick Wilson show, as the fourth-year wide receiver has hauled in a pair of touchdowns so far, to help Dallas' offense look relatively sharp through the opening 30 minutes. Wilson has four catches for 82 yards and the two scores, at halftime.
The Cowboys first offensive drive was an efficient, 10-play, 75-yard drive, ending in Wilson's first touchdown reception of the day. Cowboys wideout CeeDee Lamb probably got away with a pick on the play, helping to spring Wilson wide open in the flat, to walk into the endzone and tie the game at 7-7. Dallas converted on a 4th & 4, two plays before the touchdown, when Dak Prescott found Amari Cooper for a 14-yard hookup, to get to the Eagles 20.
The Cowboys second offensive possession showed some promise but, ultimately, was stalled by a familiar foible -- a penalty on the offensive line. Connor Williams was called for ahold, setting Dallas up with a 2nd & 21. They weren't able to convert, and had to settle for a 46-yard Greg Zuerlein field goal, to take a 10-7 lead.
After the Eagles responded with a field goal of their own, the Cowboys offense engineered another solid drive, going 74 yards in seven plays, and culminating in another Prescott-to-Wilson touchdown hookup, this time from 24 yards out. Dallas led 17-17.
But Philly again found an answer against a Cowboys defense somewhat depleted by COVID and other illnesses. Micah Parsons was added to the COVID list this week, Trevon Diggs missed tonight's game with an illness, and Dallas was also without Jayron Kearse and Anthony Brown, also on the COVID list. The Eagles drove 75 yards in 10 plays, and capped it off with a 7-yard Kenneth Gainwell touchdown run.
The Cowboys offense remained efficient, putting together another 75-yard drive, over eight plays and just 1:55 off the clock, finishing with a Prescott-to-Dalton Schultz touchdown pass from two yards out. Dallas took a 23-17 lead, due to a missed PAT by Zuerlein. The Cowboys drive featured a 26-yard run by Ezekiel Elliott, and a pretty ball up the right sideline from Prescott to Amari Cooper.
The Eagles drove down the field with remarkable ease on their first possession of the game, compiling an 11-play, 75-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead off the opening kickoff. Gardner Minshew connected with Tyree Jackson on a shovel pass for a 3-yard touchdown, finishing off a possession that nearly ended with a Kelvin Joseph interception. The Cowboys rookie got both hands on the football, and should have made the pick. But in the cold, he couldn't squeeze it, and it ricocheted up in the air, and right into the waiting arms of DeVonta Smith for a first down. After that, the Eagles moved the ball comfortably and efficiently, to paydirt.
The Eagles have the vast majority of their starters out tonight, either because of COVID-19 or because they were designated as inactive pregame. Philadelphia has just one defensive starter, middle linebacker TJ Edwards, playing tonight. Their offense was nearly as depleted. Quarterback Jalen Hurts was inactive, as was running back Miles Sanders. Right tackle Lane Johnson was designated inactive, as was left guard Landon Dickerson. Center Jason Kelce played the first snap, to extend his starting streak, but then left the game.