The Cowboys and the Eagles took two different approaches to prepare for the playoffs. The end result was a one-sided affair as Dallas ripped Philadelphia 51-26, highlighted by Dak Prescott throwing five touchdowns and setting a new franchise record.
The Eagles rested Jalen Hurts and several other starters tonight as a win would’ve done little to change their playoff positioning. The most Philly could hope for is to move up from the 7th to the 6th seed and both spots mean a road game against a tough NFC contender.
Dallas was missing several key players as well with Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs, Tyron Smith, Jayron Kearse, and Anthony Brown all out for various reasons. But despite this, the Cowboys played whatever other starters were available in a clear effort to win the game and build momentum toward the postseason.
While other Cowboys quarterbacks have had five-touchdown games, Dak’s big night gave him 37 for the season and set a new single-season record. Tony Romo had the previous mark to beat with 36 TDs in 2007.
And no, there’s no asterisk next to this one for the 17th game. Romo played all 16 games in 2007 and Dak only played in 16 games this year, missing the Week 8 victory over Minnesota.
Tonight also gave the Cowboys a rare sweep in the NFC East. Dallas won all its games this year against New York, Philadelphia, and Washington; only the third time a sweep has occurred in our division’s 55-year history.
Plenty of players got to enjoy big nights and moments. Cedrick Wilson had five catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Dalton Schultz added two other scores and RB Corey Clement, enjoying extra playing time in Tony Pollard’s absence, had a touchdown catch against his former team.
When Dallas finally emptied the bench in the 4th quarter, it allowed for backup and practice squad running backs JaQuan Hardy and Ito Smith to each score touchdowns.
The high-scoring game was also a good opportunity for Kicker Greg Zuerlein to work on his rhythm. He made his only field goal from 48 yards out and went 6/7 on extra points.
In all fairness, this game was a bit of a farce given the disparity in approach between both teams. But nevertheless, the Cowboys got the victory to finish the year 12-5 and leave open some possibilities depending on tomorrow’s games.
Dallas can still move up to the 2nd seed in the NFC if the Buccaneers, Cardinals, and Rams all lose on Sunday. They would move up to 3rd if Tampa Bay wins while Arizona and Los Angeles lose their games.
If the Cowboys remain as the 4th seed, they will face the runner up in the NFC West between either the Cardinals or Rams. Moving to 3rd would mean hosting the 49ers and getting to 2nd would bring the Eagles back to Dallas in the first round.
Whatever the matchup next week, hopefully tonight’s game helped the missing players to rest and recuperate while giving those who played some good vibes ahead of the playoffs.