Behind a stout defense and another standout performance from quarterback Carson Wentz, the Eagles knocked off the Dallas Cowboys 17-9 and took control of the NFC East with one game left on the schedule.
The Birds (8-7) can clinch the division, the No. 4 seed and the home playoff game that comes with it if they beat the New York Giants (4-11) at MetLife Stadium this Sunday (4:25, Fox).
The Eagles would also clinch the NFC East if the Cowboys (7-8) lose at home to the Washington Redskins (3-12).
At his Monday-after-game news conference, Eagles coach Doug Pederson talked about how much Wentz has meant to the team and this run.
“The way Carson is leading this football team right now and the way he is playing, he is protecting the football, number one, his completion percentage,” Pederson said. “He is taking what defenses are giving him, what they are presenting. He is running the offense; he is doing the things we are asking him to do. He is playing tough, he is running, he is using his legs and all the things we know he is capable of doing.”
Pederson said he is impressed with his quarterback’s confidence.
“What is exciting for us is how he is doing it,” Pederson said. “When the opportunity arises, he takes the shot down the field, and when it is not, he is getting the ball out of his hand and protecting himself. It has allowed us to stay on the field and extend drives. There are some plays yesterday even that we left on the field that we would like to have back and do again, but what he has done with this team, kind of putting the team on his shoulders and putting us in a position to win the NFC East is awesome for your quarterback to do.”
There were doubts out there during the 2019 season on whether Wentz was the elite quarterback Eagles Nation had hoped he was going to be.
Injuries to the team, stretches of poor play and confidence issues with Wentz were all part of his story. Some of the doubts from fans and observers were warranted.
But after the Eagles produced a three-game win streak that peaked when the Birds beat Dallas at Lincoln Financial Field, taking sole possession of first place in the NFC East with one game left against Big Blue, there should be no doubt that Wentz is the Eagles franchise quarterback now and should be for a very long time.
“Eleven has always been our leader,” running back Boston Scott said at his locker after the game. “He’s always been our leader and always will be. We’ve always had the utmost confidence in him. He’s our leader, man…we’re rockin’ behind him.”
Scott, who started the season on the practice squad and was promoted to the active roster on Oct. 11, rushed three times for 12 yards and caught six passes for seven yards on Sunday. He said he knows there have been many people who have doubted Wentz and this Eagles team, but the 24-year-old, second-year player said the team never lost faith.
“We’re not worrying about what people are saying,” Scott said. “What matters to us are the guys who believe in us, and that’s this team. Regardless how the season is going, regardless of what people say on the outside, we believe. We know what the culture is outside. What have you done for me lately? They love you, they hate you, they love you, they hate you. All we worry about is us, supporting each other, pushing through each game. We knew it wasn’t matter of if, it was a matter of when. That’s the camaraderie we’ve had since training camp and nothing was going to break that.”
Wentz was asked how it felt to be out on the field playing big games toward the end of the season after missing the last two post-seasons:
“It felt great,” said Wentz, who was 31-for-40 for 319 yards and a touchdown pass against Dallas. “It felt great to be out there with my guys again. Like I said, that playoff atmosphere… you can’t beat it, especially being at home here. The fans were awesome tonight. The guys made plays, but at the end of the day, we still have one more.”
Rookie running back Miles Sanders finished with 79 yards rushing on 20 carries and a touchdown plus 77 receiving yards on five catches.
Dallas Goedert led the Eagles with 91 yards on nine catches and a touchdown.
The Eagles defense stood tall, allowing the Cowboys to just three field goals for the game.
Dak Prescott finished 25-of-44 for 265 yards. He was sacked twice.
Fletcher Cox, who helped limit Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott to 47 yards rushing on 13 carries, and seven receptions for 37 yards, was asked how the Birds were able to keep the NFL’s No. 1 offense out of the end zone.
“We just played our style of football,” Cox said. “Honestly, I think we did simple things better. This week we just stayed consistent and everybody played mistake-free ball today, just doing their job and flying around making plays.”