It’s Impossible To Be Mad About A Victory Over The Cowboys
11:45 AM EST on November 6, 2023
The game was not going that well. The Eagles had faltered after an opening-drive touchdown, and the Cowboys had taken a 14-7 lead. The first Cowboys TD drive had two fourth-down conversions. The second had conversion on third-and-14. I was having trouble syncing up the radio broadcast with the TV. Piles of laundry stared at me, somehow. They seemed to be laughing. It was already dark outside. I still don’t have a lucky shirt for this season and the new one I was wearing was not it.
It stayed dark, but I continued doing laundry at halftime and the piles shrunk. I successfully synced up the radio broadcast. I looked at myself in the mirror and decided I really like the cut of this new Eagles T-shirt. The Eagles tied it when Jalen Hurts scored on a tush push, and they were down just three at half. Then my friend Kyle told me that, unlike in previous games this year, the Eagles had a big flag for yesterday’s pregame. It’s like they knew this was the motivation the team needed.
The third quarter was a blast. Hurts did not let an apparent knee injury slow him down. He threw TDs to Devonta Smith and A.J. Brown. The Eagles led by 11. This was going to be a big win! Going into the bye, the Eagles would be 8-1 and have two in the loss column on Dallas.
It was not that easy. The Cowboys drove into Eagles territory four times in the fourth quarter—three times inside the 10-yard line. The Eagles ran just nine plays and did not get a first down. As you may have guessed from my previous coverage of this team, it did not matter. The Cowboys scored just six points on those four drives. The Eagles won, 28-23. I was relieved. I was still frustrated with the game. I am still cooling off. I am not the only one.
“Yeah, we aged in dog years,” Eagles lineman Lane Johnson said about the Cowboys’ final drive. “I entered the game 33, but I’m probably about 42 right now.” Oh, no. Does this mean I’m in my 50s now?!
The last drive—the whole darn fourth quarter—was pretty infuriating to Johnson, to me, to anyone not rooting for the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas moved the ball with ease. Still, they turned the ball over on downs twice in Eagles territory, and the Eagles had the ball and led by five with 1:17 left. But Dallas had all its timeouts, and the Eagles got just two yards on their drive. Third down was a near-disaster: Hurts, Brown and D’Andre Swift basically all collided, they fumbled the ball, and if rookie guard Tyler Steen doesn’t fall on it … well, the Eagles probably lose.
It still looked like they were going to win after that drive, as the Cowboys got the ball at their own 14 with 46 seconds left. They promptly gained 36 yards on a pass interference call. Then Dallas got another free 15 on a roughing the passer. Eagles announcer Merrill Reese had lost his voice earlier in the half; the disastrous defense bought it back. After the third Eagles’ penalty of the drive, the Cowboys were at the Eagles’ 6 with 27 seconds left. Maybe I’m actually in my 60s after that final drive. I know I kept saying, “This is an all-time choke!” as my wife sat ignoring me on the couch. Win probability, per ESPN, was 96 percent for the Eagles at one point.
The Eagles finished four yards from an all-time choke. Josh Sweat’s sack of Dak Prescott on second down was the difference-maker, even if he ran toward the sideline to do a celebration before getting back for the next play. (He had plenty of time. It was cool. I still yelled at the screen when everyone was getting back to the line and he was pretending to wipe sweat off his brow.) Prescott’s final pass went to CeeDee Lamb at the 4-yard line. He fumbled trying to make a desperate push for the goal line and the Eagles recovered with no time left.
Earlier this year, I wrote about how the perfect Eagles game was one where the team beats a hated opponent in an exciting game but you still have a bunch of stuff to, rightly, complain about all week. I don’t think I quite had it right. Maybe the perfect Eagles game was yesterday: The Eagles looked like they were going to choke the entire fourth quarter, but then it turned out the Cowboys choked instead.
Dallas had four trips inside Eagles territory in the fourth quarter and scored six points. Prescott stepped out of bounds before scoring on a two-point conversion attempt that would’ve cut to lead to a field goal. Dallas outgained the Eagles, 406-292. They had seven more first downs. And the Cowboys lost despite having multiple opportunities in the fourth quarter. A Dallas Morning News headline called the game a “spectacular collapse” for the Cowboys! “The Cowboys remain the team that bullies the weak competition but is now 0-4 at San Francisco and Philadelphia over the last 13 months,” Tim Cowlishaw wrote.
My mood continued to improve when I saw the first sentence of a story at Blogging the Boys this morning:
Despite the 28-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, it's difficult not to be somewhat proud with the way the Dallas Cowboys played in this Week 9 matchup with their division rival.
If some Cowboys fans are taking moral victories from yesterday, I am complete as an Eagles fan. Dallas destroyed the Eagles when I was a kid. They won three Super Bowls at the height of my kid sports fandom. Being “somewhat proud” of the Cowboys yesterday would’ve been like if I were thrilled that Ty Detmer led the team down the field so Tommy Hutton and Chris Boniol could fuck up the game-winning field goal attempt. Yeah, it’s hard to be too mad after a win over the Cowboys.