Eagles beat the Cowboys and are the NFC East’s final, finest hope for mediocrity

They took a step in that direction Sunday night, overcoming the gaffes of quarterback Carson Wentz to beat the Dallas Cowboys, 23-9, in Philadelphia.

“I’ve got to be better,” Wentz said afterward. “But the defense bailed us out.”

The Cowboys lost with rookie Ben DiNucci at quarterback, just as they’d been losing with Dak Prescott or Andy Dalton at quarterback. DiNucci, a seventh-round draft pick out of James Madison, made his first NFL start, with Prescott out for the season because of an ankle fracture and Dalton sidelined after suffering a concussion a week earlier.

DiNucci completed 21 of 40 passes for 180 yards. He lost a first-half fumble on a sack on a play started at the Philadelphia 7-yard line. He lost a fourth-quarter fumble that was returned for a touchdown by Eagles safety Rodney McLeod, although the play perhaps should have been ruled dead when Philadelphia’s Vinny Curry appeared to make the initial recovery of the football and was touched by a Cowboys player while down on the turf.

The NFL’s officiating department defended its ruling, saying in a written statement posted on Twitter: “Possession wasn’t established until Eagles safety Rodney McLeod gained possession and ran it back. There was no clear evidence that anyone possessed the ball prior to him, so the ruling on the field stands.”

The Cowboys tried to compensate for DiNucci’s inexperience with regular direct snaps to other players, including tailback Ezekiel Elliott and wide receiver Cedrick Wilson. Kicker Greg Zuerlein provided three field goals, including a 59-yard line drive that sliced through the wind as time expired in the first half. That gave the Cowboys an unlikely 9-7 lead at the break.

But it wasn’t enough, as the Cowboys dropped to 2-6.

“I think first and foremost, we didn’t win,” DiNucci said in a postgame video news conference. “So there’s always things that you can work on. I thought I played well at times. Obviously I had two costly turnovers…. You can’t really have that. So that’s on me. I’ve got to do a better job of taking care of the ball.”

Said Cowboys Coach Mike McCarthy: “I thought he did some good things. It was a tough contest for the young man, to come into his first opportunity for live action in the National Football League on ‘Sunday Night Football,’ division game.”

The first-place Eagles got within a game of .500, at 3-4-1, and they’re on a two-game winning streak. Those are major accomplishments for an NFC East team this season.

“Obviously we’re happy and excited with the win and all of that,” Coach Doug Pederson said. “But yeah, we’ve got some things we’ve got to figure out here in the next week.”

Wentz committed four turnovers, getting intercepted twice by Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs and losing two fumbles on sacks.

“We understand we can’t turn the ball over, bottom line…. We’ve just got to take ownership of it,” Pederson said. “We can’t do the things we’re doing in order to really survive in this league. We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to fix it. We’ve got to fix it in a hurry…. We just can’t keep turning the ball over and shooting ourselves in the foot, things we’ve got to clean up in the second half of the season.”

Wentz also threw two touchdown passes, one each to wide receivers Jalen Reagor and Travis Fulgham. It was the first NFL touchdown for Reagor, as the rookie made his return from a thumb injury suffered in Week 2.

“I’m not good enough,” Wentz said. “I’m pumped we got the win…. I’m a little frustrated with just how I played and how we left some plays out there and left some points out there, missed some big opportunities.”

The Eagles also were given a late-game safety by the Cowboys out of punt formation for Dallas. The Cowboys wanted to try to recover the ensuing free kick. They nearly did, but the Eagles were awarded possession after the officials sorted through the pileup of players.

“A win in this league is a win, man,” Pederson said. “They’re hard to come by. There’s never a pretty win. There’s never an ugly win. A win’s a win. And we’ve got to start stacking them together. Guys are excited in the locker room. We know we’ve got to play better. We’re also optimistic we can get some players back here in the second half of the season that can help us and try to get back to full strength.”

November 1, 2020 at 11:39 PM EST

Eagles shrug off Carson Wentz’s turnovers to beat Cowboys in Ben DiNucci’s first start

By Mark Maske

The Philadelphia Eagles probably give the NFC East its best chance to have a less-than-embarrassing division winner this season. If they can get back more of their injured players and play at anything resembling the level expected of them, the Eagles perhaps can make the breakthrough from truly bad to simply mediocre.

They took a step in that direction Sunday night, overcoming the gaffes of quarterback Carson Wentz to beat the Dallas Cowboys, 23-9, in Philadelphia.

The Cowboys lost with rookie Ben DiNucci at quarterback, just as they’d been losing with Dak Prescott or Andy Dalton at quarterback. DiNucci, a seventh-round draft pick out of James Madison University, made his first NFL start, with Prescott out for the season because of an ankle fracture and Dalton sidelined after suffering a concussion a week earlier.

DiNucci completed 21 of 40 passes for 180 yards. He lost a first-half fumble on a sack on a play at the Philadelphia 7-yard line. He lost a fourth-quarter fumble that was returned for a touchdown by Eagles safety Rodney McLeod, although the play perhaps should have been ruled dead when Philadelphia’s Vinny Curry appeared to make the initial recovery of the football and was touched by a Cowboys player while down on the turf.

The Cowboys tried to compensate for DiNucci’s inexperience with regular direct snaps to other players, including tailback Ezekiel Elliott and wide receiver Cedrick Wilson. Kicker Greg Zuerlein provided three field goals, including a 59-yard line drive that sliced through the wind as time expired in the first half. That gave the Cowboys an unlikely 9-7 lead at the break.

But it wasn’t enough, as the Cowboys’ record dropped to 2-6. The first-place Eagles got within a game of .500, at 3-4-1. They’re on a two-game winning streak. Those are major accomplishments for an NFC East team this season.

Wentz committed four turnovers, throwing two interceptions to Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs and losing two fumbles on sacks. But Wentz also threw two touchdown passes, one each to wide receivers Jalen Reagor and Travis Fulgham. It was the first NFL touchdown for Reagor, as the rookie made his return from a thumb injury suffered in Week 2.

The Eagles also were given a late-game safety by the Cowboys out of the punt formation for Dallas. The Cowboys wanted to try to recover the ensuing free kick. They nearly did, but the Eagles were awarded possession after the officials sorted through the pileup of players. (Final score: Eagles 23, Cowboys 9)

November 1, 2020 at 11:20 PM EST

Eagles add safety, recover free kick

By Mark Maske

The Cowboys gave the Eagles a safety out of the punt formation so they could try a version of an onside kick on the ensuing free kick. The Cowboys nearly recovered but the Eagles were awarded possession after the officials sorted through the pileup of players. (Eagles 23, Cowboys 9, 3:54 left in the fourth quarter)

November 1, 2020 at 11:12 PM EST

Eagles add questionable touchdown on Ben DiNucci fumble

By Mark Maske

The Eagles are in control after a touchdown by their defense, on a 53-yard return by safety Rodney McLeod of a fumble lost by Cowboys quarterback Ben DiNucci. It was a questionable ruling by the on-field officials and on the instant replay review, as Philadelphia’s Vinny Curry appeared to be down by contact on the turf after making the initial recovery of the fumble. But the football came loose again and was scooped up by McLeod, who raced to the end zone. The Eagles failed on a two-point conversion attempt. (Eagles 21, Cowboys 9, 5:18 left in the fourth quarter)

November 1, 2020 at 10:50 PM EST

Cowboys fail on fourth down

By Mark Maske

The Cowboys failed on a fourth-and-two try from the Philadelphia 35-yard line as rookie quarterback Ben DiNucci threw incomplete. Coach Mike McCarthy opted for the fourth-down attempt instead of a 53-yard field goal try by Greg Zuerlein. The Cowboys had converted on fourth and inches on the drive on a quarterback sneak by DiNucci, perhaps benefiting from a favorable spot of the football. (Eagles 15, Cowboys 9, 12:44 left in the fourth quarter)

November 1, 2020 at 10:35 PM EST

Carson Wentz-to-Travis Fulgham touchdown moves Eagles back into lead

By Mark Maske

The Eagles are back in front with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz to wide receiver Travis Fulgham. Wentz put a well-placed lob over Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs and Fulgham made the catch in the back corner of the end zone. Wentz has two touchdown passes, two interceptions and two lost fumbles on the night. The Eagles added a two-point conversion on a pass from Wentz to wideout Jalen Reagor. (Eagles 15, Cowboys 9, 1:54 left in the third quarter)

November 1, 2020 at 10:28 PM EST

Greg Zuerlein misses field goal for Cowboys

By Mark Maske

Kicker Greg Zuerlein missed a 52-yard field goal attempt for the Cowboys, pushing the ball wide right. The Cowboys moved the ball straight down the field with seven straight running plays. They were handing the ball to Ezekiel Elliott or Tony Pollard, running mostly behind the blocking of right guard Zack Martin. So naturally they had to try something else, and the drive stalled when wide receiver Cedrick Wilson was thrown for a 10-yard loss on a gadget play. (Cowboys 9, Eagles 7, 6:13 left in the third quarter)

November 1, 2020 at 10:15 PM EST

Carson Wentz throws another interception

By Mark Maske

Make it four turnovers for Carson Wentz. He threw his second interception of the night, to go with his two lost fumbles, on the opening possession of the second half. Wentz’s deep throw was grabbed at the goal line by Dallas cornerback Trevon Diggs, who has both of the Cowboys’ interceptions. (Cowboys 9, Eagles 7, 12:04 left in the third quarter)

November 1, 2020 at 10:08 PM EST

Cowboys, with rookie Ben DiNucci at QB, lead mistake-prone Eagles at half

By Mark Maske

The Cowboys are taking extreme measures to try to work around rookie quarterback Ben DiNucci making his first NFL start. The results were mixed at best.

Yet they got three field goals by kicker Greg Zuerlein — including a 59-yard line drive six seconds before halftime — and lead the Eagles, 9-7, at the intermission on “Sunday Night Football” in Philadelphia. The Cowboys played far better than expected on defense and benefited from three turnovers by Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

DiNucci is playing because of injuries to Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton. The seventh-round draft pick from James Madison completed only 7 of 17 first-half passes for 67 yards. He lost a fumble on a sack on a play that began from the Philadelphia 7-yard line.

But Wentz more than returned the favor by throwing an interception and losing two fumbles on sacks. He did throw a touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Jalen Reagor, who is playing for the first time since Week 2. It was the first NFL touchdown for Reagor, who had been sidelined by a thumb injury. But the Eagles had the three turnovers by Wentz and a failed fourth-down try.

The Cowboys had tailback Ezekiel Elliott and wide receiver Cedrick Wilson take direct snaps. DiNucci lined up at wide receiver on the wildcat plays and threw a block on a run by rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb. The Cowboys managed only 92 yards of total offense in the half. But Zuerlein connected twice from 49 yards. His 59-yarder, set up by the Eagles’ fourth-and-one failure 29 seconds before the break, was a low liner that sliced through the wind and somehow got through the uprights. (Cowboys 9, Eagles 7 at halftime)

November 1, 2020 at 9:48 PM EST

Eagles fail on fourth-and-one pass

By Mark Maske

The Eagles failed on a fourth-and-one try from the Dallas 44-yard line. Carson Wentz threw incomplete in the general direction of wide receiver Travis Fulgham. (Eagles 7, Cowboys 6, 0:29 left in the second quarter)

November 1, 2020 at 9:42 PM EST

Carson Wentz throws pick for third turnover of half

By Mark Maske

Carson Wentz found a different way to commit a turnover. After losing two fumbles earlier in this half, Wentz threw an end-zone interception to Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs, who managed to make the catch along the sideline and get a shin down in bounds. (Eagles 7, Cowboys 6, 2:14 left in the second quarter)

November 1, 2020 at 9:18 PM EST

Cowboys get field goal after Philly turnover

By Mark Maske

The Cowboys turned the fumble lost by Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz into a 49-yard field goal by kicker Greg Zuerlein. Dallas continues to be creative with rookie quarterback Ben DiNucci making his first NFL start. Tailback Ezekiel Elliott and wide receiver Cedrick Wilson took direct snaps on consecutive plays during the Cowboys’ drive. (Eagles 7, Cowboys 6, 9:46 left in the second quarter)

November 1, 2020 at 9:13 PM EST

Carson Wentz loses fumble on fourth-down sack

By Mark Maske

A fourth-and-three gamble by Eagles Coach Doug Pederson failed miserably, as quarterback Carson Wentz lost a fumble on a sack. Pederson left his offense on the field for the fourth-down try from the Dallas 44-yard line. But Wentz was sacked by Dallas linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and lost the ball. The Cowboys recovered and take possession at the Philadelphia 46-yard line. (Eagles 7, Cowboys 3, 11:30 left in the second quarter)

November 1, 2020 at 8:57 PM EST

Eagles take lead on Jalen Reagor’s first NFL touchdown

By Mark Maske

The first NFL touchdown catch for rookie wide receiver Jalen Reagor has the Eagles in front. He just got across the goal line after grabbing a pass from Carson Wentz for a two-yard touchdown. Reagor is making his return from a thumb injury suffered in Week 2. Wentz’s 32-yard completion to wideout Travis Fulgham set up the touchdown, although the Eagles first were pushed back by a delay-of-game penalty while trying to get in Jalen Hurts to take a snap at quarterback. (Eagles 7, Cowboys 3, 0:02 left in the first quarter)

November 1, 2020 at 8:45 PM EST

Ben DiNucci loses fumble as Cowboys fail to cash in on fumble lost by Carson Wentz

By Mark Maske

The Cowboys failed to cash in on a turnover by Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, as Dallas rookie quarterback Ben DiNucci returned the favor by losing a fumble on a sack.

The Cowboys sacked Wentz twice on Philadelphia’s opening possession, and Wentz lost a fumble on the second. That gave possession to the Cowboys at the Philadelphia 25-yard line. They moved to the 4 on a direct-snap carry by tailback Ezekiel Elliott. But on second down from the 7, DiNucci was sacked by Philadelphia’s Brandon Graham and lost the ball. (Cowboys 3, Eagles 0, 5:47 left in the first quarter)

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