By Michael Bennett
Four nights before Thanksgiving, the Eagles stuck a fork in the turkey Dallas Cowboys last night.
And the NFC East race, such as it was, is in the rear-view mirror.
Along with the debate about who’s a better quarterback: Carson Wentz or Dak Prescott!
Wentz threw for two touchdowns and three 2-point conversions after the Birds lost kicker Jake Elliott to a head injury, and the Eagles beat down the Cowboys 37-9.
The Eagles (9-1) outscored the Cowboys 30-0 in the second half while extending their winning streak to eight games, their longest since 2003-04 and tied with New Orleans for the best current run in the NFL.
The Eagles lead the second-place Cowboys (5-5) by four games with six to play after handing Dallas its worst home loss at 8-year-old AT&T Stadium.
Prescott threw a career-high three interceptions and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown in his second straight loss without star running back Ezekiel Elliott, serving a six-game suspension for alleged domestic violence.
The Birds failed to get a first down on five straight first-half drives, starting with one at the Dallas 15 when Elliott missed a 34-yard attempt and soon after left the field.
Trailing 9-7 at halftime, Wentz led the Eagles on scoring drives of 75, 90 and 85 yards, the middle one boosted by Jay Ajayi’s 71-yard run against his hometown team in his second game since getting traded by Miami.
”The biggest thing was sticking with the game plan,” said Wentz, who is up to 25 touchdown passes with just five interceptions. ”The big boys up front kind of came out angry. We ran the ball the second half really effectively.”
Ajayi had 91 yards on seven carries and LeGarrette Blount added 57 on 13 carries, including a 30-yarder leading to the last offensive touchdown.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson declared at halftime that he would go for every fourth down and try 2-point conversions after every touchdown.
It came into play right away when Corey Clement scored on an 11-yard run to open the second half and ran in a screen pass behind three blockers for the 2-pointer.
The first fourth-down try was Wentz’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery for a 29-9 lead. That 2-point pass failed. Torrey Smith had the other TD catch, an 11-yarder.
After Derek Barnett hit Prescott’s leg and arm as he was throwing, Nigel Bradham picked up the loose ball and ran it 37 yards for a touchdown. Wentz’s 2-point pass to Trey Burton provided the final margin.
”We got some nice 2-point conversions,” said Wentz, who was 14 of 27 for 168 yards. ”Now we’ve got to go back to the drawing board with our 2-point plays.”
The Cowboys appeared to have fixed the problems of missing injured left tackle Tyron Smith and 2016 All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee from a week earlier, when they allowed eight sacks of Prescott along with three Atlanta scoring drives following Lee’s injury in a 27-7 loss to the Falcons.
But after protecting Prescott fairly well before halftime, Dallas allowed three sacks and 180 of the Birds’ season-high 215 yards rushing in the second half. Lee’s replacement at weakside linebacker, Anthony Hitchens, left with a groin injury after halftime.
Prescott was 18 of 31 for 145 yards for a career-worst 30.4 passer rating before backup Cooper Rush took mop-up duty.
”It’s no excuses,” said Prescott, who teamed with Elliott in a remarkable rookie season that is now a distant memory with already two more losses and three more interceptions than Prescott had a year ago. Elliott won’t be back until the final two games of the regular season.
”We’re not saying injuries or any of that’s bothering us. We’re not saying it’s the reason we’re not winning is because of those guys.”