Eagles, Cowboys try to keep playoff hopes alive
A lot has changed in the past two months, since Week 8, when the starting quarterbacks for the Philadelphia-Dallas game were rookie Ben DiNucci for the Cowboys and veteran Carson Wentz for the Eagles.
For this Sunday’s NFC East rematch in Arlington, Texas, they have sort of flip-flopped behind center, with Philly starting a rookie and Dallas starting a veteran.
Two native Texans will be under center as 22-year-old rookie Jalen Hurts leads Philadelphia (4-9-1) against 33-year-old veteran Andy Dalton and Dallas (5-9).
With the Washington Football Team sitting at 6-8, both teams need to win and get some help to keep their faint playoff pulse going.
Hurts, a second-round pick, is 1-1 as the starter since replacing Wentz. After an upset win against New Orleans in Week 14, the Eagles fell 33-26 last Sunday at Arizona despite 338 yards and four touchdowns from Hurts (three passes and a 7-yard run).
“He led the team. He played mentally and physically tough,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “He’s an extremely hard worker. He’s diligent. He wants to improve. He took the loss (Sunday) very personally. He wants to get back out there and keep going.”
Since taking over for Wentz in the second half at Green Bay in Week 13, Hurts has generated 812 yards of total offense (614 passing, 198 rushing) with six TDs. Most important, perhaps, is that he has turned the ball over only twice in those 10 quarters. Wentz hasn’t played since Dec. 6 and his 15 interceptions are still two more than any other player.
“I think I hate losing more than I love to win,” Hurts said after coming up short against the Cardinals. “It’s not a great feeling. It’s a learning lesson. Everything can be better moving forward.”
The Cowboys have certainly played better since Dalton returned to the lineup in Week 11, winning back-to-back games and three of their last five. He has completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 1,097 yards with 10 scores and three picks during that five-game stretch. He has not been intercepted since Dec. 8.
Signed to a one-year deal to back up Dak Prescott, Dalton’s stay in Dallas could be extended beyond this season based on his recent play.
“He’s doing a great job, and certainly we’d love to have him back,” Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said on 105.3 FM The Fan after Sunday’s 41-33 win against the 49ers.
“We’ll just have to address that at the end of the year in terms of what goals, what he’s wanting to do, what his opportunities are, but he’s a guy who’s from this area, went to school over at TCU, and I know he makes his home right here in Dallas. … So, I’m sure we’ll have every opportunity to talk through what the business is going to be with Andy, but he’s just a class act.”
After missing his first-ever regular season game due to injury last week, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (calf) did resistance training at practice Wednesday and could be back in the lineup Sunday.
Tony Pollard scored twice and gained 132 yards from scrimmage (69 yards on a 5.8-yard rushing average with two TDs), against the Niners in Elliott’s absence.
Five players missed Wednesday’s workouts for the Cowboys: linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (ankle), defensive tackle Antwaun Woods (ankle), safety Xavier Woods (ribs), cornerback Rashard Robinson (knee) and tight end Blake Bell (illness). Receiver Michael Gallup (hip), linebackers Jaylon Smith (wrist) and Sean Lee (knee) and corners Chidboe Awuzie (ankle/knee) and Trevon Diggs (foot) were full participants.
Cornerback Darius Slay was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice for Philly after missing the Arizona game with a concussion. Rookie wideout Jalen Reagor (ankle) and linebacker Duke Riley (bicep) were both limited, while Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (neck, rest), defensive end Josh Sweat (wrist), cornerback Kevon Seymour (knee), tight end Richard Rodgers (ankle) and punter Cameron Johnston (concussion) did not participate.
The Eagles are looking to sweep the season series for the first time since 2011. In the first meeting, Philadelphia sacked DiNucci four times and the 2020 seventh-rounder lost two fumbles.
–Field Level Media