'BOYS REPORT CARD: OT win earns mixed marks

Cowboys outside linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (55) celebrates a tackle in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium.Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas rushing defense was stellar, everything else was hit or miss in 29-23 victory over Eagles.

The Cowboys grasped a 29-23 overtime victory on Sunday when Dak Prescott’s deflected pass popped up off the hands of Eagles cornerback Rasul Douglas and into the arms of Amari Cooper, resulting in a 15-yard walk-off touchdown.

Dallas now leads the NFC East by two games with three games remaining in the regular season. But that doesn’t mean the Cowboys’ performance was perfect. Dallas coach Jason Garrett said in his postgame press conference that there were a lot of things that need cleaning up.

Here’s the report card.

RUNNING GAME: B. Ezekiel Elliott was a work horse, as usual, in the win over the Eagles. He rushed for more than 100 yards for the seventh time this season and took back the NFL rushing lead, passing the Rams’ Todd Gurley. Elliott carried 28 times for 113 yards, but his long run was just 20 yards. The Cowboys needed to break more big runs early in the game and/or control the contest by moving the chains on the ground on first and second down more consistently in the second half to earn an A.

PASSING GAME: B. When it comes to earning a grade on Sunday, Dak Prescott was like the kid in class who fails the first test and then tries to make up for it with extra credit later in the semester. The Cowboys’ QB said losing a fumble on a sack was his worst play, but he also threw a pair of interceptions. Even so, he was brilliant when he needed to be with 3 touchdown passes to Amari Cooper in the fourth quarter and overtime. Prescott completed 42 of 54 passes for 455 yards. He’s taking full advantage of Cooper’s ability as a WR1, but Prescott is also doing an excellent job of mixing in Elliott, who had 12 catches for 79 yards, and tight end Blake Jarwin, who had 7 catches for 56 yards.

RUSH DEFENSE: A-plus. Trying to run the football against the Cowboys proved to be a bad move for the Eagles on Sunday. The intermittent rushing attempt might have served to slow down the Dallas pass rush, but it didn’t gain many yards. Philadelphia managed just 34 on 14 carries.

PASS DEFENSE: C. The Cowboys deserve a passing grade for shutting down the Eagles in the first half. But Carson Wentz burned the Dallas pass defense in the second half to get Philly back in the game. Wentz completed 22 of 32 for 227 yards and 3 TDs. The Cowboys sacked the Eagles’ QB only twice and didn’t manage any interceptions, plays needed for a higher grade. However, Tyrone Crawford forced a Wentz fumble, which Maliek Collins recovered near the end of the second quarter, leading to an end-of-half field goal.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B. The Cowboys’ grade would be worse if not for the controversial call at the beginning of the game that gave Dallas the ball after Jourdan Lewis fumbled the opening kickoff. Brett Maher missed a 45-yard field goal in the first half, but his team-record 62-yarder at the end of the second quarter more than made up for that.

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