Elliott takes giant leap needed to lift Cowboys past Eagles
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ezekiel Elliott took one giant leap that may have saved Dallas’ season.
But it was Elliott’s go-ahead 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that helped the Cowboys finally hurdle the Super Bowl champs.
The Cowboys showed a second-half spark — and cooled the hot seat for coach Jason Garrett a few degrees — in a 27-20 win over the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones burst into the locker room and channeled his inner Ric Flair with a “Wooo!” that perked up the winners. Jones hit the locker room like a politician stumping for votes, shaking hands with anyone within reach.
“Now that was a win, I’ll tell you right now,” he said to a small circle of Cowboys.
The Cowboys are just 4-5 but the victory steadied a franchise that saw Garrett again under fire and Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman call for major organizational changes for a franchise far removed from the Super Bowl heyday.
Elliott and Dak Prescott quieted the doubters after a dazzling Sunday that put the champion Eagles’ season on the rocks.
“You can imagine the way Jason Garrett, his resolve before the game,” Jones said. “I asked him before the game, ‘You feeling any pressure?’ (Garrett replied) ‘It just makes me want to go out and do more to turn this thing.’”
Elliott made highlight reels and kept the Dallas’ NFC East title hopes alive when he extended a play in the first half. The Cowboys tried a fake punt on fourth-and-2 from their 31 and Jeff Heath took a direct snap and ran three yards. A few plays later, Elliott hurdled Tre Sullivan on a 32-yard run to the Eagles 8. Michael Bennett sacked Prescott on third down and Brett Maher kicked a 31-yard field goal for a 6-0 lead.
Was it Elliott’s best bound over a defender?
“I’ll leave that up to you guys to decide,” Elliott said.
Jones was positive it was Elliott’s finest.
“We’ve seen him make that move before,” Jones said. “But I don’t know when I’ve ever seen him totally clear it.”
While the Super Bowl champions are reeling, the Cowboys didn’t exactly look a serious threat to the NFC East crown. Prescott had 270 yards passing, tossed for one touchdown and also ran for a score. Elliott also had a TD reception , against an Eagles secondary depleted by injury.
The Cowboys will need a win at Atlanta (4-5) next week and then a win Nov. 22 against division-leading Washington to really establish themselves as a playoff contender. It’s a leap of faith larger than anything attempted by Elliott that the Cowboys can wrest their way into the NFC playoff picture.
But for a night, it was enough.
“We had no choice but to win,” said Elliott, who cupped his hand to his ear as he walked off the field to boos.
Garrett, who has yet to lead Dallas to even an NFC title game, knew the magnitude of the rivalry game.
“We were in a challenging situation,” he said. “We had to come up here and win a football game.”
Both teams felt the pressure even before former President George W. Bush performed the coin toss . The Cowboys and Eagles got into a small pregame scuffle that ended on the sideline before players were ushered back into the tunnel.
Dallas took a 10-3 lead into the half before Elliott and Prescott got rolling. Elliott ran in from the 1 to give Dallas a 27-20 lead after Prescott completed passes of 24 yards to Amari Cooper and 23 yards to Allen Hurns on the drive.
It was the kind of drive that might have impressed Aikman. Aikman, who won three Super Bowls with the Cowboys, said this week ”there has to be a complete overhaul of the entire organization .”
The Cowboys just shrugged it off as just another controversy that didn’t concern them.
“We’re Dallas Cowboys. You guys love to talk about us, you guys love to make stories,” Elliott said. “We’re used to ignoring all the extra stuff and focusing on us.”
Eagles fans were spotted transporting a Cowboys coffin into Lincoln Financial Field , perhaps as a symbol of some sort of burial of Dallas’ season.
Don’t hold those last playoff rites for the Cowboys just yet.
“When you’re feeling low and you see the Grim Reaper,” Jones said, “and then you come in and have your team perform the way these guys did, I promise you, it is a special feeling.”