A famous play in Eagles’ history is fourth-and-26 — the Donovan McNabb to Freddie Mitchell miracle reception against Green Bay in the 2003 playoffs.
Now, an infamous play in Eagles’ lore is third-and-30.
With the Eagles ahead by a touchdown in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys faced a near-impossible third-and-30 from their 29-yard line.
The Cowboys were in this untenable situation because of back-to-back sacks — one a strip-sack that looked at first as if it were recovered by the Eagles. The Eagles’ defense, pushed around most of the game, was coming on strong and protecting the lead.
Momentum was on the Eagles’ side. They were about to get the ball back, with the lead.
Facing this huge dilemma, Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott stepped back and let fly, basically, a Hail Mary. His high, arching pass flew over the head of Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, who was badly beaten on the play.
The pass landed in the hands of newly acquired T.Y. Hilton. Hilton’s first catch as a Cowboy came over Slay and Josiah Scott and went for 52 yards. Four plays later, Dallas scored on a Prescott to CeeDee Lamb pass to tie the score at 34.
The Eagles lost at Dallas, 40-34, Saturday, as the Cowboys converted two late turnovers into field goals. The loss dropped the Eagles to 13-2 and prevented them from winning the NFC East and clinching home-field for the playoffs. Dallas is 11-4.
- “We didn’t make the play and the guy did. It’s really a simple as that,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said about the back-breaking third-down conversion.
- “T.Y. Hilton made a really nice catch. Dak made a really good throw and we didn’t make the play. They did and we didn’t.”
TOO MANY TURNOVERS
Four turnovers that turned into 20 Dallas points did in the Eagles — two interceptions by back-up quarterback Gardner Minshew and fumbles by Boston Scott and Miles Sanders.
“We’ll correct the mistakes we made in this game because we made plenty of them,” Sirianni said.
Minshew, in his first start of the season, played well. You couldn’t expect much more from a back-up quarterback. He completed 24-of-40 passes for 355 yards and two touchdowns. The Eagles’ offense accounted for 27 points, normally enough to win an NFL game.
“I thought Gardner played a really good game,” Sirianni said.
THE FINAL DRIVE
Minshew nearly pulled off a miracle of his own as the Eagles put a serious scare into the Dallas home crowd. The Eagles drove 56 yards in nine plays before their potential game-winning drive died on downs at the Dallas 19-yard line with 14 seconds left.
After Minshew’s final pass sailed harmlessly out of the end zone, the quarterback sat on the turf, his elbow bleeding, lightly punching the ground.
- “I had a ton of confidence,” Minshew said about the final drive. “We got guys who can go get the ball. We’ve got a great offensive line that can protect us.
- “It was a matter of getting a couple of chunks and giving ourselves a chance and we did. And we didn’t capitalize when we got there.”
After Dallas took a 37-34 lead, Miles Sanders fumbled at his own 23-yard line with 2:07 to play.
- “I fumbled at the wrong time,” Sanders said. “I take full responsibility. Nobody else’s fault but mine. I had the ball clearly in my hands.
- “I gotta hold onto the ball. You can’t win the game with four turnovers. Simple as that.”
The turnovers kept giving Dallas a short field and Prescott took it from there. He was 27-of-35 for 347 yards and three touchdowns as Dallas kept its NFC East title hopes alive.
Philly couldn’t corral Lamb, who had 10 catches for 120 yards.
Minshew had plenty of help on offense. He wasn’t sacked as the offensive line provided solid protection. DeVonta Smith had eight catches for 113 yards. Nearly every catch was clutch, some were toe-tapping the sidelines. A.J. Brown had six catches for 103 yards.
- “We lost, so that sucks,” Minshew said. “You want to do enough to help your team to win.
- “We know there’s a lot we can control. So we’re going to go back to practice and we got a lot to clean up.
- “We shot ourselves in the foot. You can’t turn the ball over four times and expect to beat a good team … At the end of the day, you can’t stop yourself.”
To win the East, the Eagles have to win one of their final two games, against the Saints or the Giants, both at the Linc.
Sirianni said his postgame message to his team was simple.
- “We win together, we celebrate together and we pick each other up together,” Sirianni said. “Everything’s together — together, together, together.
- “It wasn’t one phase that let one other phase down. It was offense, defense, coaching, everything. We’re in this together.
- “The teams that stick together through the ups and downs of the season are the teams that continue to grow together. Let’s go. We’ll get better from it.”