There was not a lot the Eagles did right in the first half Sunday Night in North Texas.
Maybe it was the bye.
And of course there were other factors, like not having a kicker.
But once the second half kickoff was in the air, the then-8-1 Eagles returned to form.
After that disastrous first half, Philadelphia responded with 30 unanswered points – and going 3-for-4 on two point conversions – to pull away from it’s division rival and essentially lock up the NFC East in a 37-9 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Yes, there was no Ezekiel Elliott, Sean Lee, or Tyron Smith.
But bottom line, the Eagles had their own set of issues too, started very slow and yet they still found a way to answer in an emphatic way.
The way Philly took over in the second half is what a championship-like team does.
It didn’t find excuses.
It moved on and focused on what they could control.
“It’s just a tribute and credit to the guys,” Head Coach Doug Pederson said. “They’ll do whatever it takes to win the game.”
The Eagles found the end zone on all their second-half possessions – and basically they had to without a reliable kicker available.
“I was just going to put it in our offenses hands and really wasn’t going to take a field goal unless we really needed it,” Pederson said. “We just stayed the course.”
That obviously gives you basically no room for error, and the Eagles offense was picture perfect when they needed to be, including coming through with those three two-point conversions.
“We go into it with a few two-point plays and red zone plays,” Pederson said. “It was fortunate we had that many plays ready.”
Pederson also found himself at a crossroads with play calling after a more pass-happy first half.
That pass-happy phase came after a perfectly called opening drive, which led to a touchdown.
But after seeing what transpired in the first half, Pederson got back to his team’s identity of running the football, and positive results ensued.
The opening drive of the second half ended with an 11-yard touchdown run by Corey Clement. Then a 71-yard run by Jay Ajyai set up an 11-yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz to Torrey Smith. In the end, the Eagles finished with 215 yards on the ground.
The scoring was then capped off by a 37-yard fumble return by Nigel Bradham off a strip sack from rookie Derek Barnett. Philly’s defense overall forced four Dak Prescott turnovers, including three interceptions, which a lot of NFL defenses haven’t done since Prescott has come into the league. Prescott was also sacked four times.
Oh, and they didn’t allow a touchdown.
“It was a great effort by the defense today,” Pederson said.
Even back-up linebacker turned emergency kicker Kamu Grugier-Hill was bombing kickoffs when Jake Elliott went down.
If anything was going to derail the Eagles, it was this game.
But it didn’t and now the Eagles are on their way to winning the NFC East, have won eight straight, and remain a top the NFL at 9-1.
Matt Catrillo is a Philadelphia Eagles Writer for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter @MCatrillo. For more coverage on the Eagles and the NFL from Matt, tune in to the Next Game New Game Podcast.