By Chad Conine, The Sports Xchange
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Philadelphia offense clicked in the second half, and the Eagles motored past the Dallas Cowboys for their eighth straight win.
Carson Wentz threw a pair of touchdown passes as Philadelphia scored on its first three possessions of the second half and surged to a 37-9 victory on Sunday night at AT&T Stadium.
Not even an injury to kicker Jake Elliott could slow the Eagles after halftime.
Elliott was being evaluated for a head injury late in the first quarter, and he didn’t return to the game. He made an extra point and missed a 34-yard field goal before his exit.
With their kicking game limited, the Eagles went for two after each of their second-half touchdowns. Wentz made good on two of them with passes to Alshon Jeffery and tight end Trey Burton, and running back Corey Clement ran for another one.
“When I found out that Jake was being evaluated, at that point I went into go-for-it (mode) on fourth down in the field-goal-range situations,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. “The scoring drives were just sort of a no-brainer to go for it on two-point conversions.”
Wentz converted a fourth-and-5 from the Dallas 17 when he connected with Jeffery for a touchdown that put Philadelphia ahead 29-9 with 12:10 left in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles (9-1) kept Dallas out of the end zone and held the Cowboys to 225 yards of offense.
Philadelphia’s defense also came up with the exclamation point on the win when defensive end Derek Barnett sacked Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott and forced a fumble. Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham scooped the ball and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown.
Prescott completed just 18 of 31 passes for 145 yards. He was intercepted three times and committed the costly fumble. Philadelphia sacked Prescott four times, keeping Dallas (5-5) from establishing any momentum on offense.
“We haven’t been good enough,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. “We haven’t been able to be consistent running the football, consistent throwing the football. I don’t think our pass protection has been as good as it needs to be. We haven’t been able to attack the defense in different ways like we’re capable of doing and like we have been doing at different points this year.”
Wentz’s stellar second half helped him finish with 168 passing yards on 14-of-27 passing.
The Eagles’ running game sparked a key drive midway through the third quarter.
Philadelphia running back Jay Ajayi broke loose for a 71-yard run to the Dallas 15. That set up Wentz’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith. The two-point pass from Wentz to Jeffery put the Eagles ahead 23-9 with 5:40 left in the third quarter.
Ajayi finished with 91 rushing yards on seven carries, leading the way as the Eagles ran for 215 yards and 6.5 per carry.
“The O-line came out kind of angry (in the second half), and we just kind of relied on those big boys up front,” Wentz said. “We can just kind of ride those guys when we need to, especially when we feel like we’re kind of wearing down the D-line.”
The Eagles drove 75 yards on their first possession of the game and took a 7-3 lead when running back Kenjon Barner ran 4 yards for a touchdown with 9:03 left in the first quarter.
However, the Dallas defense, which has struggled with linebacker Sean Lee out of the lineup, found a way to slow down the potent Philadelphia offense for most of the first half.
Even when the Eagles set up at the Dallas 15-yard line following safety Rodney McLeod’s interception of a Prescott pass, the Cowboys turned away Philadelphia with no points.
After a pair of Wentz incompletions, Elliott missed a 34-yard field goal wide right.
The Cowboys’ defense forced Philadelphia to go 0-for-6 on third downs in the first half.
Mike Nugent kicked field goals of 48 and 27 yards to cap the Cowboys’ first two drives, keeping Philadelphia’s lead to 7-6 for most of the first half.
Nugent’s third field goal of the half, a 47-yarder on Dallas’ final possession of the second quarter, boosted the Cowboys to a 9-7 lead at the break.
Even so, Pederson never saw his team flinch. He felt the Eagles just needed time to get back in their rhythm.
“Really, the message (at halftime) was that we were OK, we were fine,” Pederson said. “Let’s just get back to the basics, no one panic. The first half we missed on a few things, and it’s indicative of a couple weeks off. This team is a resilient group.”