Eagles knock off playoff-bound Cowboys in meaningless game
PHILADELPHIA -- It had the feel and the look of an NFL preseason game, as one team looked ahead to the postseason and the other to the offseason.
There was nothing at stake except pride when the going-nowhere Philadelphia Eagles beat the playoff-bound Dallas Cowboys 27-13 on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Dallas, which had already clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, finishes its regular season at 13-3. That ties the franchise record for most victories in a season -- the Cowboys also won 13 games in 1992 and 2007.
The Eagles (7-9) scored the winning touchdown when quarterback Carson Wentz threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Ertz with 4:56 left in the third quarter. Wentz also set an NFL rookie record when he completed a pass in the Eagles' opening drive, which passed the record of 354 completions set by St. Louis' Sam Bradford in 2010.
The most significant thing about this meaningless game came with 13 minutes left in the second quarter, when Tony Romo took over at quarterback for the Cowboys in relief of starter Dak Prescott, who played two series and led his team to three points.
Romo, who missed 12 games last year with a broken collarbone, hadn't played all season after injuring his back in the preseason. And on his first play in more than a year he threw a long bomb to wide receiver Terrance Williams, but the pass sailed long and incomplete. But then Romo completed two straight passes, and after Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll was flagged for interference in the end zone, Romo threw a 3-yard TD pass to Williams to give Dallas a 10-3 lead with 10:11 left in the first half.
And that was it for Romo -- after 14 plays he was replaced by Mark Sanchez for the Cowboys' next possession. Sanchez, who had thrown just one pass this season prior to Sunday (completing it for 8 yards), played the rest of the way.
With the playoffs looming, the Cowboys didn't play rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, who had an outside chance at setting an NFL rookie rushing record -- he came into the game needing 178 yards to pass the mark of 1,808 yards set by Eric Dickerson of the Rams in 1983. Dallas also sat out often-injured linebacker Sean Lee, who was listed as questionable earlier in the week with a sore knee. And wide receiver Dez Bryant played just three series before taking the rest of the day off.
Caleb Sturgis gave the Eagles a 3-0 lead in the first quarter with a 22-yard field goal, which also set an Eagles record for most FGs in a season with 34. He broke the mark set by David Akers in 2008.
NOTES: The Eagles deactivated their leading WR, Jordan Matthews (ankle), as well as starting LG Allen Barbre (hamstring) and LB Mychal Kendricks (quadriceps). ... The Cowboys were without three starters on defense -- DE Tyrone Crawford (shoulder), DT Terrell McClain (ankle) and CB Morris Claiborne (groin). Also, starting LT Tyron Smith (knee) was deactivated. ... The Eagles have just one RB who started the season and ended it on the active roster -- Darren Sproles. The other opening-day RBs -- Ryan Mathews, rookie Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner -- all finished on injured reserve.