PHILADELPHIA – It took Jerry Jones a little time to get from his suite inside Lincoln Financial Field to the Dallas Cowboys’ locker room on Sunday night.
Some players were talking about the hows and whys of their 27-20 win against the Philadelphia Eagles. Others were getting dressed, cinching up their ties for the plane ride back home. Others were making sure they had some ice on hand to numb their aches.
Heard clear above it all was Jones, the Cowboys’ owner and general manager, letting loose with a loud “Wooooh,” like he was Ric Flair, as he entered the room. Some players responded with their own “Woooohs.”
Jones was giddy.
Less than a week earlier, the players were deflated inside their AT&T Stadium locker room after the loss to the Tennessee Titans. At 3-5, the Cowboys saw their season slipping away and knew Sunday’s game against the Eagles was a must-win.
Ezekiel Elliott was asked if beating the Eagles saved the season.
“I think we did,” said the running back, who finished with 151 rushing yards and two touchdowns, including a TD catch.
In reality, the victory has saved the Cowboys’ season for a week.
At 4-5, they remain in the NFC East chase, two games behind the Washington Redskins. A loss would have kept them alive only in a mathematical sense.
Now they have to show they can win back-to-back games. And they get the chance to do it where their 2017 season effectively died. Last November, the Cowboys lost 27-7 to the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Dak Prescott was sacked eight times. Elliott did not play, serving the first game of a six-game suspension. It was the start of a three-game losing streak that ultimately led the Cowboys to a 9-7 finish that kept them from the playoffs.
“Just got to use this as momentum and continue to grow,” Prescott said. “This is a winning team, and it’s great when you go on the road when you win. This is the first time doing that this year. It’s important for us to just feel that and feel that energy in the locker room and make sure we don’t forget that. That’s what we’re trying to do every time we go on the road or every game.”
Consistency has not been a Cowboys strength. They have not won consecutive games since Weeks 14-15 of last season, which is also the last time they won consecutive road games, beating the New York Giants and Oakland Raiders.
But the win over the Eagles shows the Cowboys what is possible.
The 27 points were the most they have scored in a road game this season. The previous high was 17. They converted 8 of 16 third-down chances. In the first four road games, they converted 14 of 52.
Prescott completed a season-best 72 percent of his passes. He threw for 270 yards, his second-highest total of the year. He found new receiver Amari Cooper six times for 75 yards.
When the Cowboys needed Prescott most, he responded. On Dallas’ final drive of the first half, he completed all five of his passes for 79 yards before his quarterback sneak for a touchdown with 19 seconds to play. After the Eagles tied the game at 20-20, he completed 3 of 4 passes for 64 yards that set up Elliott’s winning touchdown.
“He’s resilient, man,” Cooper said of Prescott. “He never gets down on himself, never gets down on the team. He’s always believing we can go out there and overcome any circumstance. And you need that, especially in a quarterback. That’s something that I really admire.”
Prescott walked out of Mercedes-Benz Stadium a year ago a beaten if not broken quarterback. The Cowboys could not block Adrian Clayborn (four sacks).
He walked out of Lincoln Financial Field with a bounce in his step, his head held high.
“When everything is clicking and we’re playing the way we need to be playing,” Prescott said, “this is what we’re capable of.”