Dak Prescott Throws 5 TDs, Sets Passing Record as Cowboys Rout Eagles in Week 18

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 9, 2022

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott plays during the first half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

The Dallas Cowboys closed the regular season with a 51-26 road win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.

The two teams treated the Week 18 game differently with the playoffs looming for both teams.

Dallas went all-out in search of a win and got it, as their healthy players suited up en route to the emphatic victory. The Eagles opted to rest their starters, with quarterback Jalen Hurts notably sitting all game.

As a result, the Cowboys' offense stole the show, with Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott completing 21-of-27 passes for 295 yards and five touchdowns. He broke ex-Cowboys signal-caller Tony Romo's single-season franchise record for passing touchdowns along the way, finishing with 37 on the year.

Wideout Cedrick Wilson led receivers with five receptions for 119 yards and two scores. Tight end Dalton Schultz also caught two touchdowns in the final two minutes in the first half, with an Eagles three-and-out (in conjunction with a 21-yard Philadelphia punt) buffering the two Cowboy scoring drives.

Dallas took a 30-17 lead into halftime. After an Eagles field goal, the Cowboys engineered a 14-play, 84-yard drive capped by a Corey Clement eight-yard touchdown reception.

Dallas then sat Prescott and other starters for nearly the entire fourth quarter, but the Cowboys scored two late rushing touchdowns anyway courtesy of Ito Smith and JaQuan Hardy.

Eagles wideout Quez Watkins led the Philadelphia passing attack, which was led by backup Gardner Minshew II, with five catches for 84 yards and one touchdown. Running back Kenneth Gainwell guided the ground game with 72 rushing yards and one score.

The NFC East-winning Cowboys improved to 12-5. The 9-8 Eagles' four-game winning streak snapped in defeat.


Notable Performances

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott: 21-of-27, 295 passing yards, 5 TD

Cowboys WR Cedrick Wilson: 5 receptions, 121 receiving yards, 2 TD

Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz: 3 receptions, 21 receiving yards, 2 TD 

Eagles QB Gardner Minshew II: 19-of-33, 186 passing yards, 2 TD, 1 INT

Eagles RB Kenneth Gainwell: 12 carries, 78 rushing yards, 1 TD

Eagles WR Quez Watkins: 5 catches, 84 receiving yards, 1 TD

Cowboys' Offense Gets Back on Track With Win

Cowboys brass made it clear that Dallas planned to go all out and win even though a victory could potentially have little-to-no impact on its playoff seeding.

From owner Jerry Jones:

Jon Machota @jonmachota

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on <a href="https://twitter.com/1053thefan?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@1053thefan</a> on playing their starters at Philadelphia Saturday night: “We plan to play. We plan to play to win.”

And Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones to the G-Bag Nation on 105.3 The Fan: "The guys who aren’t going to play are the guys who can’t play."

And head coach Mike McCarthy to reporters Monday: "We're going to play—we're going to play to win the game."

Were the Cowboys executing a high-level form of gamesmanship, or were they being truthful? Turns out the latter came to fruition, and the Cowboys treated this game seriously from the jump.

Dallas had no momentum entering Week 18 after the Arizona Cardinals arrived on the Cowboys' home turf, took control of the game and beat the NFC East champions 25-22 last Sunday.

The plan this week, then, was to grab that momentum back. Of course, doing so meant playing this game with an incredible risk, with Dallas potentially losing key starters because of injury before the playoffs.

The Cowboys were already shorthanded on defense going into this one, with the team notably missing Pro Bowlers Micah Parsons (COVID-19) and cornerback Trevon Diggs (non-COVID illness). Dallas was also without left tackle Tyron Smith (COVID-19).

Not only did Dallas come away from this game with their key starters unscathed, but the Cowboys' offense looked sensational along the way.

Granted, it was against an Eagles team that treated this matchup as a glorified preseason game, but Dallas looked like a well-oiled machine.

Sometimes, the Cowboys made it look easy, as Prescott found Wilson wide open for the first touchdown:

Dallas Cowboys @dallascowboys

.<a href="https://twitter.com/dak?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@dak</a> to <a href="https://twitter.com/cedwilson95?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@cedwilson95</a> for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DallasCowboys?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DallasCowboys</a> TD 🙌<br><br>📺 : <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DALvsPHI?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DALvsPHI</a> on ESPN/ABC<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WPMOYChallenge?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WPMOYChallenge</a> Prescott <a href="https://t.co/Epfpyj6KkN">pic.twitter.com/Epfpyj6KkN</a>

Dallas wideout CeeDee Lamb had a relatively quiet evening, but he made one of the matchup's top highlights with this sensational catch:

Dallas Cowboys @dallascowboys

That was NIIIICCCCEEEEE, <a href="https://twitter.com/_CeeDeeThree?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@_CeeDeeThree</a>❕<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DALvsPHI?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DALvsPHI</a> on ESPN/ABC <a href="https://t.co/frTavXBHIT">pic.twitter.com/frTavXBHIT</a>

The Prescott-Wilson connection proved to be the first-half storyline, though, as the two linked up for another score to give Dallas a 16-10 second-quarter lead:

Dallas Cowboys @dallascowboys

🗣 LET'S GO!<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DALvsPHI?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DALvsPHI</a> on ESPN/ABC<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WPMOYChallenge?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WPMOYChallenge</a> Prescott <a href="https://t.co/nwixAspl66">pic.twitter.com/nwixAspl66</a>

The flats continued to be the Cowboys' friend in this game, with Prescott finding a wide-open Schultz there just after the first half's two-minute warning:

Dallas Cowboys @dallascowboys

Too easy 🙌<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DALvsPHI?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DALvsPHI</a> on ESPN/ABC<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WPMOYChallenge?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WPMOYChallenge</a> Prescott <a href="https://t.co/jR6zVdrnFw">pic.twitter.com/jR6zVdrnFw</a>

Prescott then found Schultz again before the half to give himself four scores by the break:


4️⃣ touchdown passes for No. 4️⃣!<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DALvsPHI?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DALvsPHI</a> on ESPN/ABC<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/db0DaDFSBa">https://t.co/db0DaDFSBa</a> <a href="https://t.co/PbphBxSuIx">pic.twitter.com/PbphBxSuIx</a>

Prescott's final touchdown, an eight-yard toss to Clement early in the fourth, gave him the Cowboys' single-season TD record all by himself:

Dallas Cowboys @dallascowboys

Record-setting moment for <a href="https://twitter.com/dak?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@dak</a> 🙌<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DALvsPHI?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DALvsPHI</a> on ESPN/ABC<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WPMOYChallenge?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WPMOYChallenge</a> Prescott <a href="https://t.co/k4pL4AQ46N">pic.twitter.com/k4pL4AQ46N</a>

The six-year NFL veteran then took a seat, but the Cowboys offense kept rolling with rushing touchdowns from Ito Smith and JaQuan Hardy:


Ito’s turn to eat! 🍽 <a href="https://twitter.com/ItoSmith?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ItoSmith</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DALvsPHI?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DALvsPHI</a> on ESPN/ABC<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/db0DaDFSBa">https://t.co/db0DaDFSBa</a> <a href="https://t.co/3G6hImoy54">pic.twitter.com/3G6hImoy54</a>


50 burger for the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DallasCowboys?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DallasCowboys</a> 🍔<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DALvsPHI?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DALvsPHI</a> on ESPN/ABC<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/db0DaDFSBa">https://t.co/db0DaDFSBa</a> <a href="https://t.co/nUmpCAhk66">pic.twitter.com/nUmpCAhk66</a>

And with that, the Cowboys scored 50 or more points in a game for the second time this year, having done so in a 56-14 win over the Washington Football Team on Dec. 26.

That should give the Cowboys all the momentum they wanted going into the playoffs.

Eagles Rest and Relax As They Gear Up for Playoffs

There isn't much to take away from the Eagles' side of this game, with Philadelphia more or less treating this week as a bye for many of its players in advance of the playoffs.

Eagles center Jason Kelce took the first offensive snap to keep his consecutive starts streak (now 122) going. He then promptly left the field.

Eagles wideout Devonta Smith needed 37 receiving yards to break the single-season receiving yards record once held by DeSean Jackson. The Alabama product got that mark before the end of the first quarter and sat for the final three.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts never took the field as Minshew II took all the snaps behind center save for a Greg Ward cameo at Wildcat. He led a lengthy inactive list for this one:

Philadelphia Eagles @Eagles

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DALvsPHI?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DALvsPHI</a> inactives <a href="https://t.co/eY5Ro6ykXD">pic.twitter.com/eY5Ro6ykXD</a>

The Eagles are hitting the road no matter what happens Sunday, so they really had no incentive to treat this game normally, especially considering their ongoing dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak.

There were some highlights, though.

Gainwell looked good on the ground, gashing the Cowboys defense en route to helping the Eagles set a franchise record for most rushing yards in a season. His seven-yard score in the second helped Philadelphia keep pace and tie the game at 17:

Philadelphia Eagles @Eagles

Kenny G with yet another BANGER<a href="https://twitter.com/KENNETHGAINWEL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KENNETHGAINWEL</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DALvsPHI?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DALvsPHI</a> <a href="https://t.co/GRAgr4afeL">pic.twitter.com/GRAgr4afeL</a>

Tight end Tyree Jackson, a preseason favorite who converted from quarterback, scored on his first-ever catch to cap Philadelphia's opening drive.

Wideout Quez Watkins also continued to make plays, somehow evading a mass of Cowboys for a 36-yard score in garbage time:

Philadelphia Eagles @Eagles

.<a href="https://twitter.com/Mronesx_?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Mronesx_</a> weaved through traffic and hit paydirt.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DALvsPHI?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DALvsPHI</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FlyEaglesFly?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FlyEaglesFly</a> <a href="https://t.co/6PeDYZFFue">pic.twitter.com/6PeDYZFFue</a>

Ultimately, this game was a chance for the Eagles' reserves to get some playing time as the starters rested for their road playoff game. We'll soon find out if Philadelphia can go on a Cinderella run after a solid second half of the season vaulted the Eagles into the playoffs.


What's Next?

The Cowboys and Eagles will both play on Super Wild Card Weekend, but their opponents will not be determined until the conclusion of the NFL's 4:25 p.m. ET slate of the games Sunday.

Dallas is guaranteed to play at home in AT&T Stadium. The Eagles will hit the road as the No. 6 or No. 7 seed.