PHILADELPHIA — The Dallas Cowboys got the win they wanted although there is indeed a question whether they got the uplifting, feel-good moral victory they felt they needed to end what has been a thoroughly disappointing 2017 season.
The 6-0 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles in 19-degree temperatures felt like acupuncture at times.
The Cowboys looked like a listless team with nothing to play for against a playoff-bound Eagles team that opened the game without six defensive starters and one offensive starter in hopes of avoiding injury until the postseason.
The Eagles pulled their starting quarterback after the first quarter, yet the Cowboys couldn't muster a discernible edge even with quarterback Dak Prescott, running Ezekiel Elliott and wide receiver Dez Bryant playing the entire way.
The Cowboys finally broke through after 47 minutes and 39 seconds of scoreless play with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Prescott to Brice Butler, capping a 99-yard drive in which they had to overcome a third holding penalty of the game.
To sum up the abject play, kicker Dan Bailey missed the extra point and later missed a 23-yard field goal with 13 seconds to go. Both kicks were wide left.
But somehow the Cowboys defense made it stand up against a collection of Eagles backups led by littleknown quarterback Nate Sudfeld. Cowboys rookie Chidobe Awuzie got his first interception of the season.
The Cowboys finished the season with a winning record at 9-7. They avoided their fourth 8-8 finish under coach Jason Garrett.
"I think today was indicative of the kind of guys we
have on our team, the character we have on our team. To battle, to fight, battle and scratch to find a way to win this ballgame," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "It was important to us."
They didn't get the final feel-good performance they hoped would give them momentum going into to an offseason that is ripe with questions and decisions about the team's future?
Garrett will return in 2018, but the same can't be said of his coordinators, especially offensive chief Scott Linehan.
The Cowboys' offense has struggled over the past eight games and the return of Elliott over the past two games after missing six with an NFL suspension has not opened it up much.
Aside from the 99-yard drive, the best thing the Cowboys did on Sunday was not turn the ball over and give the Eagles any momentum.
"It was tough sledding out there. They were not easy conditions for anybody," Garrett said. "We played field position for a lot of this game and eventually broke through and were able to do the things necessary to win the game.
"Wind was a factor in the game. It was a challenge for both sides to throw and catch the ball."
Elliott rushed for 103 yards on 27 carries.
Prescott completed 17 of 30 passes for 179 yards, including the 20-yard touch-down to Butler.