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Cowboys employ explosive passing attack to rally past Eagles and keep playoff hopes alive

The Cowboys' three-headed receiving monster came up big against the Eagles, keeping the Cowboys' playoff hopes alive with the 37-17 victory.
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) and wide receiver Amari Cooper (19) celebrate a touchdown catch by Lamb in the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 27. 2020. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

ARLINGTON, Texas —

The Cowboys' three-headed receiving monster came up big against the Eagles, allowing Dallas to erase an early double-digit deficit and propel the team to a 37-17 victory to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The Cowboys served notice from their first offensive snap, a 35-yard completion to Amari Cooper, that they were going to lean on their talented receiving corps and it worked in a big way.

"We all have the potential to go out there and just dominate a game, and it just feels good when we're all able to do it in the same game,” said Cooper. "I think that's something that we can consistently do."

The most striking aspect of head coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s plan was they found a weakness and hammered away at it, exploiting the Eagles' secondary time and time again, especially undrafted free agent cornerback Michael Jacquet.

“We took some shots today. We felt like we had some good looks to do that, and we were able to make them,” said quarterback Andy Dalton. "I think that was big. On some of the stuff I got the ball out of my hands quick, and we were able to turn some of these quick passes into big gains and big runs after catch."

Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (13) avoids the tackle attempt of Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Alex Singleton (49) for a touchdown in the first half of an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 27. 2020. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Third-year Cowboys receiver Michael Gallup absolutely took over this game, putting his stamp on it in the first half when Jacquet did his best to try and cover Gallup to no avail.

Gallup scored the Cowboys' first touchdown of the game when quarterback Andy Dalton hit him on a slant route. Gallup broke a tackle and bolted into the end zone to cut the Cowboys' deficit to just four points at 14-10.

Gallup set the tone for the game on the next series when he caught a quick pass and scampered 55 yards when he looked like he was shot out of a cannon. He racked up six catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns all in the first half.

“Man, big time. Loads of fun. It was great to be out there, have a good time,” Gallup said of the performance. "Everybody was eating, everybody was having a great time. It was just was a fun game and we needed it.”

Big plays on the outside against the Eagles' beleaguered secondary were the difference in this game. Gallup and Amari Cooper combined for 10 catches and 242 yards. That’s nearly 25 yards per catch between those two, which is border-line ridiculous.

"When you can spread it around and guys are making plays all over the field, it gives you the chance to go down and score a bunch of points,” said Dalton. "Fortunately for us, we were able to get that done today.”

Dalton was efficient and explosive, completing 22 of 30 passes for 377 yards, a season high and the fifth-highest yardage total of his career. The Cowboys had 3 pass plays of 50 or more yards. That’s the most in a single game by any NFL team this season.

Dalton threw a perfect pass to rookie receiver CeeDee Lamb on the Cowboys' first possession of the second half. That put the Cowboys in firm control of the game, and allowed their defense to clamp down on Eagles rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts. Lamb finished the game with three catches for 65 yards.

“We’re very fortunate to be in the position that we’re in. Man, we still have one more game left that we’ve got to finish up, but I’m actually excited and proud of what we’ve done these last three weeks,” said Lamb. "Looking to keep it going and we’ve got to keep fighting.”

Gallup summed it up with one word, “confidence,” adding the Cowboys will need more where that came from in their season finale’ against the Giants Sunday with a potential playoff spot on the line.

“Yeah, I mean it feels great. I absolutely love being in the same room as a Michael and CeeDee,” said Cooper.

And Cowboys fans loved seeing that room come to life.