“I’ve rested players, I’ve not rested players,” said McCarthy, who previously coached the Green Bay Packers for 13 seasons. “But we felt where we were as a team, our first year in the playoffs, it was important for us to play.”
It was important for Prescott, who looked comfortable dissecting the Eagles’ defense, completing 21 of 27 passes for 295 yards. Cedrick Wilson, the receiver, continued his development as a reliable third receiver option with five catches for 119 yards. And it was important for running back Ezekiel Elliott, hampered with a knee injury much of the season, who gained 87 of Dallas’s 171 rushing yards then proclaimed himself healthy for the postseason.
The Cowboys scored on 8 of 9 possessions, except kneel-downs. This installment was full of excitement for a rivalry so steeped, with tales about Bounty Bowls, pickle juice and flying porc chops.
As Dallas traveled without linebacker Micah Parsons, left tackle Tyron Smith and running back Tony Pollard, among others, Eagles Coach Nick Sirianni opted to rest 16 starters — not including center Jason Kelce, who played only the first snap, just to extend his consecutive-start streak to 122 — and elevated 12 players from the practice squad.
Under Sirianni, Philadelphia’s first-year head coach, the Eagles more than doubled their victory total from last season’s 4-11-1 fiasco, throttling bad teams and backup quarterbacks with a run-heavy offense led by quarterback Jalen Hurts to win six of their final eight games. Still recovering from a high ankle sprain, Hurts sat Saturday in place of Gardner Minshew, but Sirianni said he will be ready for the Eagles’ playoff game.
Philadelphia cannot rise from seventh to sixth in the N.F.C. If New Orleans defeats Atlanta, and the Rams beat San Francisco, Philadelphia can rise to sixth in the N.F.C. The Cowboys, N.F.C. East champions, won’t fall below fourth but could move as high as second.
They will host a playoff match, and while everyone from Prescott to McCarthy, to DeMarcus Laurence stressed their second-by-2nd focus heading into next week, it didn’t take much imagination to see that the Cowboys could face the top-seeded Packers in frigid Green Bay.
Source: NY Times