ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott stepped to the podium after helping Dallas rally past the Philadelphia Eagles and immediately addressed the first reason the Cowboys needed a comeback.
”Let’s start with the interception,” the star quarterback said before a reporter could even ask a question.
Prescott finished with 347 yards passing and three touchdowns after Josh Sweat’s shocking 42-yard pick-6, Brett Maher kicked the go-ahead field goal late and the Cowboys beat the Eagles 40-34 on Saturday.
Gardner Minshew threw two scoring passes and had a TD run filling in for injured Philadelphia QB Jalen Hurts, but his second interception set up Maher’s go-ahead kick.
Four days after speaking at the memorial service of his college coach, Mike Leach, Minshew had Philadelphia 19 yards from a potential winning touchdown in the final seconds, his desperation pass into the end zone on fourth-and-10 wasn’t anywhere near a receiver.
The NFL-leading Eagles (13-2) had two of their four turnovers in the final five minutes and missed a chance to clinch the NFC’s top seed in a matchup of playoff-bound division rivals.
Dallas, the defending NFC East champ, kept alive faint hopes of catching them.
One Philadelphia victory or loss by Dallas (11-4) in the final two games would wrap up home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs for the Eagles, whose five-game winning streak ended.
”We missed an opportunity,” Minshew said. ”You can’t turn the ball over four times. We stress turnovers all the time. That’s what has made us successful.”
Dallas was down 10-0 after Prescott’s third pass of the game – intended for wide-open tight end Dalton Schultz – was too low. Sweat made a leaping point-blank pick, and the defensive end easily ran through Prescott’s desperate attempt at a tackle.
Prescott has thrown an NFL-worst 11 interceptions since returning in Week 7 from a five-game absence with a broken thumb. He has a five-game interception streak in the same season for the first time.
”Guess I just misjudged his length. He made a great catch,” Prescott said. ”I was chasing him down, like, `Is this happening again? Oh well. Let me get back on the field, let’s get this thing back rolling.”’
Prescott rallied the Cowboys in front before halftime, but they went down by 10 again in the second half.
The deficit was seven in the fourth quarter when T.Y. Hilton’s first catch in his Dallas debut came on a 52-yarder on third-and-30. It set up CeeDee Lamb’s second touchdown on a 7-yard pass for a 34-34 tie with 5:49 remaining.
Hilton took off on a go route down the Dallas sideline, surging past Darius Slay before Prescott hit him in stride.
”I can still play. If you don’t think I can play, then that’s on you,” said the 33-year-old Hilton, who spent 10 years with Indianapolis. ”I don’t have to be fast. I can be slow, I can still get open. But I’m still fast.”
On the next possession, rookie cornerback DaRon Bland took the ball away from Philadelphia receiver Quez Watkins for Minshew’s second interception, leading to Maher’s 48-yard kick for a 37-34 lead.
The Cowboys had to settle for Maher’s fourth field goal after Miles Sanders fumbled on the first play of the Eagles’ next possession.
Needing a touchdown to win, Minshew got the Eagles to the Dallas 19-yard line with a 22-yard completion to DeVonta Smith, who had two touchdown catches and 113 yards receiving.
After spiking the ball to stop the clock, Minshew threw incomplete twice. He was never sacked against the league’s No. 2 defense in sacks, but faced heavy pressure on the decisive play and had to chuck the ball deep.
Prescott had his first 300-yard game of the season, bouncing back from Sweat’s interception on his third pass to go 27 of 35.
”Adversity is something he eats for lunch,” coach Mike McCarthy said. ”Dak’s the same person every day, in the fire, at practice, in the class. I just think it speaks volumes of his approach.”
Minshew threw for 355 yards, completing 24 of 40 passes in his first start of the season after Hurts sprained his right shoulder in last week’s win over Chicago.
Even though the Eagles had to play without their MVP candidate, they gave Minshew the day off Tuesday to speak at the service for Leach. The 61-year-old Mississippi State coach, who died of complications from a heart condition, was Minshew’s coach at Washington State.
”There was a lot going on,” Minshew said. ”I really appreciate the staff. That’s not a one-week project; that’s been going on all year.”
LAMB’S FAST START
Lamb had 100 yards receiving in a half for the first time in his three-year career, finishing with 103 before the break on the way to 10 catches for 120 yards. Michael Gallup had the other TD catch for Dallas.
Eagles: CB Avonte Maddox (toe) and DT Jordan Davis (head) were ruled out after getting injured in the first half.
Cowboys: Rookie DE Sam Williams was inactive after being involved in a car wreck Thursday. Owner Jerry Jones said Friday on his radio show Williams was dealing with concussion symptoms.
Eagles: Two home games to finish the regular season, starting New Year’s Day against New Orleans.
Cowboys: Two road games before the playoffs, the first at skidding Tennessee on Thursday night.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL