By DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Dak Prescott threw five career-high touchdown passes against Philadelphia Eagles backups, Cedrick Wilson and Dalton Schultz each had two goals scored and the Dallas Cowboys kept their hopes slim for one. No.2 seed in the NFC playoffs alive with a 51-26 victory on Saturday night.
The Cowboys still had some seeds to play against an Eagles team that rested Jalen Hurts and other key starters ahead of an NFC wildcard game next week.
The NFC champion Cowboys (12-5) need losses on Sunday by winning the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay against last place Carolina and also for the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals in lose to earn the No. 2 seed. There is also a path to the No. 3 seed for Dallas.
The Cowboys can’t finish worse than the fourth seed. The Eagles (9-8) could still be the sixth seed.
Prescott remained in the game until the fourth quarter, with the lead apparently increasing with each pitch and therefore, perhaps, the risk of injury for a nearly 15-month-old QB removed from the horrific compound fracture of his right ankle that has ended its 2020 season.
Prescott did his best to get an offense that consistently produced at least 400 yards in a 6-1 start on track before the playoffs after a two-year absence. He was 21 of 27 for 295 yards and no interceptions.
He came out unscathed – and with the Cowboys record for touchdown passes in a season with 37. Tony Romo pitched 36 in 2007. Prescott threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Corey Clement early in the fourth. quarterback to bring the score to 37-20 and put the mark and, luckily for the Eagles, get him out of the game.
Of course, Prescott got his record in Game 17 this season.
Staying sharp, racking up points and, yes, brutalizing a hated NFC East rival were all needed strengths for the Cowboys.
But, like the team records on both sides which kept falling, victory comes with a slight shrug of the shoulders. With nothing to play for, the Eagles treated the game like a preseason final. Hurts, with 3,144 passing yards and a team-high 784 rushing yards, took the day off. The same goes for Lane Johnson, cornerback Darius Slay and 11 other players on the reserve / COVID-19 roster.
Gardner Minshew started for Hurts and – for one practice, at least – it was Minshew Mania again when he threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Tyree Jackson in the first practice. It was the first take of Jackson’s career.
The score triggered an “EAGLES! Chanted from fans across the street at the Flyers game after a replay aired on the big screen.
Philadelphia didn’t give anyone in the green much to sing about and cheer on the rest of the game.
Prescott sucked the energy out of the stadium early. He hit Wilson for 14 and 24-yard TD receptions in the first half, then connected with Schultz twice in the final 1:45 of the half for a 30-17 lead. . Schultz became only the fifth player since 2000 to capture two touchdown passes in the last 2 minutes of the first half.
Already a sparse crowd due to low stakes and lower temperatures, Eagles fans fled for the halftime outings.
Eagles center Jason Kelce took a snap to extend his streak of 122 games played, the longest active streak among centers.
The Eagles also started wide receiver DeVonta Smith as he chased DeSean Jackson for most of the yards received by a rookie in team history. He came in from 38 yards and the Eagles tried to get him the record in a hurry. His first two receptions were 25 and 12 yards – it’s only 37. He received a 4-yard reception late in the first quarter to set the record with 916 yards, then he hit the bench.
The Eagles set a franchise record for rushing yards in a single season. The Cowboys set a franchise record for most points in a season. Ezekiel Elliott hit 1,000 rushing yards for the Cowboys for the fourth time.
Ito Smith and JaQuan Hardy scored in the fourth quarter to help the Cowboys set an NFL record for the most players to score a touchdown in a single season at 22.
The milestones were achieved thanks to the extra play.
The Cowboys will host an NFC wildcard game next weekend at AT&T Stadium.
The Eagles head to the playoffs ready for a wildcard game under rookie head coach Nick Sirianni.
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