It was a matter of inches. An overturned (via replay) touchdown pass to tight end Luke Schoonmaker, whose knee was down before the ball crossed the goal line. Quarterback Dak Prescott‘s foot landing out of bounds on a 2-point play. A fumble that pass-rusher Micah Parsons nearly recovered inside Philadelphia territory.
In the end, each of those plays went Philadelphia’s way, but the result did not discourage the Cowboys.
“If [this game was a test], we didn’t pass, and that sucks,” Prescott said. “Everybody in that locker room believed. And we still do. Don’t get me wrong. We were inches away from this being a different game, about being a different outcome at the end of the game, with the way that was being played. But we’re getting better. I can promise you that. We’re going to continue to get better. We’re getting better, and we’re OK.”
Said Parsons, “I feel like we have even more confidence now. I feel like everybody had us out and [was] praising this Eagles team. Obviously, we gave them their best fit. You know, I’m not even going to put fuel on the fire. We’ll see them again in four weeks.”
At 5-3, the Cowboys are 2½ games behind the Eagles (8-1) in the NFC East. Had the Cowboys won Sunday and were they to win next week against the New York Giants, they would have been in first place in the division and potentially holding the top record in the conference.
As it stands, only the Eagles and Detroit Lions (6-2) have more wins in the NFC than Dallas.
“What is it, November?” coach Mike McCarthy said. “A lot of football left, in my opinion.”
The mood inside the locker room was starkly different from the one after the 42-10 thumping against the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 8. In the earlier game, the Cowboys were helpless in a loss to a team that knocked them out of the playoffs each of the past two seasons.
“It’s all about runs,” Parsons said. “We’ve just got to click at the right time and make our run.”
The Dec. 10 rematch with the Eagles will come at the end of a three-game homestand for the Cowboys. They play four of their next five games at AT&T Stadium, where they have won 11 in a row.
The Cowboys were able to overcome a 14-0 run by the Eagles in the third quarter that turned a 17-14 halftime lead into a 28-17 deficit in the fourth quarter. The game ended with receiver CeeDee Lamb stopped at the Eagles’ 4-yard line. Maybe not inches from a touchdown but close enough to make the final seconds tense.
“We lost, so it’s not necessarily an A, but we definitely did battle,” Lamb said. “Wish we would’ve won, but there was, like, different elements in this game, different momentum shifts, and for us to continue to battle back and still be in the game with a minute left, fight back, give ourselves a shot, that speaks volumes of us and the type of team we are.”
Prescott was clear that the Cowboys were not content with the loss, but there was more belief they could contend a month after that disheartening loss to San Francisco.
“You gotta believe. This is the National Football League,” Prescott said. “You just played the team that played in the Super Bowl last year. You got to understand who they are. Give them all the credit in the world on both sides of the ball, the coaches, staff, their players, this atmosphere. You got to give them all the credit and there’s no moral victories in this. I can promise you that. Not by any means, but by being inches away, we know we’re doing the right things.
“We’ve just got to continue to work at it and get better and find a way, in the way that we’re working to improve. Simple as that. You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse. Nobody stays the same. So we’re going to keep getting better.”
First appeared on www.espn.com