While far from dominant, Philadelphia Eagles still control NFC East after Cowboys match them on top

Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Jalen Carter, left, runs with the ball while scoring on a fumble recovery as teammate Haason Reddick (7) gestures and Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Terence Steele (78) chases him during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) (Tony Gutierrez, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press All Rights Reserved)

ARLINGTON, Texas – Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles still control the NFC East, even after rare consecutive losses and allowing the Dallas Cowboys to match them atop the division.

The Eagles are also far from being a dominant team despite their 10-3 record after their 33-13 loss at Dallas on Sunday night.

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“I think the biggest thing for this team now is really find out who the dudes are,” veteran defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. “I’ve been part of teams where the dudes in the locker room do something about it, and I’ve been on teams where it kind of crumbles. But now it’s time to see the real leadership ... leaders on this team, myself included, step up and do something about it.”

There have been red-zone struggles for their defense, the close scores even in the games they have won and the turnovers. Three of their top offensive players had fumbles — Hurts on their opening drive of the game, receiver A.J. Brown to start the second half and DeVonta Smith in the fourth quarter.

Philadelphia has consecutive losses for the first time this season, this one coming a week after its 42-19 home loss to NFC West-leading San Francisco, which is also 10-3 and beat Dallas 42-10 on Oct. 8.

“We’ve got to internalize that and we've got to make sure that the adversity that we’re facing right now, we’re able to to get through and make sure we get better from it,” coach Nick Sirianni said.

The Eagles, who have won seven one-score games, won't play a team with a winning record in any of their final four games, starting next week at Seattle (6-7).

Hurts hadn't lost consecutive games as Philadelphia's starting quarterback since October 2021.

Already trailing when getting the ball for the first time, Hurts fumbled at the end of a run on the Cowboys 20 and immediately headed to the sideline without any protest. Brown reacted the same way after being stripped around midfield after making a catch and taking a few steps on the fourth play of the second half.

“We’ve got to hold on to the ball, but we’re trying to makes plays,” Brown said.

The Cowboys scored all three times inside the 20, so opposing teams have now gotten points 70.4% of the time (31 of 44) when reaching the red zone against Philadelphia. The Eagles entered the game ranking 30th in the NFL in that category.

Philadelphia was the NFL's only 8-1 team and had a two-game division lead after winning 28-23 at home over the Cowboys on Nov. 5. But Dallas almost pulled that one out, going 81 yards in 46 seconds on the game's final drive — helped by 56 yards of penalties — before CeeDee Lamb was tackled at the 5 as time expired after a 22-yard gain.

Dallas (10-3) has won five in a row since, but its next two games are on the road against the AFC East’s top teams, Buffalo (7-6) and Miami (9-3). The Cowboys then host NFC North-leading Detroit (9-4) in their home finale before finishing at Washington.

After playing the Seahawks, Philadelphia has two games left against the Giants (4-8) — at home and then at New York in the regular-season finale — with the Eagles' home finale against Arizona (3-10) in between those NFC East games.

“You can’t even look that far ahead,” Brown said. “We play Seattle next week. That’s the only thing we need to worry about.”


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