A must-win game in October? Cowboys follow through

ARLINGTON, Texas -- If ever a team needed a game such as Sunday's, it was the Dallas Cowboys.

A three-game losing streak ruined what were good feelings from the Cowboys' 3-0 start. Doubt, at least from the exterior, was starting to creep in, especially after last week's loss to the winless New York Jets, which focused questions on coach Jason Garrett's future, the effectiveness of the offense and the worthiness of the defense.

Sunday's 37-10 win against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium might've been the jump-start the Cowboys needed.

"That's what tonight was about, really. It was not proving anything to the outside world but proving to ourselves, proving to the man next to us that, 'Hey, you can count on me. You got a brother in me. You got somebody you can depend on through success, through adversity that I'll be here,'" Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said. "So proud of this team for doing exactly that. What we proved is that we know we've got a lot of guys in our locker room that we can lock arms with and be able to handle anything that comes our way."

The defense forced fumbles on the Eagles' first two drives, and the offense turned them into two touchdowns. In a span of three plays in the fourth quarter, Dallas intercepted Carson Wentz (Xavier Woods) and recovered a fumble by the Eagles quarterback (Kerry Hyder).

The Cowboys (4-3) were the only team in the NFL not to start a possession inside opposing territory in the first six weeks of the season. They had four such possessions Sunday and scored touchdowns three times, including an 8-yard run by Prescott with which he set the franchise record for touchdown runs by a quarterback with 21. Hall of Famer Roger Staubach had 20.

The offense was efficient. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 111 yards and a touchdown as the Cowboys steamrollered a run defense that was ranked second in the NFL entering the game. Aside from one play on which offensive coordinator Kellen Moore got greedy in the fourth quarter, Prescott was smart with the ball, throwing for 239 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown pass to Blake Jarwin.

Oh, and Brett Maher became the first kicker in NFL history with three field goals of at least 60 yards. That included a franchise-record 63-yarder on the final play of the first half.

The Cowboys head to their Week 8 bye with a 3-0 NFC East record. Considering that their remaining schedule contains five games against teams with .500 records or better and a return trip to Philadelphia in December, this was as close to a must-win game as an October meeting could be.

All of the issues might not be fixed permanently, but the Cowboys needed this.

Promising trend: Elliott did something no other starting running back had done against Philadelphia's stout run defense: rush for more than 43 yards. He did that in the first half. Entering Sunday, Le'Veon Bell of the Jets had the most yards by a starter against the Eagles, with 43 yards on 15 carries. Elliott finished with 111 yards, continuing a trend against the Eagles since his rookie season. Elliott has played five games against Philadelphia and has gone for more than 96 yards each time. The Cowboys are 5-0 against the Eagles with Elliott in the lineup.

Bold prediction for next week: The Cowboys will enjoy the bye week. Six key contributors were questionable entering the game but played: Amari Cooper, Tyron Smith, La'el Collins, Zack Martin, Randall Cobb and Byron Jones. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (neck) and defensive end Robert Quinn (rib) were ruled out for the entire second half. The Cowboys will have two light practices during the week before they take four straight days off as their break.