ARLINGTON — Philadelphia’s Nick Sirianni coached his first game in this heated rivalry with the Cowboys, and all he has to show for it is a stupid T-shirt.
Beat Dallas? Not this night. The Cowboys let the Eagles know just how far away they are from making that a reality with a dominant 41-21 victory at AT&T Stadium.
Sirianni can keep the T-shirt he wore proclaiming Philadelphia’s intentions leading up to Monday night’s game. The Cowboys are content with the game plan put together by offensive coordinator Kellen Moore — one of a multitude of candidates to interview for the Eagles vacancy nine months ago — and a swarming defense that compensated for the absence of seven key players in the front seven.
Consider this an early declaration that Dallas is the team to beat in the NFC East. Something else happened on this warm, fall evening in front of 93,267 fans.
The club climbed above .500 for the first time in Mike McCarthy’s 19-game tenure as the Cowboys’ head coach. At 2-1, it’s the first time the franchise has been above .500 since it was 6-5 on Nov. 24, 2019, a stretch of 25 games.
“It’s the momentum more than anything that we’re trying to capture, trying to get rolling,” said Dak Prescott, who completed 80.7% of his passes with three touchdowns in his first game at AT&T Stadium since suffering a catastrophic ankle injury 11 months ago. “To get a statement win like this, I feel, was important.
“That was a complete game.”
The game was a sign that the changes McCarthy has tried to make in the team’s approach, the playing style and versatility he embraces, are taking root.
“Well, that was physical,’’ owner Jerry Jones said. “Physical.
“Mike had told me that he was timing the way they get out of the huddle and to the line in practice. He said it was the fastest he’s ever been around a team this week, so these guys want it.
“It was good stuff.”
The blowout came eight days after the Cowboys picked up a road win against the LA Chargers. That outcome was much closer, but Dallas also jumped out to an early lead on that afternoon and appeared in control from start to finish.
That victory looks even better now that the Chargers went to Kansas City over the weekend and beat the Chiefs.
The Cowboys scored 14 points in the first quarter for the second game in a row. When Dallas forged a 20-7 lead with 7:10 left in the second quarter, it had gained 262 yards to 55 for the Eagles.
A team that threw the ball 58 times in the opener against Tampa Bay ran 41 times on this night. The offensive line was overpowering as Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard proved to be a formidable one-two punch.
“The offensive line was super physical,” Elliott said. “We controlled the line of scrimmage.
“You can tell that with the O-line pushing them back five yards a play. When we would go to the hurry-up [offense], they were still on the ground, cramping up.
“They definitely felt us.”
They definitely felt Elliott, a back who averaged 98.6 yards rushing in his career against the Eagles coming into this game. Five of his 28 career games of 100 or more yards have been against Philadelphia.
He fell just short in this one, in part because Pollard rushed for 60 yards. But Elliott carried 17 times for 95 yards with two touchdowns.
“Getting 100 yards, that’s cool,” Elliott said. “But a win, that’s very big.”
It had to be big for Moore, although he’s unlikely to let on. McCarthy praised the coordinator the Eagles passed over to hire Sirianni, complimenting Moore’s creativity and the run adjustments he made over the course of Monday’s game.
“It starts with his play-calling,” the quarterback said. “The way we’re getting in and out of the huddle, the decisiveness of the plays. From play-action to the run game to the drop back, it’s all working. It’s a credit to him.
“He’s in a groove.”
Moore likes to say this offense will aggressively take what it’s given. This game was the latest example. It was a ground-centric attack and a game in which tight end Dalton Schultz caught as many passes (six) as CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper combined.
“We have a lot of weapons and can beat you in a lot of different ways,’’ Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin said. “Kellen did a great job calling plays tonight.’’
Impose their will?
“That’s our mentality,’’ Elliott said. “That’s the mentality of this team. We want to impose our will, week in and week out.
“I think we took a step today.’’
Catch David Moore and co-host Robert Wilonsky on The Ticket (KTCK-AM 1310 and 96.7 FM) with Intentional Grounding at a special time this Tuesday night at 7 o’clock.