Let’s take a look at the NFC East to gauge the performance of its four teams.
Commanders 20, Cardinals 16
In a grand spectacle witnessed by a capacity crowd, the Washington Commanders engaged in a fierce battle against the underperforming Arizona Cardinals, ultimately clinching victory with a score of 20-16.
Despite a slew of initial errors that contributed to 10 points in favor of Arizona, Washington’s defensive prowess came to the forefront in the second half. They forced two crucial fumbles, leading to the game-winning touchdown and an insurance field goal.
After both teams exchanged punts during their opening possessions, the Commanders made the first mark with a 6-play, 91-yard offensive masterpiece. Sam Howell orchestrated a magnificent 7-yard touchdown pass to Brian Robinson Jr., setting the tone for the game. Arizona retaliated with Matt Prater’s 28-yard field goal on their next drive, and a Zaven Collins interception of Howell paved the way for a 54-yard Prater field goal, bringing the score to 7-6.
Late in the second quarter, as Howell faced a relentless assault by Dennis Gardeck, he lost possession of the ball. Cameron Thomas displayed sheer opportunism by recovering the fumble at the Washington 2-yard line and storming into the endzone, granting the Cardinals a 13-7 lead. However, the Commanders swiftly regrouped, requiring a mere 55 seconds to position themselves for a 30-yard field goal, courtesy of Joey Slye, reducing the halftime score to 13-10 in favor of the Cardinals.
Prater extended his field goal prowess in the opening drive of the second half, but thereafter, Arizona’s scoring was silenced. Late in the third quarter, Montez Sweat of Washington executed a game-changing move, forcing a fumble from Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs. Daron Payne, a fellow defensive lineman, exhibited his prowess by securing the loose ball. This led to a 7-play, 29-yard drive, culminating in Howell’s 6-yard touchdown scramble. The Commanders soared ahead, with a scoreboard reading 17-16.
The Commanders’ defensive unit held steadfast for the remainder of the game. In the late stages of the fourth quarter, Sweat once again disrupted Dobbs, forcing yet another fumble. Abdullah Anderson was the hero this time, recovering the fumble and facilitating Slye’s 33-yard field goal, establishing a four-point lead. Arizona’s next drive ended in disappointment as they turned the ball over on downs. Washington efficiently ran down the clock, culminating in a punt that sealed the fate of the game after Greg Dorch was tackled.
Eagles 25, Patriots 20
The reigning NFC champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, commenced their season with a riveting clash against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, triumphing with a final score of 25-20.
Philadelphia swiftly constructed a commanding 16-0 lead during the opening quarter, but the ensuing phases of the game unfolded as a fiercely contested battleground, ultimately culminating in a climactic defensive stand.
The Eagles embarked on their journey with a 32-yard field goal executed by Jake Elliott. Darius Slay further extended their advantage by intercepting Mac Jones and embarking on a breathtaking 70-yard dash to the endzone. Mac Jones, not to be outdone in the turnover department, fumbled on the subsequent drive, setting the stage for Jalen Hurts to orchestrate a 5-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith. The Eagles surged to an impressive 16-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
However, the Patriots orchestrated a resolute comeback in the waning moments of the second quarter. They initiated their scoring with a meticulous 10-play, 71-yard drive, culminating in Jones’s exquisite 9-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Henry. After an Eagles three-and-out, New England mounted a rapid offensive surge, with Jones threading a 19-yard touchdown pass to Kendrick Bourne. This rapid succession of scores reduced Philadelphia’s lead to a mere two points at halftime.
The third quarter saw minimal scoring, with Jake Elliott nailing a 56-yard field goal. In the final quarter, Elliott’s adeptness in long-range field goals continued, extending the Eagles’ lead to 25-14. Nevertheless, the Patriots injected fresh intensity into the game when Rhamondre Stevenson’s 32-yard reception set the stage for Bourne’s second touchdown catch, narrowing the margin to 25-20, despite a failed two-point conversion attempt.
The game’s conclusion was nothing short of dramatic. The Patriots had a prime opportunity to seize victory after recovering a fumble from Jalen Hurts during Philadelphia’s subsequent drive. However, their hopes were dashed as they failed to convert on a pivotal 4th and 17. Subsequently, the Eagles themselves faced a critical 4th and 2 situation, which they couldn’t convert, offering New England a glimmer of hope. Nevertheless, Kayshon Boutte’s 12-yard reception on 4th and 11 was overturned, with Boutte ruled out of bounds before gaining possession of the ball, sealing the Eagles’ hard-fought victory.
Cowboys 40, Giants 0
The Dallas Cowboys embarked on an awe-inspiring journey to conquer the New York Giants on enemy territory, culminating in an astonishing 40-0 triumph, etching their performance in the annals of the storied rivalry’s history.
Dallas’s defensive unit displayed sheer dominance, limiting the Giants to a meager 63 net passing yards and a paltry 171 total yards. They relentlessly pursued Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, amassing an impressive seven sacks and forcing three turnovers. Notably, the Cowboys managed to secure two of their touchdowns through stellar defensive and special teams efforts.
Initially, the Giants appeared to launch a promising expedition as they embarked on a sustained drive that propelled them into the Dallas red zone. However, a botched snap on third down paved the way for the Cowboys to block the ensuing field goal attempt, returning it for a touchdown. This pivotal moment marked the initiation of a comprehensive dismantling.
Brandon Aubrey bolstered the Cowboys’ lead with a precise 21-yard field goal. The Giants, unfortunately, fell victim to DaRon Bland’s interception of Daniel Jones, who masterfully returned it for a 22-yard touchdown, extending the Cowboys’ lead to a commanding 16-0.
Aubrey’s field goal prowess continued with another successful kick, while Jones suffered yet another interception, setting the stage for Tony Pollard to execute a 2-yard touchdown run. With the Giants trailing 26-0, they sought to salvage some points by embarking on a drive towards field goal range. However, Graham Gano’s misfortune struck as he missed from 36 yards out.
In the second half, the Giants found themselves incapable of penetrating the Cowboys’ impervious defense, while Dallas continued to amplify their lead. Two rushing touchdowns, one courtesy of Pollard and the other by KaVontae Turpin in the third and fourth quarters, respectively, brought the proceedings to a resounding conclusion.