Doug Pederson learned his lesson the last time the Philadelphia Eagles played the Dallas Cowboys for first place in the NFC East. Pederson guaranteed victory against Dallas, as a way to motivate his team. The strategy backfired as the Eagles trailed by two touchdowns in the first quarter and lost 37-10 in Week 7; Dallas’s biggest victory over Philadelphia since 1998.
This time around, Pederson has no guarantees for the Eagles who enter Sunday’s showdown as underdogs.
“Listen, they got us the last time and they kicked our tail and they had a great game plan,” Pederson said to reporters on Monday. “Listen, we just have to come prepared each day this week and study the tape. Coaches have to have a great game plan, obviously, and our players have to understand the game plan, either how we are trying to attack or defend the Cowboys and then go play.
“We’re here at Week 16 and again, like I said, there’s a lot of tape out there, another division opponent. There’s probably a little more obviously on the line this week than most weeks, but it’s where we are right now, and we’ve dug this hole, but we’re slowly climbing out of it, and we’re excited for the opportunity.”
The Eagles haven’t been in sole possession in first place in the NFC East all season, but have an opportunity to accomplish that Sunday. A win over the Cowboys gives the Eagles sole possession of first place in the NFC Eas — Philadelphia can then seal the division title with a win over the New York Giants in Week 17.
Pederson is taking a much different approach to this first-place showdown. Last time these two teams played, he gave the Cowboys bulletin board material last time with his comments from October.
“I know the sky is falling outside. It’s falling and I get that and the fans are reeling just a little bit. We’re going down to Dallas, our guys are gonna be ready to play. And we’re gonna win that football game and when we do we’re in first place in the NFC East,” Pederson told SportsRadio WIP the Monday heading into the Week 7 game. “We’re going to control our own destiny and be right where we need to be.
“Has it been perfect, beautiful and all that? No. All we got to do is try to be 1-0 this week, beat the Dallas Cowboys, and we’re in first place.”
This time, the Cowboys have no such ammunition. The Eagles, for now, are staying grounded.