A History Of Backup Quarterbacks And Holiday Beatdowns In Eagles-Cowboys Rivalry

Written By Corey Sharp on December 21, 2022 - Last Updated on April 10, 2024
The Eagles face the Cowboys this week in another game around the holidays.

Once every so many years, the holidays fall right in line with the NFL season

The NFL is moving its full slate of games to Christmas Eve on Saturday this week. Sunday, Christmas Day, features three stand-alone games, which can all be bet on at Pennsylvania sportsbooks

While families are together around the tree for Christmas Eve dinner, the Eagles and Cowboys kickoff at 4:25 p.m. on Saturday in the biggest game of the season for both teams.

With a win in any of the Eagles’ final three games, they clinch the No. 1 seed. Dallas is entrenched in the No. 5 seed in the NFC, but a win keeps its slim division hopes alive.

The Eagles and Cowboys have a ton of history together, especially around the holidays and with backup quarterbacks.

Holiday editions of Eagles-Cowboys rivalry

There isn’t any extra motivation players and fans need for an Eagles-Cowboys rivalry game. However, when the game falls on a holiday, it adds fuel to the fire.

Here is a holiday edition of Eagles-Cowboys moments:

Thanksgiving Day 2014: Eagles 33, Cowboys 10

Eagles fans perhaps saw a Super Bowl trip in their sights as the Eagles dominated the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day in 2014. The Eagles improved to 9-3 on the season and the Cowboys dropped to 8-4.

Though the Cowboys got the last laugh winning the division at 12-4 while the Eagles collapsed to 10-6, families in the Philadelphia area won’t forget blowing out the Cowboys on Turkey Day.

Thanksgiving Day 1989: Eagles 27, Cowboys 0

Buddy Ryan’s defense dominated the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day in 1989. Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson accused the Eagles of setting a bounty on Luis Zendejas and Troy Aikman.

Ryan wanted his revenge on the Cowboys, who he thought ran up the score against the Eagles in 1987 during the strike season. Later that season when full-time players returned, Ryan called a fake kneel-down as Randall Cunningham threw a touchdown pass while already leading by 10 points.

Ryan got it that day and by embarrassing the Cowboys on their home field on Turkey Day in 1989, while allegedly placing multiple bounties. 

Christmas Day 2006: Eagles 23, Cowboys 7

The Eagles got the best of the Cowboys again, this time on Christmas Day in 2006.

This game had division implications with the Cowboys 9-5 and the Eagles 8-6. The win propelled the Eagles to 9-6 and they ultimately won the division the next week with a win over the Falcons and the Cowboys losing to the Lions.

The Eagles beat the Cowboys in both matchups in 2006. 

Other notable Christmas matchups between Eagles and Cowboys

Over the last 20 years, the Eagles have faced the Cowboys on Dec. 18 or later 14 times, including playoffs.

The Eagles dominated the above matchups, and even won on Christmas Eve in 2011. Though with both teams finishing 8-8, the matchup lacked anticipation.

Not every game has mattered in the standings, either. The Eagles and Cowboys faced each other in Week 17 in 2016 and 2017. The Cowboys and Eagles, respectively, each clinched the division prior to the matchup.

Here are some other notable Eagles-Cowboys games that occurred right around the holidays:

  • Dec. 28, 2008: The Eagles clinched a playoff spot after a 44-6 throttling of the Cowboys in Week 17. The Eagles fell to the Cardinals in the NFC Championship.
  • Jan. 3 + 9, 2010: The Cowboys got their revenge the following season, thrashing the Eagles 24-0 to clinch the NFC East. Matched up the next week in the playoffs, the Cowboys won the rematch 34-14 in the Wild Card round.
  • Dec. 29, 2013: The Eagles clinched the NFC East in Chip Kelly’s first season in a 24-22 victory over the Cowboys in Week 17. Kyle Orton quarterbacked the Cowboys after Tony Romo was ruled out with an injury.
  • Dec. 22, 2019: The NFC East was up for grabs with both the Eagles and Cowboys at 7-7. Carson Wentz led the Eagles to a 17-9 win over the Cowboys and they clinched the division the following week with a win over the Giants.

History of backup quarterbacks in big Eagles-Cowboys games

In some of the biggest and most memorable games between the Eagles and Cowboys, the backup quarterback has been the top story.

The last six games alone have not featured the same two quarterbacks in back-to-back games:

  • 2019: Wentz vs. Prescott
  • 2020: Wentz vs. DiNucci
  • 2020: Hurts vs. Dalton
  • 2021: Hurts vs. Prescott
  • 2021: Minshew vs. Prescott
  • 2022: Hurts vs. Rush

Saturday’s game might feature another QB matchup as Jalen Hurts’ status is uncertain with a sprained shoulder

In two of the three holiday games above, the Eagles won with backup quarterbacks.

Mark Sanchez took over for an injured Nick Foles in 2014 and led the Eagles to a 33-10 victory. Sanchez went 20-for-29 for 217 yards, with a passing and rushing touchdown. Sanchez had help from LeSean McCoy, who had 159 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Jeff Garcia led the Eagles to a 23-7 Christmas Day win against the Cowboys in 2006. Garcia filled in admirably for Donavan McNabb, who suffered a season-ending injury, going 5-1 and winning a home playoff game against the Giants in the Wild Card round.

The Eagles might have to turn to Gardner Minshew on this Christmas edition of Eagles-Cowboys.

Minshew has started 22 games in his four-year career, including two for the Eagles last season. Minshew was 7-13 in his two seasons in Jacksonville.

Here are Minshew’s stats in his two starts last season:

  • Week 13 at Jets: 20-for-25, 242 yards, 2 TDs – Eagles won 33-18
  • Week 18 vs. Cowboys: 19-for-33, 186 yards, 2 TDs, INT – Eagles lost 51-26
Photo by Matt Patterson / AP
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Corey Sharp

Corey Sharp is the Lead Writer at PlayPennsylvania bringing you comprehensive coverage of sports betting and gambling in Pennsylvania. Corey is a 4-for-4 Philly sports fan and previously worked as a writer and editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer and NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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