For 4-1 Cowboys, now comes the fun part -- facing 5-0 Eagles on SNF

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- For 20 to 30 minutes Saturday night in a ballroom at the downtown Los Angeles Omni Hotel, Tracy Curry spoke to the Dallas Cowboys.

None of them really knew him as Tracy Curry. But they did know The D.O.C., the famous rapper, producer and co-founder of Death Row Records with Dr. Dre and Suge Knight. Some of them knew he was from Dallas.

“Obviously, he is a legend,” quarterback Cooper Rush said after Sunday’s 22-10 win against the Los Angeles Rams. “We saw a clip of the movie he has coming out. It was a good story, his message. He is from Dallas. He is a big fan. He said, ‘Enjoy the moment. You are here for a reason. You have a purpose.’”

These Cowboys are enjoying the moment. They are proving they are here for a reason and that they have a purpose that comes with winning four games in a row.

Now comes the fun part -- on Sunday night (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC), they play the NFL’s last undefeated team, the 5-0 Philadelphia Eagles, with first place in the NFC East on the line.

“We’ll be on it really quickly,” said coach Mike McCarthy, who invited The D.O.C. to speak. “We’ll grade this one on the way home, get together as a staff in the morning. But, hey, division games, there’s nothing like division games. That’s the reason why probably all of ours are on national TV. There’s more that goes into it.”

No one really thought the Cowboys would be in this position. Not after losing quarterback Dak Prescott to a fractured right thumb in the season opener. Not with so many questions on the offensive line. Not with a schedule that included the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals and defending Super Bowl champion Rams separated by four weeks.

Yet here they are at 4-1 for the second straight season.

“Very pleased, you know,” said Micah Parsons, who played with a tight groin in the second half but still recorded two sacks. “Just, [the] job’s not finished. We started like this last year. We got to keep going. Can’t stop. Can’t slow down.”

Per Elias Sports Bureau data, the Cowboys are just the second out of 21 teams to have faced and beaten both Super Bowl teams from the previous year in the first five weeks of a season. The other? The Atlanta Falcons, who beat the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos in 2016.

Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was Atlanta’s head coach and took the Falcons to within a sniff of winning the Super Bowl.

One of McCarthy’s themes in 2022 is kintsugi, which is the Japanese art of putting together broken pottery pieces with gold by embracing the flaws to create a more beautiful piece. The Cowboys are by no means perfect.

“Every team I’ve been a part of, the connection and the community in the locker room is the key,” McCarthy said. “Everyone wants to talk about talent and experience and awareness, but the glue in what we’ve got going here -- kintsugi, if you want to really dive into it -- is so true about these guys.

"We’ve got a lot of football left to play. We’re 4-1. We’ve got 12 more regular-season games. But this group has come together quickly. They’re accountable. They keep things in perspective. We know we haven’t played our best game yet this year, but it’s exciting to be 4-1 and in this position.”

Just how good are the Cowboys?

Defensively, they have been excellent. For the first time since 1972, their defense has allowed fewer than 20 points in each of their first five games. They have 20 sacks, the fourth most by a team through five games since the 1970 merger. In addition to the five sacks of Matthew Stafford on Sunday, the Cowboys pressured him 20 times.

The Cowboys allowed plays of 54 and 75 yards (Cooper Kupp’s touchdown) in the first half. They allowed just 194 yards on the other 62 plays.

“The classic ‘Let your players play in the best spots so that they can see and excel at what they do best,’ that’s what the defense is doing,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said.

Offensively, they are not setting the world on fire. Rush, now 5-0 as a starter, threw for just 102 yards, but he did not turn it over. The Cowboys became just the second team to win without having a running back or tight end catch a pass. They ran it 34 times for 163 yards. Tony Pollard finished with 86 yards and Ezekiel Elliott had 22 carries for 78 yards.

Pollard’s 57-yard touchdown run after the Rams took a 10-9 lead in the second quarter marked the third straight game in which the Cowboys have answered immediately with a go-ahead touchdown after trailing.

“We’re staying true to our formula,” McCarthy said.

A season ago, the Cowboys handily beat Philadelphia twice (45 combined points), although the Eagles did not play most of their regulars in the season finale with a playoff spot locked up.

Rush was going to enjoy the flight home from Los Angeles before turning his attention to the Eagles.

“Big-time division game. Division games are what it's about, right?” Rush said. “They are playing great.”

Parsons wasn’t going to wait.

“Going to start tonight,” he said.