The Dallas Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles 38-33 to go to 6-6 on the year and put the Eagles at a crippling 3-9 that effectively ends their season. It was the Cowboys’ 18th sweep of the Eagles all-time and their 3rd sweep of Andy Reid.
Tony Romo played terrificly, going 22 for 27, 303 yards, and 3 touchdowns for a 150.4 passer rating, the best of his career as a starter. It was his 38th career 300-yard game. In the process, he threw his 166th touchdown pass to surpass Troy Aikman as the Cowboys’ all-time leader in touchdown passes.
Nick Foles, an Austin Westlake product, completed 22 passes out of 34 attempts for 254 yards and a touchdown for a 96.6 rating. He threw no interceptions. The rookie mistakes amongst the Eagles skill positions didn’t come from him. Rather, they came from sensational rookie runningback Bryce Brown.
Brown gashed the Cowboys all game long. He finished with 169 yards on 24 carries and 2 touchdowns. But Cowboys rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne gathered the fumble for a 50-yard touchdown return to ice the game 38-27 with 4:03 left.
Dez Bryant would have tied Isaac Bruce for three consecutive 140-yard receiving performances had he had one tonight. Instead, Bryant had his fifth multiple-touchdown game of his receiving career and 98 yards. Witten led all receivers with 6 catches for 108 yards. Miles Austin recorded two catches for 46 yards and a touchdown. Cole Beasley, Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris, and John Phillips even caught a ball.
The Cowboys rushing game wasn’t great, but it provided balance. Demarco Murray carried the ball 23 times for 83 yards and a touchdown. Felix Jones carried the ball 7 times for 26 yards. Tony Romo even had a rush for 15 yards. The Cowboys rushing offense went over the century mark in yards for only the fourth time this season.
Aside from Claiborne’s scoop-and-score, the Cowboys defense didn’t have any other turnovers and only 1 sack by Victor Butler late in the game that forced a fumble. DeMarcus Ware didn’t record a sack for his second straight game, the first time since Week 12 and 13 of 2010 that this has occurred.
The Eagles began the game from their own 20 on a Dan Bailey touchback. On 1st down, DeMarcus Ware blindsided Nick Foles, but Foles got the ball in time for an incomplete pass. Bryce Brown rushed for a two-yard loss, setting up a 3rd and 12 from the Eagles 18 that Foles completed with a pass to Riley Cooper. On the next 1st and 10, the pass fell incomplete. *finish* Bryce Brown rushed for 1 yard on 2nd down. On the second 3rd down, the Eagles again converted on a completed pass to Brent Celek, who fought his way for the necessary 9 yards. On 1st down, Bryce Brown rushed for 5 yards before giving up 6 yards for a loss trying to bounce it outside. On 3rd and 11, Foles dumped it off to Brown for a 9 yard gain before having to punt.
The Cowboys’ first drive looked promising. Murray rushed for 14 yards and then 8 yards. Then, he was stuffed at the line of scrimmage on 2nd down and 2. Then, Romo took a sack from shotgun to go 3-and-out.
The Eagles took possession and marched down the field in 5 plays to go up 7-0 after the point after. Bryce Brown was the alpha and omega of the drive. He started things off with a 24-yard rush, and then capped it off with a 10-yard run from shotgun. Not one Cowboy defender got in his way. He was more untouchable than Ronald Reagan taking a question from Sam Donaldson.
Dallas began at their own 20 after an Alex Henery touchback. Murray took a dump off for 6 yards. Then, he picked up a first down with a rush for 7. Romo then went deep to Kevin Ogletree on a seam, but Dominic Rodgers-Cromartie broke it up. On 2nd down, Romo was under pressure and threw a ball to the feet of Felix Jones, in homage of Donovan McNabb. On 3rd down, Romo hit Witten to move the chains. Felix Jones took a rush for 2 yards. On 2nd down, Romo hit Cole Beasley for 13 yards. Romo then hit Murray on a screen for a 1-yard loss, but Murray made up for it marginally with a 3-yard run. On 3rd and 8, Romo took one out of Cam Newton’s playbook and rushed cleanly up the middle for 15 yards. Murray got a double-digit run of his own before the end of the second quarter. To begin the next period, Doug Free held and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie committed pass interference to redo 1st down. The Cowboys weren’t able to do much with it, having to settle for a 39-yard Dan Bailey field goal.
The Cowboys and Eagles traded possessions before the Eagles took the ball at their own 6 yard line for a quick drive to a score that again was all Bryce Brown. At first, he had a -3 reception, but came back with a 39-yard run outside to take it into Cowboys territory. Dion Lewis gave Brown a breather and the Eagles 3 extra rushing yards. Brown rushed for 1 yard, before Jeremy Maclin caught a 21-yard slant to convert the 3rd and 6. From there, it was all positive. Brent Celek took a quick out for 7 yards to the Cowboys 5, and then Bryce Brown rushed 5 yards to a score again untouched and out of shotgun.
Curiously, the Eagles were offsides on the kickoff, so Dallas started at its own 25. Murray rushed for 1, and then Free committed his 13th penalty for the season with a hold. Jason Witten made up for most of the penalty yardage with a 15-yard catch. Then, Witten caught a conversion for 5 yards. At their own 36, the Cowboys called an end-around, but Kevin Ogletree lost 8 yards muffing the handoff. Witten again had to make up for it with a 13-yard catch. Dez Bryant finally got the Dallas wide receivers in the stat sheet with a one-handed grab leaning out of bounds for 14 yards. Romo threw it incomplete to Witten in the flats on the next play. Garrett called a toss to Murray that lost 3 yards. On 3rd and 13, Romo found Austin for 19 yards. On the next play, Witten almost helped Romo get his 167th franchise touchdown pass, but #82 was an inch short. However, Demarco Murray rushed for his 5th career touchdown and the Cowboys’ 6th rushing touchdown on the season.
The Eagles started the final drive of the 1st half with Bryce Brown rushing for 20-yards. After the Eagles’ first timeout, Foles threw a deep incompletion intended for Jeremy Maclin. On 2nd and 10, from shotgun, Foles found Jason Avant for 29 yards to put the Eagles in field goal range. Brown rushed up the middle for 3 yards. The Eagles again rushed the ball with Brown for 6 yards before sending out Alex Henery to attempt a 43-yard field goal with 3 seconds left in the 1st half. He nailed it to send the Eagles and Cowboys to the sheds with a surprising 17-10 score favoring Philadelphia.
The Cowboys got the ball to begin the second half from their own 20 and Murray got things for 13 yards. Then, he rushed for 4 yards on the next 1st down. Dez Bryant got 3 yards to set up a 3rd and 1, which Murray turned into a 27-yard gain bouncing the dive up the middle outside. Felix then ran for 7 yards and then 1 yard more before Dez Bryant caught Romo’s 166th franchise-setting touchdown pass.
The Eagles began their first drive of the 2nd half from their own 20 with a Clay Harbor catch for 2 yards. Jeremy Maclin caught a 14-yard out route. On 1st down, Bryce Brown gained 5 yards before Brent Celek caught a 3-yard pass wherein he was injured. On 3rd and 2, Bryce Brown earned his two yards to convert. On 1st down, he rushed for 3 yards, and Anthony Spencer had to leave the game for a couple of plays, but returned. The Eagles attacked Victor Butler on the next play with a 17-yard Bryce Brown run. When Dion Lewis came to give Brown a breather, Ware had Lewis wrapped up for a loss but couldn’t take him down, and Lewis gained 11 yards. From the Cowboys’ 22, Foles threw an incomplete pass to Riley Cooper. On 2nd and 10, Foles threw a shuffle pass, in homage of Donovan McNabb, to Bryce Brown for 7 yards. On 3rd and 3, Foles threw a 15-yard touchdown to Riley Cooper with Brandon Carr defending.
The Cowboys took the ball at their own 20 and moved it quickly. On 1st down, Ogletree caught an 8-yard slant. Murray picked up the first down with a tough 2-yard run. Murray then ran for 4 yards on the ensuing 1st down, before getting 3 yards on a dump off pass. Dez Bryant converted the 3rd and 3 with a 15-yard slant. Murray then ran for 8 yards, and then 1 yard on 2nd down, setting up a 3rd and 2 from the Eagles 40, and all Murray could do from shotgun is gain 34 inches. On 4th and inches, the Cowboys elected to go for it with a Murray rush from the I-formation up the middle. From the replays, Murray seemed to get it, but referee Jeff Triplette went under the hood and reviewed the play. Ultimately, Triplette overturned the ruling on the field. The Cowboys drive continued, and resulted in a score three plays later. Murray ran for no gain, and then Dwayne Harris got into the stat sheet with an 11-yard catch. Miles Austin then tied the game up with a 27-yard touchdown catch.
The Eagles started their drive from their 22 and the first play was an 8-yard bubble screen to Jason Avant. Bryce Brown then ran for 6 yards on 2nd and 2. Foles threw an incompletion to Riley Cooper deep down the middle, but Bryce Brown gained exactly ten yards on a run. Spencer nearly had an interception at the line of scrimmage to end the drive, but it continued for the Eagles. Jason Avant caught a ball over the middle uncovered for 23 yards. The next pass was again to Avant, but fell incomplete. On 2nd and 10, Brent Celek caught a 7-yard pass. Thankfully, on 3rd and 3, Foles was unable to connect with Clay Harbor in the end zone to force a 43-yard Alex Henery field goal. Henery nailed his 20th consecutive field goal to put the Eagles up 27-24 with 9:50 left.
Within 5 plays, the Cowboys were within the Eagles 5 yard line. Felix Jones ran for 2 yards on 1st down from their own 14. Then, he ran for 6 yards. Dez Bryant converted a 3rd and 2 with a 35-yard catch on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Felix Jones took the first down handoff for 3 yards, and then Romo hit Witten in stride down the middle for 36 yards to take it to the Eagles 4 yard line. Murray ran for -2 yards, but then Bryant put the Cowboys up 31-27 after the point after with a 6-yard touchdown on the outside.
Dan Bailey kicked a touchback to force the Eagles to start from their own 20. Bryce Brown ran for 2 yards, and then Foles threw it away on 2nd and 8. Foles had to take timeout due to the Cowboys fans finally being loud on 3rd down. It didn’t help any, as Foles found Jason Avant for a 19-yard completion. Maclin then gained 3 yards on a catch before Bryce Brown fumbled the ball. Morris Claiborne scooped up the ball for a swift touchdown to put the Cowboys up 38-27 with 4:03 left in the game.
The Cowboys and Eagles again traded possessions with no meaning. After punting it with 53 seconds remaining, Damaris Johnson took the punt from inside his own 5 for a touchdown. A failed two-point try and a failed onside recovery ultimately gave the Cowboys a 38-33 win.
Now, the Cowboys go to the Queen City to take on the 7-5 Cincinnati Bengals. Playoffs are on the line for both teams. The Cowboys need to improve their play, and they know it. Jason Garrett was already talking Bengals in his postgame press conference. The team is focused. The question comes down to whether they can do it.