If the Dallas Cowboys make the 2014 NFL post season and take a run at their sixth Super Bowl ring, there is one drive they will look back at as the one that saved this season.
The clock at Lincoln Financial Field read 05:42 in the 3rd quarter. The Philadelphia Eagles had just scored yet another touchdown to complete their comeback from a 21 point early deficit. Their latest touchdown coming after Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo held on to the ball way too long and eventually fumbled the ball just 12 yards outside of the Philly endzone.
After the post-TD commercial break, NBC cameras showed the Eagles owners box. There was actor Bradley Cooper and the gang singing the Eagles fight song. NBC commentator Cris Collinsworth was gushing all over the Eagles and bashing the snake-bitten Romo. It was a giant Philly love-fest. The NFC East leaders could smell the blood in the water.
One more blow to the Cowboys jaw and the division crown was theirs. The upcoming Cowboy drive would surely result in some sort of catastrophic event that would put Dallas down for the count. America’s Team’s playoff hopes would be squandered again in a late season letdown in the City of Brotherly Love.
The next drive started on the Cowboys own 22. The Philly faithful were worked up into a full frenzy. On first and ten Dallas stubbornly called for yet another DeMarco Murray first down run that resulted in next to nothing.
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Cowboys fans across the globe could just feel inside what was about to happen. Romo would be forced to go back into the shotgun formation. The Eagles would all-out blitz and something bad was bound to happen.
Romo did indeed drop back into the shotgun, but then he deviated from the script. The O-line picked up the rush and Tony calmly found Dez Bryant who beat Bradley Fletcher for a 22-yard first down grab. The Cowboys were on the move. The crowd noise dropped a few decibels. Confidence was growing in Cowboys Nation.
The Cowboys stayed in the shotgun on first down and Romo found Jason Witten (again!) for an 11 yard gain and another first down. The noise meter at The Linc dropped a few more levels.
Once again on first down, Dallas went back to the DeMarco well with another run up the gut that came up empty. Cowboys fans let out a collective “Why?”. On the next play from scrimmage they got their answer. On second and ten, surprisingly, Romo stayed under center and handed the ball off to Murray who hit the hole on the left side of the line. The NFL’s leading rusher slipped through the line and broke off a 21-yard run to the Eagle’s 22.
It was again first and ten, and one more time the Cowboys try Murray. This time to the right side and once again he was stuffed for a loss of 1. The Philadelphia crowd was back into it… they sensed a stalled drive and maybe just a game-tying field goal.
Romo and Dez had other ideas. The duo hooked up on a short pass to the right side and #88 took it all the way down to the two yard line.
It was now first and goal. Everyone in the stadium knew what was coming… The Eagles defense knew what was coming, yet they could do nothing about it. Murray took the handoff from Romo and went right up the middle for the touchdown!
You could hear a pin drop in the stadium.
Dallas had answered the bell. Game momentum was back with Dallas and they would not let it go this time. Romo proved not to be a choking hazard. The Cowboys season, at least for now, was saved.
While that 3rd quarter drive may not have a name coined for it, it may just prove to be one of the most important possessions of the 2014 Dallas Cowboys season. How the drive eventually ranks in Cowboys franchise history books will depend on what Dallas is able to accomplish the rest of this season.