Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Epic early season divisional battle

The Cowboys found themselves in a track meet last night. They helped the Eagles out some in the early going when they were up 14-6 with the ball and poised to take control. Then all hell broke loose late in the first quarter when Romo, doing his best impersonation of Roger The Dodger Staubach, threw a pick to Asanti Samuels (former Patriot DB) and the Eagles had the ball at the Cowboys 27. From there, the Eagles scored on a short swing pass from McNabb(maybe the healthiest he's been since Philly's Super Bowl year when they had T.O.) to Brian Westbrook. Then the Cowboys KR Stanback couldn't handle the ensuing kickoff and finally fell on the ball at his own 5. After a false start, the Cowboys were at their own 2 and a half. Then Romo fumbled in the end zone, tried to pick up the ball, fumbled again, and the Eagles recoverd and had their second TD in a matter of about 30 seconds, and suddenly had a 20-14 lead. Then it seesawed from there. The Eagles then led at the half 30-24. Both defenses found their traction in the second half after a combined 54 points were scored in the first half. The Eagles doubled teamed T.O. the entire second half, after he'd burned his former team for a 72 yarder in the first quarter that put Dallas up 7-3 (T.O. did his best Usaine Bolt finish line lean when crossing the goal line) Owens also got inside of Brian Dawkins in the second quarter for a 4 yard TD when the Cowboys reclaimed the lead 21-20. But the Eagles would outscore Dallas 10-3 to end the first half for the 30-24 advantage. Then the Cowboys had the lone third quarter score when Romo, forced to use his other guys because of the double teaming of T.O., found Barber alone for a 25 yd TD pass. Again the Cowboys lead, now 31-30, was brief. The Third quarter ended with Philly threatening and then they scored the go-ahead on Westbrook's one yard run and it was 37-31 Eagles. The Cowboys came right back to the Red Zone but misfired and had to settle for a 47 yard field goal by Nick Folk, who had nailed a 51 yarder to end the first half. So now at 37-34 Eagles, the Cowboys special teams broke down and gave Philadelphia the ball at the Dallas 45, potentially a fatal break. The Eagles started moving the ball again and it appeared that the Cowboys were going to at best hold them to a field goal. And right when I was thinking "we (the Cowboys) need a turnover right about now" McNabb and Westbrook fumbled an exchange and Dallas recovered. In a matter of five plays, the Cowboys had first and goal at the five when TE Jason Witten got open over the middle for a 40 yard pass play. On the next play Romo threw to T.O. who was interfered with by Samuels and now the ball was at the 1. Marion Barber scored on his second try standing up and it was 41-37 Cowboys. On two successive tries, the Eagles were stopped, the last being when they turned it over on downs. A couple of key sacks of McNabb helped immeasurably and Dallas ran out the last minute and change for the hard earned breathtaking win. So 41-37.

Two things are for sure. Philadelphia retooled on offense and appears to be capable of being in some track meets if last night is any indication. The other things is: Dallas could not afford to lose this one at home to a divisional opponent. Maybe Philly is the top challenger to the Cowboys in the NFC East this year. Too early to tell and it was only week 2 but Dallas had to win this, knowing that they will go to Philly later on. And as I've said all along, the Cowboys had to win if they really are a Super Bowl team. Actually, the defense only gave up 23 points instead of 37. But some adjustments were made at halftime since Dallas outscored the Eagles 17-7 in the second half. Pro Bowl safety Roy Williams looks to be lost for three games with a broken forearm. So that could hurt the defense somewhat. PacMan isn't in shape yet. Give him time. So the Cowboys are 2-0 and have a LONG ways to go. They also appeared to be undisciplined at times last night. It was the kind of game that the Cowboys have had a tendency to botch in recent years. A game that was right there and probably should have been theirs and well, this time they were good enough to overcome it. They showed the kind of heart, character, and resiliency that they will need come playoff time. They are good no doubt but they've got work to do on defense and on offense, there's still room for improvement. Romo was superb other than those two quick costly miscues. But the bottom line is that he won against a fierce rival in a playoff like atmosphere. Big D was rocking last night! Myself, I could NOT sit. I was on pins and needles. It's the kind of game that I can only enjoy now on NFL Replay because I know that my team won. But during the game, it was anything but. But the edge of your seat thrillers are what makes Football KING. No rest for the weary. Packers up at Lambeau next. I still like our chances against Rodgers better than if Favre was still in Green Bay. But our defense needs to get into Rodgers' face like they finally did McNabb's at the very end when it mattered most. And last but not least, another key contributer to last nights' win, was Halfback/KR Felix Jones, that rookie out of Arkansas. He ran one back 98 yards for a score and finished the game with over 200 return yards. Perhaps he could be one of the final pieces of the puzzle along with Pac Man, who is working his way back into what he was with Tennessee.

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