Category Archives: DALLAS COWBOYS HIGHLIGHTS

2014 PRESEASON GAME RECAP: Dallas Cowboys vs. San Diego Chargers | Defense struggled without key starters | Players performance reviewed | Broaddus from the broadcast booth | Ahmad Dixon shines | Third-string RB battle taking shape

2014 PRESEASON GAME RECAP - Dallas Cowboys vs. San Diego Chargers - Highlights Video

Highlights Video | Cowboys at Chargers | 2:21 | The San Diego Chargers played host to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1 of the preseason, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden had 107 yards and a touchdown. (Watch | No Audio)

First Take | 3:33 | Break down of the game from Qualcomm Stadium after the Dallas Cowboys vs. San Diego Chargers opener. (Watch | ListenContinue reading →

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NEW NFL ALL-STAR GAME: DeMarco Murray’s late TD lifts Team Jerry Rice to 2014 NFL Pro Bowl win

NEW NFL ALL-STAR GAME - DeMarco Murray’s late TD lifts Team Jerry Rice to 2014 NFL Pro Bowl win - Watch Video

The NFL wanted a better Pro Bowl. And it got it.

Criticized in recent years for players not giving full effort and for the games getting too high-scoring and too different from the regular product we see each Sunday, this year’s Pro Bowl was a different story.

Whether it was the unconferenced format, which pitted regular-season teammates against each other for the first time, or the competitive draft from alumni captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, or maybe just the threat from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last year that the players needed to pick it up or the game could be discontinued, the 2014 Pro Bowl was a lot more entertaining.

In the end, Team Rice defeated Team Sanders 22-21 with a late touchdown from DeMarco Murray with just 41 seconds to play. A two-point conversion run Carolina’s Mike Tolbert gave Team Rice the lead. A 67-yard field goal attempt by Baltimore’s Justin Tucker fell short, giving Rice the win.

Eagles QB Nick Foles was named Offensive MVP and Kansas City linebacker Derrick Johnson took home the Defensive MVP honors.

The Dallas Cowboys originally had only two players – Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant – voted into the game. But in the last two weeks, three players were added as alternates. The Cowboys had a total five on the field tonight.

Here’s a quick look how each player fared in the game.

Dez Bryant – Playing in his first Pro Bowl, the receiver wasn’t a huge factor for Team Sanders. He had two catches for 12 yards but did have a chance to score in the third quarter but dropped a fourth-down pass right at the goal line.

Jason Witten – For most of the game, Witten was a non-factor but he did have two catches – his only two – in the final minute of the game as Team Sanders drove for the win. Although he did start, he gave way to Cleveland’s Jordan Cameron, who ultimately caught the game-winning score late in the fourth. Witten has now played in nine Pro Bowls in his 11-year career.

Tyron Smith – The first-time Pro Bowler started for Team Rice but played the entire game at right tackle after playing the season on the left side. Smith had a false start penalty early in the game but clearly had some issues blocking Houston’s J.J. Watt and a stiff pass-rush by Team Sanders, which had four sacks and four turnovers. Smith played most of the game without much substitution.

Jason Hatcher – Also a starter for Team Rice, Hatcher had a fourth-quarter sack on Eagles QB Nick Foles on third down. Hatcher also had an offside penalty but played fairly well, coming up with a huge QB pressure in the final seconds in what could be his final game with a Cowboys helmet.

DeMarco Murray – The third tailback for Team Rice, Murray wasn’t much of a factor until the final drive. Murray caught a dump-off pass from Alex Smith and scurried in for 20-yard touchdown to pull his team within one point. A two-point conversion by Tolbert on the next play gave Team Rice the win. Murray had four carries for 25 yards and four catches for 37 yards.


DeMarco Murray scores game winning TD in 2014 NFL Pro Bowl (WATCH)

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray scores for Team Rice with less than a minute to play, and alumni captain Jerry Rice makes the bold decision to go for the game winning 2-point conversion.


Team Jerry Rice
Passing CP/AT YDS TD INT
A. Smith 9/22 116 1 1
P. Rivers 8/13 94 1 2
D. Brees 9/19 81 1 1
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
M. Forte 6 31 0 11
D. Murray 4 25 0 12
L. McCoy 3 14 0 8
M. Tolbert 3 14 0 7
J. Gordon 1 13 0 13
A. Smith 1 13 0 13
D. Brees 2 4 0 4
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
J. Gordon 6 66 1 24
J. Graham 5 51 1 16
T. Gonzalez 3 50 0 31
D. Murray 4 37 1 20T
M. Forte 3 24 0 13
A. Jeffery 2 22 0 14
B. Marshall 1 21 0 21
L. McCoy 1 18 0 18
D. McCluster 1 2 0 2
Fumbles FUM LOST REC YDS
D. Brees 1 0 1 -6
L. McCoy 1 1 0 0
D. Johnson 0 0 0 0
A. Verner 0 0 1 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
S. Gostkowski 0/1 0 2/2 2
Punting NO AVG I20 LG
J. Hekker 4 47.0 2 56
Kickoff Returns NO AVG TD LG
Punt Returns NO AVG TD LG
D. McCluster 5 11 0 26
Defense T-A SCK INT FF
D. Johnson 8-1 0.0 0 1
V. Burfict 5-0 0.0 1 0
M. Dareus 4-0 2.0 0 0
R. Mathis 4-0 0.0 0 0
A. Rolle 3-1 0.0 0 0
J. Byrd 2-0 0.0 0 0
B. Flowers 2-0 0.0 0 0
J. Hatcher 2-0 1.0 0 0
C. Jordan 2-0 1.0 0 0
K. Williams 2-0 0.0 0 0
J. Abraham 1-0 0.0 0 0
J. Haden 1-0 0.0 1 0
R. Quinn 1-0 1.0 0 0
Team Deion Sanders
Passing CP/AT YDS TD INT
C. Newton 8/17 95 0 1
N. Foles 7/10 89 1 0
A. Luck 5/7 80 1 1
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
J. Charles 5 43 0 17
E. Lacy 7 14 0 8
A. Morris 2 4 0 4
C. Newton 2 1 1 1T
A. Luck 1 0 0 0
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
A. Morris 4 69 0 27
D. Jackson 3 40 1 36T
A. Brown 1 39 0 39
M. Reece 2 31 0 21
J. Cameron 3 27 1 12T
J. Witten 2 26 0 15
D. Bryant 2 12 0 10
E. Lacy 1 9 0 9
A. Green 1 7 0 7
J. Charles 1 4 0 4
Fumbles FUM LOST REC YDS
A. Luck 1 0 0 -10
A. Morris 1 1 0 0
C. Newton 1 0 1 -7
E. Berry 0 0 1 0
D. Jackson 0 0 1 0
L. Kuechly 0 0 0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
J. Tucker 0/2 0 3/3 3
Punting NO AVG I20 LG
B. Fields 5 38.0 0 59
Kickoff Returns NO AVG TD LG
Punt Returns NO AVG TD LG
C. Patterson 2 0 0 1
A. Brown 1 7 0 7
Defense T-A SCK INT FF
L. Kuechly 11-1 0.0 0 1
E. Berry 4-0 0.0 1 0
P. Posluszny 4-0 0.0 0 0
T. Suggs 4-1 0.0 0 0
T. Jennings 3-0 0.0 0 0
B. Grimes 2-0 0.0 1 0
T. Hali 2-0 0.0 0 0
G. McCoy 2-1 2.0 0 0
D. Revis 2-0 0.0 0 0
T. Ward 2-1 0.0 0 0
G. Hardy 1-0 1.0 0 0
B. Orakpo 1-1 0.0 0 0
P. Peterson 1-0 0.0 1 0
M. Reece 1-0 0.0 0 0
N. Suh 1-0 0.0 0 0
J. Watt 1-0 1.0 0 0
E. Weddle 1-1 0.0 0 0
D. Poe 0-0 0.0 1 0
Team Jerry Rice | Team Deion Sanders
Total First Downs 24   Total First Downs 14
By Rushing 7   By Rushing 4
By Passing 16   By Passing 10
By Penalty     By Penalty  
Third Down Efficiency 6/16 – 37%   Third Down Efficiency 2/11 – 18%
Fourth Down Efficiency 2/4 – 50%   Fourth Down Efficiency 1/2 – 50%
Total Net Yards 384   Total Net Yards 285
Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks) 78   Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks) 56
Average Gain per Offensive Play 4.9   Average Gain per Offensive Play 5.1
Net Yards Rushing 114   Net Yards Rushing 62
Total Rushing Plays 20   Total Rushing Plays 17
Average Gain per Rushing Play 5.7   Average Gain per Rushing Play 3.6
Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards) 1–1   Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards) 1–3
Net Yards Passing 270   Net Yards Passing 223
Times Sacked (Number-Yards) 4 – 21   Times Sacked (Number-Yards) 5 – 41
Gross Yards Passing 291   Gross Yards Passing 264
Pass Comp-Att-Int 26 – 54 – 4   Pass Comp-Att-Int 20 – 34 – 2
Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks) 4.7   Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks) 5.7
Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks) 0 – 0 – 0   Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks) 0 – 0 – 0
Punts (Number-Average) 4 – 49.0   Punts (Number-Average) 5 – 49.2
Blocked 0   Blocked 0
Net Punting Average 47.0   Net Punting Average 38.0
FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked 0 – 0   FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked 0 – 0
Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs) 56   Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs) 109
Punt Returns (Number-Yards) 5 – 56   Punt Returns (Number-Yards) 3 – 8
Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards) 0 – 0   Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards) 0 – 0
Interception Returns (Number-Yards) 2 – 0   Interception Returns (Number-Yards) 4 – 101
Penalties (Number-Yards) 4 – 20   Penalties (Number-Yards) 2 – 10
Fumbles (Number-Lost) 2 – 1   Fumbles (Number-Lost) 3 – 1
Touchdowns 3   Touchdowns 3
Rushing 0   Rushing 1
Passing 3   Passing 2
Interceptions 0   Interceptions 0
Kickoff Returns 0   Kickoff Returns 0
Fumble Returns 0   Fumble Returns 0
Punt Returns 0   Punt Returns 0
Extra Points (Made-Attempted) 3 – 3   Extra Points (Made-Attempted) 3 – 3
Kicking (Made-Attempted) 2 – 2   Kicking (Made-Attempted) 3 – 3
Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted) 1 – 1   Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted) 0 – 0
Field Goals (Made-Attempted) 0 – 1   Field Goals (Made-Attempted) 0 – 2
Red Zone Efficiency 2/4 – 50%   Red Zone Efficiency 2/3 – 66%
Goal To Go Efficiency 2/3 – 66%   Goal To Go Efficiency 1/2 – 50%
Safeties 0   Safeties 0
Final Score 22   Final Score 21
Time of Possession 32:47   Time of Possession 27:13

NFL Pro Bowl 2014


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COWBOYS REDSKINS POSTGAME GUTCHECK: Dallas Cowboys fight to keep their 2013-2014 season alive

Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins - Dallas Cowboys 2013-2014 schedule - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys - NFL helmets - Button - Dallas Cowboys schedule 2013 2014

LANDOVER, Md. –  Three Dallas Cowboys writers share their initial feelings of the Dallas Cowboys dramatic comeback win over the Washington Redskins.

COWBOYS REDSKINS POSTGAME GUTCHECK - Dallas Cowboys fight to keep their 2013-2014 season alive - Another spectacular TD catch by Dez Bryant

Helman: I’m running out of ways to express how I can’t explain what I just saw. For what feels like the 12th time in 15 games, the Dallas Cowboys took it to the wire in an exasperating, exhilarating finish. It’s hard to know who to focus on between DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo, Terrance Williams or the defense. But they all combined to keep the season alive. You could probably argue it shouldn’t have come down to such an insane situation. But with this team, that’s just the way it’s going to be. The roller coaster continues at least one more week.

COWBOYS REDSKINS POSTGAME GUTCHECK - Dallas Cowboys fight to keep their 2013-2014 season alive - Orlando Scandrick

Kavner: This was vintage Dallas Cowboys. Expect the unexpected with this group, which never makes anything easy. That’s both positive and negative, as the consistent inconsistency always makes for dramatic finishes. That’s a reason many fans become apathetic watching them, because they can’t take the emotional back and forth that’s sure to occur week in and week out. The Cowboys found a way to pull through and keep everyone on that rollercoaster yet another week. It wouldn’t happen any other way with this team, setting up yet another Week 17 showdown for the division. They’ll need to diverge from the past if the third time’s a charm and they finally pull off the NFC East title coming off as big a win as the team’s had since Jason Garrett’s tenure began, complete with an ironic finish on a passing touchdown to the guy everyone clamored to run the ball more often. Expect another nail-biter in yet another win or go home game. It can’t happen any other way.

COWBOYS REDSKINS POSTGAME GUTCHECK - Dallas Cowboys fight to keep their 2013-2014 season alive - Tony Romo handoff to DeMarco Murray vs. Washington Redskins

Eatman: I really didn’t see them getting out of this place with a win and there were countless times when that appeared to hold true. But this team wouldn’t die and they deserve credit for that. Nothing was pretty except the final score. I applaud this defense for gutting it out like they did in the second half. And what else can you say about Romo? Every time he’s counted out he bounces back. He drives fans crazy but that’s who he is. The only thing I really got right about the initial gut was the season wouldn’t be over today and it’s not. Crazy game with twists and turns but more importantly, they’re still alive and will probably be favored to make the playoffs.

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COWBOYS REDSKINS GAMEDAY GUT CHECK: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins | 2013-2014 NFL Game 15

COWBOYS REDSKINS GAME 15 RECAP: Dallas fights back to defeat Washington, 24-23

COWBOYS REDSKINS GAME 15 RECAP - Dallas fights back to defeat Washington, 24-23 - Dallas Cowboys offense vs Washington Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys control their own destiny. Win and you’re in.

It wasn’t always pretty, the problems that have plagued the team in recent weeks again showing up at times today, but in the end, Dallas brought home a 24-23 victory over the Redskins, setting the stage for a one-game showdown against Philadelphia next Sunday.

Tony Romo was at his best when his team needed him the most, leading the Cowboys on a late fourth-quarter drive that gave Dallas the come-from-behind victory. He finished the day completing 17-of-27 passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, as rookie Terrance Williams led the club with 84 yards receiving while Dez Bryant added 73 more.

COWBOYS REDSKINS GAME 15 RECAP - Dallas fights back to defeat Washington, 24-23 - Dallas Cowboys offensive linemen and DeMarco Murray

After taking criticism for abandoning the running game last week, the Cowboys handed the ball off to DeMarco Murray 22 times in this one, and he rushed for 96 yards. In the process, he became the first Dallas running back to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing for a season since Julius Jones did so in 2006. Murray also had three catches for 15 yards and scored twice, including the game-winner.

Defensively, the ravaged unit again struggled to contain its opponent, particularly wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who had a field day with 144 receiving yards off of 11 catches. But quarterback Kirk Cousins finished with just 197 yards passing while Alfred Morris pounded out 88 yards on 24 rushing attempts. And like Romo, the Dallas D did what it had to do when it had to do it, getting two big stops in the fourth quarter to help lead the team to the win.

COWBOYS REDSKINS GAME 15 RECAP - Dallas fights back to defeat Washington, 24-23 - Michael Spurlock first return as a Dallas Cowboy

The Cowboys offense experienced each end of the field-position spectrum on their first two series of the game. After the Redskins went three-and-out to start, newly signed return man Michael Spurlock took the ensuing punt at his own 35, got great blocks from Danny McCray and Jeff Heath, and darted down the right sideline 62 yards to the Redskins 3.

Already on the doorstep, Dallas then needed just two plays to score the game’s first touchdown, Murray barreling in for the 7-0 lead.

But on the Cowboys’ next possession, they experienced the exact opposite. Another Washington punt this time rolled down to the Dallas 2-yard line, and with their backs against the wall, the offense was forced to punt. So this time it was the Redskins who enjoyed good field position, and they were able to eventually kick a 36-yard field goal to get on the board.

Washington narrowed the lead to 7-6 with a 22-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, and the Cowboys appeared in trouble again when a penalty on the kickoff return pushed them back to their own 7. But Murray took a handoff to the left, cut back against the grain and stiff-armed his way around the right side to rumble 43 yards to the 50.

COWBOYS REDSKINS GAME 15 RECAP - Dallas fights back to defeat Washington, 24-23 - Washington Redskins mascot

Romo then showed a little of that old magic. First he threw a 31-yard pass to Bryant on the right sideline, then three plays later, the quarterback spun away from a blitzing safety before launching a perfect throw to Bryant in the back of the end zone for the score and a 14-6 advantage at the half.

Despite the Cowboys owning the lead, the defense was doing little to stop the home team, meaning the offense would have to keep pace over the final 30 minutes of the game for Dallas to have any chance of getting the win.

But similar to last week’s loss against the Packers, the offense came out after the break and struggled. On their first possession of the third quarter, fullback Tyler Clutts took a short pass from Romo only to fumble, cornerback Josh Wilson recovering at the Dallas 33. That turnover led to an 8-yard pass to Garcon, who ran in untouched to close the gap to just one point, 14-13.

It didn’t take long for the Redskins to then take the lead after yet another Dallas turnover. On the Cowboys next possession, Romo threw an ill-advised pass to Bryant, who also slipped on his curl route, DeAngelo Hall there to get the easy interception and set his team up at the Dallas 47.

With the Dallas defense showing signs of wearing down, Morris took the handoff five times for 28 yards, the final carry a four-yard charge up the middle for the score and a 20-13 advantage.

Make that three straight series Washington put points on the board. With Romo and Co. still unable to do much of anything offensively, the Cowboys punted the ball away to their hosts, who then marched back to the Dallas 34-yard line, thanks in part to a crucial late hit penalty on safety J.J. Wilcox. That resulted in a 47-yard field goal for Washington on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Having gone away from the run in the third frame, in part because of the turnovers, the Cowboys went back to a more balanced attack on their next possession. Starting at their own 20, the offense worked all the way down to the Washington 7-yard line, converting a fourth-and-6 when Romo found Cole Beasley for a 20-yard strike. And although they couldn’t get in the end zone, Dan Bailey hit the chip-shot field goal, the Cowboys narrowing the score to 23-17 while also eating up 8:47 of clock.

And then the defense did something they hadn’t done since Thanksgiving – got a second-half stop. Forcing the Redskins to punt, Orlando Scandrick breaking up a pass to Garcon over the middle on third down, the Cowboys took over possession at their own 13-yard line after the punt with 3:39 remaining on the clock.

Romo then proceeded to move his offense down the field, hitting Williams on a sideline pass for 15 yards, then rolling out to his right and finding Williams again, this time behind the defense for a huge 51-yard connection. Another 17-yard pass to Bryant then set the Cowboys up with first-and-goal at the 4-yard line with 2:16 left.

After Murray picked up three yards to the 1-yard line on first down, he got stuffed for no gain on the second snap. Then on third down, Murray tried to reverse field, only to lose nine yards, setting up a crucial fourth-and-goal at the 10.

Dropping back to pass, Romo at first was unable to find an open receiver, but slipping out of the pocket, he then dumped off to Murray on the right side, who turned and dove to the end zone for the score. With the extra point, Dallas had regained the lead, 24-23.

The Redskins had one more shot, but on fourth-and-6 with 45 seconds left, Cousins pass fell incomplete, the Cowboys’ comeback complete.

With the win, the Cowboys improved their record for the season to 8-7, including a 5-0 mark in the division, and will now play for the NFC East title next week against the Eagles, who face Chicago on Sunday night.

COWBOYS VS. PACKERS GAME TAPE: Silver linings among the Blues | Gameday film study

COWBOYS VS. PACKERS GAME TAPE - Silver linings among the Blues -  Packers Cowboys postgame film study - Dallas Cowboys schedule 2013 2014

IRVING, Texas – Observations from the film room at Valley Ranch:

Starts Up Front

Since the bye week, it has been remarkable how this Cowboys offensive line has come together as a group and the job they have done in these last four weeks. Where there were issues with run blocking and leaky protection in 2012, the changes at center and guard with Travis Frederick and Ronald Leary have paid off greatly.

Doug Free is once again playing at the level that we saw from him three seasons ago and Mackenzy Bernadeau has been steady on the right side working next to him.

The best player on this line and maybe best player overall on the offense is Tyron Smith

Smith is playing at an elite level, and it is getting him noticed around the league. When I have a chance to visit with scouts from around the league, it’s Smith they want to talk about. In this game against the Packers, he had the job of dealing with Clay Matthews, who was their best pass rusher. In the week leading up to the game, I was getting that vibe that these coaches were very comfortable in allowing Smith to handle Matthews without any help, and that allowed Leary, Frederick , Bernadeau and Free to focus on the other Packers defensive linemen and linebackers.

Smith was so good against Matthews, Dom Capers moved him away from Smith just to give him a shot to try and get some pressure on Romo. No matter how hard Matthews tried to rush, he could not unlock Smith, who has become a much more complete tackle against both the run and pass. 

Where this line has been outstanding as a unit is as run blockers. Against the Packers, who play with some powerful men in their base 3-4, they were able to create cracks and gaps, which DeMarco Murray took full advantage of.

To Murray’s credit, he ran the ball with some power and resolve. This line is doing a much better job of working together to secure these blocks. You are seeing more hats on hats with finish. Where this group had their issues earlier in the season, they are doing a much better job of changing or moving the line of scrimmage and giving Murray the opportunities to make the cuts that we have seen from him or just carry the ball play side.

The group has also done a quality job in pass protection. When they have had problems, it has usually come from the coordination of their responsibilities with the running backs. There have been some sacks of Romo this season where it wasn’t on the offensive line and on the backs.

The numbers on Sunday show that the offensive line gave up three sacks and two of them were on the line, but the third was due to coverage down the field. Of those two sacks, one was due to a miss by Frederick, who worked across the pocket in an effort to try and help Bernadeau, but he whiffed and it allowed Mike Daniels to get to Romo.

The next sack was a nice design by Capers when the Packers ran a twist stunt inside with Clay Matthews, and Leary was late getting over to secure the block. Romo had nowhere to go, resulting in the sack.

I thought overall, this group really did a nice job up front, and, in the second half, if Garrett and Callahan wanted to continue to run the ball, this group would have been up to the challenge of blocking this Packers front seven, without any issues.

I was surprised they didn’t attempt to do that.

The Other End

There were not many things that went right for this Cowboys defense in the second half, but one area that did was the play of George Selvie. In the build up toward this game with the Packers, I was calling for DeMarcus Ware to step up and lead this defense to victory, but it was Selvie that was the most noticeable player when I sat down and broke down the game — which was a big surprise to me.

Selvie finished the afternoon with six tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss and one quarterback hurry. Where Selvie was at his best in this games was how he was able to get off the ball. He was attacking the entire game, and his burst off the ball put him in some very good positions to make plays.

The biggest issue for Selvie this year has been dealing with teams that want to run the ball at him, because offenses feel like they can take advantage of his lighter build. Each game, Selvie is giving up an average of 40 or 50 pounds to these tackles and it is making it difficult on him.

Against the Packers, he did a much better job of holding the point attack and not allowing the ball to get over the top of him or to the edge. This was a huge improvement of what happened to him last week against the Bears, where he struggled to defeat blocks and did a poor job of defeating blocks.

If George Selvie is going to have success at defensive end for the Cowboys, this is going to be  exactly how he did it in this game — with quickness up the field, using his eyes and playing with leverage, which he was able to do.

CASTING A GIANT SHADOW: Orlando Scandrick matched up stride for stride with Victor Cruz

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – He heard all the talk this week. He knew how important this game was to his team and he knew the individual challenge that was in front of him.

But not until Sunday morning in his hotel room did Orlando Scandrick officially get jacked up for the game.

No it wasn’t what Jason Pierre-Paul said or even Brandon Jacobs – or any a Giants player for that matter. So who managed to get the Dallas Cowboys corner so riled up? Hall of Fame player and coach Mike Ditka, who is now on ESPN’s pre-game show.

“He said the Cowboys don’t have a guy on defense that can stop Victor Cruz,” Scandrick said. “I just said ‘alright then.’ Coming from a guy who traded away his whole draft class for one player and got fired. But that got me going. He talked about Victor Cruz’s stats and probably just sees our ranking. But I took that personal.”

It showed.

Scandrick played arguably his best game of the season, as he matched up stride for stride with Cruz just about every play. Even when the coaches tried to switch up the plan after Morris Claiborne left the game with a hamstring, Scandrick had to plead with the coaches.

“I begged them … Begged them to let me stay with Cruz,” Scandrick said. “I was just confident in the matchup. I knew I could stay with him. I’m glad they let me stick with him.”

Scandrick said this was the first time the coaches ever let him follow Cruz all over the field, both inside and outside.

“I’ve done with (Wes) Welker but the Patriots do things different because they’re always in 11 personnel. The Giants mix it up a lot. But I’m just glad they let me stay with him.”

Cruz finished the game with two catches for 27 yards but lost a key fumble on his first catch when Scandrick ripped the ball out, resulting in a 50-yard touchdown return by rookie Jeff Heath for the first score of the game.

“I really respect Victor Cruz and he’s a fun player to play against,” Scandrick said. “You want to play your best against a guy like that. He’s had some games but I feel like I’ve played well, too.”

Sunday was better than “well” for Scandrick. And it’s one if the big reasons the Dallas Cowboys flew home 6-5 and tied for first place in the division.

2013-2014 GAME 11 RECAP: Dallas Cowboys sweep New York Giants with 24-21 win

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys’ 24-21 win against the New York Giants this afternoon.

What it means for the Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys find themselves back in first place in the NFC East with the win thanks to the tiebreaker over the Philadelphia Eagles and can claim an outright share of first place in the division with a win Thursday against the Oakland Raiders.

The Cowboys are 4-0 in the NFC East and swept the Giants for the first time since 2007. It is the fourth time since 1989 the Cowboys have started out 4-0 in the division.

With two weeks to stew over the worst loss of the Jason Garrett era (49-17 to the New Orleans Saints in Week 10), the Dallas Cowboys were able come up with a drive that led to a 35-yard game-winning field goal by Dan Bailey.

A loss would have been traumatic for a team that would have started its traditional December slide a month earlier. Now the Cowboys figure to find themselves in the race for the rest of the season. They all but eliminated the Giants, who entered on a four-game winning streak.

Stock watch: Tony Romo responded on the Cowboys’ final drive, completing 6 of 9 passes to set up the winning kick. Two of the incompletions were drops by Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. With everybody wondering what Romo would do in a big moment, he came up big.

Clutch late: Before the final drive of the game for the Cowboys the only third-down conversion was Jason Witten’s third-quarter touchdown. On the winning drive, the Cowboys converted three times on third down.

Bryant had a 19-yard grab after a third-and-7 following a Tyron Smith false start penalty. Bryant converted on third-and-5 with an 8-yard grab from the slot. On third-and-10, Cole Beasley picked up 13 yards to set up Bailey’s game-winner.

Still can’t stop the run: The Cowboys have been historically bad with their pass defense through 10 games, but what was lost in the New Orleans game was just how poor their run defense was.

The Saints ran for 242 yards against the Cowboys. The Giants ran for 202. Andre Brown had 127 yards. Brandon Jacobs had 75 yards.

The Cowboys missed Sean Lee badly. Ernie Sims was consistently out of position but the defensive line didn’t do much to help the linebackers either.

It was the third time the Cowboys have allowed 200 yards rushing in a game. The Washington Redskins had 216 on Oct. 13.

What’s next: The Cowboys have a quick turnaround with the Oakland Raiders visiting AT&T Stadium on Thursday for the annual Thanksgiving Game. The Cowboys have lost two of their past three games on Thanksgiving, but beat the Raiders 24-7 on Nov. 26, 2009

TEXAS-2 DEFENSIVE GAME BALL: Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick continues to shine in 2013

TEXAS-2 DEFENSIVE GAME BALL - Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick continues to shine in 2013

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick had arguably the best game of his career Sunday against the Vikings. Five tackles, four pass deflections and an interception. Most importantly, he made plays on an astonishing nine of ten opportunities in the game.

He was given a defensive game ball by the Cowboys. He also graded as the second-best cornerback in NFL for his play this week by Pro Football Focus.

“He played really well,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Probably his best game. He got the defensive game ball. He showed up in a lot of different ways. There are a lot of different ways that we evaluate and grade our players. One of them on defense with the defensive backs is there were 10 chances that went his way and he won nine of them. He had three pass breakups, an interception, a critical tackle at the end of the ballgame. He was very active throughout the game.”

It was the continuation of what has been a strong season by Scandrick who has been one of the team’s most consistent defensive performers along with linebacker Sean Lee, defensive tackle Jason Hatcher and cornerback Brandon Carr.

Scandrick attributes his strong play to being  named a full-time starter for the first time in his career. The six-year veteran replaced a struggling Morris Claiborne in Week 2 and has not looked back.

Scandrick said there is a certain freedom in your play when you don’t have to look over your shoulder every time you make a mistake. Starting has only boosted his already sky-high confidence and allowing him to play loose and focus only on making plays.

PRIDE OF THE TEXAS-2: Once again, Marinelli’s Misfits step up to save the day

PRIDE OF THE TEXAS-2 - Once again, Marinelli’s Misfits step up to save the day

ARLINGTON, Texas – Worked out on Monday, signed on Tuesday, practiced on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday … so naturally Everette Brown had a big sack and forced fumble in the final seconds of Sunday’s win over the Vikings.

Now, Brown didn’t get a turnover, but the play was still a big play to help prevent Minnesota from driving deep in Dallas territory.

Brown, who said his focus was starting up a new Smoothie shop with his fiancée in Charlotte before the Cowboys called him last week, is the latest of several defensive linemen who have rolled through the organization this year.

In fact, if you’re scoring at home, Brown is the 16th defensive linemen to play a snap for the Dallas Cowboys this season. That doesn’t include Jay Ratliff, Tyrone Crawford, Ben Bass and Sean Lissemore, who once figured into the rotational plans for this D-line.

“Every week, it’s a new guy,” said Jason Hatcher, who has been the most consistent and the best lineman so far this year. “But I think they’re coming in and doing a great job of contributing right away. I give them credit and Rod (Marinelli) for getting them ready. They were big again today.”

One of the biggest plays of the game occurred from a trio of defensive linemen who might not have been in the NFL at all had it not been for the Cowboys giving them a shot.

Nick Hayden scored his first career touchdown by falling on a loose fumble in the end zone. George Selvie stripped the ball right before Jarius Wynn blasted Christian Ponder.

“I got him pretty good … it felt good, too,” Wynn said. “But it’s nice to come in here and help this team any way I can. I feel more comfortable now.”

Speaking of comfortable, Hayden looked right at home in the end zone after his first touchdown since his high school days.

Afterward, Hayden displayed what appeared to be a rather rehearsed dance.

“It was me rocking out,” Hayden said. “I just played the air-guitar and then smashed it at the end. It’s something we had talked about before for a sack dance. But I just used it today with my touchdown. I’ve got some other (dances), too, if I ever need them.”

While Hayden is far from the new guy anymore, he was also one of the players back in training camp  just trying to revive his career.

“This group … we’re relentless,” Hayden said. “We’ve got new guys coming in each week, but they’ve been stepping up for us. It’s been great. We just try to learn from Coach Marinelli. He’s done a great job with us. We just keep playing for him.”


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2013-2014 GAMEDAY WRAP-UP: Video recap after 2013 Dallas Cowboys defeat of the Minnesota Vikings in Game 9

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LISTEN LIVE–RIGHT NOW: Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings postgame show

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NO “I” IN TEXAS-2 DEFENSE: Sean Lee believes other teammates more deserving of Defensive Player of the Week Award

Bruce Carter #54 and Sean Lee #50 of the 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys walk down the tunnel to play San Diego Chargers

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee doesn’t think much of being named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Philadelphia Eagles. He led the team with 11 tackles and recorded an interception.

Lee said it didn’t have a perfect game and that other teammates were more deserving. Mostly, his focus on helping the Cowboys continue to improve defensively rather than an individual award, while pointing out that they are just two games removed from giving up 51 points in a loss to the Broncos.

“I think there are guys on our defense who played better than I did who probably could have gotten that award instead of me,” Lee said. “It was a great team effort and great win. The key for us is to continue cause you look back two games ago and we gave up 51 points. We still have room to improve.”

DALLAS COWBOYS AWARDS: Sean Lee named NFC Defensive Player of the Week

DALLAS COWBOYS AWARDS - Sean Lee named NFC Defensive Player of the Week - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys

IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys’ top tackler of the season earned the team’s first NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors this year for his performance in last weekend’s 17-3 win against the Eagles.

Sean Lee was given the honor after recording one of three Cowboys interceptions in the win and leading the team with 11 combined tackles, including one for a loss, marking the fifth straight game he’s led the team in tackles.

The interception was Lee’s second of the year, and it’s also the second time in Lee’s career that he’s been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. He last was given the honor his rookie season for his performance against the Colts on Dec. 5, 2010, in an overtime win against Peyton Manning. Lee recorded two interceptions that game, including one for a touchdown.

DALLAS COWBOYS AWARDS - Sean Lee named NFC Defensive Player of the Week - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys - Sean Lee INT vs Eagles

That 2010 season included three NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for Cowboys players. DeMarcus Ware and Bryan McCann were both named defensive players of the week, in addition to Lee.  

The last Cowboys player to take home NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors before Lee this week was Brandon Carr last season for his performance against the Steelers. No Cowboys player won the award in 2011.

Dwayne Harris is the only other player to be given player of the week honors this year. He’s been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week twice this year, once for his returning skills and once for his coverage skills.

NO SHAME IN NO-NAME: Dallas Cowboys Texas-2 Defense holds NFL’s third-ranked offense out of the end zone

NO SHAME IN NO NAME - Dallas Cowboys Texas-2 Defense secures first place in NFC East division

PHILADELPHIA – With his game-sealing pick, Brandon Carr waved goodbye to the departing Eagles’ crowd and the shared division lead all at once.

The Dallas Cowboys’ defense, including a horde of “no-name” linemen who were forced into action with DeMarcus Ware out, held the league’s top rusher in check and forced three interceptions against the Eagles as they soared past Philadelphia for sole possession of first place in the division with a 17-3 win.

Just two weeks removed from the 51-points yielded to the Broncos, the Cowboys have allowed just 19 combined points their last two weeks to the Redskins and Eagles. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin believes seeing less can be a good thing and contributed to those performances.  

“When you become a good defense, you play fast and you know what you’re doing,” Kiffin said. “Like I say, see a little or see a lot. When you see a lot, you see nothing, and we were seeing a lot earlier in the year. When you just see a little bit and you read your keys, you’ve got a chance.”

The defense gave the Cowboys more than just a chance. They solidified the win by holding the league’s third-ranked offense out of the end zone entirely.

“It’s very encouraging to see our defense play as well as it played today and fundamentally that was the plan from the word, ‘Go,’” said owner/general manager Jerry Jones. “We played well. There wasn’t a lot of confusion out there.”

The victory moved the Cowboys to 3-0 in the NFC East for the first time since 2007 and marked their first road win of the season. They did it all without their all-time sack leader, who missed the first game of his career with a thigh injury.

With Ware battered up, the Dallas Cowboys needed all the help they could get on a defensive line comprised of players no one would recognize before the season began, outside of Jason Hatcher. The Cowboys signed defensive end Jarius Wynn this week and made him active. They brought up defensive end Jason Vega from the practice squad and made him active, as well.

The line already featured a defensive tackle in Drake Nevis who was signed just weeks prior, and a defensive end in Caesar Rayford who came to the team after the preseason.

At least on Sunday, none of that mattered, thanks in large part to tremendous coverage on the back end that allowed consistent pressure from the front four.

“It’s what football’s about,” said defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. “At the end of the day, it’s still a blue collar game. The men who want to go out and work, fight, compete get opportunities.”

The Cowboys bothered Nick Foles all day, led by a player who joined the team in training camp. George Selvie finished with 1.5 sacks to notch the first multi-sack game of his career. He shared a sack with Wynn on the last play of the third quarter, which knocked Foles out of the game.

Hatcher also added a sack in his dominant start to the year, giving him six now for the season. He said he didn’t even think the defense played as well as it should, yet the Cowboys still held the Eagles to three points. Hatcher credited Marinelli for having the ability to plug and play new people the last couple weeks without any ill effects.

“He cares about you, unlike some coaches that just care about their job, he cares about you as an individual,” Hatcher said. “He’s an awesome guy to play for.”

It helped that Foles was wildly inaccurate, completing just 11-of-29 passes for the Eagles before going down. It only got worse for Philadelphia’s offense later, as Matt Barkley came in and threw three interceptions in the fourth quarter, with Sean Lee, Barry Church and Carr all securing one apiece.

Carr’s pick sealed the deal, and the corner was stellar throughout, giving DeSean Jackson fits on the outside. He helped to hold the speed threat to just three catches and 21 receiving yards on eight targets, and he finished with an interception, two passes defended and a tackle for loss.

“Me and Orlando (Scandrick) had the task of following him around the field,” Carr said. “It’s just one of those matchups where you’ve got to stay on him for 60 minutes. A guy with that speed, it’s easy for him to slip past you. You don’t want to be in a foot race with him.”

Perhaps even more impressive was what the defense did to the Eagles’ other primary playmaker, LeSean McCoy, who led all NFL running backs by 99 rushing yards entering the game. McCoy averaged just 3.1 yards per carry, running 18 times for 55 yards, and averaged 4.3 yards per catch Sunday.

It wasn’t always pretty football for either team. The vaunted Eagles offense was forced to punt nine times after going 4-for-18 on third down. The Cowboys also punted nine times but took advantage when they moved down the field, scoring both times they got inside the 20. The Eagles went 0-for-2 in red zone efficiency.

Despite scoring just 17 points, the Cowboys’ offense still included three players with at least six catches and 50 yards apiece. Dez Bryant led all players with eight catches for 110 yards and had a game-high 16 targets.

There were major contributions from Terrance Williams, whose fourth-quarter touchdown reception gave the Cowboys a 14-point lead and marked the rookie receiver’s third straight game with a touchdown, and Cole Beasley, who was a mismatch once again in the slot with six catches for 53 yards.

Rookie running back Joseph Randle got his first start of his career, rushing for 65 yards on 19 carries and catching three passes for 28 yards. Phillip Tanner went in at the goal line to bowl in for the Cowboys’ only rushing touchdown and first score of the game.

That touchdown by Tanner in the third quarter alone would have been enough to win the game on a day where the Dallas defense dominated to put the Cowboys atop the division. Still, Hatcher isn’t yet satisfied.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Hatcher said. “We didn’t play as well as we should tonight, but we held them to three. It’s kind of scary when you look at it. We’ve just got to be more consistent.”

DALLAS’ NEXT MEN UP: Cowboys Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley continue to exploit matchups

Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley stepping up during Miles Austin slump - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys roster

PHILADELPHIA – It doesn’t really matter who lines up alongside Dez Bryant at receiver, as long as they keep having games like this.

It’s safe to call it a trend now. For the third straight week since the Dallas Cowboys lost to San Diego, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley – considered the third and fifth options, respectively, at wideout in the preseason – made the opposition pay for focusing on Bryant.

Sure, Bryant had a great game of his own with eight catches for 110 yards in the 17-3 win against the Eagles. But while Philadelphia focused on No. 88, the two youngsters combined for 124 yards and a touchdown.

“Man, I love it. We talk about it each and every day at practice, about taking advantage of our opportunities,” Bryant said. “We believe in one another, and we believe any one of the receivers can make a big play.”

The Cowboys’ first possession of the fourth quarter demonstrated exactly that. Bryant, ever the bell cow of the Cowboys’ passing attack, delivered on his end with two catches for 26 yards, but it was Beasley and Williams who shined in the clutch.

Beasley gained 13 yards on two big red zone catches, including one on third and two, to move Dallas inside the Philadelphia 10-yard line.

“I think Beasley today showed everyone that he’s got great hands, great vision, and he’s just got instinct about getting open,” Jones said. “That’s a major plus for a wide receiver. It can make a big impact.”

Once there, Tony Romo found Williams for their fifth connection of the day – a nine-yard touchdown to seal the win.

“Terrance Williams has improved as much as maybe anyone I’ve seen in the six months that he’s been here,” Romo said. “It usually takes wide receivers a while to get to that point, but he continually takes coaching and does the things you need to do to improve and it’s just a testament to his work ethic and his commitment to the football team. You love having guys like that.”

It’s been quite a ride for both receivers since the first few weeks of the season. Beasley could have made a bigger impact on the Cowboy’s first two games if he had bought a ticket. The diminutive receiver was made inactive for the season opener against New York and the Week 2 trip to Kansas City.

His involvement in the gameplan has improved every week since the Week 3 win against. St. Louis.

Williams’ bounce back from his goal line fumble in the loss to the Chargers has been a sight to behold. In the buildup to that Week 4 game, Williams caught a combined five passes for 60 yards in three games.

In the three games since that fumble, his collective tally is a fantastic 12 catches for 249 yards and three touchdowns – a score in every game.

“Each of those guys in their role has stepped up over the last few weeks and I think Tony has a real comfort level with them and he is not afraid to go to them at all,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. “In fact, when there is a match up that is favorable for us involving those guys he throws the ball there with confidence.”

It’s obvious from looking at the stats, but the boost in big plays has come at someone else’s expense. Since returning from the hamstring injury that kept him out of the San Diego and Denver games, Miles Austin has been targeted a total of seven times for no yards.

Jones said Austin’s hamstring injury has left him behind the offense as he re-enters the lineup. But Jones said he isn’t worried, as Austin’s health will continue to improve.

“I think you have to recognize that he’s working through his situation with his recovery, and it’s, if anything, being conservative there – if that,” Jones said. “But what’s really great is the way our other guys are stepping up, and you know you’ve got Miles coming.”

The Cowboys would undoubtedly love for that to prove true. But even if it doesn’t, they appear to be in good hands.

COWBOYS RIVAL HEADLINE: Philadelphia Inquirer | Eagles lose; Foles injured

Cowboys Eagles Football

Photo: The Cowboys’ Terrance Williams dives in for a touchdown as Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher defends on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. (Matt Rourke/AP)

Opportunities to take first place in the NFC East and for Nick Foles to push to become the Eagles’ starting quarterback were both spoiled in a 17-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

The Eagles’ offense struggled in the team’s ninth consecutive loss at Lincoln Financial Field, and Foles appeared overmatched before leaving the game with a head injury at the end of the third quarter. Matt Barkley replaced Foles and proceeded to throw three interceptions.

Foles started in place of Michael Vick, who missed his second consecutive game with a pulled left hamstring. Vick never looked so good as he did when compared to the performances of Foles and Barkley.

One week after Foles starred in a win over the Buccaneers, Foles went 11 of 29 for 80 yards. Barkley finished 11 of 20 for 129 yards and three interceptions.

The running game did not help, either. LeSean McCoy was limited to 55 rushing yards. DeSean Jackson was held to three catches for 21 yards, shut down most the game by Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr and the ineffectiveness of the Eagles’ quarterbacks.

The offense’s issues overshadowed a relatively impressive game from the defense. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw for 317 yards and one touchdown. He also had two interceptions. But most of his damage came in the second half, and the Eagles’ defense kept the team in contention.

The first quarter served as an insult to offensive football. Neither team could find the end zone, and there were six combined punts.

It didn’t get much better in the second quarter. There were seven more punts in that period, with the only score a 38-yard field goal by Dan Bailey as Dallas took a 3-0 lead.

The Eagles drove the ball to the Cowboys’ 42-yard line with 20 seconds remaining when Foles tried throwing a deep ball on third-and-1. It was incomplete, and Kelly elected to attempt a 60-yard field goal instead of going for fourth down. The Eagles had one timeout at the time. Alex Henery missed the field goal.

The Cowboys opened the second half by going 66 yards on 10 plays to take a 10-0 lead. On third-and-goal from the 4-yard line, cornerback Bradley Fletcher wrapped up Dez Bryant and was flagged for the pass interference to give the Cowboys a new set of downs. They scored on a 1-yard rush one play later.

The Eagles could not gain any momentum until late in the quarter, when DeMeco Ryans intercepted Tony Romo’s pass at the Eagles’ 34-yard and returned it 36 yards to the Cowboys 30. But Foles struggled throughout the drive, underthrowing a wide-open Jason Avant in the end zone and struggling to make decisions. On third-and-goal from the 9-yard line, Foles was sacked and the back of his head was knocked against the turf.

Foles was examined on the sideline and tried jogging around before he was taken to the locker room and declared out for the game. That’s when Barkley entered the game, and the struggles only continued.

Following a Cowboys touchdown drive to take a 17-3 lead, Barkley threw an interception. On the next drive, he threw another interception. He added his third interception late in the fourth quarter to ensure the Eagles would not score a touchdown.

The health status for Vick and Foles is unknown for next week’s game against the Giants.

Courtesy: Zach Berman | Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

COWBOYS RIVAL HEADLINE: Philadelphia Daily News | Foles wastes his opportunity

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Photo: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles is sacked by Dallas Cowboys defensive end George Selvie as defensive tackle Jason Hatcher helps on the play. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

The Eagles’ quarterback controversy has turned into a quarterback conflagration. This, on the afternoon when Michael Vick could not play because of a pulled hamstring; Nick Foles could not play, period (and left the game at the end of the third quarter with a head injury, besides), and Matt Barkley finished up the game by throwing three interceptions that counted and another that did not (because of a penalty).

Other than that, things went well.

The Dallas Cowboys played like garbage for much of the afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field and still beat the Eagles, 17-3, which pretty much tells you how the Eagles played. A decent defensive effort against Tony Romo and the fellas was completely wasted by an offense that was neutered by the Dallas Cowboys and by Foles’ ineffectiveness.

Before he suffered the injury, which could conceivably keep him out for next week’s game against the Giants, Foles was indecisive and erratic. On a day when many believed he had a chance to win the starting quarterback job, he played his worst minutes of the season, going back to training camp. The numbers: 11-for-29 for 80 yards and a poor 46.2 passer rating.

Slow on the trigger, missing open receivers — it was Foles’ worst nightmare. This was a clear opportunity for him to make a statement, and the statement he made was an emphatic, “Not yet.”

Others will say that it was, “Not ever.”

Now we prepare for a week in which the injury report will be the most important news. Last week, Vick sounded a bit skeptical about being ready to play next Sunday against the Giants. We will see now how the imperatives of the situation affect the healing process. More than that, though, the conversation about who should be the quarterback when Vick gets healthy has been silenced.

The truth was, Foles had an opportunity against an iffy Dallas secondary — but he needed to grab it. A lot of people, including me, figured it was going to take a big number to beat the Cowboys — but the way the game turned out, as an early punt-fest, ended that thinking. Instead, it was just going to take a good second half. For Foles, the opportunity was still there, even as he struggled. There was risk but there also was reward if he came through. 

He did not come through, and he got hurt besides. He held the ball forever on the last play of the third quarter, was sacked and driven into the ground. He got up slowly, tried to shake it off on the sideline, but was eventually led to the locker room by the medical staff. That is how it ended, with a slow, sad walk.

And now, besides the ending of the quarterback controversy, there also will be a pretty significant burial of the talk about winning the NFC East. Because the truth is, the Cowboys did not play very well and still won the game handily. The Cowboys are 4-3 now and the Eagles are 3-4, but the distance somehow seems greater than that.

Courtesy: Rich Hofmann | Philadelphia Daily News

COWBOYS EAGLES GUT-CHECK: Dallas writers review predictions made prior to NFC East division showdown

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PHILADELPHIA –  Beat writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, David Helman, and Rowan Kavner share their initial feelings of the Dallas Cowboys’ 17-3 win at Lincoln Financial Field.

David Helman:

Chalk this up as my most inaccurate prediction of the season — though I doubt anyone is complaining. Simply put, I just did not see that defensive performance coming. The Cowboys completely stifled one of the league’s best offenses and the league’s most dynamic players in LeSean McCoy. It was a sometimes ugly but ultimately satisfying win. The Dallas offense wasn’t always pretty, but their receivers stepped up to make enough good plays to seal the win. Even more important — this team is undefeated through half of the division slate.

Rowan Kavner:

For the second straight week, it was not at all the shootout everyone expected. I thought Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy would be much more infallible than they were Sunday. Credit that to heavy pressure from Jason Hatcher and George Selvie, as well as tremendous coverage on the back end.  I was on track with Terrance Williams scoring a touchdown for the third straight game and Dez Bryant going off, but was off on the Joseph Randle prediction. Phillip Tanner got it instead. Williams and Cole Beasley continue to offer more than anyone could have imagined. The way the Cowboys’ defense was playing, Tony Romo and his offensive threats didn’t need to do too much. In addition, Dan Bailey wasn’t needed for any late heroics I thought the Cowboys would have to have.

Nick Eatman:

I was about as wrong as one person could be on this one. It wasn’t high-scoring, the defense did play, they did stop LeSean McCoy and Miles Austin was no factor. It doesn’t matter what the opposition did, this is a big win for Dallas. To get to 3-0 in the NFC East having beaten every team in the division now, is a big confidence boost for a team that figured out how to win without their best defensive player and starting tailback. Wasn’t pretty but yet they still found a way to beat Philly on the road.

Bryan Broaddus:

The stats will not say that he had a monster game but for having to fill the shoes of a monster player in DeMarcus ware, Kyle Wilber did all right. Wilber battled Jason Peters all game long which I had a feeling he would do. Where Wilber was giving up size and weight, he was able to hang in there against this dynamic rushing attack of the Eagles. He got pressure off the edge against Nick Foles and later Matt Barkley. Wilber and his defensive line mates, were outstanding in getting off blocks and rallying to the ball but more importantly, they were able to tackle and prevent the Eagles from pulling off any huge plays. That was the difference in the game today.


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COWBOYS EAGLES GUT-CHECK: Dallas wants to take division from Philadelphia in game 7

TEXAS 2 DEFENSE CLIPS EAGLES: Game 7 Recap–Dallas Cowboys perched atop NFC East division

TEXAS 2 DEFENSE CLIPS EAGLES - Game 7 Recap–Dallas Cowboys perched atop NFC East division - Carter sacks Foles

This was Cowboys-Eagles, right? Two of the NFL’s most high-powered offenses against two of the worst defenses in the league? Chip Kelly’s quick pace against Tony Romo’s aerial attack? Air it out, throw it around, go, go, go?

So much for that.

In a game that was far from the high-octane shootout most expected, Dallas came out on top, 17-3, and in the process, improved its record to 4-3 and took sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

The Cowboys came into this affair ranked second in the NFL in points per game (30.5) and 13th in yards per outing (349.8). Likewise, the Eagles owned the fourth-highest average in points (27.7) and were third in yards (499.8).

TEXAS 2 DEFENSE CLIPS EAGLES - Game 7 Recap–Dallas Cowboys perched atop NFC East division - Dallas D pressures Eagles QBs all day

On the defensive side of the ball, Dallas had surrendered an average of 25.3 points per game, which was 21st in the NFL, its 413.2 yards given up per contest, ranking 30th.  For their part, the Eagles defense ranked dead last in yards per game (420.2) and 29th in points (29.8).

All the makings for video-game-type numbers.

Except the Dallas defense, was stellar. With DeMarcus Ware sidelined with an injury, the defensive line held its own, providing continuous pressure and helping limit the Eagles to only 278 total yards of offense. Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles was just 11 of 29 with 80 yards passing, while running back LeSean McCoy was held to 55 yards on 18 carries.

TEXAS 2 DEFENSE CLIPS EAGLES - Game 7 Recap–Dallas Cowboys perched atop NFC East division - Dallas Cowboys chris jones punts 9 times in winning effort

Meanwhile, although the Cowboys struggled themselves to move the ball in the first half, punter Chris Jones keeping plenty busy, in the second half, they did seem to make some adjustments. Spreading the offense out allowed for more movement, and in the end, Dallas finished with 368 total yards.

Making his 100th career start, Tony Romo, who aired it out more as the game went along, posted 317 passing yards and a touchdown. With his performance, he now has more completions and more passing yards than any quarterback in history through his first 100 starts.

TEXAS 2 DEFENSE CLIPS EAGLES - Game 7 Recap–Dallas Cowboys perched atop NFC East division - Tony Romo leads team to 17-3 win

The primary beneficiary of all that throwing was Dez Bryant, who surpassed the century mark with 110 yards receiving on a game-high eight catches. The rookie Terrance Williams continued to shine as well, catching a touchdown for the third straight game and finishing with 71 yards on six grabs.

Fellow rookie Joseph Randle, making his first career start, was steady in place of the injured DeMarco Murray, earning 93 yards from scrimmage off 19 carries and three receptions.

TEXAS 2 DEFENSE CLIPS EAGLES - Game 7 Recap–Dallas Cowboys perched atop NFC East division - matchup trenches Dallas Cowboys OL vs Philadelphia Eagles DL

Still, it wasn’t a pretty beginning. In fact, midway through the second quarter, the two teams had combined for more punts (11) than first downs (10). And, the only points in the first half came late in the second frame, when Dallas started on its own 36-yard line, and finally worked deep into enemy territory, reaching the Philly 20. Romo had connections of 14, 15 and10 yards to Cole Beasley, Bryant and Williams, respectively, but once the drive stalled, Dan Bailey came out for a 38-yard field, splitting the uprights for three.

On their next possession, the Eagles tried to even things up, crossing midfield to the Cowboys 42. But on fourth-and-1 with 14 seconds left, Philadelphia curiously elected to try a 60-yard field goal rather than go for it and Alex Henery’s attempt, while long enough, sailed wide left.

TEXAS 2 DEFENSE CLIPS EAGLES - Game 7 Recap–Dallas Cowboys perched atop NFC East division - Dallas Cowboys defense shuts down Philadelphia running game

But after picking up the field goal before the break, the Cowboys gained more momentum as the second half got underway. Things got started when Dwayne Harris brought the ball out of his own end zone and returned it to the Dallas 34-yard line.

From there, Romo kept the offense spread out, and kept Bryant active, as he hit the receiver on passes of 12, 11 and 19 yards during the drive, the last getting the Cowboys down to the Philly 2-yard line. And while Dallas seemed destined for another field goal when a third down pass attempt to Bryant fell incomplete in the end zone, a pass interference call on the Eagles gave the visitors a first down at the 2.

On the very next snap, Phillip Tanner then barreled into the end zone, Dallas jumping out to a 10-0 lead.

The Eagles tried to make a game of it, and after Romo was picked off by linebacker DeMeco Ryans, returning it to the Dallas 30, seemed to be in prime position to narrow the gap. But from there, Philadelphia could muster only 17 more yards and had to settle for a 31-yard field goal as the clock ticked into the fourth quarter, the score 10-3.

TEXAS 2 DEFENSE CLIPS EAGLES - Game 7 Recap–Dallas Cowboys perched atop NFC East division - Holding calls rarely called for Jason Hatcher and front four pass rush

But any thoughts of a comeback were quickly squashed by the Cowboys, as Romo marched his team 72 yards in 10 plays. The quarterback efficiently spread the ball around, connecting on passes to Bryant, Randle, Jason Witten and Beasley, capping the drive off with a slant to Williams from nine yards out to up Dallas’ advantage to 17-3.

TEXAS 2 DEFENSE CLIPS EAGLES - Game 7 Recap–Dallas Cowboys perched atop NFC East division - Dallas Cowboys running back Joe Randle leads rushing attack

With Foles leaving the game with concussion symptoms, rookie Matt Barkley made his NFL debut at quarterback, and didn’t fare much better for the Eagles, throwing an interception to Sean Lee on his first possession, and then another one to Barry Church on his second.

On his third drive, the youngster had the Eagles on the doorstep, reaching the Dallas 12-yard line, but with just over a minute left on the clock, cornerback Brandon Carr pulled down yet another interception in the end zone, Romo simply having to take two knees to run out the clock.

With the victory, the Cowboys captured their first road win of the 2013 season, and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC East. They’ll next head to Detroit to take on the Lions, who are also 4-3 after losing today to the Bengals.

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