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Cowboys keys in victory: Stop Westbrook, own the line of scrimmage

Still giddy this morning? Yeah, I thought so. Me too. That win was such a total destruction of the Eagles that we just might have been the team to nail the coffin shut on Philadelphia’s reign as a NFC terror. This game may be remembered as the game that sealed some futures in Philly, specifically McNabb and Reid’s. Maybe not, the season still has a long way to go, but I get the feeling that things are falling apart, rapidly.

One of the keys to the game was the Cowboys containing Brian Westbrook. If you look at the stats at the end of the game you might be fooled into thinking Westbrook had a pretty effective game. But closer inspection shows that a lot of his damage was done in garbage time. The Cowboys, especially the linebackers, had Westbrook on the brain and did a fantastic job in corralling him.

"We knew every time he got the ball we had to get 11 hats on him," inside linebacker Akin Ayodele said.

More on containing Westbrook:

"We were aware of where he was at, if he was in the backfield, if he motioned out, we had a sense and idea of what he was going to do." [- Akin Ayodele]

"We knew we had to keep our eyes on him, from a team standpoint," linebacker Bradie James said. "Schematically, we did what we always do."

"Our intensity is what really stopped him, flying around to the ball," safety Roy Williams said. "It's tough to stop him one on one. We had to swarm, and that's what we did today."

"We knew their offense really revolved around Westbrook," Ayodele said. "When he's in the game, he changes everything. He adds more to their offense, a lot of mismatches. We knew the key to their offense was to slow down Westbrook."

Job well done.

How about that offensive line? Going into the game I’m sure most of you, like me, were worried about the Eagles’ pass rush and their exotic blitz schemes. None of that was a problem last night.

Romo did not suffer a sack in his first game since signing a lucrative six-year, $67.5 million extension on Tuesday. Left tackle Flozell Adams contained the NFL's sack leader, Eagles defensive end Trent Cole, in what was mostly a one-on-one match-up.

I won’t know for sure until I look at the tape but I think it’s safe to say this was the offensive lines most impressive effort to date in this season. And yes, Flozell looked like he played a fantastic game.

One injury that went under the radar.

Cowboys safety Pat Watkins appeared to sprain his ankle and was replaced by Keith Davis in the fourth quarter.

But the good news is that Julius Jones wasn’t injured by the unconscionable cheap shot to the head by an Eagles defender. He came back into the game at the end and said he was fine after the game. There better be a hefty fine for the Eagles player from commish Roger Goodell. I loved the way that both Marc Colombo and Andre Gurode jumped to JJ’s defense and started pushing the Eagles around after the play. Kudos to those guys for sticking up for their running back and letting the rest of the teams know that you can’t mess with the Cowboys this year because we will hit you back.

More on JJ, who had a very effective game going before the cheap shot and has picked up his game recently.

"I think you guys forget about [Julius]. We don't," assistant head coach Tony Sparano said. "We know exactly what Julius brings to the table for us. This kid has made a lot of yards for us since he's been here. What I love about the kid is he accepts his role and doesn't say a word about it. He goes out every week and trains like a professional, and he does whatever we ask him to do."

I admit I’m on the MB3 bandwagon, I have no doubts that he could be a starter in this league and handle a majority of the runs. No one has produced any evidence to the contrary. Running hard and being physical with tacklers has never precluded a back from being a starter in the NFL. Having said that, the JJ/MB3 rotation is working and working very effectively. So for this season, let’s ride it. During the offseason, Dallas can make its decision on JJ’s future, and they are lucky that they have MB3 who can step in and be the feature back. But for now, thanks JJ for providing a powerful 1-2 punch. After the game, JJ let the boss know everything was OK.

"How you feeling?" Jerry Jones asked his No. 1 running back.

"I'm good. I remember everything," Julius Jones, sporting a small cut on his chin, said with a smile.

We all loved Jason Witten before the game. He’s developed into one of the best TE’s in the NFL. The guy is rock-solid every week and combined with T.O. gives the Cowboys two go-to guys in the passing game. But how much more do you love Witten after that run last night? I mean, he got hammered in the side of his helmet by an Eagles’ helmet, while simultaneously having his helmet ripped off by another defender. I was amazed at first that he even held on to the ball, then I was stunned that he remained standing after the hit, but the capper, the icing on the cake, the reason to love Witten even more, was his wild run without his helmet with his nose bleeding. Pure determination and guts. Witten’s take:

"Hurt a little bit, but didn't really feel it until afterward," said Witten, whose nose looked like it endured a 12-round boxing match after the game. "Helmets fall off sometimes, but not when it's snapped off by the guy. Never had it and kept going. Probably just reaction."


I know you guys have heard me say it, ad nauseam, but the Cowboys defense was never going to live up to its potential until we had Anthony Henry, Terence Newman and Jacques Reeves all on the field together. Last night we got that, and the Eagles passing attack was never a serious threat. They racked up yards, but a lot of it was in garbage time, not when it counted. You can read about Anthony Henry’s return, here.

OK, it’s time for my bi-annual nod to JFE. She has a decent column on Wade Phillips and the job he’s done, here.

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