It's time to hand out game balls for the Cowboys' home playoff victory against the hated division rival Eagles We've got one for a player from each unit: offense, defense, special teams, as well as one for the coaching staff.
Make the jump to see who gets a BTB game ball.
Felix Jones -The 73-yard TD was just the icing on the cake. Throughout the game, Felix showed that he can be the feature back the Cowboys have dreamed of since drafting him. He gets the tough yards, and every now and then slips through for a quick 20-yarder like he did in the first quarter. Earlier in that quarter, he showed his tiptoeing skills (ala Woody Dantzler) on a 30-yard catch and run. He finished the half averaging 5.9 yards on nine carries.
And then, in the third quarter, he cemented the win for the Cowboys with the longest run in the franchise's postseason history. Of the Cowboys' 10 longest plays for the night, Felix took part in four of them. He's just so much fun to watch that I had to include his highlight reel here. Before you watch it, though, ask yourself: who has the team's cheesier smile - Felix or Miles?
Honorable Mention: Miles AustinTony Romo
Bradie James - One of my biggest fears still stemming from the '07 playoff loss to the Giants was the way Eli drove them down to get a quick TD before the half. Even though the Cowboys were up 24-7 on the Eagles with less than a minute to go in the half, I felt that same fear creeping into my gut.
On 2nd-and-15, McNabb escaped pressure from Anthony Spencer and hit Jason Avant for 20. Avant was able to stretch the ball out of bounds. Standing up with both my hands on my head, I tried to dismiss the "here we go agains". If the Eagles could have pulled within two scores before the half, they may have stolen the momentum from the Cowboys.
During the next play, James ensured that Dallas would maintain that ever so important momentum. With Jason Hatcher and Victor Butler squeezing the pocket, McNabb checked down to his ProBowl FB Leonard Weaver. Just as Weaver began to make his "football move", James reached in to rip away the ball, and then fell on it to secure the turnover. Instead of a seven-yard gain, the Cowboys got the ball near midfield. After a few passing plays, the offense put Suisham into position to make his 48-yarder. At the half, Cowboys 27 Eagles 7.
Aside from that game-securing play, James led the team with a smorgasbord of stats: six solo tackles, a sack, two QB hits, a tackle for a loss, and a pass defended. He may not be flashy, but he is playing furiously. With Keith Brooking, DeMarcus Ware, and Anthony Spencer, this linebacking corps is a completely dominating unit.
Honorable Mention: Anthony Spencer, DeMarcus Ware
Mat McBriar - Another g'day, mate! The real story here is not that McB averaged 38.2 yards on six punts with a long of 61, it's how he and the coverage team pinned the Eagles back inside their 20. Five of his six punts landed inside the 20 (the sixth was a touchback). In effect, the often dangerous DeSean Jackson was able to return just two of them for nine yards with a long of eight. Combined with the way guys like Kevin Ogletree were hitting on coverage units, it's a wonder Jackson even accomplished anything on his returns.
Check this out: McBriar and the coverage team forced Philly to respectively begin their drives from their own 10, 5, 24, 11, 10, and 20 yard lines. Between that unit and Buehler's kickoff unit, the Eagles only decent field position of the game came after that Jenkins/Newman fumble, which Philly recovered on the Cowboys' 47.
Average starting position for the Eagles was their own 20; for the Cowboys, it was their own 37. That there is some darn good field position management. Thanks, special teams!
Honorable Mention: David Buehler, Shaun Suisham
Jason Garrett - Garrett simply outsmarted the Eagles' defensive coordinator, Sean McDermott...simply outsmarted him. If you don't believe me, read Raf's enlightening "Smoke-Screen's" post. You would think that a DC would be able to make the appropriate adjustments to any OC, seeing that it was the third time these two teams met, and second week in a row, to boot! Send the blitzers: Garrett throws screens. Don't send the blitzers: Garrett dices you up with the running game. Blitz a little here, a little there: plays right into the hands of Garrett's offense.
The Eagles have known about Miles Austin. They knew about Felix Jones. Still, Garrett sucker-punched their defenders with his two playmakers whenever he got the chance. The rest of the game, he jabbed them with a little Roy Williams, the ol' TE one-two of Jason Witten and John Phillips, some Patrick Crayton, Kevin Ogletree and Tashard Choice. He's making a weapon out of everybody. How can a defense defend that?
What is working really well for Garrett is that he and Romo are on the same page. The offensive line looks to be on the same page with each other, as well. Combined with a working run game and an efficiently explosive group of receivers, there does not seem to be a limit for what Garrett can do with this offense.
Honorable Mention: Wade Phillips, Joe DeCamillis
With such a triumphant and lop-sided victory, there are many players who deserve a game ball for Saturday night's game. Consider how many different players on defense made plays, Crayton's punt returns, Carp's fumble recoveries, Flo's dominance of Trent Cole, etc.
Before we turn our full attention towards the Vikings, who get your game balls?