It was going to be a shootout they said. Setting the Over / Under at 56 points is easy money for the Over, they claimed. Start every Cowboys and Eagles player you can find in your fantasy football lineup, they advised. They were wrong.
The Cowboys and Eagles engaged in a good old fashion NFC East low-scoring struggle. To make things even more interesting, the referees engaged in several questionable calls to completely stymied that fickle lady by the name of momentum. Dallas' offense awoke in the second half, however, and the Cowboys were able to pull away from Philly, 17 to 3.
On the back of a short rushing touchdown by Phillip Tanner and a quick slant to rookie Terrance Williams, Dallas walked away from the matchup of teams tied for the NFC East lead victorious. The win moved Dallas to 4-3 on the year, but more importantly they improved to 3-0 in the division, with a victory over each of their rivals.
The defense was the story of the game. Playing without their leader, they picked off three Eagles passes while having another two overturned (one by penalty, one by questionable replay). Dallas sacked the Eagles QBs three times, and knocked Nick Foles out of the game in the fourth quarter. They stifled LeSean McCoy, the league's leading rusher for just 55 yards and a 3.1 ypc average.
Along the way, Romo set the NFL record for most passing yards and completions by a player in his first 100 games with 27,747.
For good measure, he also completed a touchdown pass for the 20th consecutive game, on the way to his second 300 yard passing game of the year.
Joseph Randle, making his first career start in place of DeMarco Murray, totaled 93 yards on the game, including some nice runs and routes. Dez Bryant was the offensive star as usual, hauling in 8 catches for 110 yards. Jason Witten, Cole Beasley and Terrance Williiams also made several contributions as Dallas amassed 368 yards on the game.
After a relatively boring first half that saw Dallas go into the break up 3-0, things got interesting in a hurry in the second half. Dallas would take the opening third quarter drive the length of the field for a touchdown, and then force a quick three-and-out.
It appeared Dallas would salt the game away, but Romo would throw his second pick of the day late in the third-quarter and allow Philly a chance to stay in the game.
On the play, it appeared that Romo was targeting Cole Beasley, who was wide open, when Phillip Tanner leaked out of the backfield and crossed the field. He, of course, brought his defender who leaped in the air for the pick. Romo would have a stern talking to with Tanner after the play.
The Eagles would drive for a scoring opportunity, when it appeared that JJ Wilcox had corraled his first career interception. A ball ricocheted off of of Jason Avant, diving in the end zone and pop up to Wilcox. Initially ruled a pick, the replay booth overturned the call, claiming they had irrefutable proof the nose of the ball hit the ground. The Dallas defense would hold, however, and only allow the Eagles a field goal.
Dallas would march down the field on the very next drive 72 yards and get in the end zone when Romo would find rookie wideout Williams for his third touchdown of the season.
All of the lazy rhetoric pregame centered around Kelly's Oregon offense and how it had dominated a USC defense led by Monte Kiffin; as if the two coaches were the only factors in those games or this game. The Dallas Cowboys got their first taste of the much ballyhooed Chip Kelly high-octane offense today. To prepare, Jason Garrett ran dual scout team offenses in practice, running a play every 15 seconds or less. It appeared to work as they held an offense that had scored 30 or more points on four of six occasions to a lonely field goal.
The Cowboys defense, playing without Demarcus Ware for the first time ever, did a tremendous job in several phases of the game today. First and foremost they were sound in their tackling at every level. Eagles ball carriers rarely ever made the first guy miss, which is a huge win when facing a team with elite playmakers. Dallas shut down the Eagles potent offense in the first half, limiting LeSean McCoy to just 12 yards on 8 first-half carries.
They also harassed Nick Foles early and often, notching a sack and an intentional grounding on the Eagles opening drive. George Selvie notched his fourth, and later in the first half Jason Hatcher wouldextend his career high total to six. Hatcher would be in the backfield several more times over the course of the game.
The Cowboys defense got plenty of help, however. Nick Foles superiority over Michael Vick was supposed to be his accuracy, but that was nowhere to be found in the first half. On the rare occasions where he had time and an open receiver to throw to, Foles missed his targets by several yards.
On the offensive side, the Cowboys struggled right along with the Eagles for most of the first half. They were finally able to break through with a field goal deep into the second quarter. 3-0 would prove to be an insurmountable lead. QB Tony Romo would have over 150 yards in the half, but a hail mary interception to end the half would mar his stats.
The Cowboys may have finally shown the changing of the guard, as Bryant, Williams and second-year man Cole Beasley appear to be a very potent mixture of offensive weaponry.
Dallas will now prepare to face the Detroit Lions next Sunday.