I am getting too old for these kinds of emotional swings. My mood went soaring wildly up, then sank so quickly down, only to get drug back to the heights. Folks, this is a Dallas Cowboys team that has resiliency and determination. Or, as Jason Garrett puts it, they fight. This time, they fought the Philadelphia Eagles to win 38-27.
The game could not have started any better for the Cowboys. Coming into the game, the special teams had been playing extremely well for the Eagles, but they had a crucial miscommunication on the opening kickoff and let the ball bounce inside the 20. C.J. Spillman recovered at the 18. Five plays later, DeMarco Murray went in from the 1, and Dallas had a 7-0 lead. They would build it to 21-0 on the strength of two three-and-outs managed by their defense and two Tony Romo to Dez Byant touchdowns.
But then, it was like the 2014 version of this team regressed to the teams that could not seal the deal on the final day of the season the past three years. They let Philadelphia get rolling to get on the board with an 84 yard touchdown drive. With a 21-7 lead, the Cowboys had a play that could have been the turning point of the game. Facing a 3rd and 1 at their own 47, Scott Linehan got a little cute or greedy. Instead of running the ball, he had Romo go play action, but instead of a big gain, Romo was sacked. The Eagles would go on to score 24 unanswered points, and the Cowboys were down 24-21, with the potential of having blown a three touchdown lead. This was the point at which the teams of the past would have folded, leaving the Cowboys needing way too much help to make the playoffs, and throwing Jason Garrett's future into some doubt.
And then this team proved that it is different from those teams. First, the offense answered, Romo and Bryant took the load on their shoulders, getting the ball down to the one yard line where Murray punched it in. Then the defense stepped up, with J.J. Wilcox getting the first of two turnovers he would be involved in. That interception led to another Bryant touchdown, his first three TD game of his career. Philadelphia would get a field goal to cut the lead, but then came Wilcox's second big play, a fumble forced while he had Brent Celek lying on top of him. Dallas got a field goal of their own, making the score 38-27. And then, in what may be the most unlikely sequence of the game, the defensive line got two consecutive sacks of Mark Sanchez to force a punt. The final gasp of the game for the Eagles came on a Bruce Carter interception.
The Cowboys won a big game. They won a HUGE game. They now are 10-4, and have that proverbial control of their own destiny. Even sweeter, they beat the Eagles in their own house and now have a one game lead on them in the NFC East. It was a fight, but the Star had the most fight in it tonight.