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The rivalry is not especially interesting this year. Dallas entered the first game at 3-5 and came away with the 38-23 win. The Eagles were also 3-5.
On Sunday, the Eagles are 3-8. The Cowboys are 5-6.
This marks the first time since 1963 that the teams will play each other twice when each team had a losing record. In fact, in the 52-year history of the rivalry, this has occurred only two times.
Below is a summary. The numbers in the parentheses indicate each team’s record entering into the game.
Dallas (1-2-1) 41, Philadelphia (1-3) 19
Philadelphia (2-8-1) 28, Dallas (4-5-1) 14
Philadelphia (0-2-1) 28, Dallas (0-3) 14
Dallas (2-7) 27, Philadelphia (2-6-1) 20
* * *
I posted this on Facebook yesterday:
The Cowboys are 5-6 for only the third time in team history if we disregard ties. In 1962, the Cowboys were 5-6-1 but finished at 5-8-1. Trivia: in what season other than 2012 did the Cowboys start 5-6, and what was the team’s final record that season?
The answer is 1987, which was the year of the replacement players. Just as they did in 2012, the Cowboys in 1987 hosted the Thanksgiving Day game at 5-5 and needed a win to stay alive in the playoff chase. Instead, the Vikings knocked off the Cowboys in overtime, and Dallas ended up missing the playoffs with a 7-8 record.
Tony Romo has been the starting quarterback in Dallas during six of the last seven months of November (he was injured in 2010). Heading into Sunday’s game at Philadelphia, Romo had a record of 19-4 during those November games.
Romo played a good part of his 24th November game on his back, thanks to an offensive line that could not give Romo more than three seconds to get rid of the ball. The defense wasn’t helping, thanks to a number of penalties on third downs.
Nevertheless, the Cowboys knocked Michael Vick out the game and held a 10-7 lead at the half.
The Cowboys went three and out to open the second half, however, and rookie QB Nick Foles drove the Eagles into Dallas territory. On 1st and 20, Foles threw a pass into the end zone to a wide open Jeremy Maclin. The touchdown gave Philadelphia its first lead of the game.
The Cowboys went three and out again.
The Eagles drove down and added a field goal.
Philadelphia 17, Dallas 10, and it looked like the story for the game would be an obituary for the season.
With 2:14 left in the the third quarter, Dallas faced a 3rd and 5. Romo once again did not have time to throw the ball. However, he maneuvered in the pocket and bought enough time to find Miles Austin on a 25-yard reception. Three plays later, Romo hit Dez Bryant in the end zone on a deep post. Replay officials confirmed that the play was a touchdown.
No more obituary. From that point, the Cowboys took control.
Former Cowboy Mat McBriar punted with just under 14 minutes left in the game. Dwayne Harris headed towards the left sideline and found a lane. He raced 78 yards for a touchdown, giving the Cowboys the lead once again.
Philadelphia managed to score with just under two minutes left, but Alex Henery missed the extra point. The Eagles held the Cowboys and got the ball back at their own 11 with 53 seconds remaining.
But there was no magic finish for the Eagles. Anthony Spencer sacked Foles and stripped the ball. Jason Hatcher recovered the fumble in the end zone, giving Dallas its third touchdown on defense or special teams in the fourth quarter alone.
The game did not start out especially well for the Dallas defense. Two encroachment penalties gave the Eagles first downs, and Riley Cooper made a great catch in the end zone to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
The Cowboys came right back, though, driving 80 yards on 13 plays. Felix Jones took a short pass 11 yards for a touchdown to tie the game.
Both offenses struggled for much of the first half. Romo’s 49-yard pass to Dez Bryant with six minutes left in the second quarter helped to set up a field goal that gave the Cowboys their 10-7 halftime lead.
The Cowboys had good fortune earlier in the day as well. The Giants lost to the Bengals, giving New York a 6-4 record. If Dallas beat Cleveland next week, the Cowboys will be just one game out in the NFC East.