By Shawn Lealos
The Philadelphia Eagles blew out the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. In that game, the Eagles jumped out to a 21 point lead, but then Dallas buckled down and kept them to field goals for the rest of the game. However, the big problem was that Dallas couldn’t move the ball on offense in that loss. That all changed in the rematch when it was Dallas that took a 21 point lead and then almost blew the lead when the Eagles scored 24 unanswered.
Dallas held on by scoring two more touchdowns late and then held on to win 38-27. Here is a look at the Cowboys team grades for the big win, which put Dallas back in first place in the NFC East.
Unlike the first time these two games played, it was the Cowboys who came out on fire to start the game. The first drive opened with short field position, after the Eagles fumbled the opening kickoff. It only took five plays for DeMarco Murray to punch it in for a touchdown. After the Eagles went three-and-out, the Cowboys went on a 16-play drive that ate up over eight minutes and ended with a Tony Romo to Dez Bryant touchdown. The Eagles went three-and-out and then Dallas ate up almost five more minutes leading to Bryant’s second touchdown of the game.
This is December, and Dallas’ fans are used to losing at this time of the year. That means that the Eagles scoring 24 unanswered points had to scare the Cowboys Nation. However, Murray scored again and Bryant caught his third touchdown pass of the game to prove that this is a Cowboys team that is unlike any from the past four seasons.
Dez Bryant scored three touchdowns for the first time in his NFL career, a surprising statistic. He finished with six receptions for 114 yards. Jason Witten had one of his best games, with seven receptions for 69 yards and Cole Beasley added four receptions for 42 yards. Tony Romo threw for 265 yards with three touchdowns, and while he didn’t throw an interception, he did fumble the ball once.
DeMarco Murray had a tough game when it came to yards, but still gained 81 yards and kept the clock rolling for Dallas, while also scoring two touchdowns.
The Dallas Cowboys defense started out strong but then started struggling when the Eagles started running the no-huddle in the second half. The Eagles scored 24 unanswered points and it looked like the Dallas defense was about to give away the game. Then, the Cowboys shut the Eagles down in impressive fashion. Yes, they had a huge lapse in the middle, but they recovered and tightened down and that made up for all the problems.
While Dallas gave up a monster 72 yard pass to Jeremy Maclin in the game, they otherwise limited Mark Sanchez to 180 yards on his other 16 completions. They also picked him off twice in the game, including a Bruce Carter interceptions on the final drive of the game for the Eagles. J.J. Wilcox got the other interception.
The Cowboys much maligned defensive line also had a great game. The Cowboys sacked Mark Sanchez four times in the game, with Jeremy Mincey recording two of them and Tyrone Crawford getting the other two. They also recorded four QB hits and six tackles for loss in the game. After running wild on Dallas on Thanksgiving, LeSean McCoy only ran for 64 yards in this game.
The Dallas Cowboys special teams is what got the ball rolling. The game opened with Dan Bailey kicking the ball off to Josh Huff, who then muffed the kickoff and it was C.J. Spillman who recovered the ball for the Cowboys to put them in position for the first touchdown of the game. Dan Bailey hit his only field goal attempt, a long 49 yard strike late in the game to put the score out of reach. Chris Jones also played well with five punts, two inside the 20.
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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.