**Hey all. Matthew filling in for Josh with the Cowboys post-game reaction. Josh is enjoying our fine nation's other coast, but he'll be back next week.**
Four weeks ago, the Cowboys were limping towards a bye week facing a 2-3 record if they couldn't come back against the lowly Chiefs. The Eagles were 3-1, and the Giants were considered #1 in the NFL by some at 5 - 0. The Cowboys were ranked 19th in ESPN's weekly PowerRankings just a week later.
The Giants' four-game skid and the Cowboys four-game roll - culminating in a hard fought 20-16 win against Philadelphia - now has Dallas sitting in the catbird seat in the NFC East, and gives the 'Boys the rightful claim to #3 in the NFC.
The Cowboys won the game tonight because they legitimately outplayed the Eagles in a division game on enemy soil. Offensively, the Cowboys had 11 possessions. Only once did the Philadelphia defense hold them to 3-and-out. Defensively, the Cowboys did let the Eagles move the ball a bit, but came up with HUGE stops when it counted, including stuffs on successive plays from 2nd-and-Inches, 3rd-and-Inches, and 4th-and-Inches with 12 minutes left in the game. Those stops set up the Miles Austin go-ahead Touchdown. The Cowboys are finally fixed their turnover woes as they picked-off McNabb twice, while only giving it up once as Romo threw his first interception in 4 games. The did not put the ball on the ground once - even when Gurode left the game temporarily after getting hurt.
It wasn't always pretty. While Dallas did effectively use their Razorback formation during the opening script, their run game posted a measly 76 yards. However, it was Marion Barber who sealed the deal by pounding away the last 4 minutes on the clock. The offense didn't always finish what it started by going only 1-of-3 in the redzone this week, which isn't always going to be enough to get it done.
The Cowboys will now look forward to next week's meeting with the Packers, who gave the Buccaneers their first win of the season today. WIth home games against Washington and Oakland after the visit to Lambeau, the Cowboys could very well be rolling into December with a 9-2 record if they make it 3-in-a-row on the road by beating the Packers.
Some quick positives from tonight's game:
+ Roy Williams was finally a #1 receiver on the field tonight. He didn't catch long bombs like Austin and Crayton, but his 5 catches, 75 yards all looked pretty good. There's still plenty of room for growth, however.
+ Despite not scoring on their opening drive for the umpteenth time in a row, the Cowboys did get on the board first, putting pressure on the Eagles.
+ Choice out of the Razorback formation looked pretty good at the start of the game. He ran the ball 3 times for 13 yards and the opening TD.
+ In addition to the interceptions by Jenkins and Sensabaugh, the Cowboys were very close to a handful of others. However, most of those were from either very bad throws by McNabb, or poor catching from the Philadelphia receiving core.
+ But, credit McNabb's poor performance in part to the Cowboys defensive line. They had four sacks, and McNabb almost never had enough time to find a rhythm. All-arond great defensive day for the Cowboys.
Some quick negatives:
+ The Cowboys accepted a holding penalty after stopping the Eagles just short on a 3rd-and-13 instead of declining the penalty forcing the punt. I think Wade must have wanted to try to pin the punter deep or use the penalty to grab some field position, but it almost backfired horrendously when the Eagles completed a 22 yard reception on 3rd-and-23. That would have energized the Eagles and their fans in a very unpleasant way.
+ Scandrick has twice in two weeks played a receiver very well out of the slot keeping himself in great position to make a play, only to have the ball somehow quantum tunnel through his body into the receiver's waiting arms. I'm not sure what the deal is, but if he can step up and not allow those types of mistakes, the Cowboys secondary will be better for it.
+ Romo was not his best in the redzone today. He rebounded and played well throughout, but he missed Williams in the endzone at the end of the half, then failed to see Witten wide-open in the corner of the endzone on the next play.
+ This was rookie kick-off specialist David Buehler's worst game by far. He didn't put a single ball inside the 5 yard line. It's true that he didn't have too many opportunities, and I'm not sure how much the cooler Northeastern weather had to do with it. If he's not doing something special as the kick-off specialist, the Cowboys could just as easily have Folk kick-off and save a spot on the 45 man roster. He needs to do better.