Cowboys topple Eagles 20-16
Dallas Cowboys running back Tashard
Choice runs in for a touchdown in the first
half of an NFL football game against the
Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009,
PHILADELPHIA -- Now the Dallas Cowboys can forget about last season's awful finish. Tony Romo threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin midway through the fourth quarter and the Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles 20-16 Sunday night in the 100th meeting between the division rivals.
On the final day of the 2008 regular season, the Eagles dominated Dallas 44-6 in a do-or-die game for both teams. Philadelphia earned a wild-card berth with that victory, won two playoff contests on the road and advanced to the NFC championship game, losing at Arizona.
The Cowboys (6-2) spent the whole offseason thinking about that horrendous ending. They got their revenge and took over sole possession of first place in the NFC East with their fourth straight victory.
"Our last loss against them really motivated us to come out and play good," Cowboys DeMarcus Ware said.
The Eagles fell to 5-3 and the New York Giants are 5-4 after a 5-0 start.
Romo finished 21 of 34 for 307 yards, one TD and one interception.
"We executed," Romo said. "I think the coaches put together a good plan. You just have to keep fighting and getting better."
Donovan McNabb was shaky after a strong performance in a 40-17 rout of the Giants last week. McNabb threw for 227 yards, one TD and was intercepted twice for the first time this season.
The Cowboys began their go-ahead drive after stopping McNabb on fourth-and-inches at their 45. On third-and-14, Romo fooled Sheldon Brown with a pump-fake and hit a wide-open Austin down the left sideline to give Dallas a 20-13 lead.
"You knew he would probably get it at some point," Romo said of Austin. "He's a good player."
Austin leads the Cowboys with seven TD catches, three fewer than Terrell Owens had last season. Unlike T.O., Austin only gives defenses headaches instead of his QB.
David Akers kicked a 52-yard field goal to cut it to 20-16, but the Eagles never got the ball back.
No matter, McNabb drove Philadelphia 77 yards for the go-ahead score.
LeSean McCoy turned a short pass into a 45-yard gain. One play later, McNabb escaped the rush and found Brent Celek in the corner of the end zone to put Philadelphia ahead 13-10.
On Dallas' ensuing possession, Brown intercepted Romo's off-target pass to Jason Witten and returned it 54 yards. An illegal block by Fokou negated the return to the Cowboys 35, and the Eagles' drive stalled near midfield after starting at their 12.
Mike Jenkins intercepted McNabb to set up Nick Folk's tying 33-yard field goal 8 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Gerald Sensabaugh's interception on Philadelphia's first possession ended McNabb's streak of 118 straight passes without a pick. McNabb's pass on third-and-5 to a wide-open Jeremy Maclin hit him in the hands and bounced to Sensabaugh.
Six plays later, Tashard Choice ran in from the 2 after taking a shotgun snap with Romo lined up wide to the right. Romo completed two third-down passes to keep the drive going, including a 21-yard gain to Kevin Ogletree on third-and-9.
Romo tossed a 64-yard catch-and-run pass to Patrick Crayton late in the second quarter to set up Folk's 22-yard field goal that made it 10-6. Tracy White made a diving, TD-saving tackle to trip up Crayton.
Akers kicked a 45-yard field goal early in the second quarter to put the Eagles on the board. He nailed a 48-yarder late in the quarter to cut it to 7-6.
The Eagles played without star running back Brian Westbrook for the second straight game because of a concussion and strongside linebacker Chris Gocong sat out with hamstring and quad injuries. Fokou, a seventh-round pick, made his first start in Gocong's place.
Westbrook was expected to play, but he started experiencing symptoms of a mild headache on Friday. Westbrook then underwent more tests and the Eagles held him out as a precaution. McCoy started for Westbrook.
The Cowboys held receiver DeSean Jackson to just two catches through three quarters. Jackson has six TDs this season, all for 50-plus yards. He has four TD catches and he's scored on a run and a punt return.
Michael Vick ran for 2 yards and handed off on his only two plays. McNabb went to the sideline when Vick entered.