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(Sunday, January 3rd)
Final Score: Dallas 24, Philadelphia 0
Arlington, TX (Sports Network) - Tony Romo threw for 311 yards and two touchdowns and the Cowboys defense posted its second shutout in as many weeks, as Dallas thumped Philadelphia, 24-0, to clinch the NFC East and a home date to open the playoffs next weekend.
Romo hit on 24-of-34 pass attempts and tossed an interception while Patrick Crayton amassed 99 yards and a touchdown on four catches. Jason Witten hauled in six passes for 76 yards and a score for the Cowboys (11-5), who clinched the NFC's No. 3 seed to set up a rematch between these two teams in Dallas next Saturday at 8 p.m. (et) in the wild card round.
Dallas won its second division title in the last three seasons and threw up back-to-back blankings for the first time in franchise history, holding a normally potent Eagles offense to a mere 228 yards.
Felix Jones and Marion Barber both ran for 91 yards with Jones scoring via a 49-yard jaunt in the third quarter. Miles Austin had 90 yards on seven grabs.
The Cowboys were able to exact a measure of revenge from the final game of last season when their playoff hopes were dashed via Philadelphia's 44-6 home drubbing of Dallas.
"I couldn't be happier for our guys, that's the way you want to go into the playoffs," said Cowboys coach Wade Phillips. "What an effort by our defense. They went to the pass pretty early because they were behind, and we're pretty good on pass defense. "I'm proud of the way they (Dallas) played, especially since what happened last year. People are always going to go back to that unless you do something about it -- and this team did something about it."
Donovan McNabb was 20-of-36 for 223 yards with Brent Celek totaling 96 yards on seven receptions for Philadelphia (11-5), which saw its first loss since a setback to San Diego on November 15 come at the most inopportune time.
With a chance to clinch the NFC's No. 2 overall seed and an opening-round bye in the playoffs, the Eagles instead tumbled all the way to the sixth and final seed of the NFC postseason bracket.
"When people are given an opportunity to make plays, they need to make plays. This was a team effort, the coaches and players. They outplayed us in a lot of spots and outcoached us," said Eagles coach Andy Reid.
Dallas set the tone for the game on its opening drive, going 80 yards in nine plays with Witten bringing down a 10-yard touchdown less than five minutes in.
The Cowboys looked poised to strike on their second possession as well but Romo had a third-down pass at the Eagles' seven-yard line tipped and picked off by Joselio Hanson.
The Eagles were forced to punt after reaching the Dallas 39 and Romo took the 'Boys on an eight-play, 90-yard scoring drive. Dallas moved downfield with relative ease and didn't face a third down until reaching the Philadelphia 14.
From there, Romo pump-faked coverage off of Crayton before finding him at the back left corner of the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 6:18 to play in the second quarter.
The Eagles then put together their most promising drive to that point, gaining chunks of valuable field position with completions of 31 yards to Jeremy Maclin and 32 to DeSean Jackson to reach the Dallas 14.
But on the next play from scrimmage Nick Cole and McNabb botched the quarterback-center exchange and Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff alertly fell on the loose ball.
The ensuing Cowboys possession resulted in a 44-yard Shaun Suisham field goal and a 17-0 halftime lead.
Philadelphia had the ball to start the second half and set up David Akers for a 53-yard field goal try that sailed wide left. The Eagles were forced into three-and-outs on their next two turns with the ball, and following the second punt, Jones ripped off a 49-yard TD run for a 24-0 affair with 5:46 to go in the third.
The Eagles had two more three-and-outs before finally gaining a first down just before the two-minute warning. By that time, the game had already been decided.
Dallas finished with 474 yards of offense and converted 5-of-13 third-down plays...Philadelphia had just 10 first downs and went 3-for-12 on third down...The Cowboys sacked McNabb four times. Linebacker Anthony Spencer had two of those...Brian Westbrook led the Eagles paltry rushing attack with 17 yards on five touches. He added four catches for 20 yards. Eagles rookie running back LeSean McCoy, who had 633 yards and four TDs this season while filling in for the injured Westbrook, carried the ball one time for four yards...Both Maclin and Jackson totaled 47 yards on three receptions each...Suisham also missed a 30-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
01/03 22:52:49 ET
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