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(Saturday, January 9th)
Final Score: Dallas 34, Philadelphia 14
Arlington, TX (Sports Network) - It took over 13 years, but the Cowboys finally snapped their playoff skid, and accomplished the task by dominating division rival Philadelphia for a second straight week.
Tony Romo connected on 23-of-35 passes for 244 yards and a pair of scores in a 34-14 NFC wild card round rout of the Eagles, marking a result that shed postseason trends for both teams.
The Cowboys hadn't won a playoff game since Dec. 28, 1996, a 40-15 wild card triumph over Minnesota. Six straight postseason losses followed, but with Saturday's victory the Cowboys gave head coach Wade Phillips his first career playoff win. He had been 0-4 with Dallas, Buffalo and Denver.
"It didn't feel like this was the most impossible thing ever that people let it out to be," Romo said. "If you're good enough you'll win. If I wasn't good enough to win a playoff game as a quarterback, then I never would've."
Felix Jones rumbled for 148 yards and a score for the third-seeded Cowboys (12-5), who earned a meeting with Brett Favre and the Vikings at the Metrodome next Sunday. Miles Austin added seven receptions for 82 yards and a TD for Dallas, which capped off five consecutive scoring drives in a big second quarter.
Dallas throttled the Eagles, 24-0, last Sunday in Arlington to win the NFC East, and the Cowboys followed up that effort with more impressive defense in the first playoff game at their new stadium, much to the delight of owner Jerry Jones.
"We felt confident going in. We had good preparation all week," Phillips said. "We had just beaten them six days earlier. We felt like if we played our game, the way we played previously, we'd be fine."
The Cowboys held the ball for nearly 40 minutes and forced the Eagles into a litany of mistakes.
Donovan McNabb finished 19-of-37 for 230 yards with a TD and one interception for the Eagles (11-6), who were a No. 6 seed a year ago when they advanced to the NFC championship game before losing to Arizona. Same seed this year, but much different result.
After the game, McNabb was asked if he thinks he'll be in an Eagles uniform next season, which would be his 12th with the team. He's under contract with the club for 2010.
"I've said it every year, I want to be here, I don't want to be anywhere else," McNabb said. "We had an outstanding year this year. Two or three weeks ago, everybody was happy that all the guys we had at each position. In two weeks we're talking about who's going to be here, who's not going to be here."
It was the first playoff-opening loss for Eagles head coach Andy Reid. He had been 7-0 in such situations during his first 10 seasons as Philadelphia's coach, although the Eagles have never won the Super Bowl.
"When you get your tail kicked it's not a great feeling," Reid said. "I wasn't expecting it. I thought we'd do better, but we didn't."
Big play-maker DeSean Jackson was limited to three catches for 14 yards and a TD for the Eagles, while Jeremy Malian had seven grabs for 146 yards and a score. Maclin's scoring catch came from Michael Vick.
Since 1970, 20 teams have gone 2-0 against an opponent in the regular season and then faced that club in the playoffs. It's resulted in 13 sweeps, including this season between these teams.
Dallas got the ball after the opening kickoff and marched from its own 20 to the Philadelphia 1, but an offensive pass interference call, coupled with a sack, pushed the team out of field-goal range.
Despite a scoreless stalemate in the first quarter, the Eagles weren't able to move the ball, gaining just one first down, and that was via penalty.
The Cowboys then used a huge second quarter to bury the Eagles, on the way to a 27-7 lead at the half.
On the third play of the period, Romo rolled to his right and threw a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end John Phillips to cap a 55-yard drive. The score came one play after a 40-yard pass interference penalty on Sheldon Brown.
Just two plays from scrimmage later, Vick threw a short pass to Maclin, who got the ball on the left side of the field and raced 76 yards to the end zone. The big scoring play occurred in part because cornerback Mike Jenkins fell down.
The Cowboys then got a huge break. Sean Jones came up with a diving interception on the first play of Dallas next possession, but Phillips threw the red flag to challenge and the call was overturned. The Cowboys marched 85 yards in 10 plays, capped by Tashard Choice's one-yard TD run with 9:14 remaining in the half for a 14-7 lead.
After a Philadelphia punt, Shaun Suisham tacked on a 25-yard field goal.
A poor handoff exchange by Vick and Leonard Weaver led to a fumble later in the quarter and the Cowboys took over deep in Philadelphia territory. Romo made the Eagles pay with a six-yard TD pass to Austin on a bubble screen to the right side with 1:55 left in the half.
Another mistake involving Weaver resulted in the Eagles falling further behind. He caught a short pass over the middle, but was stripped of the football by linebacker Bradie James.
That allowed the Cowboys to take over at their own 42 with 51 seconds left and it results in a 48-yard field goal from Suisham with two seconds left in the half for a 27-7 cushion at the break.
Jones rumbled 73 yards off right tackle for a score with 5:33 left in the third before the Eagles finally cut into the deficit with a four-yard pass from McNabb to Jackson for a score, but that came 1 1/2 minutes into the final quarter.
Instead of an onside kick, the Eagles gave the ball up and the Cowboys trimmed 8:12 off the clock on the ensuing drive before punting.
McNabb was then caught from behind by DeMarcus Ware, who stripped the football, leading to another turnover in Philadelphia territory.
The six-game postseason losing streak for Dallas tied an NFL record...The 92,951 tickets distributed established a single-game NFL postseason non-Super Bowl record...Cowboys right tackle Marc Colombo returned from a broken leg and started. He had missed the previous seven games after suffering a broken left fibula in the first quarter of the November 15 game at Green Bay...The 228 combined penalty yards set an NFL postseason record.
01/10 00:29:02 ET
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