I've heard all the radio shows and experts break down the game and all I can say is wow. My hat goes off to the Eagles who came in and found out that they had an explosive offence. McNabb is as good as advertised. With all of that said, here is my final thoughts on the game.
It's not often when a defense surrenders 37 points in a game and gets commended afterwards. In the case of the Dallas Cowboys, such praise was justifiable at the conclusion of Monday's thrilling and hard-fought victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Dallas' much-improved play on the defensive side during the second half of its 41-37 outlasting of the visiting Eagles wound up being the difference in a fierce battle between bitter division rivals that was otherwise evenly matched in terms of execution as well as intensity. After moving the football at will during a 30-point outburst over the first two quarters, Philadelphia managed only one sustained drive against the Cowboys' resurgent stop unit in the final 30 minutes.
The defense was at its best right when it was needed the most. With Dallas trailing 37-34 midway through the fourth quarter, nose tackle Jay Ratliff pounced on a loose football caused by a mishandled exchange between Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and running back Brian Westbrook to thwart a potential scoring drive in Cowboys' territory. Dallas promptly marched 67 yards on the ensuing possession and grabbed a four-point lead on Marion Barber's one-yard plunge into the end zone, the powerful back's second touchdown of the night, with 4:35 left to play.
The Cowboys forced the Eagles to go three-and-out on their following series, then ratcheted up the pressure on McNabb, who had frustrated the defense all evening long with his ability to escape from the pocket and either scramble or find open receivers, in the crucial final moments. Linebackers Greg Ellis and DeMarcus Ware each sacked the star signal-caller to set up a 4th-and-long situation that McNabb and his offense were unable to get out of this time.
Philadelphia rolled up 222 total yards of offense and held the ball 18 1/2 minutes in the first half, but those numbers were cut down to 115 yards and just under 12 1/2 minutes of possession time after intermission.
"I thought we got stronger defensively," said Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips. "(McNabb) was hard to get to, obviously. We missed him a lot of times. But we did sack him some and right at the end, our defense kind of took over.
The next test will be next week against week. Here is a short preview. More will come including my prediction.
Dallas (2-0) at Green Bay (2-0) -- Sunday, 8:15 p.m. (et):
This marquee matchup will pit the teams that tied for the best record in the NFL with identical 13-3 records, although the Cowboys wound up with the conference's top seed by virtue of a 37-27 triumph at Texas Stadium in Week 13. Both clubs are off to great starts again in 2008, with the Packers posting season-opening wins over Minnesota and Detroit behind new starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
- The Benchwarmer
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