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Cowboys edge skidding Eagles to stay in contention

The SportsXchange

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The team that desperately needed a win got one Sunday night, while the team that is fading toward oblivion continued its march in that direction.

Dez Bryant scored two second-half touchdowns, and the Dallas Cowboys rallied past the reeling Philadelphia Eagles 38-33 Sunday night at Cowboys Stadium.

The Cowboys (6-6) had to beat their wounded NFC East rivals to keep their playoff hopes alive. Dallas did just that in a back-and-forth affair.

"It's about winning games," Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said. "That kind of gets put aside obviously when you're playing and right in the middle of where we are in the playoff picture. We desperately had to have this win today, and our team fought like heck to get a win."

The Eagles (3-9) entered without their quarterback and with their coach's future looking bleaker by the day. Michael Vick was sidelined due to a concussion, though that was hardly the only headache for Philadelphia.

Eagles coach Andy Reid's job security remains a distraction. Philadelphia was expected to contend for the division title, but the Eagles' season spiraled out of control with a losing streak that is now at eight games.

"It's been a long, frustrating season," Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin said. "We haven't been able to win for two months now. That's a long time."

Two rookies -- quarterback Nick Foles and running back Bryce Brown -- gave Philadelphia a chance.

Foles, making his third start in Vick's absence, completed 22 of 34 passes for 251 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Brown rushed for 169 yards and two scores, but he fumbled with less than four minutes left, and Dallas rookie Morris Claiborne returned the ball 50 yards for the game-clinching touchdown.

"Up until that fumble, he had done a heck of a job," Reid said of Brown. "He was trying to get every stinking yard he possibly could."

Romo finished 22-for-27 for 303 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also set the Cowboys' franchise record for touchdown passes with 166. Hall of Famer Troy Aikman held the old mark of 165.

"It's a neat thing when you look at the other guys on that (touchdown) list," Romo said. "One day I'll look back and I'll see the names that are on there. If you're in any discussion with (Aikman) in anything, you're doing something right. Obviously, that feels very rewarding."

Bryant, who amassed 98 receiving yards on six catches, has six touchdowns in the past four games.

"I know when my number is called, I'm going to do my job just like everybody else," Bryant said.

Cowboys tight end Jason Witten added 108 yards on six receptions.

Romo and Bryant connected to tie the game at 17 early in the third quarter on a 23-yard scoring pass. Buying time with his feet, Romo threw back to his left to Bryant, who caught the ball at the 20-yard line, cut upfield and outfought the Eagles into the end zone.

Philadelphia responded quickly with an 80-yard drive. Foles lofted a perfect ball to Riley Cooper from 15 yards out to put the underdogs back on top 24-17.

The Cowboys evened the score less than two minutes into the fourth on another catch-and-run touchdown, this one from Romo to Miles Austin for 27 yards.

Dallas took its first lead of the game with 4:16 remaining with Bryant bullying his way over the goal line on a 6-yard pass. Romo completed long passes to Bryant and Witten to set up the go-ahead score.

The Eagles went into halftime up 17-10 on the strength of two touchdowns from Brown and Alex Henery's field goal as time expired.

The Cowboys, down by 11 in the second quarter, got a late first-half touchdown from DeMarco Murray in his return to action. Murray was out six games due to a foot injury.

Murray made his presence felt on his opening carry of the night, giving the Dallas offense a dimension missing since October. He sliced through the left side of the line for 14 yards and a first down on the Cowboys' initial play.

The Cowboys' running attack was so anemic in his absence that Murray regained the team rushing lead with that first attempt. He had 35 yards at the break, including a 1-yard score with less than a minute left in the second quarter. Murray wound up with 83 yards on 23 carries.

Philadelphia struck first with an impressive 66-yard drive that started with a 24-yard run from Brown and ended with his 10-yard touchdown late in the first quarter.

Playing from behind, a familiar position for the Cowboys, Romo took Dallas down to the Philadelphia 8 before the drive stalled with a penalty and a sack. Dan Bailey drilled a 39-yard field goal to get Dallas on the board.

Brown helped put the Cowboys in a bigger hole midway in the second quarter. He galloped in from 5 yards out to cap a 73-yard march that included his 39-yard burst. Brown had 107 rushing yards at the half.

NOTES: The Cowboys' inactive players were WR Anthony Armstrong, S Charlie Peprah, CB Orlando Scandrick, OL David Arkin, C Phil Costa and LB Brady Poppinga. ... The Eagles' inactive players were QB Michael Vick, WR Greg Salas, RB LeSean McCoy, RB Chris Polk, OL Nate Menkin and WR Marvin McNutt.
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