The Philadelphia Eagles got sent an early message by the Dallas Cowboys when the season started. Eagles fans like myself were a little concerned after the Cowboys pulled away from the New York Giants on Opening Night. If Dallas was finally ready to be that strong all the time, then Philadelphia and the rest of the NFC would have actual reason to fear America's former team.
However, the Cowboys' second prime time game of the year was far less impressive than their first. It shouldn't have been, since they were hosting the Chicago Bears on Oct. 1 instead of visiting the defending champions. Yet the spotlight shone much harsher on Dallas this time, as five interceptions paved the way for an ugly 34-18 defeat.
This is good news for the Eagles, who now have sole possession of first place in the NFC East after a quarter of the season. The Cowboys were not so fortunate, as they dropped to 2-2 along with the Giants and Washington Redskins. Yet New York came much closer to going 3-1 in Philadelphia on Sept. 30, while Washington is exceeding expectations with Robert Griffin III.
Being 2-2 is much more inexcusable for the Cowboys, who looked like an actual elite team after that Week 1 win over the Giants. But ever since, Dallas has suffered an embarrassing loss in Seattle, barely survived the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home, and has now been humiliated by Chicago.
Like the Eagles-Giants game the previous night, the Bears-Cowboys game was low scoring for much of the first half. In fact, Chicago didn't score a touchdown on offense in the first half, yet still led by 10-7 at halftime due to an interception return for a score. But Jay Cutler came out firing in the second half with an early touchdown pass to Devin Hester, and the Bears' defense took it from there.
A Chicago turnover gave Dallas a chance to cut into its 17-7 deficit. However, Tony Romo gave back that chance and then some, when Lance Briggs gave the Bears their second defensive touchdown off an interception. A 24-7 deficit shouldn't be that hard for the Cowboys to endure, given their weapons - but their offense has been shooting blanks for much of the last three weeks.
The Eagles have had the same problem, as their turnovers have made them one of the lowest scoring teams in the NFL. But while Philadelphia and Dallas are near the bottom of the league in points, the Eagles are one game better due to defense, late game heroics and clutch play when it counts.
Romo and the Cowboys were supposed to be better at those things and more after Week 1 - yet they were also supposed to be better in the last several years. Dallas's last prime time game furthered the belief that this was the year the Cowboys became a prime time team again - but there aren't as many believers a month later.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.
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