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Eagles take NFC East title with win over Cowboys

The SportsXchange

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles threw two touchdown passes and the Eagles claimed the NFC East with a 24-22 victory over the rival Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night at AT&T Stadium.

Philadelphia (10-6) will be at home next Saturday night against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC wild-card round. First-year coach Chip Kelly has the Eagles back in the postseason for the first time since 2010.

"They didn't flinch," Kelly said of a team that finished last in the division last season. "I expect this group to compete every day. It's the same as always for us. One down, one to go. One week at a time."

The Cowboys completed a third straight 8-8 campaign under coach Jason Garrett. Dallas has also played for the division title in the last game of the regular season in three consecutive years, losing in succession to the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and now the Eagles.

But unlike those previous two setbacks, the Cowboys went into this do-or-die without Tony Romo. The highly scrutinized quarterback underwent season-ending back surgery Friday and was replaced by journeyman Kyle Orton.

Orton, making his first start since 2011, did an admirable job in relief, throwing for 358 yards, but his interception with less than two minutes to go ended any shot of Dallas pulling out the win. Orton had two touchdown passes and two picks.

"I thought if he could play a game the way Kyle Orton played tonight, I thought we had a great chance to win it, especially backed up by the kind of defense we played," Dallas owner Jerry Jones said. "This is very disappointing. There's no feel good in this loss, because there was a lot at stake, obviously not the least of which is getting to come right back here next week and play.

"We're very disappointed. The team played well enough and our quarterback played well enough to put us in position to win the game at the end, and to their credit they made the play."

Foles, playing in the biggest game of his young NFL career, passed for 263 yards. He completed 17 of 26 passes, and overcame five sacks and a lost fumble.

"We kept fighting. We believed in each other," Foles said. "When the offense was struggling, the defense picked us up."

Running back LeSean McCoy, who made headlines last week saying the Eagles would "manhandle" the "Cowgirls," rushed for 126 yards, caught a touchdown pass and won the NFL rushing title. His 1,607 yards set a franchise record.

"For all the accolades and the stats, if we didn't win today, none of that means nothing," McCoy said.

The Cowboys opened the third quarter with two field goals to make it 17-16, but failed to take full advantage of a turnover deep in Eagles territory. Dallas couldn't do much after recovering a Foles fumble on the 20-yard line.

The Eagles ended the third by leaving points on the field. On fourth-and-inches, Foles was stuffed short of the goal line by Dallas linebacker Bruce Carter and defensive end DeMarcus Ware.

After stopping the Cowboys on fourth-and-1, Philadelphia went 60 yards to take a 24-16 lead with 6:09 remaining. Running back Bryce Brown went the final 6 yards on a sweep around the left side.

The Cowboys came right back and scored on Orton's 32-yard pass to wide receiver Dez Bryant on fourth-and-9. Bryant could have been stopped short of a first down, but broke a tackle from Eagles safety Patrick Chung.

Needing a 2-point conversion to tie, Orton's pass was short to Bryant near the goal-line pylon.

Dallas did get the ball back at its 32 with 1:49 left. On the first play, Orton's short throw to receiver Miles Austin was intercepted by cornerback Brandon Boykin. The Eagles were able to run out the clock from there.

"I just threw a bad pass," Orton said. "Miles ran a great route, same play we scored on the play before, just went to Miles this time and just threw it behind him and the guy made a nice catch on the ball."

Philadelphia took advantage of two Cowboys' turnovers to take a 17-10 lead into the locker room. Foles had two touchdown passes in the first half.

The Cowboys were driving on their first possession before running back DeMarco Murray fumbled inside the Philadelphia 30. Cornerback Bradley Fletcher grabbed the loose ball in the air, setting the Eagles up at the 23.

Philadelphia turned the turnover into points, with kicker Alex Henry drilling a 47-yard field goal midway through the first quarter.

The Eagles followed a Dallas punt with an 88-yard drive that ended with Foles' short scoring toss to McCoy. Philadelphia moved the ball with ease and faced only one third down on the 10-play march.

The Cowboys pulled within 10-7 after a quick 66-yard touchdown drive ended with Orton's 17-yard pass to tight end Gavin Escobar, who somersaulted into the end zone. A 39-yard pass to receiver Terrence Williams kept the drive alive on third down.

It didn't take long for the second Dallas miscue of the first half to result in an Eagles touchdown. Cornerback Mychal Kendricks picked off an Orton pass that tight end Jason Witten bobbled.

Starting at the Dallas 49, Foles needed just two passes to tight end Brent Celek to get in the end zone.

The Cowboys did answer with a 44-yard field goal from kicker Dan Bailey with 18 seconds left in the half.

NOTES: RB DeMarco Murray is the first Dallas back to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since Julius Jones in 2006. ... The Eagles set a franchise record for total offense. ... Dallas QB Tony Romo was listed as inactive since he officially remains on the active roster. Other inactives for the Cowboys: CB B.W. Webb, S Jakar Hamilton, LB Sean Lee, LB Ernie Sims and T Darrion Weems. ... Eagles inactives: S Earl Wolff, S Colt Anderson, C Julian Vandervelde, QB Matt Barkley, RB Matthew Tucker, OL Dennis Kelly and CB Curtis Marsh. ... QB Kyle Orton had thrown 15 passes in his two seasons in Dallas before Sunday.
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