Cowboys 33, Eagles 10
IRVING, Texas (AP)—So much for the Dallas Cowboys following their season-long script of playing conservatively and trying to win late. Coach Bill Parcells unleashed his team from the start and they stomped the Philadelphia Eagles.
Drew Bledsoe led the suddenly risky Cowboys to two early touchdowns and scores on six of their first seven drives, and the defense shut down Donovan McNabb and the league’s top offense in a stunning 33-10 victory Sunday.
“You play like that, you’ve got a chance to beat anybody,” coach Bill Parcells said.
Dallas (3-2) had lost nine of 10 to Philadelphia and spent the first month of this season using a ball-control approach, resulting in every game being decided in the final minutes. Parcells hinted to expect more of the same—and the Eagles apparently fell for it.
Sucking in the defense with play action, Bledsoe hit Terry Glenn for completions of 18, 16 and 15 yards within the game’s first four snaps. The last one put the Cowboys up 7-0. Minutes later, Bledsoe and Glenn connected on a 39-yard touchdown that made it 14-0.
After not scoring a point in the first quarter all season, Dallas was up 17-0 before Philadelphia (3-2) even had a first down.
It was 27-3 at halftime and 30-3 after the Cowboys’ first drive of the third quarter, making for the kind of one-sided game typical of this series the last five years, except with the twist of Dallas sticking it to Philly.
“What happened in years past doesn’t matter,” McNabb said. “This is a much better Dallas team. But we feel like we’re still the best team in the NFC. We weren’t able to get things going. We have to learn from it and move on.”
Parcells was ready to shake up things because the Cowboys are facing a now-or-never stretch: two straight, three of four and five of seven at Texas Stadium. They’d already lost at home to division rival Washington and couldn’t afford to lose again with the New York Giants coming in next week, then their final three NFC East games on the road.
Bledsoe finished 24-of-35 for 289 yards, three touchdowns and wasn’t sacked. He joked that “if we hadn’t run those two quarterback sneaks, I wouldn’t have been hit all day.”
“A win like this shows what we can be when we get out of our own way,” said Bledsoe, who blamed turnovers and penalties for preventing better offensive showings earlier.
Although the Eagles overcame an 18-point deficit the previous week, McNabb and Terrell Owens didn’t have it in them again.
The NFL’s top offense was held to 129 yards and the league-best passing attack put up only 110. Philadelphia’s offense failed to score a touchdown for the first time in 13 games.
McNabb, playing with injuries to his abdomen, chest and groin, was 13-of-26 for 131 yards and four sacks. Owens had five catches for 50 yards and failed to score, preventing any celebrations on the Texas Stadium star logo.
Eagles coach Andy Reid figures he has a lot to work on going into the bye week.
“You could pick out anything and we probably didn’t do it well,” Reid said.
Philadelphia’s only touchdown came on an 80-yard fumble return late in the third quarter that made it 30-10. Rather than spark a late rally, all it produced was a heated sideline exchange between Keyshawn Johnson and Bledsoe. Both later said it was over as quickly as it happened.
The aggressiveness Dallas showed on the opening drive continued throughout the first half.
The Cowboys went for it twice on fourth-and-1 during their second drive. The second one didn’t work, but the Eagles took over at their 2 and the defense kept them there. Bledsoe got the ball back at Philadelphia’s 39 and immediately hit Glenn for their second TD.
Dallas’ most surprising call came on fourth-and-1 from the 12 after the Eagles made it 17-3. Bledsoe threw to fullback Lousaka Polite for the first time all season—and he took it into the end zone.
The Eagles had only 18 yards in the first quarter and 80 at halftime. McNabb was so frustrated that after a sack he spiked the ball, then sent his helmet flying once he reached the sideline.
Was this the best Dallas has played in Parcells’ 37-game tenure? “I think so,” he said.
Parcells tied Bud Grant for 10th on the career win list with No. 168, including regular season and postseason. …The Cowboys were without linebacker Dat Nguyen (neck). … Philadelphia CB Lito Sheppard was picked on often, but got a bit of revenge by causing Johnson’s fumble. … Philadelphia DT Sam Rayburn sprained a knee ligament and TE L.J. Smith sprained his left ankle.