PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Roy Williams’ eyes lit up when he saw the ball coming. Somewhere, Terrell Owens probably was smiling, too.
Williams intercepted Donovan McNabb’s pass and ran it back 46 yards for a touchdown with 2:43 left, leading the Dallas Cowboys to a 21-20 comeback victory over Philadelphia on Monday night in the Eagles’ first game since Owens was told he’s no longer welcome.
“I’m tired of answering T.O. questions,” McNabb said. “T.O. is not here.”
For 55 minutes, it didn’t matter. Philadelphia was in control most of the game, showing poise, running the ball well and playing with the team-oriented balance they talked about all week.
Then, Drew Bledsoe connected with Terry Glenn on a 20-yard TD pass with 3:04 left that cut it to 20-14. On the second play after the ensuing kickoff, McNabb’s poorly thrown pass was picked off by Williams, who outran McNabb as the quarterback tried to tackle him.
“I was like, `I can’t believe he threw this ball,’ and it was coming to me,” Williams said. “I was thinking in my head, `Don’t drop this.”’
McNabb was hobbling badly after that play with a groin injury, and was scheduled for an MRI exam Tuesday. McNabb, playing with a sports hernia that will require surgery, played one more series after the interception before giving way to Mike McMahon for the Eagles’ final possession.
“It never should have happened,” McNabb said. “I was trying to get the ball to Reggie (Brown) and Roy just did an excellent job coming from underneath.”
The Eagles had a final chance, but David Akers’ 60-yard field-goal attempt failed miserably.
The reigning NFC champion Eagles (4-5) lost their third straight game for the first time since 1999 and fell further behind in the NFC East standings. Dallas (6-3) is tied with the New York Giants for first place, one game ahead of Washington.
When it was over, Dallas coach Bill Parcells shook his head in disbelief as he approached Andy Reid, whose Eagles outplayed the Cowboys until Dallas’ two touchdowns 21 seconds apart. The Cowboys lost a Monday night game in similar fashion to Washington in the second week of the season, giving up two long touchdown passes to Santana Moss in the waning minutes.
Hours before the game, Parcells attended his younger brother’s funeral in New Jersey. Don Parcells died of brain cancer last week. He was 62.
“There was a lot of emotion for me today,” Bill Parcells said. “I don’t mean to dwell on that. I got a message today that said, `Don’t have a troubled heart.’ And I don’t. I’ve got those guys in there.”
For a while, it seemed the Eagles had overcome the distractions caused by Owens’ departure and were headed toward an important victory. But McNabb made one of the costliest mistakes of his seven-year career.
Owens was suspended one day before Philadelphia’s 17-10 loss to Washington last Sunday. He was told not to return to the team a day later following a series of incidents, including harsh criticism of the organization and McNabb.
A grievance hearing for Owens’ four-game suspension is scheduled for Friday, but the Eagles plan to deactivate the All-Pro wideout the rest of the season no matter the outcome.
But Philly’s wideouts—Brown and Greg Lewis—combined for just six catches for 57 yards. Owens had 47 catches for 763 yards and six TDs in seven games.
A big play by Philly’s struggling defense set up the go-ahead score in the second quarter.
Three plays later, McNabb ran in from the 2 for his first rushing TD this season as the Eagles took a 14-7 lead at halftime.
McNabb did his part to replace Owens’ end zone theatrics. He spiked the ball and moonwalked, far less exciting than any of Owens’ innovative TD celebrations.
Westbrook ran in from the 15—the team’s first rushing TD since Week 3—to cap the opening drive and give the Eagles a 7-0 lead. Philadelphia came in throwing the ball almost 75 percent of the time, the most in the NFL, but ran it seven of the first 11 plays.
A 58-yard pass from Bledsoe to Peerless Price put Dallas at the Eagles 3, and Barber ran it in from the 1 on his third try to tie it at 7.
Akers kicked field goals of 48 and 20 yards in the second half for the Eagles to make it 20-7.
The notoriously boorish Philly fans were just as eager to move on without Owens as the team. Before the game, radio station WIP-AM held a mock funeral for Owens in which fans put their No. 81 jerseys—and even some money—in a casket. One of the talk-show hosts, Howard Eskin, cremated one of the jerseys and sprinkled the ashes in the end zone.
Dallas won in Philly for the first time since a 34-0 victory in a Monday night game at the now-demolished Veterans Stadium in 1998. … Eagles TE L.J. Smith left in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle and SS Michael Lewis had a concussion.