Birds Dig Deep Hole

The Eagles' best chance at getting back into this game might have died with Nick Cole's shin-high shotgun snap to Donovan McNabb, which caused the only real Eagles drive of the first half to die on a Jay Ratliff fumble recovery. The Cowboys then drove for a field goal that gave them a 17-0 lead. The Birds have not won a game this season after trailing at the half.

Sean McDermott's defense is getting pushed all over spacious Cowboys Stadium; the Eagles' offense hasn't been sharp, but it has scarcely been on the field. It would be 24-0 if Asante Samuel, in the only one of the three times he has gambled for a pick that didn't end up in disaster, hadn't volleyed a ball to Joselio Hanson to stop the second Dallas drive.

First downs are 14-5. Marion Barber has 68 yards on 8 carries. Tony Romo is 15 for 20 for 187 yards.

Previously: The Cowboys are perceived to be a defensive team that sometimes has trouble scoring, but Dallas had little trouble moving down the field 80 yards in nine plays for a touchdown on the opening possession of the game. The Eagles were able to force only two third downs, one an incompletion on third and 7 that was ruled pass interference on Sheldon Brown.

Tony Romo skillfully mixed the pass and the run; the 'Boys got a 32-yard run through the right side by Marion Barber.

Birds then went three and out on their first series, not adjusting to a Dallas blitz on third down, resulting in a sack.

Earlier: Well, cancel all that optimism from Friday about Michael Vick resuming a role in the Eagles' offense today and Quintin Demps being ready to return kicks again.

Demps is inactive, and Vick is again designated as the third quarterback, meaning he cannot enter the game before the fourth quarter, unless neither Donovan McNabb nor Kevin Kolb plays again. That's kind of unlikely.

Also inactive for the Eagles are CB Geoffrey Pope, OT King Dunlap, WR Kevin Curtis, TE Martin Rucker, DT Trevor Laws and OL Dallas Reynolds.

Vick seemed to play a prominent role in practice toward the end of the week and said Friday he was ready to go, a viewpoint Eagles coach Andy Reid endorsed. It's not clear whether Vick suffered a setback in his recovery from a quad bruise, which limited him to the third QB role last week against Denver.

Of course, the Birds could have known Vick wasn't ready and then played up his possible role anyway, to mess with the Cowboys.

Demps practiced fully Friday, but the day before, special teams coach Ted Daisher was much more cautious than Demps about the possibility of Demps returning kicks on a resprained ankle. Daisher said misadventure-prone Macho Harris would be the returner if Demps couldn't go.

Looks like the Eagles are down to a pretty simple equation: win and get the bye, lose and come back to Dallas next week for a wildcard game.

Stay tuned.

Indications are that perhaps Demps' ankle wasn't the sole reason for his deactivation. If he hasn't earned a role at safety, the team might not be inclined to activate him just to return kicks.