Eagles run Cowboys out of town

BOLD PREDICTION: No Eagles players are going to be affronted by any signs hanging across the street from NovaCare this morning, afternoon, or evening.

On their way in to watch film or get treatment, players might have to steer carefully around a few die-hard revelers, though, in the wake of the 34-7 smackdown the Birds laid on the Dallas Cowboys last night, a couple of parking lots away at Lincoln Financial Field.

Andy Reid's 13th successive post-bye week victory was his most elegant. The crisp, efficient mix of running and passing Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg crafted made the feared Dallas defense look as lifeless and limp as Rob Ryan's droopy curls.

This was the night when we saw what the Eagles' high-rolling offense can do when it doesn't turn the ball over, the first time that has happened this season. The result was breathtaking, the offense setting up the defense for the kind of one-dimensional Dallas passing game it was designed to stop. (Could the Cowboys have broken a run or two eventually? We'll never know; they ran 10 times for 85 yards, but they were down 24-0 at halftime.)

"I give them a ton of credit," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. "They're a good football team, and we weren't up to the task tonight."

The Cowboys had been first in the NFL against the run. They won't be this morning, after the league's top rushing attack carved out 196 rushing yards on 29 carries through three quarters. LeSean McCoy, through three quarters, had 142 yards on 21 carries; that was, of course, before Shady's 13-yard touchdown run that made it 34-0 on the third play of the fourth quarter. He finished with a career-high 185 yards on 30 carries. It was the most rushing yards by an Eagles running back against the Cowboys since Duce Staley romped for 201 in 2000.

"I was proud of our guys, the way they came out," Reid said. "Offensively, defensively, and special teams were solid, played good football."

Asked the reason for his amazing record the week after the bye, Reid said: "No idea." Reporters giggled. "Seriously, I have no idea," he said.

Michael Vick was 17 of 24 for 247 yards and two touchdowns through three quarters, racking up a 131.8 passer rating. (Vick finished 21-for-28 for 279, and a 129.9 rating.) He also ran seven times for 50 yards. First downs, when the fourth quarter began, were 27-5 in the Eagles' favor, ending up 31-12. Net yards were 495-267.

In a must-win game, the Eagles did. They are 3-4, just like the Cowboys and the Redskins, with a full week to prepare for next Monday's meeting with the 4-3 Chicago Bears.

"We trusted each play call, watched a lot of film," left guard Evan Mathis said. "LeSean had a great game. He trusted the holes. If there wasn't a hole, he made a hole somewhere else."

McCoy noted that he ran for 149 yards on 16 carries - his previous career high - in a Dec. 12 win over Dallas last season.

"We don't get wrapped up in the rankings, we just go out and play," McCoy said. "I felt like the offensive line, man, I don't know what the coach over there said, but he had those guys fired up."

Reid said McCoy is running as well as any back in the league now. Told of that, McCoy said: "I feel like I'm one of the lead guys." He said he seems himself as underrated, but he also benefits from all the other weapons the Eagles have.

"It's not like we saw weaknesses there; they're a very good front," Mathis said. "We just believe in what we do."

Vick said the offensive line has started to gel, to play with confidence.

"This is a win to be proud about," Vick said, while noting there is much work left to do.

"The games that we lost, our offense looked pretty much the way it looked tonight," without the 15 turnovers the Eagles had through five games, Vick said. The Birds are plus-three in turnover margin their last two games, both wins; they were minus-10 previously.

"Turnovers are things that happen. It's inevitable. You can't control 'em sometimes . . . You catch good breaks, you catch bad breaks, you just gotta keep rollin' with the punches," Vick said.

There was no real turning point in this one, though you kind of sensed it was absolutely going to be the Birds' night when an amazing Laurent Robinson juggling catch that could have gotten the Cowboys going, down 21-0, was successfully challenged by that master of the red flag, Mr. Reid, who later got another one right, to cheers of disbelief from the giddy fans.

The Eagles won the toss and drove 79 yards for a touchdown, which established a couple of firsts. It was the first touchdown the Cowboys have given up in the first quarter this season, and the first time the Birds have scored on their first drive of the game.

You could tell Reid was rummaging around in his bag of treats during the bye week. The Eagles ran a couple of new looks during their eight-play drive, including what seemed to be a designed run by Vick that went for 15 yards, from the Dallas 28 to the 13. The Birds scored when Dallas blitzed on third-and-9 from the 12, and Vick audibled, finding Jeremy Maclin on a wide receiver screen, with a convoy of blockers to escort him to the end zone.

It was a perfect call by Vick.

"I got out there, everybody was already blocked," Mathis said. "I just ran into the end zone and celebrated."

After the Birds' defense sacked Tony Romo twice on the Cowboys' opening drive, which started at their 45 after Alex Henery's kickoff bounced out of bounds, the Eagles drove 90 yards in seven plays, taking a 14-0 lead.

The big play was another Dallas blitz gone awry, this time the Birds getting a 34-yard scamper through the left side by McCoy. McCoy scored from the 2 on the next snap. After two series, McCoy had 78 yards on seven rushes, and Vick had completed four of five for 67 yards and a touchdown.

The next Dallas series, something happened to the Cowboys that has happened to the Eagles more than once this season. Tight end Martellus Bennett, fighting for a pass with Moise Fokou, tipped the ball into the air, and Nnamdi Asomugha made a diving catch for his second Eagles interception.

Vick went right to work with that opportunity, covering the 67 yards in 11 plays. He found Jason Avant over the middle on third-and-8 from the Dallas 29 for 20 yards, then had plenty of time to go to Brent Celek in the back of the end zone for a 21-0 lead, with 10:13 left in the second quarter.

The Eagles made it 24-0 at the half with an 83-yard drive, 13 plays, settling for a 23-yard Henery field goal after a third-and-goal screen to fullback Owen Schmitt fell incomplete from the Dallas 4.

Henery made it 27-0 on the first drive of the third quarter, which featured Reid winning a challenge on an obvious mistake, officials ruling an incomplete screen from Vick to DeSean Jackson was a fumbled lateral.

Eagles punter Chas Henry didn't address the ball until 9:15 remained in the game. Only a 70-yard Romo connection with Robinson, after it was 34-0, kept this from being the first Eagles shutout of the Cowboys since Sept. 15, 1991.

Henry blamed long snapper Jon Dorenbos for making him work.

"We were sitting there, Jon goes, 'I don't think I've ever played in a game where I haven't punted,' " Henry said. "I was like, nah, you've screwed it up now.' "

 

Birdseed

Dallas lost key linebacker Sean Lee, from Penn State, early in the game to a wrist injury. Later punter Mat McBriar left with a foot injury and corner Mike Jenkins left with a hamstring . . . The Eagles lost linebacker Akeem Jordan to a concussion . . . The Eagles broke a five-game home losing streak stretching back into last season . . . Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo went to the ground after an attempted chest-bump with Nnamdi Asomugha. "I'm not as athletic as he is," Castillo said.

 


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