Eagles Crush Cowboys 20-7, But Playoff Hopes Gone
Michael Vick threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns in a 20-7 victory over the Cowboys, but the Eagles were eliminated from playoff contention.
The Eagles playoff hopes died today despite a 20-7 win over the Cowboys in which the Eagles dominated. Philadelphia racked up 387 yards of offense in winning its third straight game, but a Giants win over the Jets guaranteed that either New York or Dallas, who meet next week, will end up with a better record than the Birds.
For a team that spent big in the offseason, looking to capitalize on the NFL lockout and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement by creating salary cap space and then using it freely, a season without a playoff game is a tremendous disappointment.
Ultimately, the Eagles were done in by a 1-4 start, followed by a 3-4 stretch that left them 4-8. During those early games, the Eagles shot themselves in the foot with turnovers, while their defense struggled to come together.
Through 12 games, the Eagles were a -13 in turnovers and were allowing 23.5 points per game.
Finally, in Miami, it all seemed to click. The Eagles racked up nine sacks and created two turnovers, while Michael Vick shook off the rust from a three-game absence with broken ribs and managed the offense efficiently.
Things grew from there. Over the last three games, the Eagles defense allowed just 12 points per game, while they were only a minus-1 in turnovers over that stretch. The Eagles became that scary team that nobody wanted to see in the playoffs.
Still, Philadelphia put together a strong showing in Dallas. The Eagles opened with a statement drive, while the Jets and Giants game was still in question. Michael Vick hit Brent Celek for a 13-yard touchdown to put the Birds on top 7-0.
The scoring play came on the end of an eight-play, 80-yard drive that included a 28-yard bomb to Riley Cooper on a free play due to a facemasking penalty that was tacked onto the end.
On the first Cowboys drive, Tony Romo was injured when his throwing hand struck Jason Babin’s helmet on the follow through. Romo’s x-rays were negative, but due to the Giants victory, the Cowboys quarterback sat out the remainder of the game to preserve him for next week’s winner-take-all battle at the Meadowlands.
The Eagles defense caused punts on the first nine Cowboys drives with Stephen McGee taking over as signal caller.
Philadelphia had another chance to add points early in the second quarter. After Vick hit Jeremy Maclin for an 18-yard gain with an additional 9 yards tacked on for a late hit, Jason Avant caught a pass and darted down the sideline toward the pylon. Avant dove and extended the ball toward the orange marker, but it came loose just an instant too soon, going into the end zone for a touchback rather than an 8-yard touchdown.
The Eagles struck again, though, after Vick hit Maclin for 22 yards, Jackson for 33 and Avant for 27. On their third play from the Cowboys’ 5-yardline, Vick hit Maclin for the touchdown and a 14-0 lead after an extra point.
Alex Henery added a 43-yard field goal in the third quarter, than a 51-yarder in the fourth quarter to leave the Birds on top 20-0 late.
After stopping the Cowboys on fourth-and-goal from the 7-yardline late in the fourth quarter, it appeared the Eagles defense had secured the shutout. After a three and out left just 30 seconds on the clock while punting, Chas Henry had his punt blocked, giving the Cowboys the ball at the Eagles’ –yardline.
Two plays later, McGee hit Miles Austin for a 4-yard touchdown to put Dallas on the board in a 20-7 Philadelphia victory.
After nine punts and a failed fourth down conversion, the Cowboys finally spoiled the shutout bid by Juan Castillo’s defense, but the Eagles still prevailed, having outscored Dallas 54-14 in a pair of wins this season.
Still, the victory rang hollow as the Eagles were eliminated from playoff contention earlier in the afternoon by a Giants win over the Jets. So rather than being the third in a four-game march to an improbable playoff berth, today’s strong effort served only to remind the Eagles what could have been.
LeSean McCoy gained just 35 rushing yards, leaving him 128 yards behind Maurice Jones-Drew for the NFL rushing title.
Since returning from his broken ribs, Michael Vick has completed 57 percent of his passes for 775 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Eagles notched three sacks, but none went to Jason Babin who’s 18 sacks leave him three shy of Reggie White’s franchise record.
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