For the first time all season, the Dallas Cowboys were able to fully dominate a football team.
In the fourth quarter of their contest against the Eagles, the Cowboys were able to take control of the game with their defense and special teams.
Second year receiver Dwayne Harris returned a punt for 78 yards, $50 million corner Brandon Carr picked of his first pass as a Cowboy and took it back for a 47-yard touchdown and defensive end Jason Hatcher landed on an Eagles fumble in the end zone for another score.
In the end, the Eagles turned the ball over twice and the Cowboys were able to capitalize on both mistakes.
Instead of Dallas doing harm to themselves by turning the ball over or having an ill-timed penalty that would usually lead to a loss, the Cowboys were able to turn their customary bad fortune over to the Eagles.
With all of their good luck stored up for one Sunday, the Cowboys bested Philadelphia 38-23, sending the Eagles to a record of 3-6 and making them a long shot at making the playoffs.
But how did Dallas do it? How were they able to do so many good things on a cool evening in Philadelphia? Was it finally a streak of good play by Dallas' skill players or a complete game of great coaching by Jason Garrett?
I think that it was a combination of things for Dallas, and I have three plays that broke Dallas' way and helped determine the victory.
The first is an amazing scramble from quarterback Tony Romo. Romo, who is known for spinning his way out of tight situations, was able to foil the tackling efforts of at least four different Eagle defenders on the play.
Here is where Romo's great ability to escape pressure enters. The Cowboys were faced with a 3rd-and-4 on the Eagles' 39-yard line, with a little over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. They were down by seven and this drive goes a long way toward swinging momentum in Dallas' favor.
In the above photo, one can see that Romo is about a second away from being engulfed by Eagles defensive end Trent Cole and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. He was able to escape both defenders, leaving the first wave of defenders around the Eagles 25-yard line.
Looking at this play in its entirety, Romo drops all the way back to the 25 trying to run away from the pressure. He's able to get away from two additional pursuers, sliding in between Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins and connects with Miles Austin for 25 yards and a huge first down.
Romo then threw a 30-yard TD pass to receiver Dez Bryant to tie the game at 17, and the Cowboys never looked back.
The next play that aided the Cowboys in beating Philadelphia was a punt return by receiver Dwayne Harris.
Harris was drafted by the Cowboys last year in the sixth round to compete for the slot receiver position. Standing at 5’10” and weighing a little over 200 pounds, Harris has the ideal size for the slot, and because of Dez Bryant's struggles this season returning punts, Harris was promoted to return duty.
I would say that the Cowboys are happy with the results.
Harris fielded the Eagles punt (off the foot of former Cowboys punter Mat McBriar) around his own 22-yard line. As soon as he took the punt in, Harris saw that there may be daylight on the left sideline with a wall of blockers building as well.
Once Harris hit the corner and got behind his wall, he sped his way down the sideline for a 78-yard touchdown.
This broke the tie and put the cowboys up by seven points, 24-17.
The last and final play came with about 52 seconds left in the game and the Eagles with the ball on their own six yard line. Only down by eight points, there was still a chance for Philadelphia to drive the field and tie the game.
As Foles dropped back into the end zone, he was immediately pressured by Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware, who tackled Foles, jarring the ball loose. Defensive end Jason Hatcher recovered the fumble for a Cowboys TD.
This extended the Cowboys lead to 38-23, giving Dallas their fourth victory of the season.
For the most of the season, the Cowboys defense has kept them in games. If not for a massive number of turnovers by the offense, (mostly Tony Romo), Dallas may not be upside down with their season record.
The defense is holding up its side of the bargain, now its time for the offense to do the same.
Fans, tread lightly after this game. The Eagles are a bad team with a lame duck coach and quarterback. The Cleveland Browns are next as well as the Washington Redskins and Eagles again. There is no reason for pessimism here as the Cowboys could very well emerge from their next three games with a record of 7-5.