Cowboys vs. Eagles: Takeaways from Dallas' 17-3 Win over Philadelphia
The Dallas Cowboys secured first place in the NFC East by downing Philadelphia, and it was far from a pretty 17-3 victory.
Dallas persevered through the losses of running back DeMarco Murray and defensive end DeMarcus Ware. The Eagles offense was kept in check, and Tony Romo's crew didn't need to do a whole lot on its end.
It wasn't the most complete victory the Cowboys have had all season, but they did enough to earn a pivotal division victory.
Here are eight takeaways from Dallas' road win at Lincoln Financial Field.
All statistics courtesy of NFL.com unless otherwise noted.
Cowboys Defense Rattles Nick Foles, Matt Barkley
The Cowboys might be seeing their No. 30 ranked defense move up in the world heading into next week.
Monte Kiffin's unit has lost Anthony Spencer, Jay Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware in one way or another. Jason Hatcher, Sean Lee and Co. allowed just 22 completions on 49 attempts between Nick Foles and Matt Barkley.
Barkley threw three interceptions, and the Dallas D sacked a Philadelphia quarterback three times. The Eagles were never really able to get into rhythm on offense. The only reason they mustered three points was due to DeMeco Ryans' return after intercepting Tony Romo.
Foles and Barkley were only able to tally 209 yards through the air, a statistic that must have Kiffin smiling from ear to ear.
Far Too Many Dallas Penalties
For many Cowboys fans, the first game against Philadelphia this year must have felt like a flashback to years past. The visiting team gave away 75 yards on 12 penalties throughout the day.
Two of those penalties came on right tackle Doug Free, and more than a few came from the offensive line in general. For a front line that has seen some improvement after Brian Waters joined the team, this game was a tad of a setback.
While the protection quarterback Tony Romo received wasn't terrible in this contest, penalties can be just as hurtful to the offense. The Dallas defense is not excused from its own costly mistakes, either.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett better save some time during next practice for his team to run suicide sprints as punishment for its obscene amount of penalties in Week 7.
With a road trip to Detroit to play the Lions in Week 8, the Cowboys cannot afford to give away free yardage again next week.
Terrance Williams Continues to Shine
For the third straight week, rookie wide receiver Terrance Williams caught a touchdown pass from Tony Romo. The Baylor product caught six of the seven balls thrown his way in Philadelphia, tallying 71 yards.
Dez Bryant's eight catches for 110 yards may overshadow Williams' production on the stat sheet. Even with No. 88's output though, Williams is making a strong case for this team's second starting receiver.
For the second week in a row, current No. 2 wideout Miles Austin was all but silent, catching none of his three targets. Against Washington in Week 6, Austin didn't see one ball thrown his way.
The chemistry between Williams and Romo is becoming stronger each week during this 2013 season. Williams is earning Romo's trust by catching most of the balls thrown his way and becoming a reliable red-zone option.
If the rookie continues to play the way he has the last several weeks, he could be receiving a promotion at Austin's expense soon.
Cowboys Commit to Run, Albeit Unsuccessfully
Taking away Tony Romo's four scrambles, the Cowboys ran the ball 22 times against the Eagles. Their commitment to the run resulted in more than a few runs by Joseph Randle for two or three yards.
Randle and Phillip Tanner combined for 66 yards on the day with the longest rush being for just 12.
Those aren't the numbers offensive coordinator Bill Callahan was likely looking for coming into this matchup. The important thing to note here though is that he didn't throw the running playbook out the window.
Dallas has given up on the running game in several games over the past few years when its production is minimal. It was smart of Callahan to not fall into the Cowboys' old ways and keep the offense balanced. Romo's arm can't be asked to do it all.
Dallas Made Statement with Touchdown to Open Second Half
After struggling to do much of anything on offense through the first two quarters, the Dallas offense was downright impressive to open the second half.
The 'Boys marched 66 yards on 10 plays on their way to a one-yard touchdown run by Phillip Tanner. Perhaps more importantly, the drive took almost six minutes off the clock before Philadelphia saw the ball in the third quarter.
Dallas' opening offensive drive in the third quarter helped wash away the funk that the offense seemed to be in. It allowed Tony Romo and the rest to gain some confidence and separation from Philly on the scoreboard.
After that drive, it just felt like the Cowboys had woken up offensively and just took what the Eagles defense gave them. The offense didn't play to its full potential by any means, but it did enough. Sometimes, that's all you can ask for in a gritty game.
LeSean McCoy Kept in Check
As little as Joseph Randle was able to contribute for his team, Philadelphia got even less from LeSean McCoy.
Coming into the Week 7 contest, McCoy led the NFL in rushing yards with 630 on the year. He added just 55 to that total against the Cowboys' No. 30 ranked defense. Even Randle's not-so-long run of 12 yards was more than McCoy's longest of 10.
McCoy was the player that could have given Monte Kiffin's defense fits in this game. The Eagles' back was coming off a 116-yard day against the Buccaneers in Week 6. If he had a similar day against the Cowboys, the score could have been a lot closer in Philadelphia.
For a Dallas defense that ranked in the middle of the road at No. 14 against the run, shutting McCoy down is a step in the right direction. It's not exactly easy to shut down the former Pro Bowl selection.
Tony Romo's Interceptions Didn't Hurt His Team's Cause
Tony Romo threw almost as many interceptions against the Eagles that he had through six games this season.
The first of the two turnovers can be forgiven. Eagles safety Earl Wolff picked off Romo in the end zone just as the last seconds of the second quarter ticked off the clock.
Romo's second interception was due to a throw behind Phillip Tanner on a checkdown that ended in the hands of DeMeco Ryans. While the second interception gave Philadelphia its only points of the game, it didn't hurt too bad in the long run.
The Cowboys still won the game handily, and Romo was able to put the less-than-smart throw behind him. Sometimes No. 9 can throw a pick, and it can haunt him for a few series but not in Week 7.
Head coach Jason Garrett has to be happy with Romo's selective amnesia on the day. With a bout with Detroit coming up in Week 8, the veteran has to go back to his careful ways with the football.
Dallas Wins an Ugly Contest
There is no way to sugarcoat what this game was; it was ugly. It felt like every other play saw a yellow flag hit the turf. When a play didn't have a penalty involved, it was a run for two or three yards or a turnover.
Dallas won an ugly game here that saw more than a few miscues from both teams involved. Still, as long as you win in the NFL, it doesn't matter much how you earned it. The Cowboys now have two straight victories that just so happen to have come against two division rivals.
With a 3-0 record in the NFC East and now sitting in sole position of first place in the division, things aren't going so bad for Big D. The Cowboys learned how to win a sloppy contest in their visit to the Linc, and that's a valuable lesson.
Detroit will not be as easy a matchup for the Cowboys come Week 8. Preparation and smart play will be needed in Detroit, and it helps to have back-to-back division wins in your pocket.
Alex Hall is a Dallas Cowboys Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @AlexKHall.
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