For those with a sentimental nature, the NFC East showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys had every storyline you could hope for. With a total of seven lead changes, the Cowboys 41-37 victory gave Texas Stadium the Monday Night curtain call that it so rightfully deserved.
This game featured McNabb versus Terrell Owens and Brian Westbrook versus the entire Cowboy's secondary. As Tony Romo looked to the sky during the pre-game warmup one could only assume that he stood face to face with God himself.
Nobody would dare challenge Texas Stadium's folklore. In two career home games against the Eagles, Romo was a combined 27-of-64 with 5 interceptions, 2 fumbles, and a 33.8 QB rating. This game, albiet only in the second week, was as important to the Cowboys as a NFC championship.
“We kept believing in each other,” said Dallas coach Wade Phillips. “Everyone said `Hey, hang in there. We’re going to come out on top,’ and we did.”
Both teams wasted no time and exploded out of the gate posting score after score, and field goal after field goal. Even the opening kick-off had flair, with Cowboys kicker Nick Folk bouncing the pigskin right between the one-yard line and the pylon, and then out of bounds.
David Akers put the Eagles on the scoreboard with a field goal in their first possession. Philadelphia looked very sharp, but were quickly matched by a 60-yard cannon by Romo down the middle resulting in a 72-yard touchdown for Terrell Owens.
With the Dallas faithful growing louder and louder, the Eagles tactfully scrambled down the field resulting in another field goal to make the score 7-6. McNabb was clearly frustrated as the Cowboys defense shut him out in the red zone again, as they had in the first drive.
But before anybody could sit back down Texas Stadium exploded as Felix Jones squeezed through the Eagles' defenders and returned the kick-off 98 yards for a touchdown, with coach Wade Phillips flailing and keeping pace down the sideline. At the end of the first quarter, Dallas lead 14-6.
Tony Romo opened the second quarter with a rushed throw that landed in the hands of Eagles' Asante Samuel. Philadelphia capitalized on the opportunity and scored to make the game 14-13. This was just the beginning as Romo struggled again, fumbling the ball into the Dallas endzone. Trying to avoid a safety he fumbled the ball yet again, and Chris Gocong pounced on the ball to give Philadelphia the lead, 20-14.
The Cowboys managed one more touchdown in the half, and it was a big one. With this catch Terrell Owens passed Cris Carter on the all-time list for touchdowns by a wide reciever, second only to Jerry Rice. This also happened to be T.O's final reception in the game, and with such Philadelphia controlled a good part of the final 8 minutes before halftime. The quarter was concluded by a last second field goal, 51-yards by Dallas' Nick Folk; closing in on the Eagles' lead, 30-24.
Philadelphia and Dallas had a combined score of 54, which was second all-time for first half points scored on Monday Night Football. It was the highest point total in the history of the 98-game rivalry. Could this showdown have made any better of a case towards this being the hottest rivalry in the NFL?
Texas Stadium is in its final year as Dallas Cowboys Stadium sets to open it's doors in 2009, roughly around the same time as New Yankee Stadium embraces their own storied past. During the broadcast Monday Night Football commentators exchanged opinions briefly on how the Dallas Cowboys are America's team; bigger than the New York Yankees, he claimed.
In 1989, Jerry Jones purchased the Dallas Cowboys franchise for a sum of $150 million. This amount was considered ludacris, throwing funds at a market that at the time did not offer enough revenue to warrent the purchase. We now look back on an era in which the blue star warmed the souls of those who dedicated their lives to American football. Estimates show that the Cowboys' franchise is now worth over $1.4 billion.
This game could go down as the best of 2008, top ten of the decade, or perhaps even one of the climatic moments in NFL history. For that, we have Jerry to thank.
Fair winds, the House That Jerry Jones Built.