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Sunday, October 20, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Dallas Cowboys

By Todd Archer

PHILADELPHIA -- A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys17-3 win against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday:

What it means: With back-to-back wins for the first time this season, the 4-3 Cowboys have taken control of the NFC East. They are 3-0 in the division for the first time since 2007 and just the seventh time in franchise history. They also won on the road for the first time this season after losses to Kansas City and San Diego. After allowing 1,456 yards in their last three games entering Sunday, the Cowboys kept the up-tempo Eagles in check (278 yards) and came up with three fourth-quarter interceptions of Matt Barkley -- by Sean Lee, Barry Church and Brandon Carr. An interception of Nick Foles was negated by a replay review. The third-down defense was particularly strong, holding Philadelphia to just four conversions in 18 tries.

Stock watch: Rising -- Monte Kiffin. The defensive coordinator was falling two weeks ago when his defense allowed 51 points to Denver. When he was at USC and faced Chip Kelly's offense at Oregon, Kiffin’s defense allowed 50 points and 601 yards per game. The Eagles had scored 30 or more points in four of their first six games, but managed only a field goal thanks to strong man-to-man coverage from the Dallas cornerbacks.

Tony Romo at 100: The quarterback was starting his 100th regular-season game for the Cowboys and improved to 59-41 as a starter. It wasn’t a vintage Romo performance. He had his first multi-interception game of the season, even if the first pick was on an end-of-half Hail Mary. But when the offense needed him most, Romo came through. On Dallas' fourth-quarter touchdown drive, he completed 7 of 8 passes for 69 yards, capped by the clinching touchdown throw to Terrance Williams.

Big names missing: For the first time in his nine-year career, defensive end DeMarcus Ware missed a game. Ware did not play because of a quadriceps strain and was replaced in the starting lineup by Kyle Wilber. The Cowboys still managed decent pressure on Foles (three sacks). The Cowboys were also without DeMarco Murray (knee). It was the 10th game Murray has missed in three seasons. His replacement, Joseph Randle, ran for 65 yards, and Phillip Tanner added a touchdown run, giving the Cowboys a rushing score in their third straight game.

What’s next: The Cowboys remain on the road with a trip to Ford Field to take on the Detroit Lions next Sunday. While not as important as a division game, it could come into play later in the season in a possible wild-card race. The Cowboys won 28-27 in their last visit to Ford Field on Dec. 9, 2007.