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Sunday, January 3, 2010
Cowboys win the NFC East

By Calvin Watkins

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Last week, Orlando Scandrick, the young backup cornerback for the Cowboys, said he wanted to win the NFC East title so bad because he wanted to experience something special.

Growing up in California, he watched other teams get gear that said such-and-such wins such-and-such division title. Scandrick said if he made it to the NFL, he wanted to be in a scene like that.

Well, the Cowboys clinched the NFC East on Sunday afternoon in front of the second-largest crowd in Cowboys Stadium and team history.

A crowd of 100,621, saw Dallas blow away the Eagles, 24-0, to clinch the No. 3 seed in the NFC. Dallas will play the Eagles next week at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys will be looking to knock off the Eagles for the third time this season.

The Cowboys have shut out opponents for consecutive weeks for the first time in team history. Dallas shut out Washington, 17-0, last weekend.

In the process, coach Wade Phillips won another division title. He won the NFC East in 2007 when the Cowboys went 13-3. The last coach other than Phillips to win the divison title was Chan Gailey in 1998. Phillips is also the first Cowboys coach to win multiple division titles since Barry Switzer did it for three consecutive seasons (1994-96).

This was a beating the Cowboys owed the Eagles from last year, when Dallas needed win at Philadelphia to reach the postseason, but lost, 44-6. It set off a series of events where Jerry Jones cut Terrell Owens, Greg Ellis, Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson.

Defensive coordinator Brian Stewart and special teams coach Bruce Read were fired.

The entire organization took a hard look at itself.

There were changes, and it seems those things have worked, based on this 11-5 mark.

Going into the postseason, the Cowboys finished the season 3-2, its first winning December-January stretch since 1996, when Switzer's club finished 2-1.

The Cowboys finished this decade resolving some issues, like winning in December/January, and maybe they can win in the playoffs, something that hasn't happened since Switzer's team beat the Vikings, 40-15, after the 1996 season.

As for the Cowboys game, they scored on their first possesion of the game for the fourth consecutive week.