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Sunday, November 11, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 38, Eagles 23

By Calvin Watkins



PHILADELPHIA -- The Cowboys' season is saved -- or at least it still has meaning. It was in danger of ending with a loss to the Eagles, but touchdowns on special teams and defense led the way.

The Cowboys defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 38-23 on Sunday evening, with a strong and steady performance that turned a normally rowdy Lincoln Financial Field into a quiet golf crowd at the Masters.

What it means: With the New York Giants losing in Cincinnati, the Cowboys' victory keeps them two games behind first place with seven remaining in the season. To reach the playoffs, the Cowboys have to either win the division (having already played the Giants twice) or have a better overall record than four teams with winning marks. New Orleans, which has a two-game winning streak and has won four of five, is on the schedule for a Dec. 23 showdown at Cowboys Stadium in a game that might have playoff implications.

Game-clincher comes on defense: Brandon Carr's first interception of the season clinched the game for the Cowboys. It came off a Nick Foles pass that was behind DeSean Jackson that he bobbled. The ball hit the knee of Ernie Sims, and Carr snagged it out of the air and went 47 yards for the touchdown for a 31-17 Cowboys lead. It was the Cowboys' first interception returned for a touchdown since Terence Newman did it Nov. 13, 2011, against Buffalo. Combined with Dwayne Harris' 78-yard punt return, it's the first time the Cowboys have scored touchdowns by interception and punt return in the same game.

Claiborne struggles: It was a rough day for rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne. He was penalized for offsides twice and was cited for three holding calls. Claiborne was flagged for holding Riley Cooper early in the fourth quarter, which erased an interception by Anthony Spencer. It was a questionable call. Two holding calls came on the same drive, leading to a 40-yard field by Alex Henery that gave the Eagles a 17-10 lead. It was Claiborne's worst game as a professional by far.

Cowboys without Jenkins; Eagles lose Vick: The Cowboys didn't have cornerback Mike Jenkins (back), who was inactive. Defensive end Kenyon Coleman hurt his triceps early in the third quarter and didn't return. Tyrone Crawford took his place the rest of the way. The game's big injury came as a result of a knockdown by linebacker Ernie Sims on Michael Vick. After Vick threw a pass, Sims pushed him down, and the quarterback's head hit the ground. Nick Foles replaced him. Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant injured a hamstring after dropping a pass in the first half and didn't return.

Romo with efficient game: He didn't throw for 300 yards, but Tony Romo completed two long pass plays to Dez Bryant that resulted in a touchdown and a first down. Romo finished 19-for-26 for 209 yards with two touchdowns. He hasn't turned the ball over the last two weeks after throwing 13 interceptions the first seven weeks of the season.

What's next: The Cleveland Browns visit Cowboys Stadium for the first time. The last time the Cowboys played the Browns was the 2008 season opener, which Dallas won 28-10 in Cleveland.