Saturday, December 24, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Eagles 20, Cowboys 7
By Calvin Watkins
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The game didn't mean much thanks to the Giants' win over the Jets earlier Saturday, but the Cowboys didn't play well the entire day.
Philadelphia, with nothing to play for either, beat the Dallas Cowboys, 20-7, at Cowboys Stadium.
Jerry Jones said this week that he was scared of the Eagles, but he should be scared of what next week might represent: A loss to the Giants in the regular-season finale would end the Cowboys' hopes of a postseason berth.
What it means: The Cowboys lost quarterback Tony Romo to a hand injury and any potential momentum going into the the Giants game next Sunday. The loss also raised more questions about the defense, which struggled in pass coverage and wrapping up Michael Vick. It's the first time the Eagles have swept the Cowboys since 2006.
Home shutout avoided: The Cowboys avoided being shut out for the first time in the three-year history of Cowboys Stadium with Miles Austin's 4-yard touchdown reception with seven seconds left. It would have been the first time the Cowboys were shut out in a home game since Sept. 15, 1991. The Cowboys have gone 20 years, three months and nine days between shutouts -- Philadelphia blanked Dallas, 24-0 at Texas Stadium.
Tony Romo injures hand: Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo injured his right hand on the fourth offensive play of the game when Jason Babin smashed into him on third down. Romo did not return and had his right hand wrapped. Stephen McGee finished the game despite getting hit a few times himself. This is the first time Romo started a game and didn't complete a pass. He was 0-for-2.
Jason Garrett plays the starters: When the Cowboys took the field Saturday afternoon, the Giants-Jets game had yet to finish. If the Giants had lost, the Cowboys would have clinched the NFC East with a win. With several players nicked up, including starters Felix Jones (hamstring), Jay Ratliff (ribs) and DeMarcus Ware (neck), there was a thought Garrett would rest them. He didn't. Jones played fewer than five snaps in the game, and Ware and Ratliff played well into the fourth quarter.
What's next? The NFC East divisional championship game. The Cowboys take on the Giants at Met Life Stadium, with the winner clinching a playoff spot. However, there are scenarios in which the Cowboys can clinch a wild-card berth with a lot of help. But New Year's Day will determine the Cowboys' fate. It's a reminder of the ending of the 2008 season, in which a Cowboys victory at Philadelphia would have sent them to the postseason. The Eagles won, 44-6.