PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A costly interception, a bad snap and
countless second-half penalties on Sunday all but ended the Dallas
Cowboys' hopes for the NFC East crown.
Question on the Cowboys: Has Parcells run out of answers or are they just getting beat by better teams?
Dallas' recent swoon isn't due to any failing of coach Parcells. The Cowboys have played four consecutive potential playoff teams after going nine games having played only one. Because of the way its schedule was set up, the Cowboys were doomed to fall back to the pack. It isn't a top-echelon team and its 1-3 record over the past four games has proven that fact.
Question on the Eagles: Do you see this team getting back to the NFC title game?
This team definitely has the ability. The offense has become very balanced with the emergence of RB Brian Westbrook to go along with QB Donovan McNabb's recent fine play. Also, its defensive backfield is starting to gel and the recent return of Brian Dawkins has helped to stabilize the defense overall.
Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.
"The second half was just awful. It was just nothing but
penalties and turnovers, and you know, they're a good team, and
they're going to take advantage of things like that," Cowboys
coach Bill Parcells said.
The Eagles (10-3), who have the best record in the NFC, can
clinch their third straight division title with two more victories
or one win and another loss by the Cowboys. Philadelphia hasn't
lost since a 23-21 defeat in Dallas on Oct. 12.
The Cowboys stayed close early and were tied at 10 at halftime.
But Sheldon Brown stepped in front of Carter's pass to Terry Glenn
and returned it 10 yards to the Dallas 27. Six plays later, Duce
Staley caught a shovel pass from Donovan McNabb and ran into the
end zone for a 17-10 lead.
"I made a mistake and it cost us," said Carter, who was
15-of-24 for 93 yards and two interceptions.
"Quincy knows what he did. He's just gotta stop doing what he
did there in the third quarter," Parcells said. "It's something
that I've talked to him about since I got to know him. You know,
you try to make something out of nothing, and that's what
Later that quarter, Matt Lehr's bad snap sailed past Carter and
out of the end zone for a safety, giving the Eagles a 19-10 lead.
The Eagles put the game away on their ensuing possession,
driving 68 yards to take a 26-10 lead. McNabb connected with L.J.
Smith for a score one play after hitting James Thrash for a 20-yard
gain to the Dallas 6.
Parcells, who was furious with the team after its embarrassing
40-21 Thanksgiving Day loss against Miami, said he is about as
angry at the team this week as he's ever been. The Cowboys (8-5)
are 3-4 after a 5-1 start under the first-year coach.
"I'm concerned about a lot of things right now," Parcells
said. "It's pretty hard to have a full-blown crisis in your first
year with a program. I don't know what I'm expecting. I expected
McNabb, who has insisted the Eagles are the team to beat in the
NFC East, threw for 248 yards and three touchdowns.
"We stayed confident, we stayed together and that's
important," McNabb said.
Correll Buckhalter ran for 115 yards, including a 64-yard TD run
in the fourth quarter that capped the scoring.
McNabb threw TD passes of 16 yards to Brian Westbrook, 5 yards
to Staley and 6 yards to Smith. He completed 19 of 35 passes and
didn't throw an interception for the fifth time in the last six
"Even though things were shaky, it was no time for panicking,"
McNabb said. "What you saw today was a team that wanted to defend
its territory and move on."
The worst-rated passer in the NFL through six games, McNabb has
returned to his Pro Bowl form. He has thrown for 1,513 yards, nine
TDs and only one interception in the last six games, and was the
NFC's offensive player of the month in November.
The Cowboys came out trying to run against Philadelphia's porous
run defense. Troy Hambrick got the carry on the first seven plays,
but Dallas had to abandon the running game once the Eagles opened a
Hambrick finished with 75 yards rushing, stopping the Eagles'
four-game streak of allowing a 100-yard rusher.
Carter executed a play fake perfectly and threw a 3-yard TD pass
to Jeff Robinson to tie the game at 10 late in the second quarter.
But the Cowboys never recovered after his interception in the
McNabb's 16-yard TD toss to Westbrook gave the Eagles a 10-3
lead in the second quarter. Westbrook caught a screen pass at the
25, broke one tackle and eluded three others for his 11th TD of the
season (six rushing, three receiving, one punt return).
^Notes:@ The Eagles' winning streak is their longest since winning
eight straight in 1980, when they went to the Super Bowl for the
only time in franchise history. ... Dallas has lost five straight
in Philadelphia. ... Carter has 13 interceptions in the last seven
games. ... Eagles K David Akers is 10-for-10 on field-goal tries in
the last three games.
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