Wowboys 20, Beagles 16: My Top 10 Observations
10. Lots of heroes Sunday night in Philly, but the biggest - smallest - play was made by rookie linebacker Victor Butler. With the Eagles down 7 and facing third-and-10 from Dallas' 33, Donovan McNabb scrambled right into what seemed to be an open field for a good 10 to 20 yards. Butler, however, dove and clipped McNabb's right toe, sending him sprawling for a 1-yard sack. The Eagles settled for a field goal and never ran another offensive play.
9. To be fair, you cannot underestimate the absence of Eagles' running back Brian Westbrook. Dallas' defense was superb in limiting the Eagles to only two 20+-yard plays, but Philly playing without its most consistent, versatile weapon certainly helped.
8. Did I wake up in a bizarro universe or did Andy Reid just get out-coached by Wade Phillips? The decision to kick a field goal down 7 with four minutes remaining and having no timeouts is one we'd barbecue Phillips for.
7. John Madden was a legend and all, but I like me some Cris Collinsworth as NBC's analyst.
6. Has there ever been a more over-blown, under-delivering story than Michael Vick's return to the NFL? Off the field there was no picketing or boycotts or dropped sponsors. And on the field Vick's about as impactful as Stephen McGee. Last night he had 1 carry for 2 yards. Yawn.
5. Take a bow, Roy Williams. That's what we've been waiting for. To run the slant. To catch the ball with his hands. 5 catches for 75 yards, his best game as a Cowboy. Williams last week slapped the bullseye on his back and last night he not so subtley stripped it off.
4. Tony Romo threw for 300 yards, hit Miles Austin with a perfect game-winning touchdown and even threw a Staubach-esque jump pass. He's officially Mr. November, going 13-1 in this month. But my favorite play was - get this - a sack. In the fourth quarter with Dallas driving, Romo rolled left out of the pocket and did something I've never seem him do. He tucked the ball safely under his arm and absorbed a sack. The drive resulted in Nick Folk's game-tying field goal. In games gone past, Romo often tried to make something out of nothing rolling left and wound up fumbling on similar plays. Don't look now, but he's getting all growed up.
3. Jay Ratliff is a beast. It wasn't just the two sacks and constant harassment of McNabb, it was also the nose guard's penetration on Philly's fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter. With Ratliff submarining Philly's line and pushing the pile backward, it opened a crevice for linebacker Keith Brooking to stuff McNabb for no gain. On the ensuing possession, Romo hit Austin for the game-winner.
2. Give offensive coordinator Jason Garrett credit for going vanilla. With the Cowboys needing only two first downs to melt away the game's final 4:27, Garrett - who I often criticize for getting too cute - put the ball in the hands of Dallas' most trusted offensive weapons. Marion Barber carried three times for 23 yards and on third-and-3 with 1:57 remaining Romo hit Jason Witten for the game-clincher - a simple 5-yard down and out. With the game on the line in Denver, Garrett called consecutive plays for Sam Hurd. That, my friends, is what you call improvement.
1. 44-6, R.I.P.
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