Cowboys Top Eagles 14-13 in Season Finale

By Jeric Griffin
ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 09: Running back Felix Jones #28 of the Dallas Cowboys runs the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2010 NFC wild-card playoff game at Cowboys Stadium on January 9, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) 

The Dallas Cowboys traveled to Philadelphia for the 2010 season finale and came away with a victory in second-year quarterback Stephen McGee’s first NFL start. Originally the third quarterback on the Cowboys’ depth chart this season, McGee started in place of the injured Jon Kitna, who had replaced the injured Tony Romo back in Week 7. With both teams coming into the game with nothing to lose, many reserve players saw extra playing time, but for different reasons. Entering the game at 5-10, the Cowboys were already out of the playoffs and guaranteed a top 10 draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft. The Eagles had already clinched the NFC East title and were locked into the No. 3 seed of the NFC playoffs, players like Pro Bowl quarterback Michael Vick did not play. However, it proved to be quite the ball game, which is typical for an NFC East rivalry game.

The first quarter saw no scoring as Dallas’ Mat McBriar and Philadelphia’s Sav Rocca traded punts. The second quarter began with Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb connecting with rookie receiver Chad Hall for a 4-yard touchdown pass. Other than that play, Kolb had a pretty rough day against a seemingly revitalized Dallas secondary. Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman picked off Kolb twice in the contest and safety Gerald Sensabaugh intercepted one as well.  Granted, neither of Philly’s top wideouts, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, played long enough to get sweaty. Dallas’ starting unit was up against rookies like Hall and Riley Cooper.

Still, plenty of credit has to be attributed to the Dallas pass rush, as the Boys registered 6 sacks on Kolb. Defensive end Jason Hatcher recorded one sack while outside linebacker Anthony Spencer added two, the first of which resulted in a Kolb fumble that was scooped up by fellow outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware and returned 17 yards for a touchdown. That wasn’t the only time Kolb had Ware to worry about. The Troy product sacked the Eagles quarterback 3 times in addition to his first touchdown of the season. With his hat trick, Ware jumped from 7th in the NFL to 1st, taking the 2010 sack crown with 15.5 on the season.

Offensively, McGee’s performance can be described as fearless as well as off. The former portrays McGee’s 55 rushing yards on 9 carries, 3 of which went for first downs. Two of those scrambles for first downs resulted in McGee diving head first across the marker. The former Texas A&M Aggie ran with heart and inspired his teammates to do the same. However, McGee completed only 11 of his 27 passes for 127 yards. On at least 4 of McGee’s incompletions, he picked out an open receiver but threw the ball high and behind him. Tight end Jason Witten was the victim of 2 of those off-target passes, but hauled in a 4-yard touchdown from McGee that was right on the money. It was a classic not-my-best-game-ever-but-I-came-through-in-the-end performance by McGee, who gets my game ball.

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 09: Running back Tashard Choice #23 of the Dallas Cowboys during the 2010 NFC wild-card playoff game at Cowboys Stadium on January 9, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

McGee’s 55 rushing yards were over a third of the Cowboys’ 159 total yards on the ground. Running backs Felix Jones, Marion Barber, and Tashard Choice combined for 104 yards on 21 carries, proving my theory once again. In case you’re not familiar with it, I’ve predicted all season that if those three backs combine for over 100 rushing yards, the Cowboys will win. That has been true in all six of Dallas’ victories this season.

Other breaking news on game day was the announcement that interim head coach Jason Garrett had been named the permanent head coach for the 2011 season. The way team owner Jerry Jones contradicted himself into telling us is priceless. Click the link here to read it.

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