But for the 2012 season, this NFC East grudge-match has just been a test of who is more disappointing.
The Eagles entered the game at 3-8 on an embarrassing 7-game losing skid, and the Cowboys, at 5-6, held an outside chance of squeezing into the playoffs.
Nevertheless, these teams truly hate each other, and if nothing else, would love to knock the other out of postseason contention even if they have no chance themselves.
It was obvious early on that this Week 13 duel was going to feature a battle on the ground between Eagles RB Bryce Brown and Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray. Both backs broke off several huge gainers in the first half, with both athletes reaching the end-zone as well.
In the first half alone, Murray converted on a 1-yard touchdown run, and Brown scored twice, scampering in for a 10-yard touchdown as well as a 5-yard touchdown.
While Brown’s late fumble proved to be the deciding factor in this game, the rookie finished the game with a hugely impressive 169 yards on 24 carries with two touchdowns. Murray slowed down in the second half, chalking up 83 yards on 23 handles.
After looking absolutely horrendous in his first two NFL starts, Eagles QB Nick Foles looked like a whole new man on Sunday night. While the rookie was still a little frazzled with the likes of Cowboys DE/LB DeMarcus Ware bearing down on him on every play, Foles showed greatly improved composure and accuracy.
Foles finished the contest with 251 yards and a touchdown on 22 of 34 completions. Even more impressively, the rookie did not commit a turnover.
But the difference in the game was the incredible chemistry between Cowboys QB Tony Romo and WR Dez Bryant in the second half of this match-up. The duo connected for two key touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters from 23 yards and 6 yards out.
Despite their records, these teams both came to play Sunday night, and it showed, as the score was incredibly close all game long. The squads were tied at 17 and 24 in the second half, and just traded touchdowns and field goals until the final whistle.
The beginning of the end for the Eagles came when Brown coughed up the ball with less than four minutes left in the game, and it was returned 50 yards by CB Morris Claiborne for a Cowboys’ touchdown.
No matter how many yards a player racks up in a single game or an entire season, if they can not hold onto the football, they can not play in the NFL. Period. So despite Brown’s two huge games from a yardage standpoint, his 3 lost fumbles standout the most.
The Eagles saw a glimmer of hope when rookie return-man Damaris Johnson brought back a punt for a 98-yard touchdown with less than a minute remaining. But after a failed onside kick attempt, the Eagles fell with a final score of 33-38, and were credited with a loss for the 8th straight week.
This game was without a doubt an epic Sunday night dog-fight and a rivalry game for the ages. The Eagles are still praying for one more win this season, while the Cowboys are surprisingly still in the playoff hunt at 6-6.
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