Banged-up Cowboys beat up Eagles 17-3
Leave it to a bunch of no-names to be the first defense to shut down Chip Kelly's offense.
Tony Romo threw for 317 yards and one touchdown and a banged-up defense delivered a knockout punch to Nick Foles, helping the Dallas Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles 17-3 on Sunday to take sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
A Cowboys defensive line missing three of its projected starters pressured and harassed Foles before a sack put him out with a head injury. With Michael Vick inactive because of a hamstring injury, Matt Barkley made his NFL debut and threw three interceptions in the fourth quarter.
''We played well as a unit,'' said Dallas defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, who said during the week he preferred to face Foles instead of Vick. ''Guys are just playing their butts off out there and playing for one another.''
Foles was awful before he got hurt, putting an end to the quarterback controversy in Philadelphia. If Vick is healthy, he'll start next week against the New York Giants.
Two teams that averaged a combined 58.2 points per game and allowed a combined 55.2 totaled 13 punts in a first half that ended with Dallas (4-3) leading 3-0. It was more two inept offenses than two dominant defenses.
The Eagles (3-4) have lost a franchise-worst nine straight games at home. Their last win at Lincoln Financial Field was over the New York Giants on Sept. 30, 2012.
Dallas played without four-time All-Pro defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who missed the first game in his nine-year career because of a quadriceps injury. Anthony Spencer, the end opposite Ware, is out for the season after knee surgery. Four-time Pro Bowl tackle Jay Ratliff was released during the week after failing a physical.
Five reasons why the Cowboys beat the Eagles in a surprising defensive tussle:
ROMO WAS CLUTCH: When the Cowboys needed a big play, Romo delivered in the second half. He was 12 of 15 for 122 yards on the two touchdown drives, including two third-down conversions.
''Things had to get rolling and it did,'' wideout Dez Bryant said. ''Romo and the coaches made the adjustments.
MONTE OUTWITS CHIP: Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin saw his defense allow 150 points in three games against Kelly's Oregon Ducks when he was at USC. The defensive wizard got his revenge in his first chance at Kelly's pro offense.
''All of us have respect for Monte as a coach,'' Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. ''He never blames anyone but himself.''
MISSING MICHAEL VICK: The Eagles sorely lacked Vick's scrambling and playmaking ability. The slow-footed Foles couldn't avoid pressure, and couldn't take advantage of running lanes. Vick has missed 2 1/2 games because of a hamstring injury. But the loss wasn't all Foles' fault.
''I don't think as offensive weapons we gave him much of a chance,'' LeSean McCoy said. ''There are plays that we should have made, there are plays I should have made, to help him out. If you look down the line, I bet guys would say the same things about themselves. We just didn't give him a shot. Nick's a good player. We let him down.''
MCCOY & JACKSON INVISIBLE: McCoy, the NFL's leading rusher, was held to 55 yards on 18 carries. DeSean Jackson, the second-leading receiver, had only three catches for 21 yards. With their dynamic duo looking ordinary, the Eagles couldn't do much on offense.
''We couldn't get anything going,'' Jackson said. ''It was frustrating. We have to figure out what it is and fix it.''
TOO MUCH OF THE JONESES: Eagles punter Donnie Jones and Cowboys punter Chris Jones averaged a combined nine punts the first six games. They each punted nine times Sunday. The Eagles had four three-and-outs, half of their season total before the game.
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