Kelly’s worst-to-first Eagles topple Cowboys 24-22

Chip Kelly engineered a dramatic change in his first season as

Philadelphia’s coach.

Nick Foles and Brandon Boykin made the plays to finish off the

worst-to-first surge, and sent the Dallas Cowboys home with the

same sickening feeling for the third straight year.

Foles threw two touchdown passes, one to NFL rushing champion

LeSean McCoy, and Boykin had a game-sealing interception Sunday

night to give the Eagles a 24-22 victory over the Cowboys, who lost

yet another finale with the NFC East title and a playoff berth on

the line.

Boosted by Kelly’s fast-paced offense that made Oregon one of

the best teams in college football, the Eagles won the division for

the first time since 2010, a year after they were 4-12.

”I thought the first time I met them I thought this was a

special group,” Kelly said. ”I can’t tell you how much they’ve

made this transition coming for me from college to pros.”

Nobody could blame Tony Romo for Dallas’ latest crushing

loss.

Kyle Orton, filling in two days after Romo underwent back

surgery, had Dallas about 40 yards from field goal range with 1:49

remaining. But he threw behind Miles Austin on the first play, and

into the arms of Boykin.

”We kept fighting. We believed in each other,” said Foles, who

was 17 of 26 for 263 yards after throwing for only 80 in a 17-3

loss to Dallas at home. ”When the offense was struggling, the

defense picked us up.”

The Eagles (10-6) will host New Orleans in a wild-card game

Saturday night, while the Cowboys (8-8) have now dropped successive

finales to each division rival and have missed the playoffs four

straight years. Dallas is 136-136 since the start of the 1997

season.

”It’s unthinkable, really, to me to be sitting here three years

in a row and this game ends up putting us at .500 and this game

eliminates us from going to the playoffs,” Cowboys owner Jerry

Jones said.

Five things to consider after the Eagles beat Dallas in a

winner-take-all finale for the second time in five years – they won

44-6 in 2008.

RUSHING CHAMP: McCoy, who had a 3-yard scoring catch, rushed for

131 yards to finish with 1,607 yards and become the first

Philadelphia running back to win the rushing title since Hall of

Famer Steve Van Buren in 1949. He had 134 yards from scrimmage and

finished with 2,146 to break Brian Westbrook’s team record of 2,104

from 2007. ”With the stats and the records, none of that stuff

means anything, if you don’t win in the end,” McCoy said. ”That’s

the most important thing.”

COACHING FUTURE: For the third time since mid-November, Jones

was emphatic in saying Jason Garrett would return. Garrett has 8-8

records in all three full seasons as coach. Dallas is just the

third team in NFL history to have three straight 8-8 records,

according to STATS. ”I’ll give Jason Garrett a lot of credit for

how we handled a lot of challenges throughout the year,” said

Jones, referring to the late loss of Romo, along with the absence

of defensive leader Sean Lee (neck) and a litany of injuries to the

defensive line. Jones wasn’t as emphatic about defensive

coordinator Monte Kiffin returning for a second season after the

Cowboys gave up the most yards in franchise history.

LATE DRAMA: Dallas trailed 24-16 when Orton threw a 32-yard

touchdown pass to Dez Bryant. Orton went back to Bryant for the

2-point conversion, but Cary Williams dove to punch the ball away.

But the Eagles, with the second-ranked offense in the NFL, couldn’t

run out the clock against the league’s worst defense. Foles even

tried to throw on third down, but had to slide short of the first

down when nobody was open. Boykin took care of things after the

punt. ”It was happiness,” Boykin said. ”Everybody jumped on top

of me. I really just wanted to make sure the offense got back out

there to take a knee.”

NOT GOOD ENOUGH: The Cowboys were down 10-0 early in the second

quarter and never led, but still found a way to make it interesting

without their top offensive and defensive players. ”You feel a

tremendous sense of pride about how the team played, how they

fought, how they scratched, how they clawed, how they battled,”

Garrett said. ”But having said that, we didn’t get the job

done.”

TEXAS CONNECTION: There will be plenty of talk all week about

Foles facing Drew Brees, since both played for Westlake High School

near Austin. Foles finished his college career at Arizona after

starting at Michigan State, and Brees was largely overlooked by

Texas schools before starring at Purdue. ”When you grow up in

Westlake, you know who Drew Brees is,” said Foles, who is 10 years

younger. ”But it’s about zoning stuff out. I’m focusing on their

defense.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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