Bryant leads Cowboys back against Eagles, but more work to be done
If there's anyone who knows about taking a beating only to come out victorious, it's a politician. So it's fitting New Jersey governor Chris Christie, an unabashed Cowboys fan, was sitting in owner Jerry Jones' suite Sunday night in Philadelphia.
The Cowboys blew a 21-0 lead to the Eagles, then came back to win, 38-27, thanks to a man who could get elected mayor of Dallas right now, Dez Bryant.
After jawing with Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins in pregame warmups, Bryant backed up his talk with six catches, nearly all of them in clutch situations, for 114 yards. He had two of the touchdowns that gave the Cowboys a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter, only to watch the Eagles score 24 consecutive points and pull ahead, 24-21.
All of this happened with the Cowboys knowing their playoff hopes basically weighed in the balance. It wasn't a true must-win situation, but it might as well have been.
Bryant's heroics led the way back from oblivion, just like a career politician bounces back from a scandal. Bryant turned in the first three-touchdown game of his career, including a 25-yarder in the fourth quarter that all but sealed the deal.
It was Dan Bailey's 49-yard field goal with 4:37 left that really sealed the Eagles' fate. Well, it sealed it as much as Philly QB Mark Sanchez' two interceptions. Or the the heads-up fumble recovery by Cowboys linebacker Kyle Wilber in the fourth quarter.
The fumble recovery stood up after Cowboys coach Jason Garrett challenged the call on a reception by Eagles tigtht end Brent Celek, who rolled on top of J.J. Wilcox when he lost the ball.
So Garrett had a good night and so did quarterback Tony Romo, two guys with a reputation for fishtailing in December.
The win puts the Cowboys in first place in the NFC East and in control of their own destiny. Had they lost, their playoff hopes would have been in serious jeopardy. The Cowboys are on the wrong end of most tiebreakers scenarios in a tight NFC playoff race.
But this journey to the playoffs is far from over. The Cowboys still have to win out to avoid falling into the tiebreaker pit. That means they have to turn around do something they're not good at: Win a game at home.
Next Sunday brings the Indianapolis Colts to AT&T Stadium where the Cowboys are merely 3-4 this season.
The profile of a playoff team generally includes a strong inclination toward protecting its home field. When opponents visit AT&T Stadium, the Cowboys seem to swing open the massive doors and holler, "Come check out our art collection!"
If they overcome their home curse, they finish the road at Washington, the highly dysfunctional team that somehow beat The Cowboys back on Oct. 27. If Tony Romo's back hasn't given out by then, the Cowboys can achieve the rare feat of going 8-0 on the road.
Four of the last five teams to go 8-0 on the road went to the Super Bowl. If the Cowboys make the Super Bowl, remember that night in Philadelphia when Dez Bryant and company refused to believe the pollsters and pulled out a clutch December win.
Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire
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