The Philadelphia Eagles buried one of football’s great traditions Sunday.
Matt Cavanaugh threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Jackson with 3:57 to play, carrying the Eagles to a 23-21 victory over Dallas, a loss that ended the Cowboys’ streak of 20 consecutive winning seasons.
“I’m proud of what we did in the 20 years,” Dallas Coach Tom Landry said. “I hate to see it go down, and it wouldn’t have this year if we had not been hit by so many injuries.”
The Cowboys also have failed to make the playoffs for the second time in three years. They were eliminated by San Francisco’s 29-24 victory over New England Sunday.
The Eagles won despite a club-record 292 yards of offense by Dallas’ Herschel Walker, who produced the NFL’s longest run of the year with an 84-yarder for a touchdown and also caught a touchdown pass on an 84-yard play that put Dallas ahead, 21-16, with 5:01 to play.
Two plays after Walker’s touchdown reception, Cavanaugh threw his second touchdown pass of the game to Jackson.
By winning, Philadelphia (5-9-1) ended an eight-game losing streak against division opponents.
It was the fourth straight loss for the Cowboys (7-8) and the sixth in their last seven games.
Dallas put together its first winning season in 1966, six years after the franchise was born, and the Cowboys have not had a losing one since. The 20 straight winning seasons was the longest such streak in NFL history and the third longest in all of professional sports.
The best Dallas can do, if it beats Chicago next week in the season finale, is 8-8, equaling its break-even 7-7 finish in 1965.
Walker’s 84-yard run with 45 seconds to go in the first quarter put Dallas on top at halftime, 7-6.
Jackson’s first touchdown catch, an eight-yarder from Cavanaugh, put the Eagles ahead, 13-7, with 3:16 to go in the third quarter.
Cavanaugh, starting in place of Randall Cunningham, who is nursing a bruised thumb, completed 15 of 27 passes for 260 yards.
Dallas came back to take a 14-13 lead on a 30-yard touchdown throw from Steve Pelluer to Mike Renfro on the final play of the third quarter.
The Eagles regained the lead with 5:22 remaining on a Paul McFadden’s third field goal of the game, a 40-yarder.
The Eagles’ defense stopped Dallas twice after moving in front for the final time, with the Cowboys not able to get out of their own end of the field.