Proficient Eagles Beat the Cowboys on the Fly
Donovan McNabb spun away from one would-be tackler and sprinted to his right, only to find another defender waiting. So he went back to his left, chased by two more players, and finally heaved the ball, letting loose a 60-yard pass that looked more like a punt.
From that amazing completion to Freddie Mitchell to three touchdown passes to Terrell Owens, McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles resoundingly bounced back from their first loss to beat the Dallas Cowboys, 49-21, Monday night.
McNabb was 15 for 28 for 345 yards, with four touchdown passes and no interceptions. He led Philadelphia (8-1) to six touchdowns in the first three quarters, then Lito Sheppard capped a historic night for both teams with a 101-yard interception for another score.
The Eagles scored 35 points in the first half -- more than they had scored in any game this season. They finished with their most points since beating St. Louis, 52-10, in November 1981.
“It takes a couple plays for us to get a little momentum,” McNabb said. “Once things get going, we feel confident that every play that we call is going to be effective and possibly get in the end zone.”
Philadelphia scored touchdowns the last five times it had the ball before halftime, then on its first drive of the third quarter. There was the minor interruption of a punt, but the Cowboys (3-6) fumbled the return, adding to the humiliation of their fifth loss in six games -- and their eighth in nine tries against the Eagles.
This one was historically ugly as Dallas gave up its most points ever at home and its most anywhere since a 50-24 loss at Cincinnati in December 1985. The Cowboys gave up four touchdowns in one quarter (the second) for the first time in franchise history and the 35 points Philadelphia scored in the first half tied another record.
After calling his team “stupid” after a 26-3 loss to Cincinnati last week, Dallas Coach Bill Parcells tried holding his tongue.
“We just got to get better,” he said. “I’m not going to get into the state of the union right now. I’m just not going to do it.”
The Eagles loved every minute of it, especially Owens.
He pretended to skate in the end zone after his first score, a 59-yard pass play, then playfully argued with McNabb on the sideline, mocking their confrontation from last week. After a 27-yard touchdown catch, he mocked his own celebration from four years ago at Texas Stadium, only this time he stood on a small star logo painted on a helmet in the end zone instead of the big one at midfield.
By the time he scored midway through the third quarter, putting Philadelphia ahead, 42-14, he merely dunked the ball over the crossbar.
“We work hard in practice,” said Owens, who had 134 yards in six catches. “We knew they were going to blitz us a lot, we just had to execute on offense.”
Cowboy quarterback Vinny Testaverde, playing two days after turning 41, was 21 for 30 for 254 yards with two touchdowns to Jason Witten. Eddie George had a 15-yard touchdown run.
Testaverde’s only interception came in the end zone with about five minutes left. Sheppard returned it all the way, breaking past the defense only to have Keyshawn Johnson reach him at the goal line. Johnson grabbed the back of his collar out of frustration.
Philadelphia’s biggest struggle was on third down. The Eagles didn’t convert one until there were about three minutes left in the first half. The skid ended, perhaps fittingly for this game, on McNabb’s 60-yard pass to Mitchell.
About the only thing Philadelphia did wrong was call a timeout in the closing seconds of the first half, when the Cowboys had taken a knee and were walking to the locker room. Parcells returned to the 50-yard line, staring across the field.
It was the same look he had most of the night.