8:30 PM ET, December 29, 2013
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Foles threw two touchdown passes, one to NFL rushing champion LeSean McCoy, and Brandon Boykin had a game-sealing interception to help the Eagles beat the Cowboys 24-22 in a win-or-go-home game for the NFC East title Sunday night.
The Cowboys lost to a division rival with a playoff berth on the line for the third straight year, and nobody can blame Tony Romo for this crushing loss.
More Eagles-Cowboys coverage
When the Eagles' offense sputtered and stumbled, the defense stepped up and made plays to secure the NFC East title, writes Phil Sheridan. Story
It was his chance to be a hero, but blaming Kyle Orton for Sunday's loss to the Eagles would be beyond wrong, writes Todd Archer. Blog
Kyle Orton's untimely interception sealed the fate of the Cowboys, who seemed destined for mediocrity regardless of the quarterback, writes Jean-Jacques Taylor. Story
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 a finale to each division rival the past three seasons 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.
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.
"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."
The Eagles won the division for the first time since 2010 a year after going 4-12, which led to Andy Reid's departure and the hiring of Chip Kelly and his fast-paced offense from Oregon.
Nick Foles didn't begin the season as the Eagles' starting quarterback, but he has managed to put himself in the record books with the best TD-INT ratio in a season in NFL history.
|Nick Foles, 2013||27-2||13.5|
|Josh McCown, 2013||13-1||13.0|
|Damon Huard, 2006||11-1||11.0|
|Tom Brady, 2010||36-4||9.0|
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 from there.
"It definitely wasn't our best, but some guys came up with some huge plays when we needed them to," said Connor Barwin, who knocked down a fourth-down pass earlier in the fourth quarter.
Romo was the quarterback for losses the past two seasons to the New York Giants and Washington -- and against the Eagles in the same scenario in 2008.
The Cowboys were down 10-0 early in the second quarter and never led, but still found a way to make it interesting without Romo and defensive leader Sean Lee, who was out with a sprained neck.
Regardless, Dallas is only the third team in NFL history to finish with three straight 8-8 records, according to STATS. And those are in Jason Garrett's three full seasons as coach.
"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."
For the third straight season, the Cowboys finished 8-8. Here's a list of the three franchises that have accomplished the rare feat of consistent mediocrity.
Orton, who was 30-of-46 for 358 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his first start in two years, was the first Dallas starter not named Romo in an elimination game since a playoff loss to Carolina with Quincy Carter under center during the 2003 season.
The Cowboys weren't shy about throwing without Romo.
Trailing by one, Dallas tried to pass on fourth-and-1 from the Philadelphia 40 early in the fourth quarter, and Barwin knocked down Orton's throw to DeMarco Murray, who was open in the flat.
That decision came after Garrett called a timeout moments before the Eagles would have been called for a false start on fourth down from the Dallas 1. The defense bailed him out by stuffing Foles on a sneak.
After the Cowboys' failed fourth-down try, Foles led a steady march to Bryce Brown's 6-yard run for an eight-point lead with 6:09 remaining.
Cowboys K Dan Bailey had three field goals and made his last 21 of the season. He was 28 of 30. ... McCoy had 134 yards from scrimmage and finished with 2,146 to break Brian Westbrook's team record of 2,104 from 2007. ... Murray had 51 yards rushing and finished with 1,124, the most for Dallas since Emmitt Smith had 1,203 in 2000. ... Eagles WR DeSean Jackson had 28 yards for No. 2 on the franchise's single-season receiving yardage list with 1,332. Mike Quick had 1,409 in 1983.
ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 29: Head Coach Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys prepares for their game against the...(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from Penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||5.5||6.5|
Comp - Att
Yards per pass
Sacks - Yards Lost
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||3-4||1-2|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
|FG||07:07||Alex Henery 47 Yd||3||0|
|TD||14:13||LeSean McCoy 3 Yd Pass From Nick Foles (Alex Henery Kick)||10||0|
|TD||08:16||Gavin Escobar 17 Yd Pass From Kyle Orton (Dan Bailey Kick)||10||7|
|TD||01:19||Brent Celek 14 Yd Pass From Nick Foles (Alex Henery Kick)||17||7|
|FG||00:18||Dan Bailey 44 Yd||17||10|
|FG||08:59||Dan Bailey 43 Yd||17||13|
|FG||05:38||Dan Bailey 36 Yd||17||16|
|TD||06:09||Bryce Brown 6 Yd Run (Alex Henery Kick)||24||16|
|TD||03:50||Dez Bryant 32 Yd Pass From Kyle Orton (Two-Point Pass Conversion Failed)||24||22|
Kyle Orton had success against five or more pass rushers Sunday, until he threw an interception that sealed the Cowboys' fate on their final play. - Orton was 11-of-15 for 148 yards and a touchdown against added pressure when targeting Jason Witten and Dez Bryant.[+]
Kyle Orton by No. of Pass Rushers, Sunday
Foles finished the season with the 5th-highest Total QBR in the NFL (69.0), which was the best among 2nd-year starting quarterbacks. Foles' Total QBR improved 25.9 points from last season, the 2nd-highest Total QBR difference among quarterbacks who qualified each of the last 2 seasons.[+]
LeSean McCoy had 97 of his 131 rushing yards before contact Sunday. McCoy averaged 3.6 yards before contact per rush this season, second highest among qualified rushers.
The Cowboys sent five or more pass rushers on a season-high 46% of dropbacks Sunday (14-of-31). Nick Foles was 9-of-11 for 131 yards and two touchdowns against such pressure. Foles' 9.9 yards per attempt against added pressure is the second highest among qualified quarterbacks this season. Coming into the game, the Cowboys had allowed the highest Total QBR (81.2) and yards per attempt (9.1), when sending added pressure. - Foles was 2-of-6 for 20 yards when the Cowboys sent added pressure in Week 7[+]
Cowboys' Defense Sending 5+ Pass Rushers, This Season
Kyle Orton followed up a 4th-and-9 touchdown pass to Dez Bryant (+23.5% win probability swing) with an interception that dropped the Cowboys win probability from 44.3% to 5.8% (-38.5%), capping off the Cowboys up-and-down season. Cowboys quarterbacks threw 9 4th-quarter passes that swung the Cowboys win probability by at least 20.0 percentage points in either direction, the most such passes of any team this season.
LeSean McCoy set single-season Eagles records for both total yards from scrimmage and rushing yards tonight. He also becomes the first Eagles player to lead the NFL in rushing since Steve Van Buren in 1949.[+]
From Elias: Dallas is 5-0 vs the NFC East this season. A win Sunday would clinch the division and the Cowboys would sweep the division for the 1st time since 1998 when they went 8-and-0.
The Cowboys are the third team in NFL history to finish exactly .500 in three straight seasons.[+]
3 Straight .500 Seasons - NFL History
From Elias: Close losses by the Cowboys this season - Week 2: lost by 1 at Chiefs - Week 5: lost by 3 vs Broncos - Week 8: lost by 1 at Lions - Week 15: lost by 1 vs Packers - Week 17: lost by 2 vs Eagles According to Elias, their 5 losses by 3 or fewer points are tied for the most in NFL history by a team to finish 8-8.[+]
Most Losses By 3 or Fewer Points - Finished Season 8-8 In NFL History
The Eagles are 7-0 this season when leading at halftime.
ESPN Stats & Information