Final

Eagles 23

(9-6, 5-3 away)

Cowboys 7

(9-6, 4-3 home)

Coverage: NBC

5:00 PM ET, December 25, 2006

Texas Stadium, Irving, TX 

1 2 3 4 T
PHI 7 6 3 723
DAL 0 7 0 07

Top Performers

Passing: J. Garcia (PHI) - 238 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: B. Westbrook (PHI) - 26 CAR, 122 YDS

Receiving: L. Smith (PHI) - 2 REC, 77 YDS

Eagles clinch playoff berth, take NFC East lead

IRVING, Texas (AP) -- With their fewest points and yards of the season, the Dallas Cowboys never gave themselves a chance to clinch the NFC East on Monday night.

It was a lot like the meltdown they had two weeks earlier when they had a chance to grab the second-best record in the NFC.

Elias Says

Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia showed fine offensive balance in its victory in Dallas, gaining 204 rushing yards and 222 passing yards. It had been more than 26 years since the Eagles last won on the road while gaining at least 200 yards in each category; in September of 1980, the Eagles beat the Vikings, 42-7, in old Metropolitan Stadium, gaining 249 yards on the ground and 280 through the air.

• For more Elias Says, Click here

The only bright side Bill Parcells found after a 23-7 loss to Philadelphia was that the Cowboys are still headed to the playoffs.

"We've got to get together or that's how we're going to be judged," he said. "If we can beat Detroit and get into the playoffs and do something, then we'll be judged differently."

Dallas (9-6) closes the regular season at home Sunday against the lowly Lions. If the Cowboys win and the Eagles (9-6) lose to Atlanta, then Dallas would still win the division and have the No. 3 seed in the NFC.

If either Dallas loses or Philadelphia wins, the Cowboys would have the No. 5 seed, the top wild card, and would play at Seattle.

"We'll find out how good we are when we get into the tournament," Dallas quarterback Tony Romo said.

The Cowboys weren't very good on Christmas, scoring 10 fewer points and gaining 119 yards fewer than any other game this season. They never led and hardly threatened, with the Eagles going up 10-0, just like they did in the first meeting in Philadelphia.

Dallas got within 10-7 on a touchdown pass to Terrell Owens with 36 seconds left in the first half, but Jeff Garcia got the Eagles in position for a field goal that gave them some breathing room. Another field goal on the opening drive of the third quarter left the Cowboys with an uphill climb they couldn't make.

Romo started playing more like a guy who spent 3½ years on the bench than one who earned a Pro Bowl invitation for a half-season's work. He short-circuited the next four drives with two sacks, then two interceptions, the last one sending fans to the exits midway through the fourth quarter.

By then, the chill of a Christmas evening was stronger than the remnants of Romo-mentum.

"I had to throw the ball away a lot," said Romo, who was 14-of-29 for a season-low 142 yards. "I definitely had to move around a bunch. They covered well."

Parcells told the team they were noncompetitive.

"There's nothing good to say. We just didn't make any plays at all, either side of the ball. Just awful."

Worse yet: T.O. is unhappy.

With a somber tone contrasting the goofy Cowboys-branded Santa hat on his head, Owens griped: "I need to be more involved in the offense" at least three times in a 7-minute news conference.

He absolved Romo for it, hinting as he'd done before that the play calling is to blame. He insisted that he needs more balls early rather than late, a strange statement considering both his catches -- for 23 yards, with a 14-yard touchdown -- came in the first half.

As for himself, Owens didn't see anything wrong with visiting the Eagles at their hotel Sunday night ("That's my time, you know? ... I'm not going to shy away from my friends for anybody") and had an excuse for dropping a deep pass at a pivotal time in the game.

"He bumped me way down the field," Owens said, accusing safety Brian Dawkins of breaking the rules. "By the time I looked up and located the ball, it was right on me. ... I thought they were going to throw a flag."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was in the same grouchy mood, calling the team's performance "just pitiful."

"I'm just stunned," he said. "I think that under these circumstances, with the players that I believe we have on defense, I didn't think there was any way in the world ... that we'd not be able to get this done."

The Eagles (9-6) were written off by many when they took a 5-6 record into December. Now they've won four straight, the last three coming on the road against their division foes; the exact stretch that was supposed to bury them has propelled them toward a fifth NFC East title in six games.

"We took a situation where things weren't looking good, with some major hurdles to overcome, and we found a way to win," said Garcia, who improved to 4-1 since replacing an injured Donovan McNabb. "It's this playoff mentality we've had over the past month that's carried us."

Philadelphia coach Andy Reid laughed about how easy it's been since his club was 5-6 after losing Garcia's first start.

"We thought it would be a cakewalk," he said with a wry smile. "Every one of those games has been huge. The guys have buckled down against some good teams. Our players knew what was ahead of them. Everybody really pulled closer together."

Garcia was 15-of-23 for 238 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and ran for 43 yards. Brian Westbrook ran for 122 yards and Correll Buckhalter had 38 yards and a touchdown.

Garcia set the tone with four third-down conversions on the opening series, then a 25-yard touchdown pass to barely covered Matt Schobel. After the defense made three straight goal-line stands against Marion Barber, the NFC touchdowns rushing leader, Garcia moved Philadelphia from its 4-yard line to the Dallas 2, setting up the first of three straight field goals by David Akers.

"I saw us take control of the game," Garcia said. "It wasn't about them, it was about us."

Game notes


Philadelphia TE L.J. Smith left with a foot injury in the first quarter, but returned in the third, announcing his arrival with a 65-yard reception. ... Dallas' Miles Austin fumbled a first-quarter kickoff return, but CB Anthony Henry got it back with a pickoff of Garcia. ... The Eagles' 205 yards rushing were easily the most Dallas has given up this season and the most by an opponent at Texas Stadium since 2000.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
PHI
DAL
1st Downs2016
Passing 1st downs
107
Rushing 1st downs
105
1st downs from penalties
04
3rd down efficiency
9-165-11
4th down efficiency
1-11-3
Total Plays6751
Total Yards426201
Yards per play6.43.9
Total Drives118
Passing222118
Comp-Att
15-2314-29
Yards per pass
8.93.7
Interceptions thrown
12
Sacks-Yards Lost
2-163-24
Rushing20483
Rushing Attempts
4219
Yards per rush
4.94.4
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-31-2
Penalties6-452-10
Turnovers13
Fumbles lost
01
Interceptions thrown
12
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession37:0622:54

Passing Leaders

PHIC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Garcia15/2323810.3112-16
DALC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Romo14/291424.9123-24

Rushing Leaders

PHICARYDSAVGTDLG
Westbrook261224.7016
Garcia7436.1012
DALCARYDSAVGTDLG
Romo34214.0016
Jones10383.807

Receiving Leaders

PHIRECYDSAVGTDLG
Smith27738.5065
Stallworth35117.0035
DALRECYDSAVGTDLG
Witten6508.3013
Crayton22914.5017

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERPHIDAL
phiTD4:06Matt Schobel, 25 yd pass from Jeff Garcia (David Akers kick is good)
Drive info: 13 plays, 89 yds, 7:12
70
SECOND QUARTERPHIDAL
phiFG5:19David Akers 25 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 12 plays, 89 yds, 7:36
100
dalTD0:44Terrell Owens, 14 yd pass from Tony Romo (Martin Gramatica kick is good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 81 yds, 4:40
107
phiFG0:01David Akers 45 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 6 plays, 38 yds, 0:36
137
THIRD QUARTERPHIDAL
phiFG12:18David Akers 21 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 77 yds, 2:46
167
FOURTH QUARTERPHIDAL
phiTD6:57Correll Buckhalter, 1 yd run (David Akers kick is good)
Drive info: 12 plays, 80 yds, 7:00
237