McNabb, Eagles Send Struggling Romo, Cowboys To Second Loss
Sunday, December 16th 2007, 9:28 pm
By: News On 6
IRVING, Texas (AP) With the game on the line, Tony Romo got ready for another heart-stopping rally.
He dropped back to pass, cocked his arm and the ball squirted out, an indication his hand injury was more than a minor inconvenience. But Romo bounced back to make a fourth-down conversion, keeping hope alive.
Then he dropped back again, saw Terrell Owens cutting to the sideline and threw it right where T.O. was supposed to be. But he wasn't. He fell, so the ball went straight to one of the Philadelphia Eagles, the third time they'd caught a pass meant for Owens.
From aches and pains to painful mistakes, the Dallas Cowboys had little go their way on Sunday. So there was no crazy comeback this time, just a 10-6 loss that ended their seven-game winning streak and raises questions about another December slide.
Dallas (12-2) had 240 yards, its fewest of the season, and didn't score a touchdown for the first time since November 2004. Add in last week's last-second victory in Detroit and the Cowboys have played two lousy games in a row.
``We'll get back and right the ship,'' Romo said. ``I know I've got to come back to do better.''
He's also got to come back healthy.
Romo hurt the thumb area on his passing hand on the same third-quarter play in which center Andre Gurode was hurt. X-rays shows no break, but it's at least bruised. Romo had it wrapped and iced during his postgame news conference and insisted, ``I'll be fine.''
Philadelphia (6-8) ended a three-game losing streak, kept alive hopes of snagging a wild-card playoff berth and avenged a nationally televised blowout loss to Dallas six weeks ago. The Eagles also ended the Cowboys' seven-game winning streak and prevented them from tying the franchise record for wins in a season.
As bad as it sounds for Dallas, the Cowboys knew before kickoff they'd secured a first-round bye _ and that they couldn't lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. So the stakes were pretty low. And they played like it.
``In the NFL, you can have days it doesn't work for you, and this is one of those days,'' team owner Jerry Jones said. ``I've seen us play too well on offense, but what should concern everybody, is if this happens in the playoffs, you get to go home.''
Gurode and defense end Chris Canty went out with left knee injuries. Gurode is having an MRI Monday, but is expected to be OK. Canty should be fine. Backup safety Pat Watkins sprained his left ankle and tight end Anthony Fasano sustained a mild concussion.
Then there's Terrell Owens, whose ego has to be smarting after waiting until the fourth quarter for his first catch against his former team. He had only two after having only three last week. Worse yet, three passes Romo threw to him were caught by Philadelphia, including what turned out to be Dallas' final offensive snap. T.O. slipped on the play, ending the locals' hopes of seeing the kind of last-minute rally Romo pulled off in Detroit last week and Buffalo in October.
``We came out flat. We just couldn't get anything going offensively,'' Owens said. ``Maybe this is good for us, a gut-check.''
Romo finished 13-of-36 for 214 yards, with a career-low rating of 22.2. It came in front of his parents and his newest A-list girlfriend, Jessica Simpson, who tugged the front of her pink No. 9 jersey, then mouthed the word ``Romo!'' when cameras spotted her. For what it's worth, Romo's previous worst rating came last December against Philadelphia when then-girlfriend Carrie Underwood was here.
``If we go on and win the Super Bowl, the loss is a good thing,'' Romo said. ``If we lose first round of the playoffs, the loss is not a good thing.''
Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb was 23-of-41 for 208 yards and a touchdown, which he celebrated with the kind of spread-armed, arched-back gesture Owens used when he played for the Eagles. He also ran nine times for a season-high 53 yards, with a season-best 28-yarder. He was hardly dominant, getting sacked four times and failing to convert on several third-and-shorts. Then again, he also overcame the first-quarter loss of tight end Matt Schobel (concussion) and right guard Shawn Andrews (knee).
McNabb denied borrowing a page from T.O.'s celebration manual.
``I've been through a lot this season, so I was just giving thanks to the man upstairs,'' McNabb said.
Philadelphia's defense was out to save face after giving up 38 points and 434 yards last time against Dallas. The Eagles proved their point right away, preventing the Cowboys from getting a first down in the first quarter. Romo started 0-for-6 after having only five incompletions last time.
``This is special,'' Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said.
Eagles running back Brian Westbrook broke free for what would've been a 25-yard touchdown with a little more than two minutes left, but he decided to stop at the 1. It seemed bizarre, but was brilliant strategy. With Dallas out of timeouts, all McNabb had to do was take a knee three straight times to seal the deal.
``It was brilliant,'' Philadelphia coach Andy Reid said. ``He used that Villanova education and transferred it to the football field.''
Westbrook gained 81 yards on 18 rushes and 63 yards on nine receptions.
Witten, coming off a team-record 15 receptions, caught eight passes for 113 yards, including a 53-yarder that made him the first Dallas tight end to go over 1,000 yards receiving in a season.
Reggie Brown had Philadelphia's touchdown and the venture into the kettle after an incompletion.
``I was running too fast to slow down,'' he said. ``I about bowled over a cheerleader. There was a big red bowl there. I was happy there wasn't any presents in there. I didn't want to squish anyone's presents.''