Cowboys outlast Eagles in wild, wacky NFC East showdown

IRVING, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys gave up two touchdowns in a 14-second span. Terrell Owens didn't catch a pass after halftime, Jason Witten spent time in the locker room tending to a separated shoulder and Roy Williams broke his arm.

Meanwhile, Brian Westbrook scored three TDs, a healthy Donovan McNabb made plays with his legs and his arm and rookie receiver DeSean Jackson accomplished something that hadn't been done in 68 years.

Yet, somehow Dallas managed a 41-37 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in a wild, wacky game between NFC East rivals in the last home opener at Texas Stadium for the Cowboys.

"It was fun — once we won," quarterback Tony Romo said.

"Well, it is one in the bank for us," coach Wade Phillips said. "You never know when one of these will come back to mean a lot."

Not until the Cowboys (2-0) snuffed out a double-lateral play on a fourth-down pass near midfield with 37 seconds left, after sacking McNabb on two of the previous three plays, was the victory secured.

"We knew if we kept chasing him at some point somebody would get him," linebacker Bradie James said.


Westbrook's final TD was a 1-yard run, with a second-effort surge over the goal line, that put the Eagles up 37-31 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. That was the sixth lead change of the game, but not the last.

After Nick Folk kicked a 47-yard field goal to get Dallas within 37-34, Westbrook fumbled on the next possession. The Cowboys went 67 yards, 32 of that on Witten's catch to the 5, with Marion Barber shuffling through the right side from a yard out with 4:35 left. Barber also had a 17-yard TD catch in the third quarter.

Philadelphia (1-1), coming off an impressive romp in its opener, went from trailing 14-6 to leading 30-21 just before halftime.

"These were two great teams going at it," McNabb said. "There are a lot of positives we can take from this game. But that's not important right now. What we need to do is focus on working on the negatives. That's going to make us a better team."

Witten was back on the field before halftime, after leaving for X-rays, and had a 42-yard catch down the middle of the field to set up Folk's 51-yard field goal just before the break. The Pro Bowl tight end finished with seven catches for 110 yards.

"Little shoulder pops out and that's nothing," Owens said. "It just shows you how tough the guy is."

Owens had 89 yards on three catches, including a 4-yard score and a 72-yard touchdown on Dallas' first series that he punctuated with the kind of arm-flapping celebration he used to do for Philadelphia. His first TD moved him into second place on the NFL's career receiving touchdown list; he finished at 132, still well behind Jerry Rice's record of 197.

Williams, the five-time Pro Bowl safety, fractured his right forearm while making a tackle on a kickoff return in the third quarter. He could miss at least three games.

McNabb was 25-of-37 for 281 yards with a touchdown, matching Ron Jaworski's club mark of 175 career TD passes. He also was sacked four times, including those two on the final series.

"He played his heart out and he played good," coach Andy Reid said.

Jackson caught six passes for 110 yards, becoming only the second player in NFL history to open his career with consecutive 100-yard games. The other was Don Looney, also for Philadelphia, in 1940.

But midway through the second quarter, after Owens' second TD put Dallas up 21-20, Jackson's early celebration cost him a score. Jackson turned an apparent 61-yard TD into a 60-yard catch because he dropped the ball before crossing the goal line. The ball was placed on the 1, and Westbrook scored on the next play.

"I'm just young and I'm trying to learn the best I can," explained Jackson, who was one of the first to congratulate — and thank — Westbrook. "I'm out there having fun."

Westbrook ran 18 times for 58 yards and two touchdowns, and caught six passes for 45 yards and another score.

Cowboys rookie Felix Jones returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, but Romo's miscues allowed Philadelphia to go ahead.

Asanta Samuel's interception followed by a pass interference call against the Cowboys, set up McNabb's 6-yard TD pass to Westbrook on the first play of the second quarter.

After Isaiah Stanback botched the ensuing kickoff to leave the Cowboys inside the 5, Romo bobbled the ball and lost control of it trying to hand off to Marion Barber. The ball rolled into the end zone, where Romo picked it up before being hit by Brian Dawkins and dropping it again. Chris Gocong recovered for a touchdown and a 20-14 lead.

"As a team we pushed through it and overcame some adversity that I put us in," said Romo, who finished 21-of-30 for 312 yards. "So it was good to see."


Eagles right guard Shawn Andrews hurt his lower back. Reid said Andrews would have an MRI exam on Tuesday. ... The 98th meeting was the highest-scoring game between the Cowboys and Eagles. They play again in the regular season finale at Philly. ... The 54 first-half points were the second-most in a Monday night game.

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