Considering the Saints and Vikings haven’t played a down in the postseason yet, nobody should be ready to crown the Cowboys NFC Champions. But with how good Wade Phillips’ team has played over the past month, you get the sense that this Dallas team is primed for a great finish.
The Cowboys obliterated the Eagles 34-14 in the opening round of the playoffs on Saturday, and the game wasn’t even as close as the final score indicates. Tony Romo completed 23 of 35 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns, while Felix Jones rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries and Miles Austin hauled in seven passes for 82 yards and a score.
But for as well as the offense played, it didn’t hold a candle to how good the Cowboy defense was. They held the Eagles to 14 first downs and 56 rushing yards, forced four turnovers and were so far up Donovan McNabb’s ass today that he probably thought he went to the proctologist. Fans will criticize him for his performance because, well, they always criticize him. But the fact of the matter is that he had zero time to throw the ball, zero time to set his feet and very few open receivers. I’m not suggesting that he played well, but his offensive line couldn’t block a stationary bike. They had no answer for the Cowboys’ pass rush.
Dallas punched the Eagles in the mouth at kickoff and Philly never responded. For a team that has often be criticized for failing to live up to expectations, one would have thought that the Eagles would have played with more passion. Then again, when you’re getting your ass kicked every snap, it’s hard to give a damn after a while. (On a side note, I found it humorous that the Eagles got the best and worst of Michael Vick tonight; one moment he’s getting them back into the game by throwing a laser to Jeremy Maclin for a 76-yard touchdown and the next he’s fumbling a handoff. Falcon fans everywhere cracked a smile on that one…)
The greatest neutralizer in football is a pass rush, which Dallas has. The Cowboys have already proven they can beat the Saints in New Orleans and given how well they’re playing defense, I have little doubt they could beat the Vikings in the Metrodome.
That said, one win isn’t going to erase the fact that this is a team that hasn’t been able to get out of its own way with Phillips in command. Their impressive victory over the Eagles was just step one – now let’s see if they can sustain this moment heading into next week.
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