The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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December 30, 2013

Eagles beat Cowboys 24-22 to take NFC East title

ARLINGTON, Texas — Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles completed a worst-to-first turnaround under rookie coach Chip Kelly.

The Dallas Cowboys are stuck in second place and going home early again, and nobody can blame Tony Romo for the final crushing loss.

Foles threw two touchdown passes, NFL rushing champion LeSean McCoy had 131 yards and a receiving score and the Eagles beat the Cowboys 24-22 in a win-or-go-home game for the NFC East title Sunday night.

The Cowboys (8-8), with Kyle Orton filling in two days after Romo had back surgery, lost to a division rival with a playoff berth on the line for the third straight year.

The Eagles (10-6) will host New Orleans in a wild-card game Saturday night.

Dallas trailed 24-16 when Orton threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant. Orton went back to Bryant for the 2-point conversion, but Cary Williams dove to punch the ball away.

The Cowboys got another chance with a stop from their beleaguered defense, but Orton’s pass was intercepted by Brandon Boykin on the first play to seal the win.

“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.”

McCoy finished with 1,607 yards to become the first Philadelphia running back to win the rushing title since Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren in 1949.

“For all the accolades and the stats, if we didn’t win today, none of that means nothing,” McCoy said.

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.

Orton 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 Connor Barwin knocked down Orton’s throw to Murray, who was open in the flat.

That decision came after Cowboys coach Jason 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.

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 Kelly and his fast-paced offense from Oregon.

But the defense came up with the biggest play when the Eagles couldn’t run out the clock. Foles tried to throw on third down and had to slide down when nobody was open.

The Cowboys were about 40 yards from field goal and trailing by two, but Orton threw behind Miles Austin, just as he did on his other interception that led to a Philadelphia touchdown in the first half.

 

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