Cowboys beat Eagles 38-33

Cowboys vs. Eagles

Credit: Getty Images

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 02: Running back Bryce Brown #34 celebrates with wide receiver Jason Avant #81 of the Philadelphia Eagles after scoring against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on December 2, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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by JOE TRAHAN

Bio | Email | Follow: @joetrahan

WFAA

Posted on December 2, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 4:48 AM

ARLINGTON — Tony Romo threw three touchdown passes to break Troy Aikman's career franchise record, and the Dallas Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles 38-33 on Sunday night.

The Cowboys (6-6) trailed 27-24 when Romo led an 86-yard drive that was sparked by a 35-yard pass to Dez Bryant on third down. Bryant gave Dallas the lead when took a screen pass from the 6 and got inside the pylon with 5:40 remaining.

Things started slowly for Dallas. The Cowboys' first venture into the Red Zone was true to form — they had to settle for a field goal.

Romo scrambled 15 yards up the middle to convert one third down, and set the Cowboys up with a first down at the Eagles' 13.

But after a Mackenzie Bernadau holding penalty pushed the Cowboys back, Romo was sacked on third-and-long. Dan Bailey booted a 39-yard field goal to make it 7-3.

Philadelphia opened a double-digit lead with a seven-play, 73-yard drive that ended with Bryce Brown's second touchdown of the game. He went in untouched from five yards out for a 14-3 Eagles lead.

The Cowboys' offense finally woke up late in the second. On third and 13 near mid-field, quarterback Tony Romo hit Miles Austin on a crossing route for 19 yards; then Romo found Jason Witten running wide open down the middle of the field for a 28-yard gain to the one yard line.

DeMarco Murray capped off the drive with a plunge into the end zone. The Cowboys dug out of a familiar double-digit hole, but still went to the locker room with a sour taste after letting the Eagles convert a field goal in the final 35 seconds to take a 17-10 lead at the break.

The Cowboys evened up the game briefly on their first drive of the second half. Murray sparked the drive with runs of 13 and 27 yards. Then Tony Romo scrambled to buy time before hitting Dez Bryant, who took the pass and made several defenders miss for a 23-yard touchdown, tying it at 17.

That play was the 166th touchdown pass of Romo's career, setting a new team record and breaking a tie with Hall of Famer and three-time Super Bowl champion Troy Aikman.

But the Eagles' offense continued to take advantage of the injury-depleted Dallas defense. Bryce Brown ripped off a 17-yard run to move the Eagles deep in Cowboys' territory. Then Riley Cooper made a phenomenal one-handed catch, beating Brandon Carr for a 15-yard touchdown that made it 24-17 Eagles.

The game shifted in a big way just before the end of the third quarter of Sunday's game with the Eagles, the Dallas Cowboys converted a pivotal fourth-and-one play.

DeMarco Murray was initially ruled short, but after Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett challenged the play, the ruling was reversed and the Cowboys made the first down to keep possession of the ball. Miles Austin went on to catch a strike from Romo and run it in for a 27-yard touchdown, once again evening the score. 

After an Eagles field goal on the next set, Dez Bryant got another moment to shine. The Cowboys drove down the field, and Romo hit him at with a screen pass at the 6 yard line. Bryant bowled over Philadelphia cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on his way to the end-zone, putting Dallas on top for good. 

On the next possession, Josh Brent forced a fumble and Morris Claiborne recovered it, then ran it in for a 50-yard touchdown, making the lead 38-27. The Eagles' Damaris Johnson then returned a Cowboys punt for a 98-yard touchdown, but Dallas recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran the clock out.

The win pushes the Cowboys' record to 6-6 and pushes their playoff odds from "pie-in-the-sky" to "doubtful." Head Coach Jason Garrett preached his usual -- process, process, process.

"Learn from the experiences you have, both the good ones and the bad ones.... our guys responded well to the different situations within the game. There's a lot of stuff to clean up from within the game. We'll do that, and wel'l get ready for Cinci{natti}."

Romo was a perfect 10/10 in the second half with 169 yards and three touchdowns. But much like his coach, he did not linger on numbers -- or even the night's ultimate outcome.

"We're playing for our playoff lives. I think the story wil be written at the end of the year... these games will kind of go away depending on what happens..... We put ourselves here and we've got to figure out a way to play better ball. In some ways we did that tonight, in other ways we've got to continue to get better."

There remains a lot to pick apart about this Cowboys performance against a team that has now lost eight straight games. But it's a step. And maybe, just maybe, we'll hear less speculation about Jason Garrett's job security and more talk about beating the Cincinatti Bengals.

E-mail jtrahan@wfaa.com

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