After an off-season that, at times, seemed geared directly toward exorcising the demons of December 28, 2008, nothing could have done the trick quite like the scene that played out at Lincoln Financial Field late on Sunday night: Miles Austin dashing to the end zone with Wade Phillips, out of focus in the background, pumping his arms in unadulterated glee.
It was a night of redemption and, very possibly, legitimization, for the Dallas Cowboys.
Gerald Sensabaugh intercepted Donovan McNabb on the Eagles' first drive to put Dallas at the Philadelphia 37 early in the first, setting up a drive that resulted in a Cowboys' touchdown, as Tashard Choice took a two-yard run to pay dirt.
The Eagles answered in the second quarter with two David Akers field goals, drawing within a point of their hated rivals from Dallas.
Nick Folk nailed a 22 yard field goal just before half, though, to extend the lead to 10-6 going into intermission.
Philadelphia opened the second half with a 96-yard kick return by Ellis Hobbs, that was nullified by a holding call; however, after a 45 yard catch by running back LeSean McCoy, the Eagles were set to strike again. McNabb would hit tight end Brent Celek two plays later for a touchdown and the 13-10 lead.
Shortly after the start of the fourth quarter, Nick Folk tied things up with a 33 yard field goal.
After a fairly long but unsuccessful drive by the Eagles, Dallas took over on downs, the result of a failed Andy Reid challenge. Taking over at their own 45, the Cowboys would waste little time in jumping to the lead, as Romo hit Miles Austin on a 49-yard touchdown pass to bring the score to 20-13, Dallas--thus the flailing, joyous arms of Coach Phillips.
Akers added a 52-yard field goal, but with no timeouts, the Eagles were forced to watch as Dallas knelt on the ball to end the game.
With the win, Dallas moves to 6-2 on the season, and into sole ownership of first place in the NFC East. Philadelphia falls to second place at 5-3.
The Giants, who lost on a late drive to San Diego, are now 5-4 after starting 5-0, sitting in third place in the East.