Ted Nugent was in the house on Saturday night as the Dallas Cowboys put a stranglehold on the Philadelphia Eagles for a second consecutive week, earning the franchise's first playoff win in 13 years, 34-14.
After the Cowboys' struck first with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Tony Romo to John Phillips, Philly answered with a 74-yard Strike from Michael Vick to Jeremy Maclin. Thanks to the Dallas defense, it wouldn't be close for long. Dallas forced four turnovers on the night, and sacked Donovan McNabb four times.
Dallas followed the Maclin touchdown reception with 27 unanswered points. By the time McNabb hit DeSean Jackson for a fourth quarter touchdown, the Cowboys' opening round win was a forgone conclusion. Philadelphia's final possession ended with a near-interception, by Mike Jenkins, and a solitary kneel-down by Romo put this one in the books, 34-14.
Romo, who along with Wade Phillips can count Saturday night as his first career playoff win, continued on his hot streak, going 23 of 35 for 244 yards and 2 touchdowns for a rating of 104.9. His near-interception in the second quarter might have been devastating for Dallas's momentum; instead, it was overruled on replay after being challenged by Phillips.
This drive, which might be seen as the most pivotal of the night, ended after 70 yards, with Tashard Choice taking it in from a yard out to give Dallas the lead once more at 14-7. Andy Reid, Donovan McNabb and a drove of writers in Philadelphia will be left to wonder what happened next.
After a Philadelphia three-and-out, Shaun Suisham nailed a 28-yard field goal to extend the Dallas lead to 10.
Vick returned to the game on a second-and-ten at the Philadelphia 20, following a David Buehler touchback; this time, though, Vick would be noticeably less fortunate, fumbling a bad snap. Bobby Carpenter recovered, and Dallas took over on Philadelphia's 18. Romo hit Miles Austin on a short pass three plays later for a score, once again extending Dallas's lead, to 24-7. Austin would finish with seven catches for 82 yards and a touchdown.
Following the Austin touchdown, Philadelphia took over on their own 25. They would drive into Dallas territory until the Cowboys' defense stepped up once more. Bradie James yanked the ball from fullback Leonard Weaver's grasp after a short reception, forcing another fumble at the Cowboys' 45. Dallas took over, driving to the Eagles' 30 before the offense stalled, giving way to Suisham. The journeyman kicker hit a 48-yarder to give Dallas a 27-7 halftime lead.
This score would stand until around ten minutes into the third quarter, when Felix Jones happened, going 73 yards to paydirt on a first and ten. Jones had 148 yards on the night, on 16 carries--for an average of 9.3 yards an attempt--and, of course, the touchdown.
Jackson's touchdown stood as the only scoring of the fourth quarter, as the Dallas defense continued to make its case for being among the elite in all of football. DeMarcus Ware's strip sack of McNabb with around five minutes left in the game sealed it--if it hadn't already been "sealed"--and Dallas was left to watch the clock run out before their first playoff win in 13 years went down in the proverbial books.
After driving to the Dallas 29 on their final possession of the game, Philadelphia's offense stalled--a common theme of the night. Jenkins' near interception gave Dallas the ball, and Romo knelt once to make his first career playoff victory official, at 34-14 Dallas.
With the win, Dallas will face Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings next week at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.