The Dallas Cowboys, yeah they had a 5-2 record, same as the Eagles, but they weren't that good. Yeah, they were winning, too, but just look at who they had played. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They Carolina Panthers. The Kansas City Chiefs. Yeah, they were winning, but they'd only beaten one team with a winning record. The Eagles would be the first quality team the Cowboys had faced. (Those 6-1 Denver Broncos seemingly having slipped everyone's mind.)
What those analysts were hoping everyone would conveniently overlook was that the same thing could be said about the Eagles. They were such a "good, quality" team, yet who had they beaten? The Carolina Panthers. The Kansas City Chiefs. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Washington Redskins.
Philadelphia had also beaten only one team with a winning record--The New York Giants. Yes, those same Giants who, even after receiving 24 points gift wrapped and on a silver platter, still needed a last second field goal to beat the Cowboys in week 2. Not only that, the Cowboys had not lost to a team with a losing record, while the Eagles had lost to the team one analyst had called the worst team in the NFL--the Oakland Raiders.
Nevertheless, this game was supposed to be the first real test the Cowboys had faced. The first "quality" team the Cowboys had faced. The red hot Philadelphia Eagles. On national TV. In the Linc. Last time they were here, they'd gotten a thorough thrashing at the hands of these same Eagles. Yes, this would be a true test for them.
It was a test the Cowboys would pass. A low scoring, defensive slugfest, and it was the Cowboys defense who came out on top. It was the Cowboys defense who shut down the Eagles running game. It was the Cowboys defense who held DeSean Jackson to only two catches. TWO. It was the Cowboys defense who sacked Donovan McNabb 4 times and intercepted him twice. It was the Cowboys defense who stopped the Eagles on a 4th and inches. It was the Cowboys defense who held the Eagles to a single touchdown.
With this victory, the Cowboys took control of the NFC East. More importantly, they showed the world that they just might be a bit better than that 8-8 team all the analysts predicted they would be.
And most importantly of all, with this victory, they Cowboys could finally lay to rest
The Ghost of 44-6.
(Photos by Al Bello/Getty Images)