Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo celebrates during Dallas 34-14 NFC Wildcard Playoff win over the Philadelphia Eagles on January 9, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.
How many times have we heard commentators indicate that it is next to impossible for an NFL football team to beat another team three times in one season? Seven years ago today, the Dallas Cowboys became the exception to that rule with their 34-14 NFC Wildcard Playoff win over divisional foe Philadelphia.
In the 2009 regular season, Dallas edged Philadelphia 20-16 at Lincoln Financial Field behind 307 passing yards from Tony Romo. In the season’s final week, Dallas blanked Philadelphia 24-0 to win the NFC East and to give Dallas the home field advantage in their wildcard contest against the Eagles.
Before an enthusiastic sellout crowd at Cowboys Stadium, the Cowboys scored a franchise playoff record 27 points in the second quarter to take control of a game Dallas would win 34-14. The victory was the first Cowboys’ playoff win since a 40-15 victory over Minnesota at Texas Stadium in 1966.
The Cowboys’ first scoring drive of the game began at Dallas’ 45 yard line with 1:25 left in the first quarter. After Romo connected with Miles Austin for 12 yards and a first down on a crucial third and eight play, Philadelphia’s Sheldon Brown interfered with Austin on a deep pass. The penalty put the ball at the Eagles one yard line, and Dallas quickly cashed in on a touchdown pass from Romo to backup tight end John Phillips.
After Philadelphia evened the score at 7-7 on a 73 yard touchdown strike from Michael Vick to Jeremy Maclin, Dallas took control of the game. Dallas drove 85 yards for the go ahead score on a drive that featured a 12 yard run by Cowboys’ halfback Felix Jones, a 15 yard face masking penalty on Philadelphia and crucial Romo completions to Patrick Crayton, Roy Williams and Jason Witten. Tashard Choice put the ball in the end zone on a one yard run to give Dallas a 14-7 lead.
Dallas’ next drive featured Romo completions of 36 yards to Austin and 17 yards to Williams that set up Shaun Suisham’s 25 yard field goal that put the home team ahead 17-7.
Two plays into the Eagles’ next drive, disaster struck for Philadelphia when Vick’s fumble was recovered by Dallas’ Bobby Carpenter at the Eagles’ 18 yard line. Three plays later, Romo found Austin for a six yard scoring pass and Dallas had surged to a 24-7 lead.
Dallas’ final possession of the half ended with a 48 yard field goal by Suisham, and the teams went to their locker rooms with the Cowboys holding a commanding 20 point lead.
Any doubt about the outcome of the game was put to rest with 5:44 left in the third quarter when Jones sped 73 yards for a touchdown run that gave Dallas a 34-7 lead. Jones’ scoring run is the longest post-season rushing touchdown in Cowboys’ history, and is one of only nine rushing scores of that distance or more since the NFL merger in 1970.
Dallas out gained the Eagles by 420 yards to 340 yards, and the final score of 34-14 would likely have been even more in Dallas’ favor if not for 14 penalties on the home team. The Cowboys rushed for 198 yards, with second year man Jones gaining 148 on only 16 carries. Romo threw for 244 yards, two scores and did not throw an interception. Austin led Dallas’ receivers with seven catches for 82 yards and a score.
The Cowboys forced four Eagles’ turnovers, sacked Philadelphia quarterbacks four times and held the Eagles to only 56 yards rushing in what was probably Wade Phillips’ finest moment as Cowboys’ head coach.
The win sent Dallas to Minnesota, where the team’s hopes of advancing were rudely put to rest in a 34-3 Vikings’ win. That loss was a disappointing way to end the year, but the team’s 11-5 record, its first playoff win ever at Cowboys Stadium and a clean three game sweep of bitter rival Philadelphia were enough to take away some of the sting of the loss.