Eagles close in on playoffs with win over Cowboys
Arlington, Texas — LeSean McCoy threw open his arms just before crossing the goal line on a touchdown run that essentially put away another big win over the Dallas Cowboys.
While Philadelphia didn't walk off with a playoff spot in hand after beating the Cowboys 33-10 on Thursday, it was a sweet Thanksgiving for McCoy, Mark Sanchez and the Eagles.
McCoy ran for 159 yards and a touchdown, Sanchez had his first scoring run in almost three years and the Eagles rolled in a matchup of NFC East co-leaders on the field where McCoy clinched last season's rushing title and Philadelphia won a playoffs-or-bust finale.
"This really felt like last year," said McCoy, who had a season-high 25 carries. "It really did."
Tony Romo wasn't around for that game because he was two days removed from back surgery. This time he was trying to play a quick turnaround for the first time, and after yet another back injury. He looked ragged as the Cowboys (8-4) lost their third straight home game.
"It was definitely short just from the Sunday night coming to here," said Romo, who threw two interceptions without a touchdown, breaking a streak of 38 straight games with at least one TD toss. "I don't really think that had much to do with the outcome of the game. I think they just played better than us."
The Eagles (9-3) opened with quick drives of 80 and 88 yards for touchdowns. They took sole possession of the division lead with four games remaining, including a rematch in less than three weeks.
"We're not into statements," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. "We've given ourselves the opportunity to play meaningful football in December, and in this league, every week is a whole different deal, a whole different animal."
McCoy, who led the NFL with 1,604 yards last season, had his fourth 100-yard game in the past seven after going without one the first five weeks and secured his fourth 1,000-yard season since 2010.
Although his deficit to Dallas' DeMarco Murray in the rushing race is probably insurmountable, McCoy outgained Murray, who was held under 100 yards for just the second time this season.
Murray finished with 73 yards and Dallas' only touchdown on 20 carries, the last a 6-yard loss when he was dropped by Mychal Kendricks on fourth-and-1 early in the fourth quarter.
"I don't really compare myself," McCoy said. "I just try to be me. I don't really get into that whole, especially during the season, 'Who's this. Who's that' thing. In the big picture, we're trying to win games."
Making his fourth start since Nick Foles was sidelined by a broken collarbone, Sanchez was 9 of 11 for 99 yards in the first quarter. That included a 27-yard scoring pass to Jordan Matthews when Sanchez hit the rookie in stride on a crossing route for a 14-0 lead.
Sanchez finished 20 of 29 for 217 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions two years after he was the starter for the New York Jets and infamously ran into the back side of one of his offensive linemen for a fumble that New England returned for a touchdown in a 49-19 Thanksgiving rout.
"It is like my favorite holiday, so that's not cool," Sanchez said. "It was a bummer. The game plan was to try not to do that. And we accomplished that."
This time he had his first scoring run since Dec. 24, 2011, with the Jets — a 2-yarder after faking the handoff to McCoy in the zone read. McCoy set up the game's first touchdown with a 38-yard run.
The Cowboys looked a little sluggish following a kickoff that came about 90 hours after their dramatic 31-28 victory at the New York Giants on Sunday night.
Murray had room to run at times but couldn't break one longer than 9 yards. Romo had plenty of time early in the game, but one time in the first half tossed a third-down pass to nobody in particular, giving the ball back to the Eagles when the Cowboys were having trouble stopping them.
"We didn't respond as well as we needed to when we were on offense," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We were never able to kind of keep ourselves in this game and certainly that's a disappointment."
Romo looked skittish at times, essentially sitting down in the pocket with nobody in position to sack him on a third-down play after Jeremy Mincey recovered McCoy's fumble at the Philadelphia 13 on the second play of the second half.
The Cowboys had to settle for a field goal, and Philadelphia answered immediately on McCoy's 38-yard scoring run, putting the Eagles up 30-10 on their third touchdown drive of at least 80 yards.