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A Win That Means So Much For Eagles

ARLINGTON, TEXAS -- Chip Kelly is right when he says that each week carries the same weight in an NFL season and that each win means the same and that next Sunday against Miami represents the same challenge as a prime-time, all-timer against arch-rival Dallas on Sunday night at AT&T Stadium. But still, let's let our guard down for just a moment here.

The celebration for the team lasts, truly, for only a few hours before the focus turns to the next opponent. For the rest of us, the non-players and non-coaches, we can wax poetic in the revelry of a 33-27 overtime victory over the despised Cowboys, a win that raises the Eagles to 4-4 at the midway point of the season and drops Dallas to 2-6 and dangerously close to having no hope in the NFC East.

It was a marvelous victory that had it all. The Eagles started the game slowly, again, and then cranked up the running game and matched the Cowboys' brawn punch for punch in the back-and-forth game that ended 27-all in regulation after Dallas drove 54 yards on 9 plays (and three Eagles penalties) to set up Dan Bailey for a 44-yard field goal.

So it went to overtime, a rarity for the Eagles. It hadn't happened since a 2012 loss to Detroit, but it was upon a team really in need of a win in Texas. The Eagles called tails on the coin flip because, well, tails never fails. And the toss was tails. And the Eagles had the first possession, knowing that a touchdown on that drive would end the game.

So the Eagles went out and ended it. They used a Sam Bradford pass to DeMarco Murray for 14 yards. Murray ran for 20 yards on a second-and-14 play. Ryan Mathews picked up a first down on a fourth-and-1 run that moved the football to the Dallas 41-yard line.

On first down from there, Bradford found Jordan Matthews open on a crossing route, hit him in stride and Matthews, along with some excellent blocking from the likes of wide receiver Josh Huff, did the rest, racing 41 yards into the end zone and then gleefully tossing the football into the stands as the thousands of Eagles fans on hand chanted out E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!

Oh, what a scene as mayhem engulfed the field and the Eagles triumphantly swept into the locker room.

"It's a huge win, the fashion in which we won, it puts us at 4-4. We needed this week," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "It was good to see the offense rolling the way they were and win the game for us. Those are the kinds of win that build the character of your team.

"It's hard to win in this league, so to go on the road and face a team that's really desperate for a win and to face some adversity and fight back and continue to throw blows and to win in overtime, it's a good wave to ride."

The Eagles know they have to bounce back from the emotional high of the W, and they'll do that starting on Tuesday when training resumes at the NovaCare Complex. The freeze-frame moment that endures from Sunday night is the pure elation emanating from the players as they celebrated on the field and into the locker room after gaining a measure of payback against Dallas, which ruined the Eagles' home opener at Lincoln Financial Field in Week 2.

The Eagles and Cowboys met for the second time this season in Dallas during Week 9. View the full gallery here...

This one had all the trimmings of an Eagles-Cowboys classic to remember. Bradford was terrific working the pocket and throwing on the money to his receivers after the running game gained some second-quarter success. Bradford was 25-of-36 for 295 yards and the touchdown to Matthews, who was simply sensational with nine receptions, 133 yards and the score. Matthews made every tough catch, ran hard and broke tackles and played his finest game, walking off the win with the touchdown.

There were other heroes in this one. The offensive line, minus Jason Peters, bonded quickly and won the battle in the trenches. Running backs Murray and Mathews and Darren Sproles combined for 173 rushing yards and 254 total yards from the line of scrimmage. Rookie linebacker Jordan Hicks intercepted a Matt Cassel pass and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown. Placekicker Caleb Sturgis kicked two field goals, including a 53-yarder late in the fourth quarter.

"When you win a game like this, it's everybody," Mathews said. "We needed it and went out and got it."

It was so much fun to see, especially the offense emerge from the bye week and shake off a slow start and turn things on in the second half. Bradford completed 12-of-19 passes for 221 yards and the touchdown in the second half and overtime and he looked every bit like the quarterback who has taken a full layer of rust off his game after missing most of the 2013 and 2014 NFL seasons. He was fantastic.

So was the offense that got its tempo going early in the second quarter and then scored on five of its final seven drives (three touchdowns, two field goals), not including a kneel-down drive that ended regulation.

"Once we hit them with tempo, you could see that they were getting tired and it really felt like those old drives where once we get a big play, we kept pushing it on them," center Jason Kelce said. "It seemed like it was affecting them and that worked for us the rest of the game."

After seven games of one-step-forward, two-steps-back football, the Eagles reached the halfway point of the regular season at 4-4 and on a high note. They've got home games against Miami and Tampa Bay ahead, and then the Thanksgiving Day game at Detroit. Maybe the team is ready to make a midseason run. It will require, of course, a complete effort. We've been singing the same song all season, and perhaps the Eagles will be in tune for this stretch to surge to the top of the NFC East.

On a Sunday night at Dallas, the Eagles made themselves some magic. They overwhelmed Dallas with scoring drives of 80 yards, 95 yards, 67 yards, 45 yards and 80 yards after gaining a paltry 48 total net yards and three first downs – two thanks to Dallas penalties – in the first quarter of the game.

"It sure felt great to be out there and move the ball like we know we can," tight end Zach Ertz said. "We've been waiting for that. We came here and stepped up when we needed to do it. Everybody did his part. We're on to the next game and we need to be even better. But I'll take this. It feels good to come here and beat Dallas. Big win."

That's for sure, even if the every-game-means-the-same mantra is the truth. Hey, the Eagles beat Dallas. On the road. In overtime. Maybe putting a dagger in the Cowboys' season while boosting the Eagles toward the top of the division. It feels great, just like it's supposed to feel on a night when everything right fell into place.

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