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Can Defense Carry Momentum Into Saturday's Game?

It's not going to get much notice since the Cowboys had a commanding lead, but the Eagles defense appeared to turn the corner in the second half of last week's game.

The Eagles, who were gashed for 104 rushing yards in the first half, cut that total to 75 in the second half. Forty-nine of those yards came on Felix Jones' touchdown run in the third quarter. Outside of that, the Eagles allowed 26 yards on 16 carries.

What was the difference? From a personnel standpoint, Jeremiah Trotter was inserted at middle linebacker. He also played in nickel situations as well. Although he was beat by tight end Jason Witten for a 25-yard gain on a crossing route over the middle, his presence brought an energy that his teammates could feed off of.

"That had a little something (to do with it). He had a good key on certain plays. And you know he's not afraid to come downhill," defensive end Jason Babin said. "He knew what he was doing."

Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott also applied more pressure on quarterback Tony Romo. Many players said that the more aggressive mentality allowed them to perform like they know they should.

"We just felt like that wasn't us in the first half. We went out there and played (in the second half) the way we know how to," said defensive tackle Mike Patterson. "I don't think there was one reason for the group to act that way. I just think as long as we stay focused and not worry about what's going on around us and go out and play football the way we know how, we should be great."

Trotter simply thinks the Eagles eliminated their mistakes in the second half.

"I felt like we were ready to play. Even when we were down 17-0, I thought we were ready to play. I just felt like we were shooting ourselves in the foot," Trotter said. "Sometimes it's just not your day. A lot of (us) were doing uncharacteristic stuff. You can't do that in big games like that. We know we are much better than what we played on Sunday."

Even with the game out of reach, the defensive players wanted to set a tone knowing that they would be back this weekend.

"A lot of people would say, 'The game is over. Whatever. It doesn't matter anymore.' To us, we still had something to prove. We had 30 minutes to play. We're playing," Babin said. "It showed a lot of character. We came out and were just battling the whole game. We were like, 'If we lose, we have to play them again next week. Let's set the tone now.'"

It remains to be seen whether that will carry over into this Saturday's game.

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 10:25 a.m., January 6

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