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Dawkins, Defense Help Deliver A Miracle

Last week after the loss in Washington, Brian Dawkins sat at his locker in tears.

A week later, the scene couldn't have been any different.

Dawkins forced two fumbles, both of which were returned for touchdowns, and the Eagles defense forced a turnover in five consecutive possessions in a 44-6 rout of the Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.

The win, coupled with loses by Chicago and Tampa Bay earlier in the day, propelled the Eagles into the playoffs.

Through it all, Dawkins believed that everything that broke the Eagles' way on Sunday, would.

"To be honest with you, it wasn't about what we sensed from them," Dawkins said. "It was about what we felt from one another, what we were thinking about after that Washington game where we were completely written off, everybody turned their backs on us.

"But we believed in that locker room and in one another. We believed that wasn't the (Eagles) that showed up last week. The three weeks before that was the Eagles and this was the Eagles once again." Photo Gallery : DAL VS. PHI 12-28-08

The game wasn't as close as the final score indicated. It could have been much, much worse.

"It's a great day to be an Eagle and a great day to be an Eagles fan," defensive end Trent Cole said. "We just have to keep pushing forward. They let our foot in the door. We're coming."

With the Eagles leading 17-3 late in the second quarter, Dallas drove into Eagles' territory looking to cut into its deficit. With 1:13 left in the frame, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw a pass intended for receiver Roy Williams, but the ball fluttered to cornerback Sheldon Brown, who returned the pick to the Cowboys' 42-yard line.

Seven plays later, quarterback Donovan McNabb found tight end Brent Celek in the end zone to give Philadelphia a 24-3 advantage.

Perhaps more importantly, it opened the floodgates for Dallas turnovers.

Cowboys kickoff returner Adam Jones muffed the ensuing kickoff and his fumble was recovered by linebacker Omar Gaither, which set up a David Akers 50-yard field goal just before halftime to make it 27-3.

Dawkins said time and again that Sunday's game was about the Eagles more than anything else.

"You're playing for one another," Dawkins said. "You're playing with enthusiasm and we're just a team that loves to play this game for one another and that's what we came out to do."

The first two series of the second half for Dallas didn't end any better.

The Cowboys took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and drove 82 yards in nine plays down inside the Eagles' 20. But on Romo's next pass attempt, Dawkins blitzed and forced Romo to fumble. Defensive end Chris Clemons picked up the loose ball and rumbled 73 yards for a touchdown to give the Eagles a 34-3 lead.

On Dallas' next possession, the Cowboys drove to the Eagles' 12-yard line only to have Dawkins strike again. Dallas running back Marion Barber caught a swing pass from Romo only to have Dawkins force yet another fumble. Cornerback Joselio Hanson scooped up the ball and returned it 96 yards for another score and a 41-3 margin.

The defense wasn't done yet. On the Cowboys' ensuing possession, Clemons sacked Romo and forced another fumble. Defensive tackle Trevor Laws jumped on it and four plays later Akers booted a 41-yard field goal to push the lead to 44-3. The Eagles had scored 41 straight points.

"When I saw it was 44-3, I was like 'OK, I don't think they can come back from that,'" Cole said. "You dug yourself a hole and you buried yourself. In the end, you staked yourself, marked your grave."

All of the aforementioned events occurred within a span of 8:21.

"I just want to know how many people truly believed," Brown said. "I learned something different, especially this year, about this game. It's an incredible game; definitely a roller coaster. For some reason this might be a magical season out of all the stuff that's happened."

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