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Defense Again Unable To Stop Dallas

ARLINGTON, Texas –As happened six days earlier in the regular-season finale here, the Eagles defense could not get off the field against Dallas and its varied offensive attack.

Dallas converted 6 of 9 third downs, picked up 21 first downs and had the football for 22 minutes, 53 seconds in the first half alone and dominated the Eagles defense in every phase on the way to a 34-14 victory.

It was ugly.

The Eagles tried to mix their blitzes and coverages, to no avail. Tony Romo got the football out of his hands quickly and picked apart the Eagles' secondary. Dallas went at Joselio Hanson early for three third-down conversions. A fortunate pass interference penalty called against Sheldon Brown gave Dallas a first down at the Philadelphia 1-yard line and Dallas went into the end zone one play later.

In every way possible, the defense came up short against Dallas for a second straight week and now faces an off-season of major question marks.

What happened to the ball-hawking, aggressive defense that thrived for much of the season? Where was the pass rush and the complex blitzes that so often were identified with the Eagles defense? Well, from the very moment the game opened on Saturday night, the Eagles were outclassed.

Dallas did not score in the first quarter, but the Cowboys moved from their 17-yard line to the Eagles red zone before the drive stalled on their first drive. It set the tone. The Eagles lost the field-position battle because the defense could not get off the field as Dallas ran screen after screen, threw the ball accurately for big plays against the man-to-man coverage in the secondary and ran effectively to keep the Eagles honest.

Are the Cowboys, Quintin Mikell was asked, that much better than the Eagles?

"They beat us twice, so they are that much better than us," he said. "You can't sit here after a loss like that and say they're not that much better than us.

"We have a lot to work on for next year."

It was so similar to the loss six days earlier it was scary. Romo was 23 of 35 for 244 yards and a pair of scores. Miles Austin caught 7 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. Roy Williams had 5 grabs for 59 yards and Jason Witten caught 4 passes for 27 yards. Dallas spread the Eagles out and spread the football around and Sean McDermott's group had no answers.

-- Posted by Dave Spadaro, 12:57 a.m., January 10

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