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Defense Suffers Early In Loss

ARLINGTON, TX – From the very start, the Eagles had no answers for Tony Romo and the Dallas defense. It was apparent from the very start that Sean McDermott's defense went left when the Cowboys went right, and an opening drive that saw the Cowboys march 80 yards in 9 plays set the tone in an ugly Eagles loss at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday.

Starting from their 20-yard line, Dallas marched down the field with tremendous efficiency, power and explosiveness.

On first down from the 20, Romo went to tight end Jason Witten for 5 yards, and as crazy as it sounds, the rout was on. On the next play, running back Marion Barber took a handoff and burst 32 yards to the Philadelphia 43-yard line.

One run, one pass and the Eagles defense was on its heels.

The drive stayed alive on third down when Sheldon Brown was called for pass interference against Miles Austin, and on the very next snap Moise Fokou made a nice breakup down the field against Austin. But then it was back to the ground with Barber, who gained 18 yards around the right end and was tackled at the Eagles 17-yard line.

In the red zone, Romo was brilliant. He threw to Austin for 6 yards on a bubble screen, handed off to Felix Jones for one yard and then found Witten between Asante Samuel and Will Witherspoon for a 10-yard touchdown on third and 3.

McDermott tried working all of his personnel groupings in that first half, to no avail. Scoring drives of 90 yards and 54 yards led to 10 more points, and Dallas even drove 54 yards on a drive that ended when Samuel tipped a Romo pass and Joselio Hanson intercepted it.

Dallas gained a whopping 291 yards of offense in the first half, converted 4 of 6 third downs and Romo was a fantastic 15 of 20 for 187 yards and 2 touchdowns. Fifteen rushing plays gained 104 yards, an average of 6.9 yards per attempt.

Not until Dallas' first drive of the second half did the defense get off the field without Dallas eating up clock and much of the field. Dallas pulled off the reins in the second half, but the lingering question is this: How does the Eagles defense rebound in the playoffs against a Dallas offense that is rolling?

-- Posted by Dave Spadaro, 7:34 p.m., January 3

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