It is midway through the third quarter as I write this, and the Eagles are blowing away the Cowboys in one of the most glorious days this franchise has ever enjoyed. This has been a day to remember, and what follows is a stream-of-consciousness monologue of my experience.
Thanks to Oakland's huge win in Tampa and Houston's victory over Chicago, the Eagles knew going into Sunday's 4:15 p.m. kickoff against Dallas that they controlled their destiny, that a win over the hated Cowboys would mean a playoff spot for Philadelphia.
Now let's see what the Eagles do with the good fortune.
We''re all nervous wrecks. Why not? All of a sudden, this game means everything. The Eagles are coming out throwing the football -- surprised? -- and Donovan McNabb completes a nice sideline throw to Brent Celek to get the ball into Dallas territory. Ball at the Dallas 40-yard line. Running play to Brian Westbrook for 2 yards. Then a completion to Westbrook is fumbled -- was that a fumble? -- and Dallas recovers.
The air is out of the stadium right now. No challenge from head coach Andy Reid. Dallas has the ball. The Eagles hold. The stadium is alive again. I'm just riffing here, baby, riffing. I don't even know if anybody is reading ....
Good second Eagles drive, with a fine Correll Buckhalter run around the right edge for 9 yards and a nifty Westbrook carry up the gut for 16 yards. The drive stalls on McNabb's poor throw into the left flat for Westbrook and then a third-down scramble by McNabb that comes up short. David Akers kicks a 40-yard field goal. Eagles lead, 3-0 with 8:50 to go in the quarter.
Too much football remaining ...
I don't like this second Dallas drive. Too much success running to the edges. The Eagles are blitzing and missing. Dallas is in Eagles territory. Big third-and-7 play from the Philadelphia 41-yard line. Huge completion to tight end Jason Witten. The Cowboys have something going here. They have a good rhythm on offense -- not to mention a first down at the Eagles 24-yard line.
The defense needs to get Tony Romo out of his comfort zone. He is seeing the blitz coming from the right side of the Eagles defense, and the Cowboys are throwing to Romo's left, to the slot receiver there. Too many big plays there. Nick Folk kicks a field goal. Tie game, 3-3.
My nerves are shot already.
I'm one of those guys who wants McNabb to run. Scramble. See and opening and go. And then he moves around the pocket and finds Buckhalter and Buckhalter makes a nice catch and turns and runs and gains 59 yards to the Dallas 6-yard line and I understand McNabb's thinking: Keep your eyes up the field. Get the ball to the receivers and let them make plays.
I promise I won't complain about scrambling, or a lack of scrambling again.
Until the next time McNabb doesn't run for a first down ....
Love the play calling so far. Three carries from the 6-yard line, including a Westbrook run over the right side and two McNabb sneaks. Touchdown! Eagles lead 10-3 with 12:16 to go. I'm a big momentum guy. The Eagles need a stop here. Too many times this season the Eagles have not sustained momentum.
Now is the time.
Got it! Big series. Good pressure from Trent Cole and Chris Clemons, and a nice read on first down by Chris Gocong and Asante Samuel. Eagles ball on their 23-yard line, 11:01 to go in the half. Get a score here. I want to see balance on this drive. I want to see poise. I want to see a touchdown. Can you imagine how insane this place would be with a touchdown by the Eagles right here?
So much for dreaming. A good run on first down, 9 yards by Westbrook, went by the wayside as Kyle Eckel ran into a wall on second down and lost a yard, and then McNabb was sacked on a well-executed blitz by the Cowboys. Dallas has the ball at its 38-yard line with 9:04 to go in the half.
Nothing is going to be easy about this game, I suppose.
Wow, what a wonderful Eagles drive -- 11 plays, 71 yards, 5:19 off the clock. McNabb was brilliant and DeSean Jackson came up clutch with a couple of big catches and then the conversion in the red zone was just a great call, a nice throw from McNab and a good move from Buckhalter -- is he the MVP to this point? -- to put the ball in the end zone.
Eagles lead, 17-3. Dallas has the ball on the 36-yard line, 1:54 to go in the half. The Eagles must stop Dallas here. The Cowoys are the best team in the NFL at scoring points in the final two minutes of the first half. Dallas gets the ball back first in the second half. Huge series here. Huge.
Atrocious throw from Romo on a ball toward the left sideline for Roy Williams. Sheldon Brown picked a great time to get his first interception of the season, and now the Eagles are in scoring position with less than a minute to go in the half. A score here ...
Incredible. The buzz here is amazing. I have seen that touchdown pass to Brent Celek run in practice a million times, and here is works at just the right time. McNabb ran the perfect two-minute drill and the Eagles lead 24-3. The Eagles have converted 6 of 9 third downs. And now ... a fumble on the kickoff by Pacman Jones. Omar Gaither recovers.
David Akers a 50-yard field goal!!! Halftime score: Eagles 27, Cowboys 3.
It's over. It's all over. Brian Dawkins makes another play, gives us another reminder of why he is one of the best players to ever suit up in an Eagles uniform when he sacks Romo and forces a fumble on Dallas' opening drive of the second half. The ball bounces right up for Chris Clemons, who picks it up and takes it 73 yards for a touchdown -- with a pro stiff arm on Tashard Choice -- and it's over. All over.
The crowd is going craaaaazzzzyyy ....
Just to add to the pure enjoyment of the day, Dawkins makes another play, forcing a Marion Barber fumble that Joselio Hanson recovers and returns 93 yards for another touchdown and the rout continues. To think that this game was once 3-3 ...
Clemons comes back on the next Dallas series and sacks Romo and forces a fumble and the Eagles turn that into another Akers field goal. Akers, by the way, a kicker many out there gave up on, kicks his 33rd field goal of a season, a franchise record, and the Eagles lead 44-3. The Eagles have scored a franchise-record number of points in a season, breaking the previous mark of 415 set in 2002.
This could continue forever ... Please don't let the game end. Perfect day. Perfect storm for the Eagles ... Eagles 44, Dallas 3.
The third quarter is over. I'm heading to the field. I want to feel the fans, feel the emotion, maybe say hello and goodbye to Terrell Owens. I want to savor this, just for a few hours ...