Dez Bryant torches Eagles as Dallas Cowboys take control of NFC East

Dallas burned Mark Sanchez and division-rivals Philadelphia on Sunday in a 38-27 victory to take control of their own destiny in the division.
Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after scoring a touchdown on Sunday in his team's NFL win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Matt Rourke / AP / December 14, 2014
Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after scoring a touchdown on Sunday in his team's NFL win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Matt Rourke / AP / December 14, 2014

So dominant at Dallas, the Eagles were duds in the home rematch.

Now, the NFC East title is a bit further out of reach than it was about 2 1/2 weeks ago and Mark Sanchez may not get another chance to steer one more Philadelphia rally.

Dez Bryant torched Bradley Fletcher for a career-best three touchdown catches from Tony Romo and the Cowboys rallied to beat the Eagles 38-27 on Sunday night after wasting a 21-0 lead.

DeMarco Murray had a pair of TD runs to help the Cowboys (10-4) move ahead of the Eagles (9-5) into first place in the NFC East.

Sanchez gamely rallied the Eagles back from a big hole until he unravelled at the end of the third. Sanchez’s deep pass over the middle for tight end Zach Ertz on the final play of the quarter was intercepted by JJ Wilcox. The Cowboys scored off the turnover to stretch the lead to 35-24.

“I think Mark was off-balance,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. “It didn’t look like it was a good throw.”

It sure wasn’t. And Sanchez took the heat.

“There’s no excuse for missing Ertz over the middle,” he said.

Sanchez was 17-of-28 for 252 yards and two interceptions. The sub-turned-starter could return to his backup role if Week 1 starter Nick Foles is cleared to return from his broken collarbone.

Kelly refused to discuss hypotheticals and Sanchez said he didn’t know if he’d start next week at Washington.

The Eagles can still win the division if they win the final two games and the Cowboys lose one game. The Eagles would earn a wild-card berth if they win the final two games and either Green Bay, Detroit or Seattle lose two.

“We’ve got to get to 11-5 and see if you can get in, but you’re not going to get to 11-5 unless you get to 10-5 first,” Kelly said.

Foles was injured in the second week of the season and could be cleared to return Monday.

The Eagles had plenty of blame to spread in the Dallas disaster.

Bryant finished with six receptions for 114 yards. He beat Fletcher on each of the TDs.

“That’s my man. I’ve got to make a play,” Fletcher said. “He’s just another receiver in the NFL who made plays today. I didn’t play well for our team.”

The Eagles dominated the Cowboys in a 33-10 road win on Thanksgiving, but Dallas take control of the division with two weeks left.

Dallas were up 167-0 on Philadelphia in first quarter yards, a lopsided total that only felt like the score. Down 7-0 before some fans found their seats, and 21-nil minutes into the second quarter, Philadelphia’s game plan was going up in smoke.

Chris Polk had TD runs of 1 and 5 yards and Darren Sproles ran in from the 1 to stabilise the Eagles and give them a 24-21 lead late in the third quarter. But Romo and the Cowboys answered quickly with two touchdowns in a 2:51 span.

Murray scored on a 2-yard run to cap a 78-yard drive. After Wilcox intercepted Sanchez’s pass, the Cowboys started the fourth quarter at the Eagles 42. Romo then hit Bryant in stride for a 25-yard scoring pass.

“Having a guy like Dez makes it easy to throw to spots that he can go get it,” Romo said. “Just lucky to have him.”

Bryant couldn’t wait for this game after being held to 73 yards on four catches in the first meeting. After that game, he called Philadelphia’s secondary “cheap” and he had a heated exchange with Malcolm Jenkins before the game. Bryant came back twice after Jenkins walked away from a pregame exchange. It wasn’t known why they argued.

“Just great competitors going at it, that’s all,” Bryant said.

The Eagles had won 10 straight regular-season games at home before losing to Seattle and Dallas for their first consecutive losses since Weeks 7 and 8 in 2013.

The start was the opposite of the first meeting when the Eagles steamrolled the Cowboys on their way to a convincing win. The Cowboys bounced back from that loss with a win at Chicago last Thursday night and had three extra days to prepare for the rematch.

The Eagles beat the Cowboys last year in a winners-take-division game at Dallas in Week 17. Romo missed that game after having back surgery.

“We can’t think about anything long term,” Kelly said. “We don’t worry about who does what, who does anything. If we don’t go out and beat Washington, it’s a moot point anyway.”

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Published: December 15, 2014 04:00 AM

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