Rivalry? Eagles-Cowboys just good game

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
Sure, the rivalry is real enough. For Philadelphia Eagles players who grow up in other parts of the country, or play in other cities, that much is made clear early on.

Mark Sanchez grew up in Southern California and started his NFL career with the New York Jets. It started for him when he first came to Philadelphia for offseason workouts.

"It's huge," Sanchez said. "Fans on the street, back in June, were like, 'Hey, man, you've got to get Dallas.' I'm like, 'We haven't played a game yet. I just signed here. What are you talking about?' You start to see how important the rivalry is."

This season, though, the Eagles' games with the Dallas Cowboys don't require any extra spice. Both teams are 8-3 going into Thursday's game at AT&T Stadium. That meeting, and the one two weeks later in Philadelphia, will have a profound impact on the NFC East.

"We're tied with them for the division," Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin said. "This is going to be a race for that playoff spot. There's stuff on the outside that makes it fun, but we're taking it as, somebody's going to the playoffs and somebody's not."

This is the second consecutive meeting with such implications for these two rivals. Last December, the Eagles traveled to Dallas for the final game of the season. The winner earned the NFC East title and advance to the postseason. The loser was done.

For Eagles fans, getting to the playoffs at the expense of the Cowboys is just that much sweeter. By the same token, losing out to the Cowboys would be just that much more bitter.

For Chip Kelly, last year's game had a different feel from this week's game.

"That game was different because it was the last game of the year so you had to win," Kelly said. "There's still a lot of football to be played after we play this game. We're not talking about first place games or anything like that because they don't crown a champion after Thursday's game. We're just excited about the opportunity to go play against a really good team."

For Eagles fans, it doesn't matter where the Dallas game falls on the schedule. It's tied for game of the year with the other Cowboys game.

"There's a different energy," Eagles guard Evan Mathis said. "Not to take anything away from every other week, but both teams are leading the division right now. Both teams are playing extremely well. So obviously, it's an incredibly huge game."

School turns football field into farm

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26

DALLAS -- Of the rolling 146 acres that Paul Quinn College calls home, the spot that belongs to the aging football field is impossible to miss. Set in a subtle valley on the northeast corner of campus, the field is everything you might expect at a tiny NAIA school. Bright white goalposts. A fading, antiquated scoreboard. A yellow and purple shack where fans can purchase tickets. And, tucked behind one end zone, a pair of navy blue blocking sleds for training.

On this fall afternoon, there will be no football practice. No whistles, no tackling drills, no sprints. That's because there is no team that calls this place home. At least not a football team. Instead, the 20-yard line is occupied by bulging sweet potatoes. Radishes sprout on the opposite end of the field, somewhere around the 15. A few feet from the old ticket booth, hens gather to lay eggs. On the home sideline, where shiny metal bleachers once stood, fresh tilapia swim back and forth in a state-of-the-art aquaponics system.

It was seven years ago when college President Michael Sorrell, a former college basketball player, decided to kill Paul Quinn's cash-strapped football program. Two years later, he transformed the old field into an organic farm. Yes, people said he was insane; his plan was sure to fail. And yet this Thanksgiving, when the Dallas Cowboys host the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium, the big-money high rollers in the stadium's suites will eat pasta drizzled with pesto rooted in Paul Quinn basil. They'll dip chips into roasted red pepper salsa made from Paul Quinn peppers. And they'll nibble from veggie trays covered in radishes and beets that grew right there on Paul Quinn's 15-yard line.

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Keith Smith riding a roster coaster

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
IRVING, Texas -- You can forgive Keith Smith if he feels like he is on a never-ending roller coaster.

For the fourth time this season the Dallas Cowboys called up Smith from the practice squad with injury concerns at the linebacker spot. This week Dekoda Watson has been ruled out because of a hamstring injury.

Injuries to Rolando McClain, Justin Durant and Bruce Carter forced the Cowboys to call up Smith at other times. He has not spent more than two straight weeks on the active roster. Just as soon as he has been called up, the Cowboys have released him. When Watson is health, he likely will be sent back down again.

“It comes with the territory,” said Smith, who has been credited with one defensive tackle and one special-teams stop by the coaches. “Just going up and down, I just got to be ready so when my opportunity comes I can take advantage of it every time. So I mean every week I make sure that my mindset is like I’m up and just go out there prepared for if somebody goes down and I’m up, then I’ll be ready.”

His brother, former Indianapolis Colts cornerback Jason David, has schooled him on life on the roster bubble. The Cowboys liked what Smith, an undrafted free agent, did in training camp and the preseason, but he was not able to stick on the 53-man roster at the start of the season.

“A lot of people don’t understand the process so every week that I get released and put back on the practice squad everybody is giving me the sympathy texts here and there, like, ‘Oh, it’s going to be OK,’ and, ‘It’s OK. Just keep your faith. I’ve had to go through it every time. That part gets kind of old, but I mean it is what it is. Not everybody knows what’s going on.”

There is a financial component to the moves. On the practice squad, Smith earns roughly $6,300 per week. On the active roster that jumps up to $24,705 per week.

“I would hope they mess that up one week,” Smith said, “but they’ve been on top of that though, trying to make sure I get the right amount.”

RG III's fall hard to fathom two years ago

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
IRVING, Texas -- Was it just two years ago Robert Griffin III shredded the Dallas Cowboys in the Washington Redskins' 38-31 win on Thanksgiving?

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones wasn't quite sure himself when he talked about Griffin on NFL Network Wednesday morning.

But let's take you back to Nov. 22, 2012, at AT&T Stadium.

It was Griffin's first game against the Cowboys and he completed 19 of 27 passes for 304 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. He also ran for 29 yards. He was playing at a height that rookies rarely see and Jones could not feel any lower because he thought Washington had a dynamic starting quarterback for the next decade.

“Really I was in awe,” Jones said after that game. “I was very disappointed, but I was in awe of RG III. The plays that he was making, they made some great catches, they made some great plays. It was unbelievable the plays they were making.”

And in the rematch at the end of the year with the NFC East on the line, the Cowboys could not beat a clearly hobbled Griffin, losing 28-18 for their second of three straight 8-8 finishes.

“I am impressed with the way that the Redskins are put together across the board,” Jones said after the loss at FedEx Field. “They're going to be formidable. As the Cowboys look to the future, we have to look where we are within our division. We'll look and see just exactly how to approach a team that has some of the players they've got and good coaching they've got. We have a big challenge ahead of us.”

Turns out, not so much.

Griffin finds himself on the bench now that Redskins coach Jay Gruden has turned the offense over to Colt McCoy, who beat the Cowboys 20-17 in overtime on Oct. 27. He probably finds himself on the outs with the team altogether, despite the team saying he remains in their long-term plans.

This is a quarterback who has been benched twice by coaches. The first time came last year when Mike Shanahan said he was protecting Griffin with Washington out of the race and Griffin not right physically. Now this comes after Gruden went into a hardly-ever-heard dissertation regarding Griffin's shortcomings two weeks ago.

There is no way the relationship can be salvaged.

But now many wonder if Griffin could somehow end up with the Cowboys after Jones' comments Wednesday.

“Well, I'm a fan of RG III,” Jones said on NFL Network. “Right on this field two years ago, or maybe it was three seasons ago, he put on a show and had a game that just floored me. And they won, and they won in large part because of his play at quarterback. I thought ‘My goodness, and we're going to have to be playing this guy for years and years.' And so he's got it. Once you see a player do it, especially if you see him do it two or three times, you know he can do it. And of course he's a driven young man. I'm a big admirer of RG III.”
IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams went through his first full practice of the week on Wednesday despite a small fracture on the tip of his left index finger. He is listed as probable for Thursday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Williams is one of seven players listed as probable, including quarterback Tony Romo, who went through his second straight full practice. Defensive tackle Josh Brent (groin), defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford (knee), right tackle Doug Free (foot), defensive tackle Nick Hayden (shoulder) and linebacker Rolando McClain (knee) are listed as probable.

Safety Jeff Heath, who had surgery on his thumb Tuesday, is listed as doubtful. On Monday, Heath expressed hope he would be able to have the surgery, wrap up his thumb and play.

Cornerback Tyler Patmon will miss his second straight game with a knee injury. Linebacker Dekoda Watson was ruled out with a hamstring injury. To cover for Watson’s absence, the Cowboys called up linebacker Keith Smith from the practice squad and placed defensive end Jack Crawford on injured reserve. Like Heath, Crawford had thumb surgery on Tuesday.

Eagles' tempo concerns Cowboys' defense

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have a lot of worries when it comes to the Philadelphia Eagles offense.

There is LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles running the ball. There are wide receivers Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper and Jordan Matthews. There are tight ends Brent Celek, Zach Ertz and James Casey.

Mark Sanchez has thrown for 300 yards in each of his three starts.

But it’s more than just the personnel. It’s the tempo at which Philadelphia plays that worries the Cowboys most. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli went with a basketball comparison.

“You remember Loyola-Marymount with coach (Paul) Westhead, that pace?” Marinelli said. “They just run the pace and run their system, run the pace and run the system with speed. That’s something we’ve kind of believed in on defense. We’ve got to align, get set, get ready to get our feet in the ground and we have to play fast. So we’ve got to match that. The challenge is there.”

The Cowboys performed rather well against the Eagles last year, but the short week has made it difficult to simulate the speed of play in practice. The Cowboys were not in pads all week, going through mostly jog-through sessions. They used multiple huddles with the scout-team offenses to get the defense prepared, running one play and then turn around to face the next play in a matter of seconds.

The New York Giants had success against the Cowboys last week with a no-huddle attack, but Eli Manning was calling plays at the line of scrimmage and the pace of play was not drastically different.

“Philly gets up there and snaps it,” cornerback Orlando Scandrick said. “The tempo is before the ball is snapped. We need to be lined up and ready to play when they come to the line of scrimmage.”

The Eagles average nearly 73 plays per game. The Cowboys’ defense was on the field a season-high 74 plays against the Giants and average 60.5 snaps per game.

“Now, they’ve got really good players and a challenging scheme,” coach Jason Garrett said. “They attack you a lot of different ways. Really just that basic element of 11 guys lined up the right way, everybody running the same defense, doing their job; that’s what gives you a chance to be successful against a team like this.”
IRVING, Texas - Dwayne Harris turned in his best performance of the season against the New York Giants.

The Cowboys could use a similar performance Thursday against Philadelphia, which has one of the best special teams units in the league.

Harris returned four punts for 68 yards with a long of 20. He also made a nice tackle on Odell Beckham Jr. on a punt return and downed another punt inside the 10.

He has only two punt returns of more than 20 yards this season -- he had eight in 2012 -- but he showed signs against the Giants of finding a rhythm.

“It looked like he got his swagger back and he was making the plays we’re used to having him making,” Jason Garrett said. “It’s always a collective effort.

“The return unit has to get the return started, and he has the unique ability to make guys miss and get north and south. I felt we were real close to making a couple of big plays.”

Harris’ contribution to the coverage units will be as important as his returns this week. Two weeks ago, Darren Sproles returned a punt for a touchdown. In Philadelphia’s last game, Josh Huff returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

The Cowboys have had a punt and two field goals blocked this year. They must avoid those mistakes against Philadelphia by being much more sound in the kicking game.

Eagles vs. Cowboys preview

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
When: Thursday, 4:30 p.m. ET. Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas. TV: Fox

The last time the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys met in December 2013, the NFC East title and a playoff spot was on the line. The Cowboys were without their starting quarterback, Tony Romo, who had back surgery two days prior.

When the Eagles and Cowboys meet Thursday at AT&T Stadium, first place in the NFC East is on the line, if not a playoff spot. The Eagles will be without their starting quarterback, Nick Foles, who is recovering from a broken collarbone.

NFL Nation Eagles reporter Phil Sheridan and Cowboys reporter Todd Archer offer up this week's preview as these teams meet for just the second time on Thanksgiving. Philadelphia won that first Thanksgiving meeting 27-0 in 1989, Jerry Jones' first year as the Cowboys' owner and general manager:

Archer: With Foles out, has the offense changed with Mark Sanchez at quarterback or does Chip Kelly do what he does regardless of who is in there?

Sheridan: Kelly takes pride in adjusting his offense to fit his quarterback. So yes, there have been some changes. The Eagles' 43-24 win over Tennessee on Sunday marked the first time they didn't run a single read-option play in a game since Kelly has been here, for example. Some of that was a response to the Titans' defense, but it also seems to be something Sanchez isn't (A) as good at or (B) as comfortable with.

The Eagles haven't been throwing the ball deep as much, either. The coaches say that isn't deliberate. The quarterback has deep-to-short options on many plays, and Foles seemed more comfortable taking the deep shots while Sanchez has tended to wait and come back to the shorter throw. That might even out over time as Sanchez plays more.

The main thing Foles and Sanchez have in common is turnovers. Foles threw 10 interceptions and lost three fumbles before breaking his collarbone. Sanchez has thrown six picks and lost two fumbles since replacing Foles. Talk about consistent production from the quarterback spot!

I got home from Sunday's Eagles game in time to catch most of the Cowboys-Giants game. It would have been easy for the Boys to write that off as a tough road loss. But they fought their way back and didn't let up until they had the win. Between that and the way Romo is playing in pain, does this Cowboys team feel different from the 8-8 squads of the past few years? If so, in what ways?

Archer: I'm not sure I've figured this team out, and maybe that's because of the Cowboys' recent past. It's almost as if you're just waiting for things to fall apart. But they haven't. They were down big at St. Louis and they came back to win. They were trailing at Seattle and came back and won. They were down against the Giants and came back.

They have definitely shown more resiliency than they have in the past. Coach Jason Garrett often talks about the "right kind of guy." There has been quite a bit of changeover since he has become the coach. I think that's been a part of it, but I think it's something really simple, too: They're playing better. They might not be the most talented, but they play hard. They understand the formula that it takes to win. Perhaps most importantly: They have bought into Garrett's week-to-week mantra. Maybe some teams in the past would've fallen into a trap, but this team hasn't. At least not yet.

LeSean McCoy looked like LeSean McCoy against the Tennessee Titans, which might not be good news for the Cowboys. Much has been made about McCoy's yards per carry. Is it a case of teams figuring out the scheme or the line not playing as well or McCoy not playing as well? Or is it all of the above?

Sheridan: I'll go with all of the above. It all started with the injuries to the offensive line. The Eagles lost Pro Bowl left guard Evan Mathis, center and blocking-scheme signal-caller Jason Kelce and veteran right guard Todd Herremans for stretches. Right tackle Lane Johnson was suspended for the first four games. So only left tackle Jason Peters has been out there for every game.

Now you mix in the fact defenses have continually tried things the Eagles hadn't seen on film in their preparations. Without Kelce to figure that stuff out and make adjustments, it seemed there weren't many holes for McCoy to run through. And when there are holes, they aren't there very long. So McCoy started running laterally, looking for some space. That led to a bunch of tackles for losses, which obviously brings the average down, too.

Now the line is as healthy as it's going to get this season. It took a couple of games for Mathis and Kelce to get back in a groove. Against Tennessee, they looked more like themselves -- dictating the game, getting McCoy to the second level with a blocker or two leading the way, etc. The Cowboys will provide an interesting test of whether that was a major step for the Eagles or just a function of playing the Titans.

The word before the season was that the Cowboys' defense might be historically bad. Instead, it has been a big part of the team's rise to the top of the NFC East. Everyone says Rod Marinelli gets guys to play hard, but it has to be more than that. Who are the guys who have turned that defense around?

Archer: You mentioned the guy in your question: Marinelli. He has done a terrific job. So have his assistant coaches. They don't have the most talent and have questions at every level. They don't rush the passer well enough. They have issues in coverage at the linebacker and secondary level. But they somehow get the job done.

The biggest difference-maker as a player has been Rolando McClain. He has been a revelation. There is no way anybody could have expected a player who sat out last year and did not play to his draft selection in Oakland to play as well as he has played. According to the Cowboys' coaches breakdown, he leads the Cowboys in tackles. He's tied for the lead in interceptions. He has made big plays at big moments. But the Cowboys' role players, such as Jeremy Mincey, Tyrone Crawford, Anthony Hitchens, Barry Church and Orlando Scandrick, have made plays in big moments, too.

I still have a lot of questions about the defense and keep waiting for them to get truly exposed. It's happened on a few occasions, but nothing prolonged. I look at the Eagles' defense and I see a lot of issues. What hasn't translated to success for them this season, and is any part of it due to how the offense plays?

Sheridan: Probably. The offense is part of the equation. We're acclimated to watching it, so we probably forget at times that it has a tendency to strand the defense on the field for too long. Then again, if the defense could stop someone on third down, it could get itself off the field, too.

The Eagles have been pretty good against lesser quarterbacks: Zach Mettenberger, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kirk Cousins. They played well and got pressure against Eli Manning and Cam Newton, too. But really good quarterbacks -- Carson Palmer, Colin Kaepernick, Aaron Rodgers (especially Rodgers) -- have beaten the Eagles this season.

That makes Romo a really tough out for this defense. He can move around and extend plays, like Rodgers and Kaepernick. He can make all the throws, like Rodgers and Palmer. He has a ridiculous array of weapons at his disposal, including a running game that is leading the NFL right now. The Eagles' defense has to find a way to get Romo uncomfortable and making quick decisions, or it's going to be a long day.

Early in the season, we all wondered whether DeMarco Murray would wear down as the season went on. Here it is, Week 13, and Murray is coming off a 24-carry, 121-yard rushing night. Is he capable of cranking out a few big games as the weather turns and running the ball becomes paramount?

Archer: At this point in the season I don't think the Cowboys are worrying about him wearing down at all. He's had injuries in the past, but that's the past. He changed up his offseason work and spent a lot of time with Jason Witten. That's helped. But this is one of those seasons where everything has come together for him.

The Cowboys are not going to back away from Murray, especially down the stretch. They'll need him to carry the load. He's on pace for a team record and is chasing 2,000 yards. He will get the opportunity. The Cowboys will not change their ways. They'll run the ball, and that may sound funny to a guy who's seen the Cowboys throw and throw and throw.

The Cowboys have limited his snaps to some degree, and that will help him in the final five games.

IRVING, Texas – Jason Garrett’s signature moment as the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback turns 20 years old on Thursday.

Is it that long ago? Not to Garrett. The memories of that 42-31 win against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers at Texas Stadium on Nov. 24, 1994, remain fresh. He can recall the plays in his mind, the good and the bad, as if it were yesterday.

“I think it’s probably a lot like life,” Garrett said. “Sometimes things that happened a long time ago seem like they were yesterday, those memories are vivid for you. It certainly was a memorable day for me, for our team. Time travels quickly, and you have to embrace the moments.”

Garrett was making his first start because of injuries to Troy Aikman and Rodney Peete. He completed 15 of 26 passes for 311 yards and two touchdowns.

But it was what happened after his first pass of the game was intercepted by Packers cornerback Terrell Buckley he remembers most.

The play was 525 F Post, a play that remains in the Cowboys’ playbook to this day.

“I worked through the progression, he sat underneath the five route and I threw it right at him. I think it was in the first or second series of the game,” Garrett said. “The great Michael Irvin came over to me and said, ‘Hey, if he wants to do that, we’re going up on top.’ It really was a great memory for me, because of the confidence he instilled in me, and then also, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’ And eventually we did that in the game.”

The Cowboys trailed 17-6 at halftime, but they scored touchdowns on their first five drives of the second half, putting up a franchise-record 36 second-half points. Garrett completed 7-of-8 passes for 198 yards and two scores in the second half.

Garrett is asked about his heroics every Thanksgiving, a natural tie for the Cowboys’ annual game, but he’s not sure many of his players know about the game.

“Very few of them were born I think,” Garrett said. “I’m not so sure.”

Cowboys rookies Anthony Hitchens, DeMarcus Lawrence were 2 years old. Jeremy Mincey is in his first year with the Cowboys and did not recall Garrett’s heroics. He was only 10 at the time. Tony Romo was 14 and vaguely remembers the game because he grew up in Burlington, Wisconsin. He also has around the Cowboys long enough to know most of the team’s history.

“I remember just this little red-head guy, putting on a performance,” Romo said with a tinge of sarcasm.

Romo was not the biggest of Packers’ fans. He was more of a John Elway fan than anything else, but there was some disappointment that Green Bay lost.

“Thought you might be able to win when they put a backup quarterback in,” Romo said. “Not when you’ve got a guy as good as Jason.”

Garrett is hoping for another Thanksgiving memory Thursday when the Cowboys play the Philadelphia Eagles with first place in the NFC East on the line. That is more important now then reminiscing about the past.

“It was a good Thanksgiving 20 years ago, there’s no question about that,” Garrett said. “There were a lot of great ones growing up, nothing like my mom’s Thanksgiving dinner and the backyard games we played all throughout our youth. Those were good days for us.”
IRVING, Texas - Terrell McClain signed a three-year, $3 million deal with the Cowboys in the offseason. Thus far, they haven’t received much return on their investment.

A high ankle sprain limited the defensive tackle in training camp, and he missed the New Orleans game as he recovered from a concussion.

McClain, inactive against the Giants on Sunday, has 12 tackles and virtually no impact this season. It’s worth noting he was inactive against the Giants because he had one of his best games of the season in the Cowboys’ first matchup against New York, when he had four tackles, including two for loss.

But the Cowboys opted to activate Jack Crawford instead of McClain. Crawford, who had thumb surgery on Tuesday, will miss at least one game and that should give McClain an opportunity to prove he deserves more playing time.

“He dealt with some injuries early on and when he’s gotten some opportunities to play he’s done a good job,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We made a decision to keep Jack up because he played really well the last couple of weeks and deserved an opportunity.

“We went back and watched the Giants game prior to last week’s Giants game and he really showed up in that game. We feel good about what he’s done with the opportunities he’s gotten and working around the injuries he’s had.”

DeMarco Murray has a fan in LeSean McCoy

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
IRVING, Texas -- Running backs know running backs.

Before Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray became the NFL's leading rusher -- he has 1,354 yards -- Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy was a fan.

"Not just this year." McCoy said. "I always felt like if he got the ball more, he could do some special things."

Murray and McCoy struck up a friendship at the Pro Bowl last January. Murray was a late addition after rushing for a career-high 1,121 yards. McCoy led the NFL in rushing in 2013, fitting in perfectly in Chip Kelly's offense.

Things have been a little different for McCoy this season. He has 859 yards on 217 carries and three touchdowns, but he looked more like last year's McCoy last week when he ran for 130 yards on 21 carries against the Tennessee Titans.

That was the same Titans defense that Murray had 167 yards on 29 carries in September.

"I like his game," McCoy said. "He runs hard, he finishes very well. They're a good team. They're giving him some lanes to run in. I think the way he finishes runs and how strong he is, that's what makes him an elite back. I think we have different styles, so I wouldn't want to take anything from his game. I like it how it is."

Cowboys QB Tony Romo a worthy candidate for MVP

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
Cowboys reporter Todd Archer says it is time to put Tony Romo in the conversation for NFL MVP. Romo is having his best season with 22 touchdowns and just six interceptions and has the Cowboys in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

DeMarco Murray says he feels great

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray was a smash in the first eight games of the 2014 season.

He led the NFL in yards (1,054) and carries (206) and tied for the league lead in touchdowns (seven) the first eight games. Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy (161 carries) and Houston's Arian Foster (766 yards) were the closest to Murray in these categories.

The Cowboys cooled down Murray's carries in the second half of the season. While he still leads the NFL in overall rushing yards, he's fifth in the league with 300 rushing yards the last three weeks and his 62 carries are second to only Chicago's Matt Forte (66) in the same time span.

Does this mean Murray is getting tired?

Does it mean Murray is getting limited carries because the team doesn't want to wear him down?

Murray believes he's getting stronger as the season progresses.

"I feel great," Murray said. "As the year goes on you feel better and I definitely feel like I've gotten stronger throughout the year and I got to continue to work hard during the week and continue to show up on Sundays."

In the last four weeks, Murray has three games where had 19 carries, but he produced four games of 25 or more carries in the seven weeks before that. As the weather gets colder and games become closer, especially with three division games remaining, the Cowboys might rely on Murray more.

The question is can he handle it?

Tony Romo eager for Eagles' meeting

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
IRVING, Texas -- The last time the Dallas Cowboys played the Philadelphia Eagles, Tony Romo was at his home, two days removed from back surgery.

The pain from the surgery could not touch the pain he felt when he saw the Cowboys lose, 24-22, to the Eagles and miss the playoffs for the third straight year with a Week 17 defeat to an NFC East rival.

"I would have enjoyed playing them last year," Romo said. "Obviously I would have felt more comfortable being in that situation. We were at home. That was a situation where you would have felt good. They're two different teams now. They're a much-improved team than they were last year. I didn't think they were as balanced as they are this year on defense."

[+] EnlargeRomo
AP Photo/Kathy WillensTony Romo has completed 71 percent of his passes, throwing for 521 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions in two wins since a new injury.
Romo is still working through issues from that back surgery as he gets ready for Thursday's game. He is also working through two small fractures in his back suffered the last time he played at AT&T Stadium on Oct. 27 against the Washington Redskins.

His practice schedule has been a topic of discussion from training camp through the regular season, but he might actually "practice" more this week than he has since the second game. Because of the quick turnaround between games, the Cowboys' practices are more "jogthroughs." Players have not even worn helmets for the practices.

But Romo foresees no issues with playing a second game in five days.

Romo has played even better after getting hurt. He has completed 71 percent of his passes, throwing for 521 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions in wins against the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants.

"That's just him," tight end Jason Witten said. "He finds way to get through all that. And just the way he is with the ball in his hands, he's just really smart with it. He knows where he wants to go and guys are making plays for him."

Romo views what he has done with his back injury no different than what other teammates have done all season.

"You don't really think about it," Romo said. "You just go and play. I mean, everyone has something wrong with them during the football season. We say it all the time, once you step on the field no one cares what you have. You've got to go produce. Our job is to play well regardless of what's going on around you. That's our job as players."

The Redskins harassed Romo with heavy blitzes with one of them leading to the two transverse process fractures in his back. The Eagles are a pressure-happy team as well and have 38 sacks on the season.

Yet Romo sounds as if he is almost inviting the pressure.

"Playing against a really good football team who is going to bring great energy," Romo said. "We understand how important this game is for both teams and I think it'll be fun to just to see them try and attack us and come after you and be an aggressive team. That will be an enjoyable game to go against."

The NFC East is not on the line Thursday like it was last December when Romo was a spectator, but there is some significance to it. The Cowboys have a division loss. The Eagles don't. That's what separates them in the standings right now.

On Dec. 14, the teams play again in Philadelphia and more could be on the line.

"I don't think you're going to decide the division right here, but I do think there's a lot of games left," Romo said "But we also understand the importance of it obviously going against a team that we're tied with at this point in the year. They're a good ballclub. I think you put the tape on, you see that they do a very good job. They're a physical group. They're defensive front plays hard, they're good at the back end and they're going to be a great challenge for us. And they're well coached. So we'll have to bear down on the tape this week, really get yourself mentally ready to go to gain the advantages that will hopefully decide the outcome of the game."
IRVING, Texas -- How many times have you seen replays of Michael Jordan beating Bryon Russell in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals? Or Jordan making a shot over Craig Ehlo in the 1989 playoffs?

How many times have you seen The Catch, Dwight Clark snaring a Joe Montana pass over Everson Walls in the 1982 NFC Championship Game?

They are moments that are replayed so often that you feel as if you were there.

That is what happening with the incredible, one-handed catch Odell Beckham Jr. made for a 43-yard touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

[+] EnlargeBeckham
Al Bello/Getty Images"If you all ask me, I'll just go lift weights in like three seconds," said Brandon Carr, the defender on Odell Beckham Jr.'s spectacular catch on Sunday.
Brandon Carr is Russell and Ehlo, falling down as Beckham made the miraculous catch that was almost immediately dubbed as the greatest catch ever as if other similar catches never existed.

"It is what it is," Carr said. "I don't really get into the hoopla with the media and whatever y'all be talking about. I've got a lot of stuff going on outside of here. I'm just worried about getting to 9-3. Honestly, that's the past. We won the game. That's our objective. In this league, you play long enough, you're on both sides of the fence. You're making plays; you get plays made on you. You've got to keep battling. I'm here today. Tomorrow, if you wake me up, I'll be here tomorrow lacing them up ready to go again. Just the nature of the business."

Cornerbacks need a short memory to succeed. Carr said he has not watched television or seen a replay. He was tired of talking about it in the locker room after the game. He doesn't want to talk about it much more.

"If you all ask me, I'll just go lift weights in like three seconds," Carr said with a smile on his face.

More important to Carr is the health of his friend, Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry, whose season ended on Monday with what the team believes is lymphoma, a form of cancer.

Carr said he reached out to Berry via text and Twitter. He hopes to talk to him, but understands Berry has more important worries now. Carr just wants his friend to know he is praying for him.

"Caught me off guard," Carr said of the news. "It makes you put things in perspective. As far as just life, what's really important. At the end of the day, your health matters the most. We've got a passion to play this game and to do great things. But you know, the change of focus is for health and the battle has shifted gears, shifted battlefields so to speak, shifted arenas. At the same time, just being around him for the years that I was able to be around him and experience the on and off the field interactions, the same fight that he has on the field and the same dedication and hard work, the commitment he had to being the best player, both on and off the field. With this new adverse situation that he just encountered, I have a feeling that he's going to give it his all. The support that I've just seen across the board, yesterday, I was like, that's pretty big to have.

"I've seen it myself, just have a support system behind you in times like this where you're fighting, or it's the unknown that's ahead of you. It's an unfortunate situation, man, but the man upstairs always has a plan for us. He always takes care of us."