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Eagles 21-point comeback not enough as Cowboys take NFC East lead

Dez Bryant caught six passes for 116 yards and three touchdowns Sunday night.Getty Images

The Eagles made the entire NFL doubt their worthiness of a playoff spot, then closed a three-touchdown gap, and then committed a pair of costly turnovers in a nearly epic comeback that never was, a 38-27 defeat in Philly Sunday.

The Birds closed their home regular season schedule by furiously scoring 24 unanswered points to come back from a 21-0 deficit to take the lead in front of a prime time audience.

But for every improbable play -- like Josh Huff's 44-yard rabbit-like run after the catch to abait several Cowboys defenders, or Jeremy Maclin's 72-yard reception that was nearly a touchdown -- there was a turnover that gave the Cowboys new life.

In a heated battle for supremacy in the NFC East, it was Dallas and their mammothwideout Dez Bryant who proved, at least Sunday night, who deserves a home game come playoff time.

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Mark Sanchez had a Mark Sanchez-like game, throwing for 252 yards, but also for two costly interceptions (the Eagles lost the turnover battle 4-1). On the other hand, Tony Romo racked up 265 yards passing with 22-for-31 accuracy and three touchdown passes, all to Bryant (116 yards on six receptions).

The running game emerged, though not overpowering, with the three-headed monster attack once again, with Chris Polk scoring two touchdowns, Darren Sproles scoring one more and LeSean McCoy adding 64 rushing yards to his Eagles-best total.

The Birds came out in the second half with fire, shaking off a double digit lead and building off a defensive stop. Maclin's 72-yard reception led to a Polk poke into the end zone (his second touchdown of the game) to make it a game again, 21-17.

Deep in the Dallas zone a few minutes later, Cedric Thornton mauled Romo in the backfield, knocking the ball loose for Fletcher Cox to recover and setting up a Darren Sproles one-yard scamper. And just like that, the Eagles led, 24-21.

It was too good to be true.

The Cowboys battled back for seven points of their own with their next possession to flip the see-saw in Dallas' favor again. Sanchez threw an interception to set up Bryant's third touchdown grab to put the lead back to 11 for the Cowboys. A field goal and defense stop gave Philly a chance, down eight with eight minutes remaining.

But a Brent Celek fumble all but ended the Eagles' second comeback attempt as Dallas was able to turn it into three points to preserve a two-possession lead.

With their last possession gasping of desperation, Sanchez fell victim to the Dallas defense, pressuring for a pair of sacks to clinch the 'W.'

Dallas opened the game with what was technically a squib kick--but since no Eagles offensive player touched the ball it was in reality a 50-yard onside kick. The Birds' bad fortune continued as they defended with their backs to the end zone, relinquishing an early touchdown to dig a 7-0 hole.

The Cowboys converted their first four third downs and as a result were able to drive down the field on a tired and frustrated Birds' defense on an 88-yard touchdown drive (aRomo fade pass to Bryant).

Looking like the defense would finally get off the field on Dallas' next possession (following yet another Eagles three-and-out), Cary Williams was called for illegal contact on a third down sack, giving the Cowboys new life and leading to another Romo-to-Bryantscoring strike. With just under 12 minutes left in the second quarter, the Eagles nightmare was becoming a reality as they trailed 21-0.

Then, finally, after hanging a big zero in the first quarter (in both points and yards from scrimmage), the Eagles put things together when Polk found the end zone to cap off an 11-play, 84-yard drive. Another sustained drive a few minutes later resulted in a 47-yard field goal for the Birds, cutting the Dallas lead to 21-10.

 
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