Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens (81) pulls in a 50 yard touchdown pass in front of Dallas Cowboys defenders Nathan Jones (33) and Tony Dixon (24) during the first quarter in Irving, Texas, Monday, Nov. 15, 2004.
AP Photo/LM Otero
IRVING, Texas Donovan McNabb spun away from one would-be tackler and sprinted to his right, only to find another defender waiting. So he went back to his left, chased by two more players, and finally heaved the ball, letting loose a 60-yard pass that looked more like a punt.
From that amazing completion to Freddie Mitchell to three touchdown passes to Terrell Owens, McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles resoundingly bounced back from their first loss to beat the Dallas Cowboys 49-21 Monday night.
McNabb was 15-of-28 for 345 yards, with four TD passes and no interceptions. He led Philadelphia (8-1) to six touchdowns over the first three quarters, then Lito Sheppard capped a historic night for both teams with a 101-yard interception for yet another score.
The Eagles quickly made it known that they still should be considered the midseason favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl by scoring 35 points in the first half more than they'd scored in any game this season. They wound up with their most points since beating St. Louis 52-10 in November 1981.
''It takes a couple plays for us to get a little momentum,'' McNabb said. ''Once things get going, we feel confident that every play that we call is going to be effective and possibly get in the end zone.''
Philadelphia scored touchdowns the last five times it had the ball before halftime, then on its first drive of the third quarter. There was the minor interruption of a punt, but the Cowboys (3-6) fumbled the return, adding to the humiliation of their fifth loss in six games and their eighth in nine tries against the Eagles.
This one was historically ugly as Dallas gave up its most points ever at home and its most anywhere since a 50-24 loss at Cincinnati in December 1985. The Cowboys allowed four touchdowns in one quarter (the second) for the first time in franchise history and the 35 points Philadelphia scored in the first half tied another dubious record.
After calling his team ''stupid'' following a 26-3 loss to Cincinnati last week, Dallas coach Bill Parcells tried holding his tongue.
''We just got to get better,'' he said. ''I'm not going to get into the state of the union right now. I'm just not going to do it.''
The Eagles loved every minute of it, especially Owens.
He pretended to skate in the end zone after his first score, a 59-yarder, then playfully argued with McNabb on the sideline, mocking their confrontation from last week. After a 27-yard touchdown catch, he mocked his own celebration from four years ago at Texas Stadium, only this time he stood on a small star logo painted on a helmet in the end zone instead of the big one at midfield.
By the time he scored again in the third quarter, putting Philadelphia up 42-14 midway through the third quarter, he merely dunked the ball over the crossbar.
''We work hard in practice,'' said Owens, who had 134 yards on six catches. ''We knew they were going to blitz us a lot, we just had to execute on offense.''
Parcells grimaced through it all, knowing there was little he could do about yet another lopsided loss. The Cowboys' season is a bust, with the only curiosity left being when he'll turn the offense over to rookie quarterback Drew Henson.
Vinny Testaverde, playing two days after turning 41, was decent enough to keep the future leader on the sideline. He was 21-of-30 for 254 yards with two touchdowns to Jason Witten. Eddie George added a 15-yard touchdown run.
Testaverde's only interception came in the end zone with about five minutes left. Sheppard took it all the way, breaking past the defense around the 30 only to have Keyshawn Johnson reach him at the goal line. Johnson grabbed the back of his collar out of frustration.
Unlike the loss to Cincinnati, when Parcells called the Cowboys ''stupid,'' Dallas was simply outplayed this time. However, there were still several boneheaded mistakes such as flags on all three extra points, the fumbled punt and a muffed kickoff that was recovered.
Philadelphia's biggest struggle was on third down, a problem that's bothered the Eagles for weeks. They didn't convert one until there were about three minutes left in the first half. The skid ended, perhaps fittingly for this game, on McNabb's 60-yarder to Mitchell.
About the only thing Philadelphia did wrong was call a timeout in the closing seconds of the first half, when the Cowboys had taken a knee and were walking to the locker room. Parcells returned to the 50-yard line, staring across the field.
It was the same blank look he wore most of the night.
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