Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 12/24/11
In a very boring game, the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Dallas Cowboys 20-7.   With no playoff ramifications on the line, the Cowboys played it safe and looked to next week.  Quarterback Tony Romo suffered a hand contusion on the first series of the game, and did not return.  Michael Vick threw for two touchdowns and led Philadelphia to a bittersweet victory.  As nice as it feels to sweep the Cowboys, the season ended for the “Dream Team” today. 

Turning Point:  With 3:30 left in the first quarter, it was official.  The Giants had defeated the Jets, which meant that Philadelphia was eliminated from playoff-contention.  It also meant that next week’s Giants’ game versus Dallas will be for the NFC East title, and today’s game went from a Christmas Eve treat of a divisional-rival clash between two fierce rivals, to a glorified scrimmage. 

Key Players:  Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys:  Although he only played one series, Tony Romo is the story of the game.  Romo hit his throwing hand on Jason Babin’s helmet, and was finished for the afternoon.  After being taken in for x-rays, Romo returned and was on the sideline with his helmet on preparing to warm-up.   Quarterback Coach Wade Wilson and head coach Jason Garrett were seen on the sidelines telling Romo he was done until next week.   HIs hand continued to swell, so it is doubtful he would have been effective today if he had to play.  All eyes will be on that hand this week as Dallas gets ready for the Giants.

Dallas Secondary:   The offense of the Cowboys was playing this one like a pre-season game, but the defense with all their starters playing was just as bad in this game, especially in the first half, as they were in the previous 34-7 loss to the Eagles.  Vick was able to hit Celek, Maclin, and Jackson without much pressure to give the Eagles the early lead.  The Dallas secondary continues to not get turnovers, and are beaten by their own aggressiveness.  They improved after what must have been a Rob Ryan blowout speech at halftime, but the secondary is a major concern for the Cowboys.

Most telling stat/fact:  Bruce Carter's blocked punt (with 30 seconds left in the game) set up a short touchdown pass for Stephen McGee to Miles Austin. Without that score, today would have been the first shutout in 165 home games for the Dallas Cowboys.   Ironically, the team that shut them out that day was the Eagles.

What it means for the winner:  It means the official end to a nightmare season, a season that started with the highest expectations the Eagles have ever seen.  An innocent off-hand remark by Vince Young was used as fuel for opponents eager to knock off the “Dream Team”.  In a very Miami Heat-like fashion, the Eagles were the team most people enjoyed watching lose, due to the appearance of trying to "buy" a championship.  With an off-season minus lockout problems, this team will be prepared and hungry to make a mark in 2012.  Assuming Andy Reid returns and they re-sign Desean Jackson, this team will be one of the favorites to win the Lombardi next year.

What it means for the loser:  Not much changed today for Dallas.  The NFC East will be on the line next week in New York when they face the Giants in the last regular-season game of the year.  The playoffs start next week for Dallas.  It is very simple -- if they win next week, they will be in the playoffs, if they lose, they will not.
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