Who Are These Guys?

In what amounted to a schoolyard fistfight, the Dallas Cowboys hosted the Philadelphia Eagles at Texas Stadium Sunday. What has normally turned out to be a rout by the Eagles in five of the last six straight wins, this game had many highs and lows for both teams.

And a special halftime event where Tex Schramm was inducted into the Ring of Honor.

Andy Reid has directed the Eagles to the last two NFC Championship games by building a tough defense and an offense that can score in droves. But he also has shown a knack for the trick play that changes games and momentum. In the 2000 season Reid opened up at Texas Stadium with an onside kick. It ended up being a rout and the Cowboys posted three 5-11 seasons after.

Reid again went with his bag-of-tricks with the onside kick to begin this game. But somewhere in the script for this contest, nobody told the Bill Parcells led Cowboys they were supposed to fold. Randall Williams took the bouncing pigskin on Philly's 37-yard line and ran unmolested into the endzone to open up a 7-0 lead.

The game remained a slugfest of defensive football, as each team couldn't seem to move the sticks in the first quarter. Field position was distinctly in favor of the Eagles as they started on their 22, 48, 49, 46, and the Dallas 47 during the first quarter. Dallas was pinned inside their 15 four separate times on punts by Dirk Johnson of the Eagles.

The second period began for the visitors with a 9-play drive capped with a 5-yard run by Bryant Westbrook for a score. The backbreaker for this drive that started on the Eagles 45 was a 28-yard run around right end by Bryant Westbrook. This would have been the score that changed the momentum and put Dallas on their heels the last few years. But Parcells has this young group believing and they hung tough forcing the Eagles to unproductive series with a solid pass rush and a blitz that would make Eagles defensive coordinator Jimmy Johnson proud.

Billy Cundiff added a fieldgoal late in the second and Dallas would head to the lockerroom at the half up 10-7. A halftime which honored the man that gave the game and this team so many things over his 30 years as the leader of the Dallas Cowboys.

Texas E. Schramm caused the league to move the hash marks closer to the middle of the field. He moved the goalpost back to the endline of the endzone. He was responsible for instant replay and making Dallas a household name along with the Celtics of basketball and the Yankees of baseball.

His induction should have been a no-brainer and the team owner and G.M., Jerry Jones should have made before Schramm's death this past summer. But the man that brought Landry to the Cowboys, caused the team from Dallas to be thought of as America's Team, and was instrumental in creating the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders has finally taken his place of honor.

The third quarter showed a Cowboy team that was sharp on both offense and defense. Forcing the Eagles to punt Dallas started their drive on their own 20. An eleven-play drive highlighted a Bill Parcell's trick play gave Dallas the feeling they could play with a team that has embarrassed them over the past three years. On a first and ten from the Eagles 40-yard line Aveion Cason took a pitch and ran to his right. He pulled up and found Joey Galloway on a deep crossing route after the fake caused Clinton Hart to abandoned the coverage of Galloway. The turf was slick from a recent rain and Galloway stumbled which prevented a touchdown.

"They (coaching staff) asked if I could throw the ball in practice this week," Cason said. "I told them sure." So the play had been installed for this game during the week.

But not only can this team take directions from Parcells, but also they have learned to think on the field. "I was in on the play before and had my gloves on when the pass was called. I didn't want to take them off in the huddle or the defense might have known something was up." Cason added.

Hambrick punched the ball in on a dive following Allen and the Cowboys were up 17-7. The Eagles followed with a drive and a 52-yard touchdown on a broken play from Donovan McNabb to Duce Staley. But this Cowboys team would not fold as previous versions had. The next series was an eight-play drive featuring a terrific pass to Antonio Bryant who fought off a double team and took the ball away from Lito Sheppard. The Eagles stiffened near the goalline causing Dallas settled for a fieldgoal because of an errant fade pass from the 4-yard line to Bryant from Carter.

Dallas handed the Eagles a three-and-out and were on their way in taking this game when Pete Hunter drew a holding penalty against the Eagles tight end Chad Lewis. They then marched down the field and took the lead for the first time in the game with a Correll Buckhalter cutback for 20-yards and a touchdown. The play was set up by Hank Fraley tackling Roy Williams who was in position to make the play. But the stage was set for the win-starved Cowboy fans to see if this meek three game winning streak was real or smoke and mirrors.

Parcells is known for finding small school players that make a difference. Zuriel Smith, the heady rookie that was aware enough to let Matt Bryant's kick-off roll out of bounds in the overtime win showed why Parcells let Reggie Swinton go for a hand full of magic beans. He took the kick-off and ran it back behind a convoy to the Philadelphia 40. Dallas ran Hambrick between the tackles once and had an incomplete pass when they faced 3rd and 7. The fieldgoal would have been about the limit of Billy Cundiff's range had they been force to kick it then. However, Quincy found Joey Galloway on a deep slant to the Eagles 18. Cundiff split the uprights after several running plays to win the game.

The Cowboys have been surprising everyone this season with a steady improvement led by Quincy Carter. Everyone seems to contribute and the winning streak, which is at four games, is the first time since 1995, the year they won their last Superbowl.

In the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Paul Newman and Robert Redford were being chased for days by a posse designed to bring them to justice. Newman's Cassidy kept asking Redford's Sundance, "Who are these guys."

As the Cowboys improved their record to 4-1 we have to ask. Who are these guys? They would be the Dallas Cowboys who are in first place in the NFC East by a game and a half.

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