'Boys Clinch NFC East

While running into the locker room following the Cowboys' 28-27 victory against the Lions, linebacker Greg Ellis paused to remind the media that though the Cowboys didn't play their best they did indeed win the game.

And for Ellis that was a big deal, because with the victory the Cowboys clinched the NFC East title for the 16th time but the first since 1998. Ellis was a rookie in 1998 and it has been a long road to his second division title, including the back-to-back-to-back 5-11 seasons from 2000-2003.

"You get a tear in your eyes but it's not time to cry," Ellis said. The Cowboys still have some things left to accomplish. Like securing home field and reaching the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1995 season.

But at the moment the Cowboys are satisfied to be division champs again, finally.

"It feels good," cornerback Terence Newman said. "It's been a long time coming. We got to one of our goals -- to win the East. We need to win a couple more games to finish our goal up."

The Cowboys (12-1) remain ahead of the Packers (11-2) in their pursuit of home-field advantage with three games left in the season. The Cowboys host the Eagles before finishing with road games at Carolina and Washington.

"It's about time," said linebacker Bradie James, sporting an NFC East Champions hat after the game. "We were due for a few good things."

The Cowboys are somewhere between satisfied and ecstatic about where they are. But they know they must play better than they did against the Lions if they are to live out their Super Bowl dreams.

Defensively, the Cowboys gave up 390 yards as the Lions were able to run and pass at will. The defense, however, held strong when it mattered most in the fourth, limiting the Lions to 83 yards and no points.

Said Newman: "Your goal is to win. You always take the victory but we are not happy with the way we played. We wanted to win the division. We did that. But we have a long way to go. We are not where we need to be. This was a reality check."

The reality is that the Cowboys are the favorites to win the NFC and make a Super Bowl run because they have a Super Bowl caliber quarterback. Tony Romo added to his growing legend with a nearly flawless outing against the Lions. He completed 35 of 44 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns.

But most important, he directed an 11-play, 83-yard drive, capped by a 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jason Witten with 18 seconds to go to give the Cowboys the improbable comeback victory.

"That is where a quarterback shows up -- in pressure situations," coach Wade Phillips said. "What he does in pressure situations defines him, not just passing yardage. I thought he was Elway-esque."

Phillips is not doing so bad himself. He improved his Cowboys coaching record to 12-1, the first time in club history that a Cowboys team has started a season 12-1. He also became just the second head coach in the Super Bowl-era to start a season 12-1 in his first season with a new team, joining Red Miller of the 1977 Broncos.

MONDAY NOTES
--RB Marion Barber had three touchdowns against the Lions. It was the first three-touchdown performance by a Cowboys running back since Julius Jones had three rushing touchdowns at Seattle on Dec. 6, 2004. Barber had two rushing touchdowns, bringing his career total to 28.

--DE Greg Ellis registered a sack against the Lions, giving him 11.5 on the season, tying DeMarcus Ware's club linebacker record for sacks in a season.

--QB Tony Romo set a club record, throwing for a touchdown in 17 consecutive games. He had 302 passing yards against the Detroit. It was his 10th career 300-yard outing, tying Danny White for the second-most 300-yard outings in team history behind Troy Aikman's 13. Romo's 302 passing yards allowed him to up his club record of 300-yard games in a season to seven.

But what's most impressive is how Romo plays in the clutch. Coach Wade Phillips said he was "Elway-esque" against the Lions in leading the Cowboys back from three double-digit deficits.

--TE Jason Witten established a new club record with 15 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown against the Lions on Sunday. The catches and yards were career highs for Witten.

--WR Terrell Owens had just three catches against the Lions. His streak of seven straight games with a touchdown catch came to an end.

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