Rising above

The Dallas Cowboys' blowout of the Philadelphia Eagles answered a lot of questions their quarterback and head coach were facing about their effectiveness in the playoffs.

Now they are trying to take the next step, and owner Jerry Jones is focused on the Vikings.

With the Cowboys finally getting the mountain-sized gorilla off their back and dispatched the 13-year demon, it's back-to-the-future time.

Questions about whether the Cowboys could finally win a playoff game in 13 years have turned into questions about whether the Cowboys can make a Super Bowl run for the first time in 14 years.

That's how good Dallas looked in unleashing fury and frustration on the Philadelphia Eagles in a 34-14 victory in the wild-card playoffs. The Cowboys have won four straight games, including the last three by a combined score of 75-14, and go into the divisional playoff matchup Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings playing as well as any team in the league.

"The demons are gone!" owner Jerry Jones exclaimed in the postgame locker room.

"We really do know that as a team the challenge we've got going up to Minnesota. We've got a chance to beat Minnesota. We beat Minnesota, something special can happen here," Jones said.

There is a sense that something special is about to happen after all the negative things that have happened to the Cowboys in the playoffs since 1996 were buried in a barrage of points against the Eagles.

The Cowboys scored on five straight drives in the second quarter to blow the game open and take a 27-7 lead at halftime.

Felix Jones sprinted 73 yards to the end zone in the third quarter to turn the game into a celebration for this Cowboys team.

Quarterback Tony Romo no longer has to hear about his playoff foibles. He dropped a snap on a potential game-winning field goal attempt in the wild-card playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks in 2006. He threw an interception on the final play in the divisional playoff loss to the New York Giants in 2007.

Now he is headed to Minnesota looking to take another step toward taking his place in the championship lineage of legendary Cowboys quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach.

"It's just ... it's rewarding," Romo said. "It makes me proud of the guys in there, fighting, grinding, staying committed to the approach. I'm happy for the guys, happy for (coach) Wade (Phillips), happy for Jerry. It's a step."

Not only was it a game-changer and perception changer for Romo but it was that as well for coach Wade Phillips.

No more does Phillips have to hear about being the winningest coach in the NFL without a playoff win. Phillips was 0-3 before Saturday's win.

Now he's looking to do what his father, the legendary Bum Phillips, couldn't do: kick the door in on a Super Bowl run.

"It feels great for Tony and I, it takes a lot off of us, even though we weren't here in 1996," said a giddy Phillips, who celebrated the moment when linebacker Keith Brooking pretended to lift a giant monkey off his back.

"It means more for our team and our fans. We don't have to hear we haven't won a playoff game. We are on a roll. We are still going strong."

TRENDING: The win was also the first postseason victory for Wade Phillips as a head coach. He is now 1-4 in playoff games and 1-1 as the head coach for Dallas.

TE John Phillips, who has essentially replaced the disappointing Martellus Bennett as the No. 2 tight end, caught his first career touchdown pass. He also earned the start in his first playoff game as the club opened with three tight ends.

LB Bobby Carpenter had two fumble recoveries to become the fifth Cowboy to recover two fumbles in a playoff game.

RB Tashard Choice, who played one week after suffering a concussion, notched his first career playoff rushing touchdown on a 1-yard plunge in the second quarter. He had to leave the game in the fourth quarter with an injury but said he will be ready for the divisional playoff game against the Vikings.

CB Mike Jenkins, who is playing as well as any cornerback in the league, intercepted his first career postseason pass.

RB Felix Jones got the bulk of the load with Marion Barber (knee) limited to three carries. Jones rushed for 148 yards — his first career 100-yard outing (regular or postseason). His 148 yards were the third-most rushing yards in a postseason game in team history.

P Mat McBriar booted a 61-yard punt — the third-longest punt in Cowboys postseason history. Ron Widby (65 yards vs. Detroit, 12/26/70) has the club record and McBriar owns the second-longest (62 yards at Seattle, 1/6/07). McBriar's five punts downed inside the 20-yard line established a club single-game postseason record through 1976.

LB DeMarcus Ware overcame a sore back that kept him out of practice Thursday to record two sacks, his first career multi-sack playoff game. It was the first multi-sack game by a Cowboy in the postseason since Chad Hennings had two against Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XXX (1/28/96). Ware also became just the ninth Dallas defender with multiple sacks in a postseason game since sacks became an official stat in 1982.

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