If you saw the Dallas Cowboys play the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend, you might have felt like you had taken a trip back in time. In a situation reminiscent of “Roger the Dodger” and his famous two-minute drills, Tony Romo put everything on the line and pulled a victory out of nowhere.Down 17 – 6 with less than 2 minutes to go and no time-outs, Romo bailed out of what had been his worst game of the season and kept the Cowboys in pole-position for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. He also saved face in front of his girlfriend, Jessica Simpson, and probably saved his team’s front-office from having to ask her not to show up for anymore games this year.
Following a touch-back on the kick-off, he made two quick strikes to the sidelines to favourite-target Jason Witten and reached mid-field. Then magic happened.
A screen pass to Terrell Owens looked like a short gain until Witten made a crushing block on Eagle cornerback Lito Sheppard and Owens, in a move that likely gave the Cowboy coaches strokes (no time-outs), turned inside. After avoiding and breaking 3 pursuants he finally bowled over safety Brian Dawkins for the score.
18 seconds off the clock and it was suddenly 17 – 12. An attempt for a 2-point conversion failed when Marion Barber couldn’t break through center, but the damage was done and Dallas was down by less than a touchdown with 90 seconds left on the clock.
It seems ironic that when everyone knows you are going to try an onside kick that’s when it works the best. Once again it was Witten who sprang the trap clearing a path as Miles Austin, whose speciality is normally receiving the ball, followed and scooped up the bouncing ping-skin and even advanced another 7 yards before being stopped at the Eagle 49.
Romo had hurt his thumb earlier in the game and it probably was the reason his game had been so poor. There was no way he was going to make any long passes. He had 80 seconds on the clock and needed a touchdown. Who would have expected that Julius Jones, who until that moment had 5 yards on 7 carries, would get the call for a draw? Apparently not the Eagle defense as he scampered 33 yards and out-of-bounds before anyone could lay a hand on him.
With 1 minute and 12 seconds still available Dallas could risk a few running plays and Barber worked them to the 7 yardline while the clock wound down to 30 seconds. Then it was time for Romo to go back to work.
First, while rolling right, a short pass to Anthony Fasano ensured a first down. Fasano went out of bounds at the 3 as Philadelphia linebacker Takeo Spikes put the hit on him. On 1st and goal Philadelphia put on the pressure and he had to unload to the back of the endzone overthowing everybody. With 16 seconds left he went under center and, to everyone’s surprize, simply followed back-up center Cory Procter into the endzone.
Another attempt at 2 points failed and the score remained 17 – 18, but with only 11 seconds left on the clock there was little hope for the Philadelphia faithful. A short kick left them at the 45 with one last play to save what had been a winning effort only 2 regulation minutes before. The “Hail Mary” didn’t even make it to the 5 yard-line and was batted down and the unthinkable had been accomplished.
Of course, this didn’t really happen. Philadelphia won this game 10 – 6. But it could have gone down this way had Brian Westbrook not have made one the most selfless plays I have ever seen in all of professional sports. It was a true, classic moment of sport that we hope will not be forgotten for a very long time.