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Eagles overcome inept offense to upset Cowboys
Posted: Thursday October 14, 1999 07:25 PM
The Eagles scored their first offensive touchdown in 19 quarters with 67 seconds left, capping a 10-point fourth-quarter comeback and stunning the Cowboys 13-10. But the afternoon was marred by a frightful neck injury to Michael Irvin, and a reaction from fans that was boorish even by Philadelphia standards.
While Irvin lay motionless and teammates knelt in prayer in the first quarter, many of the 66,669 at Veterans Stadium cheered -- first when realizing Irvin was down, then again when paramedics wheeled a stretcher onto the field.
"I know our fans pride themselves on being tough, but that wasn't tough," said Eagles receiver Charles Johnson, whose 28-yard TD reception from Doug Pederson was the game-winner. "That was just plain ignorant. ... I was embarrassed to stand on the sideline."
"That's ignorance and stupidity," Deion Sanders said. "We deserve better than that."
Emmitt Smith, said, "It disgusted me to death. This is just a game. Life, paralyzation and death are a reality. Sport is sport."
Irvin was hospitalized in the spinal unit of a hospital, with movement in his hands and feet, but swelling of the spinal cord in two places. Cowboys medical staff and owner Jerry Jones, who accompanied Irvin in the ambulance, wouldn't speculate on the severity of the injury.
"He was able to move on the field, but had tingling and numbness in his hands," team doctor Robert Vandermeer said. "He was alert and knew who we were."
Meanwhile, the seemingly hopeless Eagles (1-4) made scoring a touchdown seem like one a monumental accomplishment.
So stunned was Johnson that he scored, he said, "I got up and started looking for a flag or something. You don't want to get all excited for nothing."
Pederson walked by while Johnson did a telephone interview outside the locker room and asked him, "Is it the president?"
The thrill of victory, so rare for the Eagles and their fans, engulfed the Vet when Johnson caught a pass over the middle on a third-and-7, sprinted to the goal line and plunged in.
Bobby Taylor's interception of a desperately scrambling Troy Aikman sealed the victory with 39 seconds left. The Eagles, who had lost 20 of 23, got their first victory since beating Dick Vermeil's St. Louis Rams 17-14 last Dec. 3.
"I'm going to get a big cheeseburger tonight," said Eagles coach Andy Reid, who got his first victory as a head coach.
The Cowboys (3-1) failed in their bid for their first 4-0 start since 1995, the last time they won the Super Bowl. Smith had 114 yards on 30 carries, but lost a fumble at the Eagles 1 late in the first quarter.
"Give them credit, but it was a lot more breakdowns on our part," Cowboys coach Chan Gailey said.
Philadelphia's long-awaited TD came on Pederson's 11th completion of the game in 29 attempts. Reviled almost as much as the Cowboys in Philadelphia before the TD, Pederson threw for 145 yards and one interception. He wildly pumped his arms after Norm Johnson's extra point sailed through for the final margin.
"This was badly needed," said Duce Staley, who ran for 110 yards on 22 carries. "It was almost like being in a desert with no water and no signs of water."
The Cowboys' 10-game winning streak over NFC East opponents ended in the most unlikely place. They had beaten the Eagles three straight times, five of seven and 13 of 17.
"We clearly don't feel that we played as well as we could play," said Aikman, who was 21-for-39 for 177 yards and two interceptions.
After Norm Johnson's 48-yard field goal cut it to 10-3 with 11:48 left, the Eagles stopped Dallas on third-and-18 from the Philadelphia 41.
Pederson connected with Charles Johnson for 36 yards down the middle. But rookie lineman Doug Brzezinksi's holding penalty wiped out a screen pass to Staley that would have tied the game. Instead, the Eagles settled for a 31-yard field goal that cut it to 10-6 with 5:42 left.
The Eagles stuffed Smith on third-and-2 at the Dallas 36, setting up the winning touchdown.
"I was really disappointed that we couldn't make 2 yards," Gailey said.
Late in the first, Irvin caught a short pass from Aikman, tried to shake a tackle from Taylor and was hit by safety Tim Hauck as he hit the ground. As Taylor tackled Irvin, Hauck's shoulder pad collided with the side of Irvin's helmet, twisting his head awkwardly as it hit the artificial turf.
As Irvin was loaded into the ambulance, "He said that he was going to be OK and he gave me the old Michael Irvin smile," Sanders said.
Notes: Troy Vincent also had an interception, giving the Eagles 11 this season. They had nine all of last year. ... Dallas made it 10-0 on a 9-yard screen pass from Aikman to Smith on a drive that highlighted by Smith's 22-yard run on the 3,000th carry of his career. ... The Eagles made one first down in the first half. They amassed just 96 yards through three quarters and trailed 10-0. ... Smith needs 25 yards for 13,000 in his career and 284 to catch Eric Dickerson for fourth in NFL history.