Work in Sports
IRVING, Texas (Ticker) -- Opening Day is usually very good to the Dallas Cowboys. That was before today.
Philadelphia dominated the game from the outset, recovering an onsides kick on the opening kickoff. Donovan McNabb capped the opening drive with a one-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Thomason and the Eagles were well on their way to making it a miserable day for Dallas.
"Overall I think it was a team effort," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "The offense, the defense and special teams all had a piece of it and I have to compliment everyone on this win. This is one of 16 games this season and I really have to hand it to the coaches who put together the game plan."
Staley was the Cowboys' biggest headache. On an afternoon where the field temperature was over 100 degrees, Staley shredded Dallas' defense, becoming the first Eagle to rush for 200 yards in a game since Steve Van Buren accomplished the feat in the 1949 season.
"Coming into this game we had to show some dominance up front and establish an attitude," Staley said. "That's what we did.
Donovan's ability to get the ball down field was a threat to them. They didn't have a chance to blitz their safeties like they usually do. We were out here in their hometown and they were tired. We tried to take advantage of that."
Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman also suffered a headache. After getting sacked four times in the first quarter, Aikman played one series before leaving with a concussion. He misfired on all five of his attempts.
The Eagles built a 24-6 lead at halftime and sent the Cowboys to their worst loss in a home opener since they also lost by 27 points to St. Louis in 1963.
Dallas lost a home opener for the first time since 1993 and fell to 30-10-1 overall in the first week of the season.
Dave Campo also had his debut as Dallas coach spoiled. He replaced Chan Gailey, who was fired after taking the club to the playoffs last season.
"We were embarrassed with our performance today," Campo said.
"Obviously we weren't prepared and that begins with me. We didn't protect the quarterback and we didn't stop the run. About the only good thing about today's performance is that it was game one, not game 16."
Coming off consecutive last place finishes in the NFC East, the Eagles attempted to make a statement from the opening kickoff and that's exactly what they did.
In an unusual move, the Eagles used an onsides kick to start the game and wide receiver Dameane Douglas recovered on their own 42. McNabb found Staley with a 20-yard pass and capped the drive with his one-yard toss to Thomason.
"I thought about it a month ago," Reid said. "I saw something in a film and decided that we would use it in the opener. I didn't think it would fail, at least it better not have."
McNabb completed 16-of-28 passes for 130 yards with two interceptions. A 1999 first-round pick, McNabb completed passes to 10 different receivers "We felt confident in the plays that were called," McNabb said.
"We just had to execute them. We were excited about the aggressive approach. In this league, it's all about a balanced attack. We kept them on their heels most of the game.
"We didn't try to play against the 106-degree weather. We played against the Dallas Cowboys. Anytime things are going your way, you block out the weather."
After that surprise, the Eagles let their defense take over.
Aikman was sacked on three of his first six snaps, leading to his short afternoon.
Staley, who carried 27 times, scored on a one-yard run with two seconds left in the first quarter, extending the lead to 14-0.
He also was team's leading receiver, catching four passes for 61 yards.
Staley was the main beneficiary running behind the club's revamped offensive line that includes 330-pound right tackle Jon Runyan, who signed as a free agent in the offseason.
Philadelphia rushed for 306 yards, compared to only 67 for Dallas. The Eagles held a 425-167 advantage in total yards.
"The ensuing kickoff set the tone for the rest of the day," Cowboys linebacker Dat Nguyen said. "They came after us and we weren't able to contain them on defense. We felt prepared, but obviously we weren't."
Perhaps still feeling woozy from the beating he endured in the first quarter, Aikman had his initial attempt of the second period intercepted by linebacker Jeremiah Trotter and returned 27 yards for a touchdown.
Aikman left in favor of former Eagle Randall Cunningham after throwing that interception.
David Akers kicked a 33-yard field goal midway through the quarter to push the lead to 24-0. Rookie Tim Seder booted field goals of 34 and 38 yards in the final 2:53 of the half for Dallas.
Any momentum the Cowboys gained from those two field goals, quickly was lost in the third quarter. The Eagles held the ball for the first 8 1/2 minutes of the period and Akers kicked a 37-yard field goal for a 27-6 bulge.
McNabb scored on a three-yard run and Brian Mitchell from six yards in the fourth quarter, giving Philadelphia a laughable 35-point lead.
The Cowboys got their only touchdown of the game when Cunningham hit Joey Galloway with a four-yard TD pass midway through the period. Cunningham went 13-of-26 yards for 135 yards with an interception.
Acquired from Seattle in the offseason to replace Michael Irvin, who retired, Galloway suffered a sprained left knee late in the fourth quarter. He had four receptions for 62 yards.
Dallas running back Emmitt Smith, who missed the entire exhibition season with a calf and toe injury, was also a non-factor, carrying just seven times for 29 yards.
"As individuals and as a team we have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what we could do to become better players," Smith said. "We have to do better as team. We got our butts kicked and now it's time to move on."