- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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"We really didn't do anything different, just prepared more," said Eagle Defensive Coordinator Marion Campbell. "But I knew Wednesday after practice that we had 'em."
The Cowboys received Rude Awakening No. 2 on Montgomery's touchdown run. "I'm supposed to run to the left, behind Stan Walters," said Montgomery, "but I cut it back all the way to my right tackle." Montgomery's simple, last-second ad lib caught all the Cowboys pursuing to the left, and nobody was in the secondary to meet him. Just like that, 2:11 into the game, the Eagles were up 7-0, Tony Franklin having booted the conversion.
They could have made it 13-0 shortly thereafter had not two field-goal tries gone pffft. The first, a Franklin attempt from 41 yards, was blocked by Aaron Mitchell. The second, from 39 yards, invoked the spirit of Garo Yepremian in Super Bowl VII. The bad snap went right through the hands of Jaworski, the holder, and Franklin picked it up. Showing none of the moves of Montgomery, Franklin teetered to the right, and as the Dallas defense closed in on his unshod right foot, he let fly a perfect pass in the direction of several Cowboys. The throw was academic, though, because only Jaworski could have advanced the fumble, but it was funny academic.
After that bit of comic relief, the Cowboy offense made what turned out to be its only appearance of the afternoon. With Dorsett and Robert Newhouse sharing the work, Dallas drove 68 yards in 10 plays, Dorsett scoring from three yards out to even the game at 7-7. The Eagles came right back and went 46 yards to the Dallas 25 where, on first and 10, Jaworski found Harold Carmichael, who's not hard to find, along the right side with an apparent touchdown pass. But there was a flag on the field because Right Guard Woody Peoples was caught putting his hands in Larry Cole's face. The 15-yard penalty cost the Eagles 40 yards and a 14-7 lead at the half.
That was one of the few mistakes Philadelphia's offensive line made all day. For the record, it was Walters on Harvey Martin, Petey Perot on Randy White (they didn't get along very well), Jerry Sisemore on Too Tall Jones and Peoples on Cole or John Dutton. The trip to New Orleans will be especially satisfying to Peoples, a 12-year veteran whom Vermeil told not to bother to come to training camp last summer. Too old, you know. The 37-year-old Peoples bothered anyway, and now he's going to the Super Bowl.
"Those guys really did the job up front," Jaworski said. "They were the key. They blocked like hell. I really believe that's what won it."
The second half promised to be interesting because both Dallas and Philadelphia are second-half teams: the Eagles had come from behind in eight of their 13 victories this season, the Cowboys in seven of 14. The big question during the half-time came not from Vermeil ("Tony, who were you passing to?") or Landry ("Tony, why aren't you running?"), but from CBS' Phyllis George Brown, who asked Alicia Landry, Tom's wife, if the Cowboys had ever played in a game as cold as this. It was cold, 17° with a wind-chill factor of—17°, but, Phyllis, that was tropical compared to the Green Bay-Dallas championship game in 1967.
The week before, against the Vikings, the Eagles had broken the game open in the third quarter when Minnesota's Eddie Payton fumbled a punt deep in his own end of the field. The same thing happened Sunday when Dallas' James Jones mishandled Max Runager's punt on the Cowboy 27, and Billy Campfield recovered for Philadelphia. This time the Eagles blew their chance when Jaworski threw an interception to Cowboy Linebacker Anthony Dickerson on the 19. But then the Cowboys gave the ball right back: White was sacked by End Carl Hairston and fumbled, Dennis Harrison recovering on the Dallas 11. Still, the Eagles got only a 26-yard field goal and a 10-7 lead out of that opportunity.
Nothing was working for the Cowboys; at one point they even pulled some footnote out of their playbook and had Drew Pearson throw an option pass off a reverse, but it was incomplete. There was a glimmer of hope when White hit Tight End Jay Saldi for 28 yards and a first down at the Eagle 40, but on the next play Young stripped the ball from Dorsett, and Robinson picked up the fumble and returned it 22 yards to the Dallas 38. "That was the turning point of the game," said Dorsett, "and I hold myself responsible."
The Eagles took it right up the Cowboys' gut from there, and six plays later Fullback Leroy Harris scored from the nine, giving them a 17-7 lead. Harris was almost as unexpectedly brilliant against Dallas as Montgomery was, rushing for 60 yards on 10 carries. Harris had been acquired from Miami last season, but his penchant for donuts—he ate them by the dozens, before, during and after workouts—plain frosted Vermeil and kept the custard-filled Harris in the coach's doghouse. Now donuts are out, and Harris is out, too.