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Two series later, back came the Cowboys, this time to a first-and-goal at the Eagle four. Philadelphia Defensive Tackle Ken Clarke flicked the ball out of Tony Dorsett's hand, Linebacker Al Chesley recovered and Philly had dodged the bullet again.
Back came Dallas on their next possession, in the third quarter. They were trailing 7-3 at this point, but here they stood with a third-and-two on the Philly 15. White lobbed the ball to Dorsett on a little flare pass that looked like six points. Dorsett bobbled it, Linebacker Jerry Robinson dived to make the interception, and White, in frustration, smacked himself on the side of the helmet and wondered what under the darkening Philadelphia sky had to be done to get a score.
Three plays later Jaworski showed him. Jaws had failed to convert on all six of the Eagles' third-down plays to that point, but now he found Carmichael on a post pattern that wound up as the 85-yard TD, 41 pass, 44 run. Everson Walls, the rookie cornerback, had been left out to dry on the play, but let's not be too hard on this young man, because 1) he was supposed to have gotten some jamming help on the line from D.D. Lewis, the linebacker, except that Lewis missed the defensive audible, and 2) he actually got a hand on the ball and knocked it straight down, the 6'8", 225-pound Carmichael showing his amazing gripping strength by holding on to it.
"Just because he's skinny doesn't mean he's not strong," said Walls, who got an unmerciful going-over by the Eagles—17 passes thrown his way during the afternoon, seven completions, one interference penalty. "There's a lot of body there."
Dallas launched a drive at the end of the third quarter, the whistle blew, and the fans in the Vet breathed a sigh of relief, because Philly was ahead 14-3 and they all knew the fourth quarter belongs to the Eagles. In eight games this year they'd lost only one fourth quarter, and that was in a comfortable victory over New Orleans. In 19 regular-season and postseason games last year they'd lost only one, again in a relatively safe victory, over Washington. All of Coach Dick Vermeil's three-hour practice sessions, all the work in pads on Friday and those terrible afternoons in camp, all that was a tune-up for fourth-quarter football. This time Dallas won it. A desperate 17-yard pass to Doug Cosbie on a broken play gave the Cowboys the touchdown that brought them back to 14-10. "I think that play broke their concentration," said Landry.
The Eagles began making those silly hands-in-the-back penalties on their run-backs. Their pass blocking broke down, and now Jaworski was running for his life. The Cowboys got the ball on the Philly 39. Five running plays—three of them by Dorsett for 28 yards—and they were in, Dorsett going the last nine yards over the left side and surging across with two tacklers vainly hanging on. Dallas: 17-14.
"The Eagles just didn't seem to have the killer instinct," White said. "They weren't the same in the fourth quarter as they were in the first three."
The Eagles had one gasp left in them. With 4� minutes to go, Jaworski was blitzed by Cornerback Dennis Thurman, a play that drew a spearing penalty—plus Pisarcik off the bench. Paterson Plank Joe, the former Giant, the guy who figured in that famous missed handoff with Larry Csonka that got the Eagles their wild-card playoff berth in 1978. "As soon as I saw the hit on Ronnie," Pisarcik said, "I reached for my helmet."
The Philly crowd had booed Jaworski; they'd booed the inexplicably herky-jerk Philly offense, but now they had a cause to rally around. How they love backup quarterbacks, how they cheered when Pisarcik hit Carmichael on a 24-yarder on his first play.
"The only other pass I threw this year was against Washington," he said, "also on my first play. No sense being bashful about it."