Archive | October, 2013

The Final Answer: Allen Iverson Retires as a Sixers Icon

31 Oct

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Allen Iverson taking questions from reporters at his retirement press conference at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Allen Iverson taking questions from reporters at his retirement press conference at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Allen Iverson may have stood a few inches under 6-feet, but on the court he was as tall as Wilt Chamberlain and could fly as high as Dr. J., Julius Erving.

Like Chamberlain and Erving, Iverson, the Philadelphia 76ers first-round pick in the 1996 draft out of Georgetown, did some incredible things on the court. He also left a hip-hop sensibility in his wake similar to Chamberlain’s signature headbands and Dr. J’s ‘fro.

And he owns every bit of it.

“I took an ass-kicking for me being me in my career, for me looking the way I looked and dressing the way I dressed,” Iverson said. “My whole thing was just being me. Now, you look around the NBA and all of them have tattoos, guys wearing cornrows. You used to think the suspect was the guy with the cornrows, now you see the police officers with the cornrows. Know what I’m saying? I took a beating for those types of things.”

On Wednesday, Allen Iverson returned to the Wells Fargo Center, the place where he made his mark, to formally retire from the game of basketball as a 76er, and to thank the fans that supported him the most throughout his career.

He leaves the game with no regrets, despite the on and off the court drama that sometimes accompanied him, Iverson said.

Iverson also leaves knowing that he made it a lot easier for the nonconformist in the NBA due to his hard-charging, uncompromising style both on and off the court that gave a voice and a platform to an often-criticized and misunderstood generation of young people.

“I’m proud that I’m able to say I changed a lot in this culture and in this game,” he said. “It’s not about how you look on the outside, it’s who you are on the inside.”

During the ceremonies, Iverson acknowledged his former coaches–Georgetown head coach John Thompson and 76ers head coach Larry Brown–and former Sixers vice president Pat Croce for helping him to shape his career as a basketball player and as a man.

Poster featuring the many faces of AI. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Poster featuring the many faces of AI. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Known as one of the best pound-for-pound players in the history of the game, the 38-year-old Iverson won four NBA scoring titles, was an 11-time NBA All-Star, a seven-time All-NBA selection, a two-time NBA All-Star Game MVP, and the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2001. He was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year during the 1996-1997 season. He also averaged 26.7 points per game during the regular-season, giving him the sixth highest average all-time, and scored 29 points per game during the playoffs.

With those numbers, there is no doubt that Iverson is a Hall-of-Famer, possibly on the first ballot. He was arguably one of the best little men to play the game along with guys like Nate “Tiny” Archibald, Isaiah Thomas and Bob Cousy.

“I don’t think anybody would dispute that,” said Theo Ratliff, Iverson’s Sixers teammate during the 2001 season. “A guy that put up the numbers and do what he did throughout his career at 160 pounds and being one of the best scorers to ever play the game, you can’t beat that.”

Of course, Philly sports fans no doubt remember how Iverson led the Sixers on a magical run to the NBA Finals. Though the Sixers would lose in five games to the Los Angeles Lakers, Iverson played well, especially in game one of that series when he scored 48 points and hit that memorable jump shot over Lakers guard Tyronn Lue who leapt to block the shot.

During his retirement press conference, Iverson said he was glad to have had the opportunity to play in Philadelphia and  be mentioned in the same discussion with greats like Dr. J.  In the times that Iverson has made appearances at the Wells Fargo, the roar of the crowd is the same when Erving is in the building.

“When I think about Philly fans, that’s what I think about. I always wanted them to treat me the same way they treat him when he comes home,” he said. “When people tell me that it’s Doc and it’s A-I when you talk about Philly basketball that’s like one of the biggest compliments someone can give you. You put my name in the same sentence as Doc. That’s why this day is so special because of things like that.”

Iverson’s years in Philadelphia didn’t come without its share of controversy or vitriol. Aside from the braids and tattoos, people didn’t  like the company he kept, the way he partied and caroused, or his inability to take criticism from his coaches and the media. He also had his brushes with the law, most notably an incident involving his now ex-wife Tawanna. There were more than a few people in the community who thought him to be rude and arrogant.

And then there was 2002’s press conference that rocketed him into the Jim Mora stratosphere of sports-related meltdowns with the line “We’re talkin’ ‘bout practice!”

Iverson acknowledged all of that and admitted that some of the criticism hurt, especially when his kids heard it.

But through it all, Iverson said he has no regrets about his time as a basketball player in Philadelphia.

“It’s easy to say I wish I would have did it this way. I can’t go back and rewind it and do it all over again,” Iverson said. “I’m happy with the way I’ve done it because it taught me a lot.  To answer the question, no I don’t regret anything. If I could take back all the mistakes I made throughout my career, I would have missed no shots, I would have made no turnovers, I would have gone right instead of going left. I would have got on I-76 at 4 o’clock instead of five…

“I don’t regret it because it was blessing to get me here to the point to where I can retire. …Coming from Newport News, Va. what more could you ask for? My family is taken care of for the rest of their lives. What do you mean, regrets?”

Stuck in Reverse: Eagles Offense Dismal in Loss to Giants

27 Oct

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Eagles quarterback Matt Barkley (left) looks up at Giants linebacker Jacquian Williams, who recovered his fumble late in the second quarter. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles quarterback Matt Barkley (left) looks up at Giants linebacker Jacquian Williams, who recovered his fumble late in the second quarter. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—The first half of the Monday night season-opener against the Washington Redskins seems like a distant memory for the Eagles offense.

Chip Kelly’s high-scoring, fast-paced offense that transformed the Oregon Ducks into a national powerhouse at the collegiate level, has simply not worked game in and game out at the pro level.  While it has compiled yardage, it has been inconsistent.

The Eagles 15-7 loss to the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday was another example of an offense that is stuck in a quagmire and going nowhere fast.  The Birds offense has scored just three points in their last eight quarters and could only muster 201 yards against the Giants defense.

The only points came via special teams late in the fourth quarter when Giants long snapper Zak DeOssie sailed the ball over the head of punter Steve Weatherford.  Eagles reserve linebacker Najee Goode recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

Meanwhile, the Eagles defense had another solid outing while the offense struggled. The Birds did not allow a touchdown and held the Giants (2-6) to five Josh Brown field goals.

For the second straight week, the Eagles offense could not generate points. They lost starting quarterback Michael Vick who re-aggravated his left hamstring and was ineffective when he was on the field.  He was 6-of-9 passing for 31 yards with one interception. Vick left the game for good early in the second quarter.

With backup quarterback Nick Foles recovering from concussion symptoms, rookie Matt Barkley was pressed into service as the Birds quarterback for the rest of the game.  Although he showed flashes of brilliance, Barkley played like a rookie quarterback.  Good on some plays and terrible on others.   He completed 17-of-26 passes for 158 yards with an interception and a fumble. Barkley was sacked three times.

Ironically, it was when Barkley was at his best that he made the most egregious mistake of the game for the Eagles.  The former USC star drove the Birds from their own 20 to the New York two-yard line. On first and goal, Barkley was sacked at the Giants 14 by cornerback Terrell Thomas, who jarred the ball loose.  New York linebacker Jacuian Williams recovered the ball at the Giants 12.

“I saw (DeSean) Jackson first and it looked too close to throw it to him, so I was going through my second progression and was about to throw it away and (Thomas) just got there a second too early,” Barkley said.

That was as close as the Eagles (3-5) would come to scoring an offensive touchdown for the rest of the game.

Barkley’s fumble had folks questioning why Kelly would pass the ball that deep in Giants territory with a rookie quarterback when they have running back LeSean McCoy in the backfield.

Granted, McCoy gained just 48 yards on 15 carries for the game. You would think with a back as good as McCoy the Eagles would be able to get two yards on two carries deep inside the red zone even on a day when he was struggling.

“That was the play I called,” Kelly said. “It didn’t work. So obviously, it didn’t work. But we know in that situation, we’re first and goal and we talked about it.  If we don’t have it, let’s throw it way and we’ll go the next time.”
The only thing Barkley threw away in that sequence was a golden opportunity to put points on the board.

Kelly said inconsistency at the quarterback position, among other things, has been the reason the team has struggled offensively in the last couple of weeks.

“Yeah I think we’ve had some instability at the quarterback position,” Kelly said. “It starts with me. I’m the play caller. I’m the guy calling the plays. In the last two weeks, I haven’t done a very good job of it.  Until we can get that straightened out, the disappointing thing is I think our defense played a really, really good football game again today. They’ve really come along.

“But offensively, we haven’t done what we need to do to win two football games and we need to get that fixed.”

















Flyers End Four-Game Slide With Win over the Rangers

25 Oct
Matt Read put the Flyers on the period with an unassisted goal in the first period.

Matt Read put the Flyers on the board with an unassisted goal in the first period.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—Never mind that the New York Rangers are missing several players from their starting lineup and that they are among the worst teams in the NHL (3-6), the Flyers were desperate for a win over anybody.

This is definitely true for a Flyers (2-7-0) squad that has had trouble scoring more than one goal in most of their games this year.  They have yet to score more than two in their first nine games of the season.

Suffice it to say, the Flyers 2-1 win over the Rangers Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center was progress or at least a step in the right direction.

Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn scored what turned out the winning goal with 16:27 left in the third period when he took a pass from Matt Read at the point and shot it past New York goalie Cam Talbot.  Head coach Craig Berube said he was glad to see his team score enough goals to get their second victory of the season-his first as the Flyers coach.

“Getting a win is the most important thing obviously,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “Wins are wins in this league. You play games where you play really well and you don’t win. You’ll play games where you play average or not so good and you win. It’s good for the confidence. That’s what we play for is to win hockey games.”

The goal scorers for the Flyers were not the guys from the team’s top scoring lines. But when you’ve been in a sweltering desert of not putting the puck in the net, you’re happy to get a goal from just about anybody.

The Flyers will definitely take Read’s short-handed, breakaway goal midway through the first period.  He separated the puck from Rangers center Derick Brassard near center ice and streaked in front of Talbot and shot the puck through the five-hole (between his legs) for the goal.

“You always know the length of the pads these days, that five hole’s always open, so you just sit tight and shoot it in the five-hole,” said Read, who also had an assist on Coburn’s game-winning goal.

Meanwhile, Steve Mason had another brilliant in goal for the Flyers with 30 saves. For him, it was an effort that didn’t go to waste because the offense didn’t score enough goals. The Rangers only score of the game came on a goal by center Brad Richards late in the first period.

“You just have to ready for anything,” Mason said. “You know the next save could be the turning point in the game. I think (Cam) Talbot made a huge save coming across on Brayden (Coburn) and that could have swung the momentum in their direction. But it was my job just to make the saves.”

It also helps to have a few breaks go your way as well.  Midway through the third period, an apparent game-tying goal by Rangers center J.T. Miller was overturned by the replay officials, who ruled that the puck was kicked into the net.

“It was a kicking motion, I knew it right away,” Mason said.

But there are still some areas of concern for the Flyers. They were 0-for-4 in the power play including a five-minute power play that came when Rangers left winger Benoit Pouliot hit center Max Talbot and pushed him into the boards.  Pouliot was given a game misconduct and ejected.

“For some reason, it’s not going in right now, but you have slumps like that during an 82-game season,” said Flyers captain Claude Giroux. “The last three years our power play has been the top of the league. We just have to keep working on it and it will come.”

Meanwhile, Talbot, with a band-aid on his nose, was back on the ice in the third period. He said he was checked by doctors and was eventually allowed to get back in the game.

“Not disoriented. It’s a weird feeling obviously,” Talbot said. “I don’t wish that on anybody. No symptoms (concussion), no headaches or anything.”





Tired of Being Sick and Tired: How Grambling State University Failed its Students

24 Oct

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Photos of worn out equipment at Grambling's athletic facilities. Photo was taken by the Gramblinite.

Pictures of a worn out floor inside Grambling’s athletic facility. Photo was taken by the Gramblinite and was posted on Twitter.

As a graduate of Morgan State University, a historically Black University in my native Baltimore, I found myself watching intently as the saga at Grambling State University played itself out.

The school’s football team decided to boycott their scheduled game with Jackson State University to protest the horrid conditions under which they were expected to play and practice.

Among those conditions were mold and mildew in the weight and the locker rooms, uniforms cleaned so poorly that some players had to fight staph infections, and having to take long trips to places like Indiana and Missouri by bus while administrators got plane tickets for themselves.

The players were also upset about the firing of head coach, and Grambling University icon, Doug Williams, who raised funds to renovate the athletic facilities that the university, inexplicably, turned down. The team returned to practice because Williams, who talked to a local businessman who has pledged assistance to the football team, asked them to do it.

But that wasn’t the only thing I kept my eye on. As a journalist, I kept my eye on how this was being covered in the school’s media. Two editors from the school’s newspaper The Gramblinite, Kimberly Monroe and David Lankster Sr. were sanctioned by the university for posting photos illustrating the poor conditions that the football team was protesting on Twitter and for being perceived as taking part in the protests. The Gramblinite was also criticized for using anonymous sources to report the story.

Worn out equipment was among the complaints of Grambling's football team. Photo by the Gramblinite.

Worn out equipment was among the complaints of Grambling’s football team. Photo by the Gramblinite.

(That last critique was leveled by a former president of the National Association of Black Journalists, but I’ll get into that later. )

If you looked up the phrase “glaring lack of leadership” in the dictionary and didn’t see the situation at Grambling as part of the definition, I’d have to ask you to get another one. Between the infighting, and the bad behavior on the part of the adults who are charged with looking out for the welfare of the football team and The Gramblinite staff, this was a red-hot mess.

Let’s start with the athletic facilities themselves. Because of cuts to the athletic program, Williams reached out to fellow Grambling athletes including James “Shack” Harris to ask for money to make the necessary repairs to the weight room floor. But because he didn’t go through what the University perceived as the “proper channels”, the university didn’t take the money.

Now Grambling President Frank Pogue and Athletic Director Aaron James, the folks that were taking the plane to those far away games while the actual players had to go to on the bus, decided that instead of working with Williams and his alumni partners to find a solution, they’d fire Williams instead.

Without explaining it to the players.

Something that made this group of students, a group that was already kind of close to its boiling point with Grambling administration because 1,700-mile bus rides will make anyone cranky, even more so.

So they refused to get on the bus to go to Jackson State last Friday. And gave ESPN’s Pedro Gomez a letter explaining why. The University finally listened…but not until everyone from Bill Rhoden of The New York Times to Roland Martin of TVOne began seating Grambling students in their interview chairs.

Meanwhile, the students at The Gramblinite did what any school’s student-run newspaper should do when in the center of a story like this…they reported the story.

Like any media outlet these days, The Gramblinite used social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram to tell the story in real time. The paper posted photos of the conditions on Twitter to confirm what they got from the anonymous sources that spoke to them…which is what you’re supposed to do.

But Grambling’s Director of Communications Will Sutton chastised the students publicly for something that he wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow about during his days as a reporter. Sutton, a past president of NABJ who worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the News and Observer in Raleigh, N.C. before coming to Grambling, used Twitter to reprimand the students for posting the photos and using unnamed sources.

“@thegramblinite Are you serious? “Unidentified”? Really? Step up and be identified and stop hiding, or don’t use them as sources.”

Now most people who put themselves out there as anonymous sources do so because being public could lead to repercussions. Isn’t the reason you protect unnamed sources to make sure there is no retaliation, i.e. a person gets fired or gets kicked out of school?

The fact that the student journalists were called on the carpet was more about not wanting Grambling’s dirty laundry on the front lawn than it was about the violation of university rules.

And besides, it’s illegal, said Frank LoMonte, the executive director of the Student Press Law Center.

“Public university employees can’t use their governmental authority to punish journalists for their editorial content, period,” LoMonte told the Maynard Center for Journalism Education in an interview.

While Grambling officials can point to drastic budget cuts by Louisiana’s Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal as a factor because they’ve forced the school to do more with less and a lack of alumni giving for the problems with the football team, the bottom line is that this walkout happened due to a lack of respect, not a lack of financing.

The adults in any situation are supposed to know better.

Too bad that in this case, very few did.

Vick Says He’s Close, But Not There Yet

22 Oct

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Michael Vick says he's close to being ready to play in Sunday's game against the Giants. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Michael Vick says he’s close to being ready to play in Sunday’s game against the Giants.  NIck Foles is going through the NFL’s concussion protocol. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Just when you thought the Eagles quarterback situation for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants would be clearer, it is still up in the air.

Earlier in the day, reported that a source close to the team said Michael Vick, who is recovering from a sore left hamstring, would be ready for Sunday’s game against the Giants.  At his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Vick said he wasn’t sure about starting on Sunday.

“I wish I could give you a definite answer on that, but I can’t right now,” Vick said. “At some point this week, I’ll test it out and see what it feels like. But I have to give it a go, but I just don’t want to do it this early in the week.”

Vick said his left hamstring was getting better with each passing day, but he didn’t want to rush the healing process.   He said the knot that was in the hamstring is gradually going away.

“It’s progressed quickly and it’s gotten better each and everyday,” Vick said. “I just don’t want to lose sight of what’s gotten me to this point. I don’t want to re-aggravate it. I want to continue with my progress. I don’t want to regress.

“Whenever I can do things without thinking about it, that’s when I’ll be able to make that determination.”

Teammate DeSean Jackson said Vick has been really pushing hard in the last few weeks to get back on the field to help the Eagles offense.

“I feel that Mike is doing a great job of preparing himself to play a game,” Jackson said. “As far as he’ll be ready or not, I can’t answer that question. He’s been out here practicing and he’s been practicing last week as well, too. I think he’s ready, sooner or later, we’ll find out who the quarterback will be.”

Oddly enough, Vick said it was third-string quarterback Matt Barkley took the first-team reps during Tuesday’s practice. That might be a smoke screen to confuse how the Giants prepare the game-plan to attack the Eagles offense.

“We put together a plan that fits all the quarterbacks, so it’s not like we’re all the way over here if we say Nick’s playing or all the way over here if Mike is playing. We put together a plan that fits all our quarterbacks,” said Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.

With Nick Foles going through the NFL’s concussion protocol, there is the possibility that he won’t play on Sunday as well.

Vick said Foles condition doesn’t mean he’s going to rush his healing process just to regain the starting position.

“It’s a very delicate situation, you want to get back out there, you want to play and you want to help your teammates,” Vick said. “That’s what’s eating me up on the inside right now. I wish I can tell you that it’s going to speed up the recovery process. I just got to put it all in God’s hands.”

Later in the press conference, a reporter asked Vick if the game were on Thursday, would he be on the field in uniform, ready to start.

“We’ll see. I’m optimistic about it,” Vick said.

One of the things Vick said he would like to do differently this week if he does start is to focus on his stretching routine.

“I understand that stretching more than anything gives your muscles more endurance,” he said. “Sometimes, you’re so eager and so excited to get out to the game that you forget the small things and you can’t forget about the small things that’s gotten me to the point to where I am now as a 12-year veteran.”





Health Will Determine Who Starts at QB For Birds Against The Giants

21 Oct

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said he has to see where his quarterbacks are in terms of their health before naming a starter. Photo by Webster Riddick

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said he has to see where his quarterbacks are in terms of their health before naming a starter. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—At his weekly day-after game press conference, Eagles head coach Chip Kelly didn’t name a starting quarterback for next Sunday’s game against the New York Giants.

It all depends upon who comes up healthy. As it stands now, Nick Foles was diagnosed with a concussion after taking a hard sack from Cowboys defensive ends George Selvie and Jarius Wynn. He is currently undergoing the NFL’s concussion protocol.

“I saw Nick after the game last night,” Kelly said. “He seems like he’s doing well. There is a protocol and a system that you have to go through before he’s cleared.”

Meanwhile, Kelly gave no indication as to whether or not Michael Vick, who has been rehabbing his sore left hamstring, will be ready to start this Sunday. He said Vick told him before the Dallas game that his hamstring was progressing.

“Mike did workout before the game and said he feels like he’s moving in the right direction, so it will be interesting to see where he is from the standpoint of coming in here and running around a little bit (Tuesday) morning in terms of warm-up with the strength and conditioning staff and how that goes,” Kelly said.

“It’s all based on what his health is. I’m not going to put Mike out there if Mike can’t be productive. We’ve listened to Mike the whole time so we’ll continue to listen to Mike. Just because someone else gets hurt that doesn’t make another guy get healthy quicker. Hopefully, we can get Mike back. Just because of Nick’s injury we’re not going to force that.”

If Vick or Foles are unable to play against the Giants, it is likely that third-string quarterback Matt Barkley could get his first start as a pro.  The team will also have to bring in another back-up via the waiver wire. In Sunday’s game against the Cowboys, Barkley was thrown into the wolves after Foles left the game and was 11-for-20 for 129 yard with three interceptions in a space of nine minutes.

“It’s Matt first time getting in the game, we’re down 17-3, we’re going to throw it every snap to see if we can somehow make it a 17-10 game and see if we can get an onside kick,” Kelly said.  “A difficult situation for him to come in. I’m sure he wants those throws back.”

Looking back at the loss to Dallas, the offense simply was not in sync at all and could not find any kind of rhythm. That was due mainly to poor execution by the offense.

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles struggled in the loss to Dallas. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles struggled in the loss to Dallas. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Before leaving the game with a concussion, Foles struggled big time. He completed just 11 of his 29 passes for just 80 yards. He was missing open receivers and held on to the ball too long at times.

“There were a lot of throws where he just didn’t set his feet the way he set his feet,” Kelly said. “You drop, set your feet, throw the ball and get the ball out.  When we get a chance to visit with him and Bill Lazor (quarterbacks coach) gets a chance to visit with him, we’ll sit down, watch the film and go through what was going on with him at that point in time.”

Kelly said while Foles was off in the game, it was a combination of other things as well.

“There were times when guys were open that we didn’t get the ball on him,” Kelly said. “There were other times when we didn’t get off coverage and there was a couple of times that we gave up too much leakage pressure, so he’s not being able to set his feet.”

To be sure, the Eagles offensive woes weren’t all on the quarterback. The Birds running game definitely wasn’t very good either. LeSean McCoy struggled to find running room. He gained just 55 yards on 18 carries while averaging just 3.1 yards per carry.

“I don’t think, as offensive weapons, we gave him much of a chance,” McCoy said after the game. “There are plays that we should have made, there are plays that I should have made, to help him out. If you look down the line, I bet guys would say the same things about themselves. We just didn’t give him a shot. I think that Nick is a heck of a player. He’s a good leader. We just let him down.”

Birds Defense Plays Well in Loss to Dallas

21 Oct

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Eagles cornerback Cary Williams reaches out to stop Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant.  Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles cornerback Cary Williams reaches out to stop Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—The Eagles defense did something to the Dallas Cowboys offense that the Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins couldn’t do in the last two weeks.

They held Tony Romo and the Cowboys high-powered offense to under 20 points. That was the good news for the Birds defense. Of course, the bad news was that the offense provided little to no help and could only come away with a field goal in the Eagles 17-3 loss to Dallas at Lincoln Financial Field.

“All we know was that we had a game plan and we were going to execute that plan to the best of our ability and we did,” said defensive tackle Vinny Curry, who sacked Romo in the second quarter.

The Birds put pressure on Romo, sacking him twice and intercepting him twice. They held him to 69.2-passer rating.  He completed 28-of-47 passes for passes 317 yards with one touchdown pass.

The Eagles defense knew that players like wide receiver Dez Bryant, who had eight catches for 110 yards and no touchdowns, were going to put up numbers. They also figured that tight end Jason Witten was going to work the middle of the field. The Cowboys tight end caught four passes for 48 yards.

“I thought our guys did a nice job,” said Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis. “(Dallas’) strength is their pass receivers and their quarterback. I thought our guys took a big step. They didn’t stop them, but it’s a very potent offense. They can put 45 on you real easy.

“I thought the pressure was better. I thought the coverage was tight. I thought I was going to give more doubles to Dez Bryant, but I didn’t have to. The corners did a nice job of handling them.”

The defense limited the Cowboy to a pair of touchdowns. That should have been enough for the Eagles to come out of the game with a win. But the offense didn’t do their part and it wasted what was probably the Eagles best defensive performance of the year.

“Anytime our defense plays that well we should win,” said Eagles center Jason Kelce.

“If you ask me before any game if our defense holds anybody to 17 points, we’re going to win or lose, I’ll tell you we’re going to win.”

In the fourth quarter, the Eagles defense put the offense in position to make the game close thanks to an interception by middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans. With the Bird trailing 10-0 and the Cowboy looking to add more, the defense pressured Romo into throwing the pick.

“(The defense) was talking about getting some momentum and getting a turnover, and I was fortunate enough to come down with it,” said Ryans, who had one of the two sacks of Romo. “I was looking forward to it giving us some momentum and flipping it to our side.”

Unfortunately, the Eagles offense could only muster a field goal.  On the Cowboys next possession, Romo led them on a 10-play, 72-yard drive that ended with a nine-yard TD pass to Terrance Williams.

When your offense is not helping you even the best defense is going to give up a score late in the game. It is akin to a pitcher in baseball having a good outing without run support.

The only solace the Eagles defense can take from this game is that they are getting better as a unit. For three straight weeks they have not allowed a team to score more than 21 points in a game.

“Guys know what they can and can’t do and you see how good we’re getting,” Ryans said. “Even though this was a solid outing, we still have some things to work on.”