Aikman's appraisal

Here is reason No. 7,692 that you can tell it hasn't been a good season for the Eagles: Fox's top broadcast team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman worked their first Eagles game of the season Sunday.

Aikman had some interesting comments late in the first quarter.

"I'd be the first to tell you that Donovan [McNabb] has not played very well," Aikman said. "In fact, he would admit that . . . and, yet, these wide receivers, you watch them and . . . Kevin Curtis should be your third guy. Reggie Brown should be your third or fourth guy, and when they're your first and second, you're not going to threaten a lot of people on the outside."

McNabb's day

The most obvious evidence that McNabb has regained his mobility after surgery on his right knee came on his runs of 17 and 28 yards in the first half.

Equally as important, however, is his ability to move from the pocket and make throws downfield, which was what made him such a great quarterback in 2004 when the Eagles went to the Super Bowl. He showed that ability on the Eagles' opening series when he stepped away from pressure from defensive end Jason Hatcher and dumped the football to Brian Westbrook for a first down on a third-and-7 play.

McNabb's 17-yard run was an instinctive one. As he felt pressure from nose tackle Jay Ratliff, he took off up the middle of the field. It became a 32-yard play when Roy Williams was penalized 15 yards for his trademark horse-collar tackle.

On the 28-yard run that set up the Eagles' only touchdown, McNabb made a great move on safety Patrick Watkins to pick up an additional 10 yards.

Faced with a third-and-4 situation on the final play of the first quarter, McNabb found Kevin Curtis on his left for a first down just before being hit by Terrence Newman, who came untouched on a cornerback blitz.

The quarterback was particularly sharp on the Eagles' second-half drive that resulted in a field goal. His throw to rookie tight end Brent Celek that helped to milk the final 2 minutes, 50 seconds off the clock in the fourth quarter was sensational.

True story

If you don't believe Brian Westbrook when he says Jon Runyan instructed him to take a knee before going into the end zone on his final run of the game, go back and watch the play. You'll see Runyan motioning with his left hand for his teammate to go down as he breaks into the open. It's hilarious.

Great stunt

The stunt that defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley ran to register his fourth-quarter sack of Tony Romo was brilliant. He looped around Mike Patterson and was never touched by a Cowboys offensive lineman before he flattened Romo for an 8-yard loss. It was Bunkley's second sack of the season and it made you wonder why he doesn't get to rush the passer more.

Wasted challenges

The Cowboys and Eagles both wasted replay challenges and cost themselves time-outs. Dallas coach Wade Phillips should have had better knowledge of the reception rule before challenging Sam Hurd's dropped pass on the Cowboys' first offensive series.

The Eagles returned the favor in the second quarter when they essentially used two time-outs to challenge the ruling of a fumble after Quintin Mikell made a series of bad decisions following the interception of a Romo pass 8 yards deep in the end zone. The first time-out was understandable because the Cowboys were rushing to get a play off and the Eagles wanted time to review the replay. After they saw the replay, however, they should not have challenged the call because it was clear that Mikell had fumbled after being hit by backup tight end Tony Curtis.

Memo to Marty

Dear Marty Mornhinweg, here's some free advice: You don't have to entirely discard the flea-flicker play, but bury it at the bottom of the playbook for a while because it hasn't worked much this season.

When the Eagles ran it in the first quarter, nobody blocked a blitzing Bradie James. The Cowboys linebacker sacked McNabb for a 7-yard loss.

Comical return

This is meant as no offense to Reno Mahe, who probably would have won the Eagles a game on opening day in Green Bay if he had been the punt returner, but it is amazing to watch the difference between him and Westbrook returning punts. Westbrook showed an explosive first step when he returned the first punt of the game by Mat McBriar. Mahe, on the other hand, showed no explosion and ran into teammate Jason Avant after a 4-yard return on McBriar's second punt. In fact, it appeared as if Avant made the tackle on the play because he started to wrap his arms around Mahe.

nolead begins

Funniest moments

The funniest moment by far came midway through the second quarter when Fox panned in on a young lady in a Cowboys Santa hat with a blue star painted on her face and a sign that instructed quarterback Tony Romo to forget about Jessica Simpson and marry her. Fox then showed a split screen of the young lady and Simpson in her pink-and-white Romo jersey. Apparently the things that Romo has to deal with in Dallas are a little different than the things Donovan McNabb has to handle in Philadelphia.

Runner-up for funniest moment: Brown's trip into the giant red Salvation Army kettle.

- Bob Brookover