The temperature on Lincoln Financial Field yesterday reached 67, and it was 62 at kickoff, the hottest Dec. 28 in Philadelphia on record.

It was considerably hotter in the Cowboys' corner of the stadium.

Suddenly, the Cowboys - Super Bowl contenders on Thanksgiving Day - find themselves in the position the Eagles held 5 weeks ago.

Is this team soundly constructed? Is this coaching staff in charge? In control?

Owner Jerry Jones said, generally, yes.

For the third time in as many months, he insisted that coach Wade Phillips will return.

"We will not be changing our coaching," Jones said.

It might not be coaching.

It might be core.

Jones pursued the addition of outlaw Adam "Pacman" Jones in the offseason. In the season finale - a season in which Pacman missed seven of 16 games due to suspension after a 2007 seasonlong ban - Pacman fumbled a kickoff return and committed a personal-foul penalty. The mistakes led to 10 Eagles points.

In October, Jones traded a first-round pick in 2009 and two later picks in 2010 for receiver Roy Williams, then signed Williams to a 5-year, $45 million deal. Williams caught 19 passes in nine games as a Cowboy, two of them yesterday.

Tony Romo, the swashbuckler many wish McNabb still was, fumbled twice and threw an interception. Jones extended Romo's contract in October 2007. Romo has been so-so since, and atrocious in the two Decembers: a 58.0 completion percentage, eight touchdowns, 11 interceptions, a 69.0 passer rating.

Yesterday, he wept. He might have fainted in the locker room after the game; he declined to address that allegation.

Jones recently questioned the toughness of achy-toed Marion Barber, the physical sort of back many Eagles faithful covet. Yesterday, Barber fumbled on the Eagles' 4 and Joselio Hanson raced for a touchdown.

Romo quit that chase at the Cowboys' 20.

Later, Phillips quit at the Eagles' 24. Midway through the fourth quarter, trailing by 41 – that's right, 41 – and with his starters still on the field, Phillips kicked a field goal.

Which cut the deficit to 38.

It was a ragged, odious effort by a team with a playoff berth within its grasp. The Cowboys kicked off - out of bounds.

"It was a disaster from the opening kickoff," said Phillips, shell-shocked.

"We just kind of stunk it up," said former Eagles pariah Terrell Owens, who, himself, was magnificent: six catches, 103 yards.

"I am about every way you can [be] embarrassed," Jerry Jones said.

Warmly. *