Andy Reid looked and sounded like a man sitting at a World Series of Poker table.
His answers were short, less revealing than usual - that's saying something for him, too - and often accompanied by a smile that could be perceived as nervous or confident, depending upon who was doing the interpretation.
The Eagles' head coach knows the enormous stakes when his team plays the Cowboys on Sunday inside the new mega-palace of Dallas owner Jerry Jones. Reid dislikes hype with the same amount of fervor as he loves cheeseburgers.
But this game is the NFL's marquee matchup of the final week of the season, and if the Eagles can win it, they get the luxury of a bye week as the second seed and a home game in the second round of the playoffs, not to mention their sixth NFC East title in nine years.
Four No. 2 seeds - New England (2001, 2004), Tampa Bay (2002) and Pittsburgh (2008) - have won the Super Bowl in this decade, which is more than any of the other seeds.
"That's what is going to make this a great game," Reid said. "Both teams have something at stake. That's why we do this thing as coaches and players, for opportunities like this. Everybody will be fired up for it."
After Reid's news conference Monday at the NovaCare Complex, he met with a small group of reporters in a hallway, and his answers about the Cowboys remained short. During the Eagles' six-game winning streak, the coach has made a habit of entertaining extra questions in that hallway, but he had done so quite comfortably.
Things were different this week. Reid knows that the Cowboys are good.
"I think they're playing on a high level on defense," Reid said. "They're coming off a shutout. Offensively, their pass game is even more efficient than what it was before. They're running the ball well, and . . . they're doing a nice job with special teams by keeping people in bad field position."
If you carefully examine the Eagles and Cowboys, you'll find that they are two of the most evenly matched teams in the NFL.
The Eagles are ranked third in points scored with 429; The Cowboys are third in points allowed with 250. The Eagles have outscored their opponents by 116 points. The Cowboys have outscored their opponents by 87. The Eagles are 4-3 against teams with winning records. The Cowboys are 3-5.
The Eagles' Donovan McNabb, who missed two games earlier in the season with fractured ribs, averages 256 passing yards and 1.7 touchdowns per game. His passer rating is 94.5. Dallas' Tony Romo averages 278 passing yards per game and 1.6 touchdowns. His passer rating is 97.0.
DeSean Jackson is the Eagles' top receiver with 60 catches for 1,120 yards and 9 touchdowns. Miles Austin leads the Cowboys' receiving corps with 74 catches for 1,230 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Neither was particularly explosive in the first meeting between the teams.
Jackson was held to just two catches for 29 yards when Dallas held on for a 20-16 victory at Lincoln Financial Field. Austin had just one catch, but it was a 49-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that broke a 13-13 tie.
Cowboys tight end Jason Witten has 88 catches for 954 yards and one touchdown. Eagles tight end Brent Celek has 69 catches for 875 yards and eight touchdowns. Defensively, the Cowboys have 32 sacks, including 11 by roving outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware. The Eagles have 37 sacks, including 12½ by defensive end Trent Cole.
If the Eagles have a vast advantage, it's in the turnover department. They are tied for second with 37 takeaways and second overall with a plus-15 turnover differential. The Cowboys have just 20 takeaways and are tied for 14th with a plus-2 turnover differential.
The last time the teams met, however, the Eagles managed just one interception and couldn't capitalize for a score. The Cowboys intercepted McNabb twice and cashed in for 10 points.
The turnover department could likely be the deciding factor again.
Extra points. The Eagles promoted Dallas Reynolds from the practice squad yesterday after placing Jamaal Jackson on injured reserve. Reynolds, 6-foot-4 and 314 pounds, had been listed as a guard on the practice squad, but the Eagles listed him as a center after he signed yesterday. The undrafted rookie played all five offensive-line positions at Brigham Young, including center his senior season. . . . Safety Brandon Harrison replaced Reynolds on the practice squad. He was with the Eagles during training camp. The Eagles added an offensive lineman to the practice squad Monday when they brought back Episcopal Academy's Greg Isdaner. He replaced safety Reshard Langford, who signed with Kansas City.