The Eagles' offense had exploded. Now they needed to grind.
With 4 minutes, 22 seconds left in Sunday night's game, the Eagles sat on a three-point lead and wanted to kill the clock. On the ensuing drive they used the same blocking scheme six consecutive times to pick up four first downs and prevent the Cowboys from getting the ball back.
The drive was an impressive display of blocking and running, though the Eagles' pass protection is still a problem that could hinder their aspirations.
After reviewing video, here are moments when the Eagles' blockers shined and others when they didn't do enough:
After a pass to begin their final drive, the Eagles started their muscular running sequence with 3:36 left in the game. They faced a second-and-4 at their own 16-yard line.
The Eagles set up tight ends Brent Celek and Clay Harbor on the left side of their offensive line. At the snap, Celek and wide receiver Jason Avant took on the linebacker on the left. Tackle Jason Peters also blocked the defensive end on that side to the left. The nose tackle - Jay Ratliff - was pushed right by center Mike McGlynn and guard Todd Herremans, opening a hole.
LeSean McCoy charged through the opening for 12 yards and a first down.
Harbor went from left to right to block a linebacker on the backside of the play.
On the next five plays, the Eagles used the same formation, only with Harbor and Celek on the right side of the offense. On first and 10, Peters and Herremans pushed the defensive end on the Eagles' left to the inside, while Harbor came from right to left to seal linebacker DeMarcus Ware to the outside, again creating a crease for McCoy.
McCoy made a third straight first-down run on the next play with the same blocks, but this time he cut right.
Jerome Harrison got into the act, and then Michael Vick, using the same scheme, faked to McCoy and ran himself for nine.
On the ensuing third-and-1, Dallas needed a stop to have any chance to tie the game. Again, Peters and Herremans blocked the Cowboys' linemen from left to right - toward the inside of the field - leaving only Ware on the outside to make a stop on the left. Harbor came across the backfield from right to left and blocked Ware. McCoy shot through the gap for six yards. Game over.
"The play that we were calling, I just didn't really know anything that they could adjust to to stop it, and [McCoy's] just making great reads right now and hitting it hard," Herremans said after the game. "They knew we were running the ball, and we were able to keep gaining yards, and those first downs were huge."
The Eagles allowed pressure on Vick in a variety of ways: odd blocking assignments, confusion caused by Dallas, and simply losing one-on-one match ups.
On a first down in the second quarter, the Eagles had seven blockers against five pass rushers. But on a rollout, fullback Owen Schmitt was assigned to block Ware, a pass-rushing star, on the backside of the play. It was a bad matchup reminiscent of a play against the Bears on which Julius Peppers was unblocked. Ware easily shoved Schmitt down and hammered Vick from behind.
On another play, the Eagles had seven blockers against six rushers. But with two tight ends on Ware, he easily beat them and forced Vick into pressure.
The Cowboys fooled the offensive line on a third-quarter third down. Defensive end Jason Hatcher lined up over tackle King Dunlap but attacked inside. Both Dunlap and guard Max Jean-Gilles blocked Hatcher, allowing cornerback Orlando Scandrick to come from outside untouched and force Vick into an incomplete pass.
On the Eagles' first drive, DeMarcus Ware beat Jason Peters to the inside to force Vick to abandon a pass and scramble. Anthony Spencer used a similar move against Peters in the second quarter to pressure Vick into an interception.
Even Herremans, who had a strong game overall, was victimized. Ratliff simply worked through the guard for a third-quarter sack.
The Eagles' running game was promising Sunday. Their protection, with games against the Giants and Cowboys remaining, is still worrisome.