ARLINGTON, Texas - From the Eagles' standpoint, Lady Luck turned into a runaway bride before the Dallas-Indianapolis game even started Sunday, and it didn't get any better as the Cowboys won, 42-7, eliminating the Eagles from playoff contention.
First, Indianapolis announced that wide receiver T.Y. Hilton would miss the game because of a hamstring injury. Then, the Colts had the Cowboys stopped on their first possession, but a taunting penalty by linebacker Jerrell Freeman kept the drive alive, leading to a Dallas touchdown.
Next, facing fourth and 11 on their own 19, the Colts faked the punt, and kicker Pat McAfee passed the ball into the hands of Dewey McDonald, who was wide open at the 35. But McDonald dropped the ball, giving Dallas a short field and leading to another score.
From there, it all unraveled. It was dropped balls and untimely penalties for Indianapolis, a passing-yards record for Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, and broken hearts in Philadelphia.
"Obviously, it's a very emotional locker room," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. "In so many ways this is such a long journey, and to get to a point to achieve your first goal of winning the division title, a lot goes into that. The way you play in securing that matters, and we played really well."
"You always want to get off to a fast start," Romo said. "That helps you in any game that you are going to play. It doesn't always happen, but to have the opportunity to go out there and make them semi-one-dimensional helps everybody."
The Cowboys got their first shot of adrenaline when running back DeMarco Murray said he would play, broken hand be darned.
"I'm not going to lie; there was a lot of doubt that he would play," said receiver Dez Bryant, who caught five passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. "But I'm his boy, so I knew he was going to play. He's an animal! He's a beast! It's what beasts do."
Murray responded with 58 yards and a touchdown.
"This day with DeMarco Murray is going to be one that I'll never forget," Garrett said. "The mind-set and the mentality he had. Starting in the locker room last week, on the plane ride, I saw him the next day, after the surgery. Talked to him that night. He didn't waver. 'I'm playing, Coach. I'm playing, Coach.' "
The broken hand "was hurting throughout the game, but I made up my mind a long time ago I was going to play," Murray said. "So I was so happy to be out there and happy to do whatever I can to contribute to this team, and it was awesome to win."
Romo, who eclipsed Troy Aikman for first on the Cowboys' all-time passing-yards list, called Murray's decision to play "incredible."
"Make no mistake, that was an uncomfortable thing he had to go through tonight," Romo said. "I'm just proud of him. He is exactly what you want from a running back. Emotionally, he has the right temperament. He is the ultimate team guy that you want to have."
A case could be made that every Dallas player on the team was like that on Sunday.
"It's just great to be part of this group," offensive lineman Zack Martin said. "Hats off to everyone in the locker room - the players, the coaches - but it's a special feeling to be part of it all."
Cowboys 42, Colts 7
Indianapolis 0 0 0 7 – 7
Dallas 14 14 7 7 – 42
Dal–Williams 9 pass from Romo (Bailey kick), 6:36.
Dal–Bryant 19 pass from Romo (Bailey kick), 4:23.
Dal–Beasley 24 pass from Romo (Bailey kick), 14:11.
Dal–Murray 1 run (Bailey kick), 6:32.
Dal–Witten 25 pass from Romo (Bailey kick), 4:41.
Dal–Williams 43 pass from Weeden (Bailey kick), 10:12.
Ind–Tipton 1 pass from Hasselbeck (Vinatieri kick), 5:24.
First downs 17 25
Total Net Yards 229 377
Rushes-yards 10-1 40-127
Passing 228 250
Punt Returns 1-7 3-29
Kickoff Returns 2-57 0-0
Interceptions Ret. 0-0 2-54
Comp-Att-Int 30-44-2 19-21-0
Sacked-Yards Lost 2-7 1-11
Punts 5-46.4 2-46.0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 8-55 7-67
Time of Possession 24:31 35:29
Rushing: Indianapolis, Herron 7-3, Richardson 2-1, Tipton 1-(minus 3). Dallas, Murray 22-58, Randle 13-37, Romo 3-28, Dunbar 2-4.
Passing: Indianapolis, Luck 15-22-2-109, Hasselbeck 15-21-0-126, McAfee 0-1-0-0. Dallas, Weeden 1-1-0-43, Romo 18-20-0-218.
Receiving: Indianapolis, Nicks 9-72, Fleener 4-36, Tipton 4-23, Herron 3-37, Wayne 3-23, Doyle 2-23, Richardson 2-8, Moncrief 2-5, Cribbs 1-8. Dallas, Witten 7-90, Bryant 5-73, Williams 2-52, Beasley 2-29, Dunbar 2-10, Randle 1-7.
Missed Field Goals: Dallas, Bailey 52 (WR).