ARLINGTON, Texas - America got another good look at the NFC East on Sunday night - watching two teams that still maintain playoff aspirations spar with each other like drunken kangaroos - and since the nation has survived a lot, it can presumably get past this, too.
Yes, the Eagles won the game, 33-27 in overtime on a Sam Bradford pass to Jordan Matthews and they get credit for landing more blows, including the final one. With the win, they climb to .500 and remain tied in the loss column with the New York Giants.
Beyond the mathematics of the division and the light that can still be seen in the darkness, however, what was emphasized again by this game was that neither of these teams is good enough right now to exit this season as anything other than a disappointment.
If quarterback Tony Romo returns at the end of November for the Cowboys, and if there is something left to chase, it is possible they can recapture a little bit of the spark they had to open the season. Very good quarterbacks are capable of that, particularly when paired with a dangerous receiver like Dez Bryant.
There isn't a corresponding out clause for the Eagles. No savior is going to come back from injury. No previous spark is there to be recaptured. They can put together the occasional win against an average opponent, but it will take something like the back-and-forth slugfest of Sunday night.
From the start, this game devolved into a matter of which team would make more mistakes. On the very opening drive of the night, the Cowboys threw down the gauntlet by holding the Eagles to gain some early momentum only to run into punter Donnie Jones and allow the drive to continue. That one didn't go much further, but the tone had been set.
On the Cowboys' first possession, Nolan Carroll didn't have any help against Dez Bryant and got burned for a 51-yard completion. Dallas took that drive all the way in for an early touchdown, surviving a fourth-and-1 test that the Eagles couldn't stop.
It went like that for a while, with the game tied 7-7 at the half, and the story line of the game being that neither team could define itself with anything remarkable. The Eagles running game briefly caught fire as DeMarco Murray ran hard against his former team and Ryan Mathews added a speedy outside punch, but that didn't last, either.
Just when the Eagles were poised to take control in the third quarter, their defense suddenly couldn't maintain Cassel. Aided by a defensive holding penalty that negated a failed third-down play, the Eagles had taken the lead on a Mathews run that completed a 95-yard drive.
But that didn't hold up long, as Dallas receiver Cole Beasley twice beat safety Malcolm Jenkins on a Cowboys drive that was helped along by a holding penalty on Mychal Kendricks. If the Eagles defense is going to be the kind of bedrock that can pick up an occasionally flagging offense, then a quarterback like Cassel can't lead his team on a drive in that very situation.
As if to prove that the Eagles should have been doing a better job on the backup, Cassel threw a soft pass into the flat that linebacker Jordan Hicks stepped in front of and took 64 yards for a touchdown and the lead early in the fourth quarter.
Since both the offense and the defense had its moments of letting down the team, it was then the turn of the special teams. That took place on the ensuing kickoff when Dallas return man Lucky Whitehead sliced through the coverage team to the Eagles 24-yard line, and that led to a jump ball thrown by Cassel on which Bryant jumped higher than everyone else and the score was tied again.
All right, fine. What came before was nonsense, but surely when Bradford took the Eagles down the field to a field goal and the lead with just 7 minutes, 22 seconds left, then, surely, the defense would keep Cassel and the Cowboys from getting back into the game a third time.
Well, no. Cassel took Dallas down for a tying field goal of its own, with just 2:53 to play. Just to prove that even heroes are vulnerable, the big play on the drive was a third-and-8 in which Hicks was beaten by Jason Witten for 14 yards.
Finally, it appeared the clock would do what neither the Eagles nor the Cowboys could do and put an end to the thing. The Eagles drove far enough to give Sturgis a shot at a 53-yard game-winner and Sturgis just got it through for the 27-24 lead with just 1:46 left.
That would be enough, right? Again, no. Thanks to a fourth-down conversion and then two interference penalties against the Eagles - neither of which seemed egregious - the game dragged into overtime after Dan Bailey banked in the tying field goal off the left upright. Yes, that really happened.
Into the overtime, the Eagles won the game on the pass-and-catch to Matthews, but only after surviving a fumble reversal and only when the Cowboys defender fell as Matthews executed a double move. It was good enough to put an end to it, though, and the Eagles were able to leave the field celebrating as if they had beaten a team that had done something other than lose its sixth straight game. A lot more against a lot better is going to eventually be required.