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What they're saying about the Eagles win

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Fast Facts about the game from NFL.com

1. Jeff Garcia earned a seven-figure bonus when the Eagles qualified for the playoff, and he qualified by reaching a playing-time incentive.

2. The Eagles continued an incredible streak. In each of the past 15 road games in which they led at halftime, they have won them all.

3. Philadelphia became the first team to rush for 200 yards against Dallas since San Francisco in 2000.

Narducci talked about the enormity of the Eagles winning 3 straight division road games.

A month ago, the Eagles were in disarray, having fallen to 5-6 after a 45-21 whipping by the Indianapolis Colts and facing a late-season schedule that had the potential for disaster.

Three consecutive road games in December were against divisional opponents.

Even coach Andy Reid, with his take 'em one-at-a-time approach, may not have realized what a daunting task the Eagles faced. Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, only two teams had won three consecutive road games against divisional opponents, according to research by ESPN.

Make it three after the Eagles' 23-7 pasting of the Dallas Cowboys on Monday at Texas Stadium.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the fifth time in the last 11 years that a team has played three consecutive divisional opponents on the road.

One of those teams was the 1999 Eagles, who lost three straight - at Washington, Arizona and Dallas - during Reid's first season. (Arizona was still in the NFC East at the time.)

The other teams in the last 11 years to play three consecutive divisional opponents on the road were the 2004 Tennessee Titans, the 2000 Cleveland Browns, and the 1999 Baltimore Ravens.

Those three, along with the '99 Eagles, had a combined 3-9 record in the consecutive road games.

"It's very tough to win three in a row, whether you are home or away," Eagles running back Brian Westbrook said after Monday's game. "This team has a lot of character."

The other teams that recorded three straight road wins against divisional foes since 1970 were the 1971 Redskins and the 1987 New Orleans Saints.

Eckel also wrote about the 3 game stretch and the prospect of winning an NFC East title.

Fortunately, not many teams get the opportunity to do it, so maybe that's why it has happened only other time in a non-strike season, 1971.

The Eagles completed a three- game road trip against three divi sion rivals with three wins, becom ing the first team to do so since the Redskins did it to start the 1971 season against St. Louis, the Giants and Dallas.

"I don't know of any of the records," Eagles head coach Andy Reid said yesterday in his day after- the-game press conference at the NovaCare Complex. "I don't know if it was ever done here. But that's a nice accomplishment. It puts yourself in the position to do some things, like win the division."

If the Eagles beat Atlanta on Sunday (now a 4:15 p.m. kickoff), they will win their fifth division title in six years and they will do so by going 5-1 against the division. When they went to the Super Bowl in 2004, they were 6-0 against the division. When they finished 6-10 last year, they were 0-6 in the division.

Winning the three straight road games was a task about as tough as any the team had to accomplish.

"I'm sure it is," Reid said. "We kind of take every game like it's own little deal and put so much emphasis on every game, whether it's home or away, that you don't get caught up in those types of things. But, with the way it happened here, with history, it must be tougher than I guess we think."

Phils Simms feels that it's offensive lines that win championships and the Eagles have one of the best.

As I watched the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the Dallas Cowboys on Christmas Day, putting themselves in the improbable position of perhaps winning the NFC East, I was reminded of the one thing that stood out the most to me during last year's Super Bowl.

The one thing that jumped out at me while watching Pittsburgh beat Seattle in Super Bowl XL was that it was clear these were the two best offensive lines in football. So while we always focus on the franchise quarterbacks and the skill players, and we debate whether a team possesses a "championship caliber" defense, maybe it's time to recognize the offensive line as perhaps the most important unit for a football team.
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In watching the Eagles go from a 5-6 team with no shot at the playoffs, to a 9-6 team on the verge of winning their division, it's clearly the offensive line play that jumps out at me. The offensive line can cover so many ills on a team, and that's what has happened here. They are protecting quarterback Jeff Garcia, opening holes for Brian Westbrook and controlling the ball so that the defense isn't on the field too much.

Football Outsiders also talks about the run game and the offensive line.

The Eagles do not need big plays from Buckhalter because Westbrook provides more than enough of those. The diminutive running back is explosive as a runner and a receiver and has been underappreciated this season. He ranks second in the league in combined rushing and receiving DPAR behind only LaDainian Tomlinson. Given that Tomlinson is in the AFC and Westbrook in the NFC, his omission from the Pro Bowl roster is a glaring oversight.

Westbrook's performance this weekend was particularly impressive because the Cowboys run defense has been strong all season. Their primary weakness is in pass defense, but the Eagles still attacked them successfully on the ground. They called running plays 60 percent of the time on their first three drives. Those drives netted 10 points, with the only failure an interception thrown by Garcia.

The Eagles got a little pass happy in the third quarter, but they returned to the ground to ice the game in the fourth quarter. After a Brian Dawkins interception in the end zone, the Eagles marched down the field for a game-clinching touchdown. They handed the ball off on eight out of 12 plays. Garcia added two scrambles. Passing yardage accounted for only 13 of the 80 yards in the drive.

Of course, solid play by running backs almost always correlates with excellent offensive line play. The Eagles still have stalwarts like Jon Runyan and the tackle formerly known as Tra Thomas. They are punishing people on the ground thanks in large part to the solid play of young, physical center Jamaal Jackson and guard Shawn Andrews. Freedom from injuries on the offensive line is also a major reason for the offensive consistency.