As if you had forgotten, the Eagles absolutely dominated the Cowboys in the first meeting between the two teams on Thanksgiving day. A tremendous effort from the Birds' defensive front seven limited NFL leading rusher DeMarco Murray and generated pressure on Romo. The Cowboys signal caller was sacked four times.
Not to take away from how well the Eagles defense played, but it is worth noting how easily Romo went down on those plays. It was clear that the Cowboys quarterback did not want anything to do with taking hits. That kind of self-preservation is typically uncharacteristic of Romo. He's much more apt to dodge pressure and even take off down field.
Even Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis doesn't expect Romo to play like he did in Dallas. "We'll see the Tony Romo we've always seen," Davis said in his Tuesday press conference.
The on-going problem for Romo is that he's playing through pain. A back injury suffered by the aging Dallas quarterback earlier in the season has forced Romo to sit out of practices leading up to games. He also takes weekly pain shots. For whatever reason, Romo did not take a pain shot on the short week when preparing for the Eagles. Romo did take a shot in preparation for the Cowboys-Bears game last week. It seemed to work out pretty well considering he finished with 205 yards, three touchdowns, and a 138 passer rating on 21/26 passing in a win over Chicago. In a post-game interview with NFL Network, Romo noted that he wasn't happy with how he prepared for Philadelphia on the short week. He also revealed he's been suffering from a broken rib.
"I'll definitely appreciate this week more than the one last time where we had three days really to get ready," said Romo. "That was a really short week because we played on a Sunday night, which I felt like [was] real extreme with coming back and getting home at 6 a.m. That's a tough week for you, just to grind out mentally for all the guys, and we didn't put our best foot forward. There's no excuses. We needed to play better, and we didn't. We're excited about the challenge to go back and hopefully be better."
This time around, there will be no excuses for a lack of preparation. The Cowboys will actually be at much more of an advantage in this regard because their last game was on Thursday, Dec. 4 while the Eagles only played two days ago on Sunday, Dec. 7.
A healthier Romo will certainly make life tough on Philadelphia. The Eagles are weaker against defending the pass than they are stopping the run.
The stakes are high. The winner of this game puts themselves in good position to clinch the NFC East within the final two weeks and will likely earn the No. 3 seed in the NFL playoffs.