The first half was borderline awful. The second, however, was incredibly worse.
That's because on the Cowboys' first possession of the third quarter, Tony Romo was sacked and in the process suffered a fractured left clavicle when Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks drove the quarterback's shoulder into the turf.
While a timetable for his return had yet to be determined, Romo is expected to miss significant time. Meaning the Cowboys will now be rolling with Brandon Weeden at quarterback for the immediate future.
Never has a 20-10 victory felt so bad.
Although the injury to Romo was the main story, the Dallas defense deserved some of the spotlight as they dominated in this one, recording two interceptions and a fumble recovery while limiting the Eagles to just 226 yards of total offense.
The much-anticipated matchup of running back DeMarco Murray against his old club turned into a mere afterthought as the Cowboys defense held their former teammate to just 2 yards on 13 carries and the Eagles ground game as a whole to a mere 7 yards.
Sean Lee in particular was a monster in this game, recording 14 tackles and intercepting a pass in the end zone. He even recovered an on-side kick at the end of the game just to put a cap on his stellar night.
Offensively, Weeden actually performed well in Romo's absence, completing all seven of his pass attempts, including a 42-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that sealed the game. The Cowboys' own rushing attack combined for 109 yards, Joseph Randle totaling 51 yards on 18 carries with Darren McFadden adding another 31 yards on 10 tries.
Dallas managed 363 yards of total offense, but couldn't really put Philadelphia away until the end because of an onslaught of penalties. In all, the Cowboys racked up 18 penalties for an incredible 142 yards. Not that the Eagles were that much better as they were flagged six times for 60 yards.
Which was why the first two quarters in particular were tough to watch. Through the opening 30 minutes of play, Dallas held possession for 23:09 to just 6:51 for the Eagles, and had held Philly's high-flying offense to just 21 total yards, including minus-3 rushing.
In fact, the Eagles actually had more yards on penalties (45) than they did offensive yards in the first half, and had provided the Cowboys more first downs (five) thanks to penalties than they had actually earned themselves (one).
All five of those gifts from Philadelphia came on the final drive of the second quarter when both teams combined for eight penalties, a possession that ended with Dan Bailey kicking a 28-yad field goal as time expired.
Of course, after dominating the first half, the Cowboys had to be concerned that they only had a 6-0 lead after the break. Especially considering their first field goal came after Dallas had a first-and-goal at the Eagles' 1-yard line. But the Cowboys couldn't punch it in, Baily getting the team on the board with a 20-yard field goal.
But the Cowboys seemed to build on their momentum as the third quarter got underway. After again stopping Philadelphia's offense, Dallas saw special teams ace Danny McCray break through the line and block the Eagle's punt. Kyle Wilber then picked up the loose ball and returned it 26 yards for the touchdown, the Cowboys now up, 13-0.
The last time Dallas blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown came on Sept. 13, 1992 at the New York Giants, a span of more than 360 games.
So everyone had to be feeling pretty good about things, the Cowboys seemingly in firm control …
And then everything changed.
Romo had again moved his team into enemy territory when on a second-and-11 at the Philly 33-yard line, he dropped back for another pass. Forced to scramble, he was sacked and lost the football, which was recovered by the Eagles.
Even worse, Jordan Hicks came down hard on the quarterback. With the blow, Romo stayed down and eventually headed to the locker room with what turned out to be a fractured clavicle.
The Eagles used that turnover to drive down to the Dallas 5-yard line, but that's when Lee stepped in front of a Bradford pass in the end zone to come away with the interception and kill the threat.
Philadelphia would finally get on the board with a 46-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, and appeared to have momentum behind them when Escobar fumbled on Dallas' next possession, the Eagles returning it to the Cowboys' 30-yard line.
But Philly's center appeared to hike his team's first snap early, catching Bradford by surprise. With the ball loose, defensive tackle Nick Hayden fell on it for the Cowboys, another threat overcome.
That was followed on the Eagles' next possession with J.J. Wilcox hauling in a tipped pass, the safety returning his first interception of the year to the Philadelphia 41-yard line.
With the home team's defense now worn out, the Cowboys struck quickly. Weeden hit Williams on a quick slant route, the receiver then dashing down the middle of the field untouched for a 42-yard score, the score 20-3.
The Eagles added a touchdown late to make the final outcome somewhat more respectable, 20-10, but Dallas still left Philadelphia sitting alone atop the NFC East with a 2-0 record.
Still, there was a damper on the celebration as the Cowboys await the length of time they'll be without their Pro Bowl quarterback. They'll now prepare to face the Atlanta Falcons next Sunday at noon with Weeden their man behind center.