Heart Of The Matter


him, that includes an eye-popping 8.3-yard average and five runs for more than 20 yards (one of those 52 yards against the Bills).

Yep, the two-headed ground monster that averages 156.7 yards a game. So let's just stop right here and say this: If McCoy and Vick combine for 156 yards Sunday night, no way the Cowboys push their record to an all-important 4-3, thus giving themselves a chance to win three consecutive games when they meet Seattle on Nov. 6 at Cowboys Stadium, something they have not done since the final three games of the 2009 regular season.

"I can't wait to get out there and get after them," Ryan said on Friday, about as sanitized as he comes, and he makes no apologies for his bravado. "I'm not scared of what I believe in, and what I believe in is our defense."

Now then, as Jerry Jones is known to say, if he can just cash that check on Sunday his mouth has written.

Of course, running the ball is not all the Eagles do well. Vick is becoming a better passer, or at least he was last year. So far this season, well, not so much, having thrown nine touchdown passes but intercepted eight times. His 84.4 QB rating ranks 13th in the NFL, and his 61.5 completion percentage stands 14th. So kind of average.

But we all know Vick isn't about ratings or percentages. He's about big plays, created both by his arm and his legs. He has 23 completions for at least 20 yards, and that includes a 61-yarder to DeSean Jackson, a 59-yarder to Jeremy Maclin, along with additional 45- and 41-yarders to Jackson.

And the Cowboys should know all about those big plays, the 91-yarder to Jackson for what turned out to be the decisive touchdown last year in the first meeting probably still burning in their memory bank.

So priority No. 1 on defense, as boring as this may sound: Stopping the run.

Priority No. 2 Sunday night:

Containing and pressuring Vick.

"You got to find a way to stop him," says outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, "sort of corral the rabbit. He can run, man."

Man, he sure can run - and throw - and the Eagles can run and catch, last year McCoy going for 149 yards rushing in that first meeting and Jackson piling up 210 yards receiving. That happens again, the Cowboys lose, or they're going to have to score at least 35 to win.

That's why this game will be all about the Cowboys' defense, and maybe why Ryan was moved to say after being reminded of all the rhetoric, "Hell, let's go, let's go get it on."

Absolutely, especially if you have a defense upon which you can trust.

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