PHILADELPHIA – It was quite a set of circumstances that combined to create arguably the best game of Jeremy Mincey's time in Dallas.
If the stage and the implications weren't big enough, Mincey missed the first practice of this week to attend the funeral of his friend and college roommate, Gemayal Walker. Four days later, with the division lead on the line, Mincey sacked Mark Sanchez twice in the Cowboys' 38-27 win against the Eagles – and on his 31st birthday, no less.
"I had to get me a sack for my man Gee Walker -- one for him and one for my birthday," Mincey said. "And you know the funny thing about it? We share the same birthday. I think that's a special thing."
Mincey and the much-maligned Cowboys pass rush made life miserable for Sanchez in the second half of Sunday night's win. Aside from Mincey, Tyrone Crawford also notched two sacks to give Dallas four on the night. The Cowboys also harassed Sanchez into throwing two interceptions.
"I told y'all from Day 1, man – we're a resilient group of men. Regardless of the hot names and all that other stuff, we play together," Mincey said. "We're just proving to the world that if you play together, you play sound, fundamental ball and out-physical your man, anything can happen."
Between plenty of congratulatory birthday back-pats from his teammates, Mincey touched on the defense's night-and-day differences between two games against Philadelphia. The same Eagles team that rushed for 256 yards and 464 total yards on Thanksgiving finished Sunday night with fewer than 300 yards. LeSean McCoy, who abused the Cowboys in Week 13, finished with a measly 64 yards.
Mincey was one of the most frustrated and vocal critics in the wake of that 33-10 loss, and he beamed with pride about the turnaround.
"I knew from the bottom of my heart we had what it takes to beat them the first time – we just didn't have the energy to provide the action," he said. "This time we had the energy, we had the effort, we had the poise, we had the mentality. We went out there and imposed our will, and they couldn't overcome it."
The new 31-year-old played no small role in that. Both of his sacks came on third down – one in the first quarter, which led to a Philadelphia punt and a subsequent Dallas touchdown to take a 21-0 lead. The second would come in the fourth quarter, effectively killing Philadelphia's last best hope to lessen the gap in an 11-point game.
"I left some out there the first game, and I knew I was going to have an opportunity to get on that edge when the game was on the line," he said. "I just had to take it to another notch."
To come through on this particular night, days after burying a dear friend made an emotional night all the more special.
"It was tough, man. I'm playing for my team, playing for him, playing for my mama, daddy, sisters and brothers," he said. "I'm always motivated, man – there's always something to play for."