Notes: Johnson, Bledsoe Downplay Confrontation

IRVING, Texas - The Dallas Cowboys 33-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday afternoon seemed to go almost historically smoothly, but at times, there was tension on the Cowboys sideline.

After receiver Keyshawn Johnson fumbled a catch in the third quarter that allowed the Eagles to score their only touchdown on the day, he and quarterback Drew Bledsoe had a heated conversation and apparently had to be separated by the coaching staff.

The emotion was understandable. The Cowboys saw their game against the Washington Redskins in Week 2 slip away after a series of offensive and defensive miscues, and the Eagles staged a comeback last week over the Kansas City Chiefs after turning a turnover into a touchdown.

But both Johnson and Bledsoe downplayed the conversation as the heat of the battle, and Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells called it the result of two high-strung players being caught up in the moment.

"I think anytime you're in a situation like that, everybody's competitive," Johnson said. "I'm not the type of person to point fingers at anybody, and I don't want anything said to me. We had some words on the sideline."

Bledsoe said he started the confrontation by approaching Johnson on the sideline after the play, which momentarily gave the Eagles some momentum. Bledsoe pointed out how the Cowboys needed to eliminate those any mistakes.

Johnson didn't take kindly to having the obvious pointed out to him.

"Just two guys competing and trying to win a game," said Johnson, dismissing the incident. "I like that.

"But I'm going to say what I'm going to say."

No doubt.

The argument overshadowed a sparkling game by Bledsoe and another solid game by Johnson.

Bledsoe finished the game with a 122.2 quarterback rating, going 24-for-35 for 289 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He now has 1,351 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions in five games with a quarterback rating of 102.0 and a 61.6 percent completion rate.

Johnson, for his part Sunday, ended up third the team with six catches for 47 yards. He has now caught at least one pass in all 140 career games. But even as a 10-year veteran of the NFL, Johnson still reacts with the emotion that has defined his career.

"At that point in the game, I thought we were just absolutely manhandling them," Bledsoe said. "And then to turn the ball over in that situation, I wasn't happy about it. He's an emotional guy, and I know that. I just said something to him and he responded. It was one of those things that was over 30 seconds after it started. On the next play we were talking about the next play. We didn't kiss and make up, but it is done with."

Offensive Line Dominates

The Cowboys offensive line has been a question mark at times this season, with a rookie starting on the right side and the veterans on the left taking costly penalties or missing key blocks.

But Sunday against the Eagles, the line was dominant, allowing no sacks, taking just two penalties and provoking Bledsoe to remark how he wasn't hit all game.

"I'm usually don't get too pumped up before a game," rookie right tackle Rob Petitti said, "but there was something special about tonight. I got a lot of help, don't get me wrong. I thought we all did a good job."

Petitti said he was very rarely left one-on-one with the Eagles defenders, picking up help from a tight end or right guard Marco Rivera. And the improvement along the line was evident, as the Cowboys picked up 28 first downs, the most since recording 30 in a 1999 game at Washington. The 456 yards of total offense was also the most since that game.

It was the second time this season the Cowboys did not allow a sack.

"My friends back in Jersey, and all the papers up there said (Kearse) was going to kill me today," Petitti said. "I don't care if you're a rookie or not, nobody wants to hear that. So that was a big thing for me. That, and the Raiders game, I didn't think I played that well. So it was good to come back and get some confidence after a game like this."

Kearse was basically a non-factor, combining on one tackle and hurrying Bledsoe a few times, but never really making the impact one would expect from a three-time Pro Bowler.

Moving Parts

The Cowboys once again shuffled their game day roster, moving around parts in the offensive backfield and defensive line to match up against the Eagles.

And after a week of would he or wouldn't he, the Cowboys decided to not play inside linebacker Dat Nguyen, who is nursing a neck injury. Nguyen, who practice Wednesday, missed Thursday and practice Friday, was one of the seven inactive players. Starting in his place was Scott Shanle, as expected, and the Cowboys also kept linebacker Ryan Fowler active.

None of that was as surprising as Kenyon Coleman going from starting the first four games to not even being active on Sunday. The fourth-year player had been eighth on the team with 12 total tackles.

In his place, Parcells started Marcus Spears at left defensive end and again kept rookie Jay Ratliff active to play on the Cowboys nickel package. Ratliff registered two tackles in the game and combined with veteran Greg Ellis for a second-quarter sack.

Anthony Thomas also made his way back onto the active roster, replacing rookie Marion Barber who'd made a few key mental errors last week against the Raiders. Thomas ended up with four carries for five yards and until the end, played mostly on third downs.

Fullback Lousaka Polite remained on the active roster for the second straight week. He never ran with the ball, but caught a 12 yard touchdown pass in the second quarter that put the Cowboys up 24-3. It was his first career touchdown.

Once gain, wide receiver Peerless price was inactive.

Jones Says He's Fine

Cowboys running back Julius Jones was on pace for his first 100-yard game of the season Sunday afternoon when a tackle near the end of the first half brought his day to an end.

On a first-and-10 at the Eagles 19 with 33 seconds left in the second quarter, Jones attempted to run up the middle and was tackled by Eagles linebacker Mark Simoneau for no gain. Jones limped off the field after Bledsoe spiked the ball on the next play and spent the rest of the game on the sidelines.

Replays showed Simoneau wrapped up Jones just below his knees, and the second-year running back was noticeably favoring his left leg as he left the field, likely an ankle injury.

"I am fine," Jones said after the game. "I could have played today, but I will play next week . . . It is tough to watch when we are playing that well. I really wanted to get out there."

Jones had 72 yards on 16 attempts in the first half for an average of 4.5 yards-per-carry, including a season-long 25-yard run in the first quarter.

The Cowboys ended up with 167 rushing yard, the most since last season's game in Seattle.

Cortez Settling Down

Jose Cortez missed an extra point attempt against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3 after a low snap, a miss that caused lineman Larry Allen to come over and give the kicker a shake after he complained about the snap.

But since then, Cortez has been automatic, converting all his extra points and eight straight field-goal attempts. The last time he missed a field goal was Week 2 against the Washington Redskins, when he hit a 41-yard attempt wide.

In Sunday's win over the Eagles, Cortez went 4-for-4, hitting from 28, 33, 37 and 45 yards.

As for his eight kickoffs, two were touchbacks, but a coule were short, though never hurting the Cowboys. The Eagles average start was their own 22.

Game Points

  • Patrick Crayton had his best punt-return performance of the season against the Eagles, averaging 12 yards on seven returns, including several that put the Cowboys into or near Eagles territory early in the game. Tyson Thompson also did well on kickoff returns, returning three kicks for 87 yards, an average of 29 yards per return.
  • After several weeks of problems on special teams, the Cowboys were able to limit their mistakes and contain the Eagles Sunday afternoon. The Eagles averaged only 16 yards per kickoff return and no yards on their one punt return.
  • Punter Mat McBriar had a light day of work, attempting two fourth-quarter punts as the Cowboys scored on seven of their 12 drives.
  • Cowboys running Julius Jones, before leaving the game in the second half, was averaging 4.5 yards a carry, better than in any of his four previous games.

Short Shots

Parcells earned his 168th career win Sunday, tying Bud Grant for 10th on the NFL's all-time wins list . . . The Cowboys' 27 first-half points were the most since scoring 28 against Detroit in 2003. The 24-point halftime lead was the largest since leading the Cardinals 27-0 in 2000 . . . The 17 Cowboys points in the first quarter were the most points in a first quarter since a 1995 game at Arizona, and the most in any quarter since a 21-point second quarter at Detroit in 2001 . . .Rookie linebacker DeMarcus Ware had a sack for the third straight game, the longest streak since a four-game run by Greg Ellis early last season . . . The Cowboys only allowed 19 rushing yards against the Eagles, the fourth best showing in team history. In 1966, the Cowboys allowed just six yards to the Steelers, and in 1967, they held Cleveland and Washington to 11 and 16 yards, respectively. It is the seventh game in club history the team has not allowed a rushing first down . . . The Eagles only gained six total first downs, one shy of the Cowboys club record and tied with four other games. In 1966 and 1974, the Cowboys held the Eagles to just five first downs.

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