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Soul Restoration

30-yard field-goal drive on David Akers' 52-yarder following Austin's fourth-quarter touchdown

"We definitely made the stop we had to make," Brooking said, as if overwhelmed with relief.

And once the defense stood tall, Brooking said Marion Barber "came walking by the bench and said to us, ‘Don't worry, I got this one for you.'"

Barber did, on three consecutive running plays gaining 23 yards, one first down and setting up Romo's five-yard completion to tight end Jason Witten on third-and-three for the game-sealing first down.

But of all the Show Me-ing the Cowboys did before a national television audience, and maybe even more importantly, their worst critics who reside here in this city that William Penn's statue presides over atop City Hall, that the Cowboys won this game with defense - four quarters of defense - outdueling those defensive-minded Eagles in their own backyard, proved most cleansing.

The Cowboys only gave up one touchdown to an Eagles team averaging 29 points a game, and held those Eagles three yards shy of 300 in total offense.

The Cowboys put a huge governor on the Eagles' big-play offense, giving up just one big play, and that on a 45-yard screen pass.

Those two outside receiving speedsters, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, did not big-play the Cowboys into submission like they had five other teams before them, and in fact, never ran into an end zone with the ball themselves.

Those seemingly pick-less Cowboys, owning just four of those precious gems after seven games, actually intercepted two Donovan McNabb passes, reducing his QB rating to a rather pedestrian 61.4 thanks to Gerald Sensabaugh's diving grab of a tipped ball and Mike Jenkins' team-leading third pick of a deep ball he undercut.

And if all that were not enough, how about stuffing the Eagles on three tries for one precious yard of real estate from the Cowboys' 45 in a 13-13 game and then rookie Victor Butler later running down McNabb from behind for the third-down sack that forced the 52-yard field goal?

"People were scratching and clawing out there," Cowboys inside backer Bradie James said in order to force but a field goal on what turned out to be the Eagles' final drive. "It was that time, we had been working so hard to get to that point and we wanted the team to believe in us.

"It was our time, and we did it."

Yes the defense did, allowing the Cowboys to win their first game of the year while scoring no more than 20 points and just their fourth over the past 56 games. Sometimes 20 has to be enough, even when playing on the road against one of the league's best advertised offenses, the Cowboys joining the Raiders as the only teams to hold the Eagles under 22 points so far this season.

"So proud of the defense, they've been working so hard," Romo said, "and they have been playing some great football."

So on this return to last year's crime scene, playing the so-called fearsome Eagles, the Cowboys matched them sack for sack (four), doubled their picks (2 to 1), gave up 61 fewer yards, doubled their touchdowns (2 to 1) and if it's down and dirty football they needed to play, then they proved they can get pretty low and pretty grubby even on the road where those rabid Philly fans greeted their arrival at The Linc once again by giving them passionate double-barrel "birds" and pelting one of the two early team busses with incoming eggs.

All those things required of the Cowboys if they were to restore a little piece of that pride and confidence the Eagles slaughtered right here on Dec. 28 of last year, culminating in this 6-2 start - only the third time since an 8-1 beginning in 1995 that the Cowboys have jumped off to at least a 6-2 start over the first half of a season.

"There are some people that need to respect us now," James said, neither begging nor bragging.

Just speaking from the heart . . . and a restored soul.

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