factor in the game. He caught only three passes for 45 yards. He had a drop or two. He ran what should have been possibly two touchdown routes, but the first ended up in a Brian Dawkins interception when Bledsoe's arm was hit as he was throwing deep, the wobbling ball coming up short, and the second, which appeared was going to be a 33-yard touchdown pass when he had lulled Sheppard to sleep down the right sideline, ended up in Sheppard's hands, too, when Bledsoe badly under-threw his wide open receiver.
"When I talk about opportunities . . . you guys saw the game," said Owens, bordering on being politically correct but at the same time politically wrong. "That was an opportunity. It was a missed opportunity."
Oh, Bledsoe tried to hit him in the back of the end zone on the first play from the 6, but no one was really open. Owens had been doubled - again - and Bledsoe did well to simply throw the ball into the goal post standard.
The Cowboys did take somewhat advantage of all the doubling and cover-2 being played against Owens and Terry Glenn, who had five catches for 61 yards. Very quietly, Julius Jones ran for 100 yards, and the Cowboys for 146 against the linebacker-blitzing Eagles.
But over the Eagles' dead bodies were they going to get upstaged by Owens, who nearly did anyway, and the Cowboys knew it. That's why they called that final play to their Pro Bowl tight end.
For his part, Witten said, "I had the hook route," meaning he was to hook back into the ball.
"He thought he'd be at the spot," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said of what Bledsoe was looking for. "He threw to a spot."
As for Bledsoe, he was animated coming to the sideline, explaining to Parcells what he was expecting Witten to do, but as the good quarterbacks do, would only say afterward, "I don't want to get into the specifics" of the hook route.
"(Jeremiah) Trotter was pushing out," Witten said, further trying to explain what he was doing on the hook route. "I think Drew was expecting me to break it out. I guess we'll just watch it on film. It was a costly mistake."
For the Cowboys, the last in a litany of costly mistakes that counted five turnovers, seven more penalties, two badly played coverages by Roy Williams, a missed tackle by rookie safety Pat Watkins, 43 yards of offense in the third quarter, missed blitz pickups and an offensive line that just might have to go back to the drawing board.
Yet, there they were, having played the pants off the Eagles on the road anyway, poised to send this game into overtime in the final minute, ready to overcome McNabb, the Eagles' defense and themselves after most everyone had given them up for dead at least three times in this game.
But in the end, they were sent reeling by none of than their own selves, falling to 2-2, now 1½ games behind the NFC East-leading Eagles (4-1) and tied with the Giants (2-2) for second.
"When you lose in this league it always hurts and it hurts bad," Bledsoe said, "particularly coming in here and thinking we could steal one from the Eagles in their place."
And I'll be, they nearly did.