Monday, December 30, 2013
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Eagles pip Cowboys to claim NFC East division title

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[December 30, 2013]  (Reuters)  The Philadelphia Eagles intercepted a pass from Kyle Orton in the final minutes to claim the NFC East division title with a nail-biting 24-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

With the conference's final playoff spot on the line in a winner-take-all matchup, Dallas (8-8) got the ball with just under two minutes and had a chance to win it but Orton's pass was picked off by Brandon Boykin to end their season.

"I just threw a bad pass," Orton told reporters. "Miles (Austin) ran a great route. Just threw it behind him and the guy made a nice catch on the ball."

Orton, who was filling in for the injured Tony Romo and for his first start since 2011, came up short in familiar Cowboys' fashion.

Dallas have now lost three consecutive season finales with the post-season on the line.

Philadelphia's (10-6) win earns them a wild card playoff matchup that they will host against the New Orleans Saints (11-5) on Saturday.

The Eagles were led by 24-year-old quarterback Nick Foles, who capped a stellar regular season by throwing for 263 yards and two touchdowns.


Foles, who began the year as the backup QB before emerging as a standout after starter Michael Vick was injured, completed 17 of 26 passes.

Alongside him and first-year coach Chip Kelly, Philadelphia is heading to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

"They didn't flinch," Kelly said of his team, which finished last in the division last season.

"I expect this group to compete every day. One week at a time."

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In the fourth quarter, Foles led Philadelphia on a crucial drive and found Bryce Brown for a six-yard touchdown that put the visitors ahead 24-16.

Orton responded with a 32-yard TD strike to Dez Bryant, but the two could not connect for a two-point conversion that would have tied the game.

The Dallas defense forced Philadelphia to punt and set up their last possession.

Orton finished the day with 358 yards passing but had two interceptions.

LeSean McCoy ran for 131 yards and also caught a three-yard score for the Eagles.

Philadelphia scored the game's first 10 points and led 17-10 at halftime.

Dan Bailey kicked a pair of field goals in the third quarter, and finished with three, to pull the Cowboys within a point heading into the fourth.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angles; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

[ 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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