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3 things we learned about the Cowboys

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PHILADELPHIA — Tony Romo insists his season isn’t over after exiting the Dallas Cowboys’ Sunday victory with a fractured left clavicle.

The Philadelphia Eagles and quarterback Sam Bradford are still trying to prove they are not broken.

Romo, injured on a quarterback sack and fumble in the third quarter, was replaced by Brandon Weeden, who will be the Cowboys quarterback for at least the next eight to 10 weeks following a 20-10 victory over the Eagles.

“I’ll be back,” Romo said with his left arm in a sling. “But it’s going to take a little bit of time.”

Seven days ago, the Cowboys lost All-Pro wide receiver Dez Bryant for up to eight weeks with a broken right foot.

Romo had a collarbone injury and missed the final 10 games of the 2010 season. He said he knew immediately it was broken again.

“I felt it, and it had a bit of a ‘pop’ to it,” he said. “Obviously, I felt it before. Stuff happens — it’s the NFL. And the NFL is really about adversity and how you handle it.”

The victory gives Dallas a two-game lead over the Eagles (0-2) in NFC East. The Cowboys held Eagles running back DeMarco Murray, who led the NFL in rushing last season for Dallas, to just two yards on 13 carries. And the Cowboys won despite being flagged for a team-record 18 penalties for 142 yards.

“This was a great team win because of what we had to overcome and because of the team we were playing,” linebacker Sean Lee said after his 13-tackle game that included an interception in the endzone. “DeMarco’s a great back, but we never gave him a chance to get started and that was the key. Once we had (the Eagles running game) under control we felt good about our chances.”

Said Eagles coach Chip Kelly: “If we can’t run the football we’re not going to win many games.”

Kelly said the Eagles will re-evaluate “everything,” including quarterback Sam Bradford.

What we learned about the Cowboys:

1. Dallas is not the same team without wide receiver Dez Bryant. That is not exactly a news flash, but the passing game was obviously limited because Bryant wasn’t in the lineup. And it is not just his talent: Bryant is a team leader, and the Cowboys miss his fire. It looks as if the Cowboys are going to have to catch passes by committee, because none of their other receivers really stood out Sunday.

2. The Cowboys really, really missed linebacker Sean Lee last year. Lee missed the entire season with a knee injury, and the Dallas defense simply wasn’t the same. The Cowboys have lost several defensive stalwarts in the last couple of seasons, and having Lee back in the lineup gives them a leader they lacked last year. Lee recorded a game-high 14 tackles and made the biggest defensive play of the game when he intercepted a Sam Bradford pass in the end zone to preserve a 13-0 lead.

3. Despite all of their injuries, the Cowboys remain the class of NFC East. They are 2-0, and they overcame adversity — and two division rivals — in their two victories, finding different ways to win each time. It is obvious that the NFC East isn’t very good this season, but the Cowboys have a more complete team than anybody else, so they should successfully defend their title, even with all of their injuries.

Etc.

–The Cowboys will be riding backup QB Brandon Weeden for the foreseeable future, as starter Tony Romo is out indefinitely with a fractured clavicle. Weeden was a first-round pick of Cleveland (22nd overall) in 2012, and he started 12 games as a rookie and five games the next year before being benched and eventually released. He signed with Dallas in 2014 and started one game. “I feel terrible that this happened to Tony, but I’m excited for this opportunity,” Weeden said. “I just have to stay within myself and not try and do too much and make sure I get the ball in the hands of our playmakers.”

–TE Jason Witten had to leave the game with multiple injuries, but he managed to return each time. He ended up spraining both ankles and twisting a knee, but he still managed to catch a game-high seven passes for 56 yards. “Typical Witten — he wasn’t going to be out long,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. “He did a good job as the game unfolded. He made some plays. … He’s a warrior. He’s one of the greatest I’ve been around.”

–Other than losing Romo, the Cowboys’ biggest negative Sunday was the number of penalties the team was hit with — a franchise-record 18 for 142 yards. “That’s inexcusable and something we obviously have to clean up,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We had three penalties against New York last week and then 18 this week, and that’s hard to fathom. We had a lot of self-inflicted wounds, and they hurt us.”


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