Philadelphia Eagles running back James Joseph didn't want to talk about it, simply saying, "One play never made a game."
Whether Joseph agreed or not, a 94-yard interception return for a touchdown that clinched the Dallas Cowboys' 31-19 victory over the Eagles Sunday was a bonafide game-breaker.That the Cowboys won their third straight NFC East title on a big play isn't surprising; Dallas is loaded with star players who can make clutch plays.
The surprise was that it wasn't one of their Pro Bowl players - Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Alvin Harper, Jay Novacek - who came up big. It was safety Darren Woodson, whose play this season might earn him a trip to Hawaii.
And while Joseph didn't think that one play made the difference, his teammates knew differently.
"That just goes to show one play can make or break a game," said Randall Cunningham, whose errant throw fell into the arms of Woodson.
Cunningham had just thrown a 5-yard touchdown pass to Maurice Johnson to cut the Dallas lead to 24-19 with 10:15 left to play. The Philadelphia defense did its part, stopping Dallas on four plays.
Jeff Sydner added to the growing Eagle momentum by racing up the middle with a 49-yard punt return to the Dallas 12. Two plays later, Philadelphia was only eight yards away from the go-ahead touchdown.
On third-and-6, the Eagles called a play which had Joseph swinging out of the backfield as a safety valve. Cunningham dropped back to pass, found all his primary targets covered and, under pressure, threw the ball toward Joseph on the right sideline.
"I don't think he saw me," Woodson recalled. "I jumped on that route."
Woodson floated over into the flat, burst in front of Joseph, took the pass at the 6 and headed upfield.
The play provided the fatal blow to the Eagles, who slipped to 7-6 in losing their fourth straight, and gave the Cowboys (11-2) their first NFC East title under new coach Barry Switzer.