Romo, Cowboys set for quick rematch with Eagles

IRVING, Texas (AP) Tony Romo kept his notes on Philadelphia after Dallas' blowout loss on Thanksgiving with the NFC East lead on the line.

They will come in handy for the rematch two weeks later with the teams again tied atop the division at 9-4 following the Eagles' loss to Seattle.

The Dallas quarterback said the challenge before last week's 41-28 win over the Bears was not letting his mind drift to the defensive scheme the Eagles used in one of Romo's worst games of the season. Philadelphia won the first meeting 33-10.

''I think that we'll be able to do some things that we wanted to do previously,'' Romo said of the Eagles, not long after beating Chicago in yet another efficient showing. ''A lot of times you just forget and go right on. Well, I didn't want to forget everything because I wanted to utilize it again. That's a long way of saying you've got to compartmentalize and figure it out and move on and come right back to it.''

Receiver Dez Bryant admitted in the moments after Philadelphia's easy victory that he couldn't wait to face the Eagles again. Now that the rematch has arrived, the Cowboys have to figure out why NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray had one of just two games this season without at least 100 yards.

The Cowboys also had trouble stopping the run, with LeSean McCoy getting a season-high 159 yards - the most Dallas has allowed this year and one of only two 100-yard games for opposing rushers.

''We can look at different things in that game and say we did things the right away and we had some success, we didn't do things the right way and they had some success,'' said coach Jason Garrett, who wasn't very interested Monday in revisiting details of the first meeting. ''Control what we can control. That game is done with. It's been done with. It ain't coming back.''

The biggest difference is that the Cowboys have 10 days to prepare for the rematch after getting about 90 hours between the end of a Sunday night win over the New York Giants and the Thanksgiving afternoon kickoff against the Eagles.

Philadelphia was in the same position the last time, although with a few more hours while having to make the long trip. This time the Eagles get a regular week.

Romo never considered the short week an issue despite that being the first time he had done it on his surgically repaired back. He later acknowledged that he didn't take an injection for pain against the Eagles, and said it was a mistake. On two of his four sacks in the first meeting, Romo quickly went down without trying to escape.

''Getting a full week is a game-changer I feel like,'' said Romo, who also acknowledged he was overly protective of his back against the Eagles. ''I think it will be that way the rest of the year.''

After the Chicago game, Romo said he was dealing with a rib issue in addition to a back injury that wasn't related to surgery last December. Garrett said Monday that Romo had rib cartilage damage, not a fracture as the quarterback indicated Thursday.

Either way, another few days off not too far removed from the bye is helping the 34-year-old Romo.

''It's getting toward the end I feel like,'' Romo said of the injuries. ''It'll be nice when it's just about the back improving instead of all the other little junk.''

Philadelphia's loss to Seattle was a bit of a mixed blessing for Dallas because if the Cowboys can't win the rematch, their likely path to the playoffs through the wild-card race got more complicated with the Seahawks' win.

The best illustration: Seattle's win meant Dallas would be out if the playoffs started this week.

Garrett isn't worried about that illustration.

''The biggest thing we have to do is focus on ourselves,'' Garrett said. ''We control our destiny as a team. If we focus on doing what we need to do to play our best football, things will all work out fine.''

Starting with take two against the Eagles.

NOTES: Garrett said he expected S Jeff Heath (broken thumb) and CB Tyler Patmon (knee) to return to practice this week. ... CB Micah Pellerin was waived.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler

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