ARLINGTON, Texas — Tony Romo knows what matters the most when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys. So while it’s nice to break Troy Aikman’s franchise record for career touchdown passes, he’s focused on getting his team to the playoffs.
Romo threw three second-half touchdown passes to answer a strong game by Philadelphia’s rookie duo of Bryce Brown and Nick Foles, and the Cowboys sent the Eagles to their eighth straight loss with a 38-33 victory Sunday night.
The first two scoring tosses from Romo erased seven-point deficits, including a 23-yarder to Dez Bryant that was vintage Romo and broke Aikman’s career mark of 165 TD passes. Romo scrambled to his right and threw back across the field to Bryant, who weaved through the Philadelphia defense to tie it at 17 in the third quarter.
Romo tied it again at 24 on a throw to Miles Austin, and had one more answer after Brown and Foles led the Eagles to a go-ahead field goal. He threw deep to Bryant for 35 yards on third down, and Bryant found his way into the end zone again by taking a screen pass 6 yards just inside the pylon for a 31-27 lead with 5:40 remaining in the game.
“It’s about winning games,” said Romo, who was 10 of 10 in the second half and completed his last 12 passes. “We desperately had to have this win tonight, and our team fought like heck to get a win.”
The Eagles’ slide continued despite 169 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Brown a week after he set a team rookie record with 178 yards on the ground.
After Romo’s go-ahead touchdown pass, Dallas went up by 11 when Morris Claiborne returned a fumble by Brown 50 yards for a touchdown.
Brown’s fumble snapped a streak of eight straight scoring drives by both teams. It was the second straight week that he mixed big runs with critical fumbles after losing the ball twice in last week’s loss to Carolina.
“Up until that fumble, he had done a heck of a job,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “He was trying to get every stinking yard he possibly could.”
Philadelphia (3-9) had a chance for an improbable rally when Damaris Johnson returned a punt 98 yards with 31 seconds left. After a failed 2-point conversion, the Cowboys recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
Foles, who was 22 of 34 in his third start in place of Michael Vick, led the Eagles to a 27-24 lead early in the fourth quarter on a 43-yard field goal by Alex Henery, who now has the longest current field goal streak at 21 after Cleveland’s Phil Dawson had a kick blocked Sunday.
“It was a tough loss,” Foles said. “I’m proud of our team with the way they fought. We have to keep working and stick together.”
Dallas running back DeMarco Murray, who started after missing six games with a sprained right foot, finished with 83 yards and a touchdown. Romo was 22 of 27 for 303 yards with no interceptions and a passer rating of 150.5.
Brown, who started his first game since high school when he filled in for LeSean McCoy last week, went in untouched on both of his scoring plays in the first half. He scooted around the left side for a 7-0 lead and trotted through a big hole up the middle to make it 14-3 midway through the second quarter.
Vick and McCoy are sidelined by concussions.
Philadelphia was in front after the first quarter for the first time all season, but Dan Bailey got the Cowboys on the board with a 39-yard field goal early in the second. DeMarco Murray’s 1-yard touchdown run trimmed the Eagles’ lead to 14-10 with 41 seconds left in the half.
Romo overcame a holding penalty and an 8-yard loss when Kevin Ogletree fumbled a handoff on a reverse by completing third-down passes to Jason Witten, Bryant and Miles Austin. Romo then found Witten all alone in the middle of the field for 28 yards to the 1, setting up Murray’s score.
The Eagles answered by driving 52 yards in 35 seconds to a 43-yard field goal by Henery on the last play of the half. Foles completed a 29-yard pass to Jason Avant to get the Eagles in scoring range.
Brown got Philadelphia’s first scoring drive going with a 42-yard run up the middle and finished it with a 10-yard run.
Trailing 7-3 early the second quarter, the Cowboys went three and out after a third-down completion from Romo to Witten was overturned on a challenge by Reid. Replay showed the ball hitting the turf as Witten grabbed it.
Two plays later, Brown went 39 yards down the sideline and later scored from 5 yards out.
The Cowboys welcomed Murray back by running him three straight times to start the game after calling 52 straight pass plays from the second quarter to the end of a Thanksgiving loss to Washington. The first time Murray went to the sideline, Romo was sacked by Brandon Graham on third-and-3.
After the first Philadelphia touchdown, the Cowboys drove down the field for Bailey’s field goal. Romo found Witten for 11 yards on third-and-10 and escaped pressure to complete a pass to Cole Beasley for 13 yards to the Eagles 41. Romo also had a 15-yard scramble.
Not only did Dallas get Murray back, but the offensive line was closer to full strength. Center Ryan Cook returned after missing time with a knee injury, which allowed Mackenzy Bernadeau to return to guard after two starts at center.
NOTES: The Cowboys snapped an eight-game losing streak on Sunday night. … Foles’ first two career TD passes were against Dallas, and both were to Riley Cooper. … Heisman Trophy contender Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M watched the game from a suite. His next game will be at Cowboys Stadium, against Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 4.