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Romo's 2 TDs lead Cowboys past Eagles 38-23

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Romo's 2 TDs lead Cowboys past Eagles 38-23

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Tony Romo and a potent Dallas defense have injected some life in the NFC East race.

Michael Vick is hurt, the Eagles are reeling, and coach Andy Reid's future in Philadelphia is tenuous.

Romo threw two touchdown passes, Dwayne Harris had a 78-yard punt return TD, and Brandon Carr returned an interception 47 yards for a score to lead the Cowboys to a 38-23 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

The Cowboys (4-5) are second in the NFC East, 1 1/2 games behind the New York Giants, who lost to Cincinnati earlier Sunday.

The win, and a break in the schedule, could propel the Cowboys back in the thick of the division race. They will play five of their next six games at home, starting Sunday against Cleveland.

``It was the best game everybody played,'' Romo said. ``If we keep creating turnovers and special teams play, well, we could be a good ballclub, we really could.''

The latest game between these fierce rivals was more about salvaging a season than playing with something big on the line.

Vick was lost to a concussion after consecutive bruising hits in the second quarter and the Eagles have lost five straight games under coach Reid for the first time in his 14 seasons.

Rookie Nick Foles filled in for Vick and briefly rallied the Eagles until the Cowboys started showing some touchdown versatility. Romo hit Dez Bryant on a 30-yard pass on the final play of the third quarter, and Harris and Carr scored their TDs in the fourth quarter.

As badly as Dallas needed the win, Owner Jerry Jones refused to call it a season saver.

``I don't want to do that,'' he said. ``You can, but I don't want to do it. I know how important the game is to us.''

With a 3-6 record, it's likely too late for the Eagles, no matter who the quarterback is, to save their season.

``There are tough times in life and this is one of those tough times,'' Foles said.

Foles hit the field in the second quarter and was greeted by a loud ovation from a crowd that had become fed up with Vick's erratic play.

Vick was knocked on his back by linebacker Ernie Sims on an incomplete pass and was slow to get up. He headed for the locker room and Foles started warming up. Vick, however, may have been injured on the previous play when he was driven from behind headfirst into the ground by Jay Ratliff.

Vick did not talk to reporters but appeared groggy in the locker room. Reid said he'd determine the starter for Sunday's game at Washington based on Vick's health.

``I was hoping he'd make it through without having a concussion, but that's where we sit right now with him,'' Reid said.

Foles, a fan favorite without throwing a regular-season pass, looked like an instant hit and woke up a sleepy crowd in the third quarter when he hit Jeremy Maclin for a 44-yard TD and a 14-10 lead. Alex Henery's 40-yard field goal made it 17-10.

Foles was rolling, the Eagles were scoring, and the good times were back at Lincoln Financial Field.

But in a season unraveling with each bumbling defeat, the Eagles were knocked down to reality.

Romo, who finished 19 of 26 for 209 yards, tied it with that TD pass to Bryant.

Dallas coach Jason Garrett had insisted the Cowboys weren't desperate after losing four of five. And they were dominant in the fourth period.

The Cowboys need to keep playing like they did late on Sunday for a shot at catching the Giants.

Early in the final quarter, Foles had an interception return for a touchdown wiped out on a holding penalty. No worries, Dallas. Harris returned a punt 78 yards for a 24-17 lead.

On the next drive, Foles had an interception returned for a score that made it 31-17.

Stanley Havili had a 1-yard TD run with 1:55 left, but Henery missed the extra point.

Then Foles fumbled after he was sacked and Mike Jenkins recovered for a touchdown.

``Critical win for us,'' Garrett said. ``I thought the effort was there. I thought we were focused the whole game. When you have success, you have to play through it, you have adversity, you have to play through it, and today was a good example of that.''

In the final minutes, fans behind Dallas' bench unrolled a banner that read, ``Andy, Quit, Your Team Has!''

Foles was 22 of 32 for 219 yards and one touchdown.

``Not good enough to win,'' Foles said. ``I made some mistakes and I can't turn the ball over. That's the most important thing to win games.''

Vick, the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback, has struggled this season and entered with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

He looked like his old self on the first drive, finishing it by connecting with Riley Cooper for a 2-yard TD. Cooper's sensational one-handed grab on a fade route gave the Eagles their first points on their opening drive all season.

The fun was short-lived when Romo hit Felix Jones on an 11-yard TD pass. Dan Bailey kicked a 30-yard field goal to send the Cowboys into halftime with a 10-7 lead.

NOTES: Foles was the first Eagles rookie QB to throw a TD pass since AJ Feeley in 2001. Brian Westbrook, a running back, threw one in 2002. ... The Eagles had won six straight division games, including a sweep of the Cowboys. ... Eagles WR Jason Avant left with a hamstring injury. ... Sims started 15 games for the Eagles in 2010 and had two sacks.

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7 things to know about Capitals head coaching candidate Todd Reirden

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USA TODAY Sports

7 things to know about Capitals head coaching candidate Todd Reirden

For now, Todd Reirden appears to be the frontrunner to be the new head coach of the Washington Capitals.

But who is he? 

Here are some things to know about the Capitals head coaching candidate:

1. Reirden spent the last four seasons with Washington on Barry Trotz's staff

Should Reirden be hired, he would bring a measure of familiarity with him few teams get after a coaching change. Reirden was hired by Trotz in 2014 when Trotz was putting together his staff. He was brought in to coach the team's defense and immediately improved the blue line.

In the year prior to Reirden's hiring, the Caps allowed 2.74 goals per game, good for only 21st in the NHL.

Here is what the defense has done in Reirden's four years in charge of the defense:

2014-15: 2.43 goals against per game, 7th in the NHL
2015-16: 2.33 goals against per game, 2nd in the NHL
2016-17: 2.16 goals against per game, 1st in the NHL
2017-18: 2.90 goals against per game, 16th in the NHL

In those four seasons combined, Washington allowed 2.45 goals per game, lower than every team in the NHL but one. He was also in charge of the team's lethal power play.

2. Reirden has been a head coach before

While he may never have been a head coach in the NHL, Reirden does have some head coaching experience.

Reirden was promoted to head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2009 when Dan Bylsma was promoted to head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. While head coach, Reirden led the team to a 55-43-8 record.

3. Reirden came to Washington from the Penguins

Reirden joined the Penguins organization in 2008 as an assistant coach with their AHL affiliate and took over as head coach later that season. He joined the Penguins' playoff staff during the 2009 Cup run. He was promoted to a full-time assistant coach under with the NHL team under Bylsma in 2010 and was there for four years until Byslma was fired. Reirden was not initially fired, but was allowed to seek other opportunities. When he was officially fired, the Capitals hired him the same day.

4. Reirden had a lot to do with Matt Niskanen signing with the Caps

Reirden was hired by the Caps on June 25, 2014. On July 1, Matt Niskanen signed with Washington.

Reirden and Niskanen developed a strong relationship while in Pittsburgh. Niskanen dealt with confidence issues after getting traded from Dallas to Pittsburgh in 2011. Under Reirden's tutelage, Niskanen developed into a top-pair defenseman. Niskanen's agent said at the time it was "no secret" that Reirden and Niskanen had bonded while both were in Pittsburgh.

Brooks Orpik also signed with the Caps as a free agent that year, the second defenseman from Pittsburgh to sign in Washington showing the level of respect they felt for Reirden.

5. Reirden nearly became the head coach of Calgary

Reirden interviewed for the head coaching job in Calgary in 2016 and was considered a finalist for the position before eventually losing out Glen Gulutzan.

Gulutzan was fired by Calgary after the 2017-18 season and is now an assistant coach in Edmonton while Reirden is the frontrunner to become the head coach for the defending Stanley Cup champions. Sounds like things worked out for Reirden.

6. The Caps have been grooming Reirden to be a head coach

Reirden was promoted to associate coach in August 2016 after Calgary had passed on him. Since then, the Caps have not allowed him to interview with other teams for head coaching positions. The implication was clear, this was someone the team wanted to keep.

"You know I think we’ve been grooming him to be a head coach whether for us or someone else," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan Monday.

7. Reiden played in 183 career NHL games

Reirden was a defenseman drafted in the 12th round by the New Jersey Devils in 1990. After playing four years at Bowling Green, Reirden went pro with several seasons in the ECHL, IHL and AHL. He made his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1998-99 season. Reirden would also play with the St. Louis Blues, Atlanta Thrashers and Phoenix Coyotes. 

For his NHL career, Reirden scored 11 goals and 46 points in 183 games.

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With Barry Trotz out, Jay Gruden is now your longest-tenured major head coach in D.C.

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With Barry Trotz out, Jay Gruden is now your longest-tenured major head coach in D.C.

Jay Gruden is many things, including honest, witty, one of the greatest Arena League quarterbacks in the history of the universe and, as of June 18, the longest-tenured head coach of a major D.C. sports team.

With the Capitals and Barry Trotz parting ways, Gruden is now officially the area's most experienced boss (while Gruden was actually hired a few months before Trotz back in 2014, they both have led their teams through four seasons up to this point, which is the number that matters here).

Scott Brooks, meanwhile, has overseen the Wizards for two campaigns, while Nats manager Dave Martinez is in the middle of his first year at the helm.

This designation will pair nicely with the fact that Gruden will also be the first 'Skins headman to hold his job into a fifth season in the Dan Snyder era. You don't need to make plans to visit his statue yet, of course, but this is some uncharted territory the 51-year-old is currently hanging out in.

Now, his overall record of 28-35-1 certainly needs work, or else he'll be in danger of handing the longest-tenured distinction over to Brooks. However, Gruden does deserve credit for bringing an amount of stability to the Burgundy and Gold, a franchise that is usually as stable as Metro's Wi-Fi connection.

So, with all due respect to DC United's Ben Olsen, the Kastles' Murphy Jensen and whatever legend is in charge of your kid's dynastic flag football team, when you think of the man who's been roaming the sidelines longer than anyone else in D.C., be sure to think of this man and only this man:

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