ROB MAADDI, AP Pro Football Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Dez Bryant backed up his bravado in a big way.
Bryant had a career-best three touchdown receptions, and the Dallas Cowboys rallied to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 38-27 after wasting a 21-0 lead.
DeMarco Murray had a pair of TD runs to help the Cowboys (10-4) move ahead of the Eagles (9-5) into first place in the NFC East. The Eagles dominated the Cowboys in a 33-10 road win on Thanksgiving, but Dallas seized control of the division with two weeks left.
“We believed in one another, and I think that’s the key to victory,” Bryant said. “Believing in one another and just trying to come out and execute the plays the best way that we possibly can, and we did that.”
The NFC-leading Arizona Cardinals (11-3) clinched a playoff berth because the game didn’t end in a tie.
The Cowboys took a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter before Philadelphia rallied behind Mark Sanchez.
Chris Polk had TD runs of 1 and 5 yards, and Darren Sproles ran in from the 1 to give the Eagles a 24-21 lead late in third quarter. But Tony Romo and the Cowboys answered quickly with two touchdowns in a 2:51 span.
Murray scored on a 2-yard run to cap a 78-yard drive. After J.J. Wilcox intercepted Sanchez’s pass, the Cowboys started the fourth quarter at the Eagles 42. Romo then hit Bryant in stride for a 25-yard scoring pass.
“Having a guy like Dez makes it easy to throw to spots that he can go get it,” Romo said. “Just lucky to have him.”
Bryant couldn’t wait for this game after being held to 73 yards on four catches in the first meeting. After that game, he called Philadelphia’s secondary “cheap,” and he had a heated exchange with Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins before Sunday night’s game. Bryant came back twice after Jenkins walked away and it wasn’t known why they argued.
“Just great competitors going at it, that’s all,” Bryant said.
Bryant finished with six receptions for 114 yards. He beat cornerback Bradley Fletcher on each of the TDs.
“I just had a terrible game,” Fletcher said.
Romo threw for 265 yards and Murray ran for 81 yards on 31 carries.
Here are some things learned in Dallas’ win over the Eagles:
SANCHEZ OR FOLES: Sanchez may not get another chance to steer one more Philadelphia rally. Sanchez was 17 of 28 for 252 yards and two interceptions. The sub-turned-starter could return to his backup role if Nick Foles is cleared to return from his broken collarbone. Eagles coach Chip Kelly refused to discuss hypotheticals, and Sanchez said he didn’t know if he would start next week at Washington.
“I didn’t play well enough to win and that’s why we lost,” Sanchez said.
MCCOY’S STRUGGLE: LeSean McCoy was held in check against Dallas and only rushed for 64 yards. McCoy, a two-time All-Pro, ran for 159 yards and a touchdown in the Thanksgiving victory.
“When we got going, we really got going,” McCoy said. “We just slowed down at the wrong time.”
ROAD STARS: The Cowboys are 7-0 on the road for the third time in franchise history. Their road finale is Dec. 28 against the lowly Washington Redskins.
“Hard to explain,” coach Jason Garrett said. “I believe we have a mentally tough football team.”
SACK EXCHANGE: The Cowboys sacked Sanchez four times. Jeremy Mincey and Tyrone Crawford each had two sacks. The Eagles allowed the most sacks since their season opener.
“When it was a two-score game and we felt like (Sanchez) was going to be in the pocket, those guys did a good job just rushing and they stayed after him and stayed after him,” Garrett said.
Mincey said it was great to beat a tackle like Jason Peters for his sacks.
“I left some out there during the first game, and I knew I was going to have an opportunity to get on the edge,” Mincey said.
NFC EAST: The Cowboys clinch their first division title since 2009 with wins over Indianapolis and Washington or one win and one loss by Philadelphia, which plays at the Redskins and Giants the final two weeks. If the Eagles win out and the Cowboys lose one, Philadelphia repeats.
AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston contributed to this report.