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Cowboys get "reality check'

The Dallas Cowboys were trying to heal their self-inflicted wounds Tuesday after getting a major "reality check" from the Philadelphia Eagles.

The veteran Eagles whipped the young Cowboys 31-7 Monday night in a clash of NFC East unbeatens as quarterback Troy Aikman served up three interceptions to the team he hasn't defeated in six starts.

"This was a big reality check for us," Dallas safety James Washington said. "Now, we know how far we have to go."

Aikman, who was sacked four times and flagged for grounding the ball on another occasion, said, "I think the game is different without the turnovers. I cost us several times. We moved the ball on them but couldn't make the big play."

The Cowboys lost the ball a fourth time when fullback Daryl Johnston fumbled it away.

In six losses to Philadelphia, Aikman has been intercepted 10 times and sacked 24 times. He has three touchdown passes.

Herschel Walker, a former Cowboy, made the Dallas loss even more painful by scoring on two touchdown runs.

"Herschel sets up the blocks real well," Eagles coach Rich Kotite said. "He had good second- and third-effort runs. He got some good yards."

But he didn't want to give all the credit to Walker alone.

"There is no question about it, we're better up front." Kotite said. He said that tackles Antone Davis and Ron Heller, center David Alexander and guards Mike Schad and Eric Floyd have benefited from being together as a unit since training camp.

"We simplified our blocking schemes and our calls. We've kept the group in most of the time. They're playing together," Kotite said.

"Every time the defense went on the field, we were backed up because of all the turnovers," Dallas defensive back Bill Bates said. "It made things difficult."

Dallas wide receiver Michael Irvin said the game will be different when the Eagles come to Texas Stadium for the return match on Nov. 1

"The turnovers made the difference," he said. "They won't next time because we won't make them."

Around the league

Broncos: Denver has hired Jack Elway, quarterback John's father, as a scout. Jack Elway had been coaching the Frankfurt Galaxy of the World League and previously was head coach at Cal State Northridge (1976-78), San Jose State (1979-83) and Stanford (1984-88).

Browns: Backup quarterback Brad Goebel cleared waivers and has been recalled by Cleveland. Goebel will back up Mike Tomczak in Sunday's game against Pittsburgh.

Packers: Cornerback Lewis Billups, who complained publicly about losing his starting spot to rookie Terrell Buckley, was released Monday after general manager Ron Wolf said efforts to trade Billups were unsuccessful.

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