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Cowboys vs. Eagles 2012: Morris Claiborne makes biggest play of game

Cowboys rookie Morris Claiborne saved the day with a 50-yard defensive fumble return for a touchdown on Sunday night.

Tom Pennington

Marking the team's fourth return touchdown over a two-game span against the Eagles this season, Dallas Cowboys rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne helped seal up Sunday's pivotal win with his first career NFL touchdown.

With the Eagles trailing 31-27 and attempting to take the lead, Claiborne scooped up a fumble and proceeded to return it 50 yards to the end zone for a timely defensive touchdown. Not only did the score eliminate much of Philadelphia's momentum, but it effectively gave the Cowboys a two-score cushion late in the fourth quarter.

"I haven’t been in the end zone in so long and to get in on this stage, you know it was awesome and in a big game like that," Claiborne told Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "It was real big. My teammates got it out. I am just blessed and fortunate enough to be around the ball and be able to pick it up and get in the end zone with it."

Though he was visibly frustrated by his unit's performance on the evening, Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan echoed Claiborne's sentiments about the timeliness of the play after the game.

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"That was a pretty [expletive] big relief. That’s about all there is to it," Ryan said. "It shouldn’t be as difficult as we made it look tonight. We made it look difficult and that’s on me."

Already established as one of the most physical young corners in the NFC, Claiborne bounced back in a big way after being whistled for five penalties against the Eagles back on Nov. 11. The Cowboys will need to continue receiving big plays from their top draft choice over the remainder of the regular season to stay in the playoff hunt, but Sunday's performance is a clear indicator that Claiborne is well on his way toward developing into an elite player at his position.

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Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.