Friday, November 30, 2007
Let there be no question who the heavyweight of the NFC is. If that wasn’t convincing enough for you, I don’t know what would be. In a Name-Your-Score performance from the offense, in which they scored 37 and left nearly 20 more points on the field, and a dominating effort from the defense, in which a legendary QB was first battered and then knocked out, The Dallas Cowboys staked claim to the entire conference and demanded that any team that wishes to change that better prepare to do so in Irving, Texas.
Green Bay has been a nice story. And, it is quite likely that they will be guests here again, but even the most optimistic of Packer fans (I wish I knew one) cannot like the chances of next time being any different. There were a number of talking points, and a number of crazy instances, many of which will be covered in today’s notes and observations from a pounding of the Packers:
• Tony Romo continues to show that nothing seems to rattle him. Surely, something must affect this kid, right? He looks so mature beyond his years that is makes you shake your head. The relative ease that was evident as he operated last night was shocking. Give his offensive line tons of credit for making sure he could comfortably sit there and pick apart the secondary, but then Romo has to make the decision and then execute the throw. And wow, did he. He had 4 Touchdowns, and actually had 5 (Sorry, but that Terrell Owens drop should not be held against Romo, but somehow he gets an interception on his ledger). I will not question his composure and his nerves until he has to play in his first Super Bowl – which I will predict hits in roughly 8 weeks. To think that some wondered how his head would be around Brett Favre….
• Speaking of Favre, what was that? The beauty of the Brett Favre story is that as great as he is, he can, without warning, play like that. Think about Owens. No matter how great he is, he can still drop a sure Touchdown. That is Favre’s game in a nutshell. But, my gripes from last night are both with his performance, and the Green Bay Coaches’ game plan. If you have watched the Packers all season, you know that they do not throw the indiscriminate deep ball over and over. They throw it as a knockout blow after softening up the opponent with a series of short and intermediate passes. But, yesterday, Favre and the Packers tried to throw deep pass after deep pass regardless of the Cowboys coverage. This, of course, is a poor idea for a number of reasons. 1) it is all or nothing. If you don’t hit on it, your drive is likely over. 2) it risks turnovers in a game where turnovers will decide it, and 3) it risks your QB to huge punishment. Short routes keep your QB on his feet, deep routes require the QB to take a hit to make the throw. I must believe these were not all Favre audibles. Something tells me that Mike McCarthy was exposed a bit as a young coach who has never been in a huge showdown game like this.
• Which leads us to Wade Phillips, Brian Stewart, and the Cowboys defense; Wow. The coverage was tight, and the pressure was phenomenal. When you get to the QB, he makes bad decisions. I honestly didn’t think the Cowboys were going to get to Favre, because most of the Packers schedule wasn’t able to get consistent pressure on Favre. But, perhaps you give credit to the Wade Phillips scheme, or perhaps just to each Cowboys defender defeating the guy in front of him. Whatever it was, they dominated the line of scrimmage and battered Favre in basically one quarter.
• Miles Austin gets credit on the score-sheet as 0 catches for 0 yards. But, wow, did he make a difference. Between drawing a 40 yard Pass interference and a 42 yard Pass interference and then his phenomenal kick returning all night in which he looked like he was a Mason Crosby tackle away from a Touchdown, I would say that Austin did his job at a very high level. In a completely unrelated thought, I still believe that the maximum yardage for pass interference must be 15 yards. The call is not reviewable and too subjective to award that many yards to the offended party.
• So, who had the most absurd hit last night, Roy Williams on Ryan Grant, Nate Jones on Favre, or Keith Davis on Tramon Williams. All were impressive shots that left the Packers hurting
• You know you have tough fans to impress when you are up 27-17 at the half, and some of your fans are booing the taking of a knee. Tough crowd.
• Speaking of the tough crowd, why would so many Cowboys fans sell their tickets to Green Bay fans? Seriously. I know I may have an affiliation that makes my comment curious, but the whole point of “Home Field Advantage” is that THEIR fans cannot get into YOUR stadium. Remember, “we must protect this house”. I think the team is doing a pretty nice job of that, but are the fans? It is surely impressive that they can travel that well, but they get their tickets from somewhere.
• I was pretty impressed with Aaron Rodgers, but isn’t it a bit cheesy to go get your first Touchdown ball yourself? After Greg Jennings celebrated, Rodgers didn’t go hug him, he ran by him to go get the ball. Weird.
• Leonard Davis is a devastating blocker. He pushed big Ryan Pickett out of the way to form a hole so big the Queen Mary would have fit, as Marion Barber rolled through for a 15 yard gain.
• Terrell Owens is tough to figure. He was so great for another week, and had 147 yards at the half. I am quite sure if they had to score in the 2nd half, he could have racked up 250 without problem. How do I explain his drops? I don’t. I guess it is part of the bargain with him. But, like I said before the game, the real difference between these two teams is that one has an unstoppable playmaker on offense, and the other doesn’t. In short, you have Owens, and they don’t. That is why I think the Cowboys are going to Super Bowl 42.
• Did the refs really need the Cold-Weather pants?
• So, it appears not all long-haired, Ohio State linebackers are struggling. AJ Hawk looks like he can play in this league, if last night was any indication.
• Would Charles Woodson, KGB, and Favre made a difference? Doubtful. In fact, the Packers settled down when Favre left. You would like to think the pass rush of the Packers would be much different if KGB was there, but we might need to accept that the Cowboys offensive line is really good. Aaron Kampman was pretty quiet.
• DeMarcus Ware is unstoppable. Jason Witten is unstoppable. Tony Romo is unstoppable. And Eli Manning is not unstoppable.
• To me, it sure looked like 1993-1995 all over again with the Packers at Texas Stadium. Favre makes over-eager decisions that end up cutting Green Bay’s throat. The Packers defense cannot slow the Cowboys offense, and at the end of the game, the Cowboys win by double digits.
• Now, with a long weekend, it is time for the stretch run. The Cowboys have the whole table set right in front of them. No mistakes, and the playoffs set up perfectly. The dream season is alive in Dallas.