Tuesday, September 16, 2008
How do you describe that game last night to your buddy who missed the game? How do you write about the game last night on this blog without spending the better part of Tuesday trying to touch everything?
The fact of the matter is this: That game is beyond words. We have all seen plenty of football in our lives, but there were surely things last night that you have never seen before (DeSean Jackson) and things that made the last Monday Night game ever played in Irving a night to truly remember. And it is much better to be able to say you won that game. Right, Eagles?
As pointless as this may be, allow me to try to summarize the goofiness, the insanity, and the amazing: The Cowboys Monday Night win against those hated Eagles…
• What a display of QB excellence we saw last night. Tony Romo and Donovan McNabb both put on a show. Romo had a QB rating of 123, and McNabb had one of 99. They both burned the opposing safeties with great regularity, and they both are pretty good at avoiding interceptions. Romo threw a bad one last night, but he is already +25 in his career in 28 starts in TD/Int ratio. That is good, but McNabb is +98 in his career. McNabb does many things, but he does not throw interceptions very often. In fact, statistically, nobody has ever thrown fewer picks in the history of the league.
• If I were a life-long Cowboys fan needing a jersey, I am almost positive I would be buying the White “94”.
• Meanwhile, Jason Witten continues to put together a career that will end in Canton, Ohio. Adding to his legend last night is the separation of his shoulder in the 2nd Quarter on his 14 yard reception. Then, he doesn’t get to a ball in the 4th quarter that he normally grabs, and I was wondering what role his right shoulder played on that play. Thankfully, they came right back to that route and Witten pulled it in to set up the winning TD. I am plenty worried about Witten attempting to play the rest of the season with only 1 healthy shoulder – he is a guy who uses that shoulder to block about 30 times a game. 7 catches for 110 yards and 1 separated shoulder. Sgt. Martin Riggs is proud somewhere this morning of Witten. So am I.
• Romo in 28 starts has 12 300-yard games. Troy Aikman had 165 starts and had 13 300-yard games. Also, when you hear people say Aikman had low TD numbers because Emmitt scored all the touchdowns, please make note of the fact that despite all of Romo’s Touchdowns, Marion Barber has more 1 yard touchdowns than anyone in the NFL since 2006. Not saying Aikman wasn’t that great – I am simply saying Romo is what we think he is.
• I received an email or two that point out that the only reason the Cowboys won the game last night was because the Eagles shot themselves in the head on the fumbled exchange between Donovan and Bryan Westbrook. I cannot argue with the theory, as the Eagles were already up 37-34, and were in field goal range again. If they continue driving (it was 1st down) the clock goes down and the score goes up, very possibly giving the Eagles a 10 point lead with less than 5 minutes to play. Of course, earlier, the Eagles were also beneficiaries of the Romo fumble in the endzone which was a free 7 points – not too mention the Romo interception followed by a very iffy Pass Interference call on Anthony Henry that gave the Eagles a drive that was 1 play long. So, when the Eagles get 14 points off 1 play of offense for 6 yards, I have a hard time saying they were robbed. It is called football. Both teams get breaks, both teams make plays. Who makes more is decided on the scoreboard.
• One of the statistics I want to track this season is “sacks allowed”. You know, which Offensive Lineman is blowing the block which allows Romo to get sacked. Well, through 2 games, Romo has been sacked 0 times. On the other hand, I also want to track penalties. There are plenty to track there, more on that to come…
• Bad News: The Eagles have DeSean Jackson for the next several years. As I argued with Norm Hitzges on draft day, I don’t care he is 168 pounds – he can flat out play. Good News: The Eagles have DeSean Jackson – and he may not make the smartest decisions all of the time both on and off the field. That premature celebration was absolutely shocking. But, man, what a player and what a weapon to a team that apparently doesn’t need many more weapons on the field. Roy Williams did not seem to have much plan on that play, did he?
• What an exercise in frustration with Jason Garrett trying to be stubborn with Jim Johnson in the chess match last night. Garrett was determined to run Barber from “Run Sets” of 3 Tight Ends or 2 Tight Ends and a Full back. That put Johnson in a spot where he would load up the box with 9 and sometimes even 10 defenders. This put the battering ram (Barber) running full speed into a brick wall (the Eagles). The winner? Not sure. But there were many high speed collisions that resulted in 18 carries for 63 yards and bruises for all involved. Meanwhile, Westbrook, did not exactly find great success running the ball either – many times out of the shotgun, as he had 18 carries for 58 yards. It is absolutely true that in a game that resulted in 78 points, that was still a smash mouth football game.
• Brad Sham claimed the crowd has never been better. I will have to take his word for that, but he is right in that the crowd was very, very loud.
• Felix Jones is electric. Big credit to his 10 blockers on the kick return: Choice, Bennett, Rogers, Carpenter, and Watkins (The front line); Curtis, Berger, McQuistan, Anderson (the Wedge); and Stanback (the other returner)…but Felix did plenty of that with just flat out speed. What a weapon. By the way, last time the Cowboys returned a kick for a TD in the regular season? That is right: Randall Williams - 10/12/03 in what will be remembered as the fasted TD in NFL History, as he scored it at the 14:57 mark of the 1Q as the Eagles tried to start another game with an onside kick. Williams was awake, grabbed the ball and ran it in.
• So why did Romo stop throwing to Terrell Owens as the game went on? I am not sure. It looked like he had the Eagles in single coverage a few times in the 2nd half, and Romo didn’t really consider him on the play. He was making the Eagles look silly in the 1st half with 3 catches for 89 yards, and another 55 yarder that was called back on a Cory Procter hold. I think they left some big plays on the field with Owens in final 30 minutes.
• Despite all of the additions to the Cowboys secondary, McNabb picked them apart. He was playing at a very high level, but the idea that the Cowboys now have several gloves back there keeping everyone covered is obviously false. Eagles got open, and McNabb hit them between the numbers for most of the night. He did miss a crucial throw late – the 3rd and 8 pass to Westbrook that was high, but I thought McNabb looked like his MVP – Candidate self last night. He is obviously healthy again. I think it is fair to fear him again.
• Nick Folk is money. Love him.
• Speaking of McNabb, it was great to see the pass rush finally crush the Eagles late. Relentless effort from Greg Ellis and DeMarcus Ware in particular may not have won many battles, but they did win the war. 4 sacks sounds dominating, but it kind of looked more like McNabb held the ball way too long and caused some of those sacks himself. Nevertheless, that was a great game within the game.
• Incidentally, that 72 yards touchdown pass to Owens was great on several levels. First, it looked like Owens was overthrown by a mile – but Owens is so fast, you cannot overthrow him. Then, how did you like Kevin Considine’s frozen posture for that pump fake? Poor angles for a safety.
• Bottom line is the bottom line. A very memorable game that goes straight to DVD. A nice divisional win against a playoff team (I assume). Now, at 2-0, with injuries stacking up (Roy appears out for a month – and how many others had trouble getting out of bed today?) the Boys must now travel north to Wisconsin for Tony Romo’s homecoming game. Another week, another showdown. This is going to be another fun week.