Monday, December 08, 2008
It surely wasn’t lost on me that the disaster of the 4th Quarter in Pittsburgh – that may or may not cost the Dallas Cowboys a spot in the 2008 playoffs – happened on December 7th. While this certainly will not live in infamy quite to the extent as the real reason 12/7 is infamous, the 67th (not 57th...sorry) anniversary of Pearl Harbor seems a somewhat fitting day to hold a true ambush disaster in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
This game wasn’t necessarily won, but it was close. Real close. They don’t say this thing is a game of inches for nothing. Consider the following that all happened in the late stages of the disaster:
1) – If Tashard Choice can stay in bounds and finish his long reception into a touchdown instead of out of bounds at the 10…
2) – If Jay Ratliff can grab that interception that he nearly grabs off the ground, the play before the home run heave to Santonio Holmes…
3) – If Jeff Reed doesn’t get the most generous carom off the upright…
4) – And, If Jason Witten is looking for the ball on 4th and 10 and ball nearly hits him on the head…
Maybe the result is different. But, it surely isn’t. In a game of inches, the Cowboys were done in by a couple. And now, you sit at 8-5. And your playoff hopes have dimmed.
Now, on to the QB; I said on the pregame show that if he does what he is capable of doing (win the game in Pitt) then by the evening highlight shows he could be the front-runner in the MVP running. Err, forget about that, please. That was one of those performances where the QB got you beat. Most of the other departments of the team (The entire defense, Tashard Choice) played about as good as you can possibly hope. But, the QB made too many poor decisions, and let’s face it: As good as he is, he was not good enough yesterday to win a game in a very difficult environment. The last thing you can have in a game of that magnitude is horrible ball protection. The Cowboys were way too generous with the ball, and that goes to your QB.
I love the fact that somehow I am now the target of emails about Tony Romo when he plays poorly. If his email address were public, you could write to him and get in his face, but since it isn’t – people feel better about Romo blowing it by emailing me personally and telling me how “idiotic” and “stupid” I am for backing Romo like I do. Like I say every time; I believe in Tony Romo. I believe that he will one day get this team another Super Bowl victory. I have made my bed, and I will be happy to sleep in it. I am convinced that he is the real deal. Does that mean he will never play a poor game? Never throw a pick? Or three? Of course, not. But, if your first inclination when he has a poor outing is to email me, you may have to explain that one to me. Unless, you are also quick to email me and congratulate me when he plays well.
On the other hand, if you have determined that Romo will never win anything, and that the Cowboys are wasting their time on this “loser”, then make your position very clear and enjoy the carnage. I think you are wrong, but the odds are greatly in your favor by saying he will never measure up to Roger or Troy. Anyway, enough about that.
Let’s get to various notes and such from the big game and the bigger loss:
• Santonio Holmes won that game last night. Without his big catch on 3rd and 16 for 47 yards when Terrence Newman didn’t think Ben Roethlisberger could throw it against the win that far, and without his big punt return, the Steelers don’t have a chance. He had some big clutch moments yesterday late to save the game.
• Meanwhile, how about that goal line stand. You do wonder what spot that stand would have had in the NFL Films season video if the Cowboys won yesterday. They didn’t win, but I believe we all have to be gaining some respect for what this defense is capable of. To consistently get to the QB like they are, to hang in there and hang tough in a tough situation, and to keep getting stops after Romo mistakes is quite impressive. I think they are finally gaining some steam. I can live without the 12 men on the field penalty and the Greg Ellis lined up offside flag, but I cannot quarrel too much with that defense. Especially as banged up as they are.
• Terrell Owens thought he was open? No way! And what is that? He is throwing a tantrum on the sideline in disgust after things go wrong because he needs the ball more? No way! That is so out of character for him. What? It is because he wants to win so badly? That’s right. I guess that excuses his petulance. What a great example for the young lads he must be.
• Bradie James is playing better than he has ever played. I can't tell you how impressed by #56 as I have been. He is flying around the ball making plays on a regular basis. I think he has really taken the next step as a linebacker.
• List of things Pac Man did yesterday that make you believe in the cliché, “dumb players make dumb plays”. Amazingly poor judgment in fielding a punt at his 5; Lined up out of position causing Scandrick to call a timeout; On the field when he wasn’t supposed to be (I am guessing based on Wade yelling at him) when the Cowboys were penalized giving the Steelers a first and goal; and then another incredibly mediocre punt return and three mediocre kick returns….So, is this guy worth all of this trouble? At some point, he has got to make a play on returns to make us all understand why the Cowboys moved heaven and earth to accommodate him.
• Tashard Choice is a very impressive young man. There is no doubt the Cowboys got too conservative in the 4th Quarter thinking that Choice and OL could grind down the Steelers in the final Quarter, but for his first professional start for him to produce like he did is very encouraging moving forward. I thought early in the game that he was nervous and that explains his loss of footing, but once he gained his composure and calm, he played better than anyone could have hoped. It is encouraging to see the depth at RB when everyone is healthy. Now, is Barber ready for New York?
• Troy Polamalu is wonderful. I don’t see enough of Ed Reed to be able to give you a detailed comparison and breakdown, but I do see the Steelers enough to know that yesterday was just another day at the office for that guy. He is at the top of the safety position in the NFL. Very, very high level of quality. Seeing him run down a RB from behind down the line of scrimmage is a thing of beauty.
• Some of the emails received about the appearance of Wade Phillips yesterday: “Is he wearing Gor-tex?” and “Why is he wrapped up like Paddington Bear?” - Meanwhile, I know coach demeanor can be over-rated, but does Mike Tomlin jump around and celebrate like he is a member of the special teams or that he is the head coach? I might advise him to crank it down a notch, because coaches are allowed a fist pump or two, but not much more than that.
• It has already been established that Romo was nowhere near good enough, but how about Owens quitting on one route and Witten admitting to running the wrong route on another leading to 2 of the 3 interceptions. Of all of the receivers to betray you on plays when the blitz is running you down, you would think you could count on 81 and 82. Yikes.
• I think Ben Roethlisberger is pretty strong. He really makes plays and keeps plays alive. I think he takes a tremendous beating, but his toughness is remarkable. You can win with Big Ben if you have a team built like that.
• If you read this blog, and you know the Tra Battle story. Well, add another chapter when the ball bounced off his leg on the short punt. The life of a special teamer.
• Bottom line time? If the playoffs ended today you are in the playoffs. Also, you should have won in Pittsburgh against a Steelers team that could be in the Super Bowl. You didn’t, but that doesn’t take away that you showed you can compete there. Three weeks left, and if you take care of your business, it is all good. 6 days to the Giants at home.