Monday, December 15, 2008
In what would have to go down as one of the craziest weeks in the history of this storied franchise (and consider for a moment what that is saying), we see yet again that winning cures cancer. At least temporarily, that is. It would seem that cancer does exist in the Cowboys locker-room, and I understand how a fans hope and dream is that the media is creating everything, but I would think it would take naiveté of the highest order to believe that there is no civil unrest in that Cowboys room. Something smells badly, and I think we all know who the usual suspect is on that front; but for a day, the Cowboys beat the Giants and everyone feels better and believes that they are now prepared to fight another day.
I said after the Seattle game : If there is anything that Wade Phillips can say that did not exist before he arrived it is that ability to sack the QB. The last time the team broke the 40 sacks barrier before Wade arrived was 1994. Now they have done it both years Wade has been here. The last time they had done it in back to back seasons is 1987-1988. Well, 8 more sacks against the Giants have the Cowboys high atop the National Football League with 53! The pass rush is relentless, and whether it is due to Wade taking control of the defensive playcalling, or the return of Terrence Newman, or a combination of many things…the
fact is quite clear. It is tough to block the Dallas Cowboys pass rush right now.
Now, to the much-maligned QB, Tony Romo. He has had prettier performances. He has made things look easier. But if football legends are made when a guy takes a beating and guts his way through a difficult game and a tremendous amount of punishment, then I think Tony Romo took another step in quieting his critics. The game was a December win, so put that one on the positive side of the ledger, and go back and review the throws he made while someone had a helmet in his sternum. Playing QB is tough, playing it in Dallas is tougher, and playing it in Dallas during the circus of #81 is next to impossible, but I think Tony Romo can limp around his house today feeling pretty darn proud of his evening. 0 turnovers (granted the fumble in the end zone was close) and a QB rating of 113.7 constitutes an amazing night given the piano he was carrying around on his back entering the game. Meanwhile, Eli, he the wearer of the Super Bowl ring, put a rating of 43.9 up, with 2 interceptions and looks like he wouldn’t mind having Plaxico and maybe Shockey back in the mix. I have said it a dozen times, and I have been ridiculed for saying it. But I haven’t changed my mind: “They have Eli, We have Romo…Give me Romo”.
Now, on to thoughts and comments from a big win against the Giants:
• We talked about the difficulty of this defensive gauntlet that the Cowboys are trying to survive. Well, they may be surviving, but the bruises are mounting up. I sure think the physical toll is mounting, and question what will be left of the Cowboys if they do make the playoffs. This Steelers-Giants-Ravens-Eagles December is as rough and tough as it gets. That was some hitting on that field yesterday. As a fan, you have to love it. As a player, you have to love when it is over.
• Jason Witten is as money as it gets. On 3rd down, Tony Romo looks at Witten 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Why? Because he makes the catch, and then he fights and fights to get that yard. Terrell can do a lot of things, but fight for that yard? I think we all saw that hook slide one yard short of the marker from Owens. Did he slip? Doesn’t matter. He didn’t come close to the marker. And then on the play of the game, Witten gets a 3rd and 9 even though he was being tackled 3 yards short of the marker. You want the ball on 3rd down? You better get that yard. Or 3.
• Audible boos during the starting line-ups, and during a few various moments of the game for Owens. I wonder if that has any effect on him at all? Nah. I am sure, Rosenhaus, Irvin, and Sanders will all assure him that the fans were calling him “Moose”, and that he is in the right and that everyone else is conspiring to keep him down. Surely, this is the last season with the narcissist known as T.O., right?
• Roy Williams: 1 catch for 5 yards. Something tells me the Cowboys anticipated more than 14 catches for 182 yards in his first 8 games here. That projects to a season of 28 catches and 364 yards over 16 games. YIKES. Apparently, Terrell refers to him as “Decoy Roy”. So far, I cannot argue with that point.
• Big credit to the coaches and players for figuring out how to slow down the Giants pass rush a bit as the game moved to the 2nd Quarter and beyond. It appeared the first step was to get Cory Proctor some much-needed help. Then, the next step was to use some screen plays and catch the Giants in some blitzes. Regardless, aside from Gurode snapping the ball well before the team was ready on that safety, the protection improved dramatically as the game went on. The first quarter was plenty damaging as it was.
• DeMarcus Ware is an animal. Everything you could say about his domination has already been said. 3 more sacks takes him to 19, and a legitimate chance to catch the all-time official NFL record of Michael Strahan (22.5) and the unofficial Cowboys record of Harvey Martin (23). Last night, they loved flipping Ware from Right End to Left End, to give both of the Giants tackles a chance to get Eli killed, and he just had his way. The best part of that night though, was when Ware was on the sideline with what appeared to be an equipment issue. That was during the Giants 2nd drive of the 3rd Quarter, and after they moved the ball from their 7 to their 45, A Ware-less defense scored back to back sacks with Spencer/Canty on 2nd down and Ellis/Ratliff on 3rd down getting the meet at the QB sacks. Loved the pressure.
• It was quite clear that Marion Barber had very little burst and ability to get up to speed last night. Luckily, it sure looks like Tashard Choice is ready to get the ball and make something happen. He also has the ability to catch the ball pretty well, which I didn’t realize back in Oxnard. I can’t imagine the depth in 2009 when Felix is healthy again.
• Having Newman make plays changes everything. He has had a very uneven year, but last night he really changed momentum with his first interception of the night. And who is the 2nd best corner on the squad? I think it has been Orlando Scandrick, recently. I love his fight. I love his effort. And I think he has some raw talent. Hard to believe you can find Choice and Scandrick on day 2 of the draft, but like Ratliff and Crayton, it demonstrates why scouts mean everything in the NFL.
• Too many penalties, boys. I know this is something they don’t seem very worried about, but good gosh, another 108 yards in flags? Attention to detail!
• Only 5 more days to Baltimore, and the final home game ever to be played at Texas Stadium. Heal fast, because this is another game you must win. Hey, Cowboys, how about everyone zip the lips for a few days, ok?