In a game with plenty more to discuss besides just the status of Tony Romo's collarbone, let's roll through some other observations about the events of Monday Night Football:
*- Lost in all of the talk about Romo's night was another masterful performance from Eli Manning in Dallas. He is starting to make a habit of coming down to Texas, slicing and dicing the Cowboys secondary, and then leaving with a win and an occasional autograph in the visitor's locker-room. It is very difficult for people to claim that he is overrated when he constantly makes your secondary look confused and helpless to stop him. One thing that is considered enough is his overall orchestration of the offense in the pre snap reads. It seems that when the play starts, Eli is pretty sure where he wants to go with the football and if you help him out with only sporadic pressure, then he is going to unleash another field day on Orlando Scandrick, Gerald Sensabaugh, Alan Ball, Terence Newman, and Mike Jenkins. Manning threw 30 passes to his 4 Wide Receivers (Nicks, Smith, Manningham, and Barden) for 22 completions and 271 yards. Just to the Wide Receivers! That is a shocking total - except for the fact that he did pretty much the same thing last time he played at Cowboys stadium last September and Smith and Manningham had 100 yard performances against Scandrick and friends. This time, the Giants have far more talent there with the emergence of the beast, Hakeem Nicks. His combination of speed, power, and confidence is something special to behold. For all of the love that Dallas fans have for their prospect, Dez Bryant, I think you could make the case that Nicks is just as impressive. Both of these teams have a special future at Wideout.
*- What in the name of Johnny Jolly is Igor Olshansky doing? I understand that we do not want 11 zombies just going through the motions when you are down 38-20. We ask that someone shows some emotion and offers some fight. But, Igor, you cannot get up and do a dance when you are down 38-20 and your team is about to drop to 1-5. You just can't. It looks silly and bush league. Why Jolly? Because, he is the guy who did a similar dance years ago when his Texas A&M Aggies were down 11 touchdowns in Norman, 77-0. On one play, Jolly breaks through and drops the Sooners' RB for a 1 yard loss. And there is Jolly, down 77, doing a dance. Please, folks. Stop it. In the name of Darren Hambrick and his dance from a 27-0 thrashing in Baltimore back in 2000, just stop it.
*- I spend a lot of time showing you metrics that I believe are important. There are numbers that are proven week in and week out. But, last night, the Cowboys turned the ball over 5 times. 5 Takeaways! A +3 in the turnover battle is nearly a given that you will win that game. Also, their starting field position was the best it has been in years. 5 times in 1 game the Cowboys started possessions in Giants territory. 3 times it was inside the Giants' 20 yard line! And yet, none of those numbers stopped the Giants down. The Cowboys accomplished some amazingly disheartening things on Monday night. And in addition, they also generated a special teams touchdown. I cannot believe the combination of positive things that fell in the Cowboys lap last night, and yet they had almost no chance of winning the game. That is what makes the QB position the most important spot in the entire organization. If you don't have one, you don't win.
*- Not to belabor the point that was made for about 15 minutes on the tv last night, but on what planet do you not kick a FG down 18 points? You absolutely must extend the game as long as possible and the Cowboys seemed like they did not understand this simple strategy point or had never heard of the chart that simply tells you what to do in the event that you cannot figure it out on your own. Down 16, you go for it. Down 17 or more and that is 3 scores - regardless of how you get them. Wade and Garrett looked utterly confused by this as if it was a math problem with no solution. Come on, guys. We have to believe that you have an idea of what is going on in these important moments where coaching can help or hurt the cause. There, it hurt the cause.
*- Another strategy point was the 2nd and goal play for the Giants in the 1st Quarter that ended up being an easy Touchdown for Hakeem Nicks. What in the world are we thinking with Gerald Sensabaugh as the man on an island with him? How do you not have corners on the spot there? When did we ever think Sensabaugh can lock down a true "X" receiver? That seems like madness. And then, in a game where Sensabaugh did intercept a pass, his biggest memory point for me was his ridiculous tackle attempt - I might be too kind there - on the Mario Manningham screen pass touchdown. If my safety is that unskilled that he cannot or will not make contact with Manninham when Mario has nowhere to go along the sideline - then I need a new safety. That is absolutely absurd.
*- Speaking of a willingness to play hard and do what your job asks you to do, what do we say about the Brandon Jacobs Touchdown run? I saw plenty of players running at half speed, and then I saw both of my safeties attempt to tackle Jacobs with minimal conviction. He shed them both with ease and pranced into the endzone in what must be called the low point of 2010. And after the game the head coach is trying to tell me that there was fight throughout the night and the team never gave up? He must be delusional. Watch that play and those 2 3rd Quarter Touchdowns again and tell me your team didn't give up, coach.
*- Dez Bryant is a special player. Of the 45 players in Cowboys uniforms last night, he seemed to be the most willing to compete on every snap he was on the field. His competitiveness and passion is desperately needed around here as he never stopped trying. We need way more of that, and way less of guys who have already been so well compensated that their resolve may not be what it once was. In the words of the famous Al Pacino speech, they were not willing to fight for that inch last night.
I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that although history may remember this night as the "night Romo broke his collarbone", those of us who follow this team closely know that this season was hanging by a thread already. The pursuit of 2010 glory is gone, and only fixing this broken organization is a priority. I think massive changes are required for that, and I see no time like the present to get started.