I'm calling it the most enjoyable single moment there is for the sports fan. And you just experienced it! Let's discuss in today's FISH on FOOTBALL Cowboys notebook:
THIS MAGIC MOMENT: It may be the most enjoyable single moment there is for the sports fan: The after-the-buzzer, no-holds-barred end-zone mob scene. It's a game-winning celebration, of course, and in the Cowboys' 26-20 OT victory at Kansas City, that was sweet enough. But the dogpile atop Miles Austin was more than just the recognition of a W. It was good friends finding their guy to hug him. It was members of the team who barely know one another being magnetized together. There was no awareness of the cameras, there was no time to "act cool,'' there was no time to think about agents or money or endorsements or business. It was 53 smiles, all throwing themselves into each other, with the biggest smile of all, Miles Austin's, as the weight-bearing beam. It was raw. It was pure. It was good.
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SITUATIONAL PUNT-RETURNERS?: We all call results like this one "ugly wins,'' and there is truth in that. Penalties, turnovers, dropped passes. But that game had an ugly feel too because of the gray weather, because of the mucky field, because of the 1960 uniforms, and because the only way those Chiefs are ever going to win a game is if they ugly it up. Why is it so difficult to find a punt returner who is a) reliable, b) smart, c) sure-handed, d) elusive and e) fast? I wonder this every time a team (including Dallas) opts for a "situational substitution'' at punt-returner or kick returner.
JUPITER'S CRUNCHED: I don't think anybody misjudged Martellus Bennett's talent. I don't even think his Jupiter-Crunchiness is a distraction. I think it was simply too much to ask that he be Jason Witten Jr. - yet, anyway. That's the first time America's Team has ever won at Arrowhead? Really? While it is certainly fair to say Dallas showed some guts here, it would be unfair to fail to note that the Chiefs did the same. For all the analysis: Value the win. It's a roadie against a team that is going to beat somebody. And consider the alternative: What if you lose? What if you've got to stew over a loss for two weeks? Dallas made enough plays to survive this thing and to avoid an awful NFL fate.
WADE'S PIT CREW: Ideally, Wade Phillips should WANT his defense on the field in game-winning spots. If you are a pit-crew boss, and you believe in your car, you WANT your car in control of the final laps, you believe in your car, and you really don't even sweat it much. The Giants and the Broncos and now the Chiefs, and pit-crew boss Wade must be sweating like he's wearing a ski suit in a sauna. Quit worrying about whether the rules are too strict. Quit worrying about whether the call against Alan Ball was too strict. Start wondering why, on third-and-26, Ball opted to go for the kill shot on a Chiefs pass play that, even if it's complete, still leaves KC at fourth-and-long. Situations, guys. This is junior-high stuff. "What do we do if ...'' is one of the most basic junior-high coaching sentences uttered.
ROMO VS. ORTON: I've chided Tony and the Romosexuals for making it seem like the Cowboys QB needs to be Aikman or Staubach when really, all he needs to be is Kyle Orton. (Don't laugh; Orton is not only Denver's "bus driver,'' he's also 5-0 and he's also a top-10 Fantasy QB.) What Romo did in Kansas City was rather Ortonesque, really. He overcame some uphill climbs, endured by not trying to hit five-run homers, and eventually did a couple of little things right and watched as they blossomed into big things. Those two TD throws to Austin were "little things'' that blossomed, and Tony maybe discovered that he can throw FOR 350 yards without actually slinging the ball 350 yards.
MILES FROM HOME DEPOT: Miles Austin becomes America's most acquired-off-waivers Fantasy player, but that's not the most important thing. What is important: Can he become a real No. 2 receiver? A real No. 1 receiver? Not to be a cynic -10 catches and 250 yards and a couple of TDs is the single biggest day in Cowboys receiver history! -- but Home Depot is full of guys who had one great game. Here's hoping Miles can have two, and three, and 16, and 160. Now that DeMarcus Ware has that first sack, maybe he gets on the roll. But to me the lesson to be learned is how difficult it is to be truly great over the course of the long term. We constantly hear how this "second-year star'' or that "incredible rookie'' is bound for Hall-of-Fame glory. But you just don't get 20 sacks every year. You just don't.
CHALLENGING CHUCK LIDDELL: That's how many games in a row now where Keith Brooking has been the best defensive Cowboy in the field? Jay Ratliff's step-over-two-blockers to stuff a FG attempt? That cannot be an accident, or a last-minute guess. Ratliff (and his coaches) must've seen something, must've seen that the KC blockers on that side lock up with each other and get low (and maybe forget to look up). Savvy stuff by the Cowboys special teams - and upon further review, it's a trick Ratliff tried at least twice. [Ed Note: for more detail on Ratliff's block, go here.] The Fox telecast, in trying to add juice to this 1960 "Throwback Rivalry'' (the Chiefs, of course, were once the Dallas Texans), suggested that the old Cowboys somehow used to refuse to meet the challenge of playing the upstarts from the AFL. Cool story, but that would be like saying today that the NFL is "refusing'' to play "the upstarts from the UFL.'' How could they play? Why would they play? Here's another cool story: Chuck Liddell is "refusing'' to fight me.