Granted, that game against the Redskins was an ugly thing to watch. For two straight weeks, the Dallas Cowboys offense has caused acid-reflux in the fanbase. Still, there was a lot of good news out of Sunday's game.
Let's check out the pros and cons of winning ugly over the Redskins.
We can file this one under the ‘a win is a win' category. And in the NFL, that supercedes all else. There is one overall objective every NFL team has when taking the field for a game - get the W. The Cowboys did.
Dallas still leads the NFC East and just got a division win. Plus, they protected home-court.
Make the jump...
Don't look now, but we just may be growing a ‘championship-type' defense. While the offense has been playing patty-cake with opposing defenses the last two weeks, the defense has come up huge. They still have some issues - penalties wiping out big plays and a failure to get off the field on 3rd down too often - but they have been keeping teams from scoring. This defensive unit has been getting better and better as the season rolls on.
Keith Brooking is playing out of his mind right now. His presence is transforming this defense.
Anthony Spencer's play is rising. Continuing a strong trend of run-stopping this week, Spencer finally got a big-play that we've been waiting for when he made the game-clinching interception.
We have a Martellus Bennett sighting, and it was good. Welcome to the offense, Marty B.
Doug Free, for the second straight week, was more than serviceable as the right tackle. There has been no significant drop-off in play since his insertion into the lineup. We can exhale, just a bit, about the loss of Marc Colombo. There are still a lot of games to go and Free will have to keep his play at this level for Dallas to be successful, but the early indications point to the team being okay at right tackle.
Where has the offense gone? This team was a juggernaut of offensive goodness until the past two weeks. Many theories abound, but it's hard to pin-point just one that fits all, unless you go with the generic - the Cowboys just aren't executing.
Subset of offensive cons:
Tony Romo had a poor game, injury may have had a lot to do with it - his back took a wicked shot. The Cowboys were blessed that they didn't have two interceptions against them, only because the Redskins defenders couldn't catch balls that were right in their hands. Romo had decent protection for most of the game and an effective running game helping out. The Cowboys converted only three out of 11 third downs, a terrible percentage, and third down in this league is usually a passing down. Romo needs to play better. Here's his chart on 3rd down misses.
3rd and 5 at DAL 40(Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete short middle to J.Witten. Pass incomplete at the Dallas 45.
3rd and 6 at DAL 39(Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete short middle to J.Witten. Pass incomplete on slant.
3rd and 6 at WAS 47(Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete short middle to R.Williams. Pass incomplete on crossing pattern.
3rd and 8 at WAS 28 T.Romo pass incomplete short middle to R.Williams.
3rd and 7 at DAL 13(Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete deep right.
4th and 2 at WAS 39(Shotgun) T.Romo pass short middle intended for M.Austin INTERCEPTED by L.Fletcher at WAS 33.
But, given all that, Romo gets huge props for leading the Cowboys on the game-winning TD drive and for gutting out the injury. Not every week will you get away with leading only one big drive during the whole game for a win, but when the situation does present itself, a good QB will get the job done. Romo did.
The Cowboys wide receivers are failing miserably. Roy Williams had another crucial drop this week, and ended up with no catches on four targets. For the second week in a row, Miles Austin and Patrick Crayton were invisible until the game reached the fourth quarter. With the running game working, and the tight ends productive, it was the connection between Romo and his wide receivers that really hurt the Cowboys offense this week.
Nick Folk has gone from Folkin-A! to What the Folk? Two weeks in a row he has missed very makeable FGs, killing the Cowboys momentum. He just hasn't been right all year. He did have hip surgery in the offseason, but he should be over any effects of that injury. Whatever the case, he's hurting the Cowboys right now.
Here's why the pros outweigh the cons of this game. One, the Cowboys got the win they needed to keep first place in the NFC East. Two, I think the offense will fix their issues and start scoring again, and a good bet is it will start this Thursday.
I want to win pretty, but mainly I just want to win.