The Jason Garrett Era rolls on in Dallas, now sitting at a perfect 2-0 record on the season. Okay, technically the Cowboys are 3-7, but using our new calendar of reckoning time according to who the head coach is, we'll take a perfect record at 2-0. The Cowboys had moments in the game when they reminded us of the previous version, the Pre-Garrett Cowboys, but had enough resolve to fight back and control the game in the second half. The Detroit Lions were game, and when they scored a safety on a holding call to go up 12-7, Dallas looked to be in trouble. Little did we know that all they had to do was cue up their newest play-maker and let him work.
For the second week in a row, reserve cornerback Bryan McCann made the big play. The Lions had been pinning the Cowboys back towards the goal line on punts, and it looked like they were going to do it again. But when the Lions defender touch the football around the goal line, McCann picked up and 97 yards later, the Cowboys were on their way towards a win. Has any practice squad call up made such big plays so quickly?
Dallas started the game with a picture-perfect 98-yard touchdown drive that took 13 plays and was capped with another great touchdown catch by Dez Bryant. Then...nothing. The Cowboys offense went into hibernation for the rest of the half, and when Felix Jones fumbled and set the Lions up with a short touchdown, Dallas was looking very Pre-Garrett. The Lions started to exploit Marc Colombo and Leonard Davis with their quicker, more athletic linemen. The careful adjustments the Cowboys made in the blocking scheme, meaning giving the guys some help, stabilized matters. Once they could get Jon Kitna protected, he went to work and connected with forgotten man Miles Austin on two touchdowns. For fun, Kitna capped his day with a 29-yard touchdown run off a bootleg on a fourth-and-1.
Effort plays are showing up for the Cowboys. On McCann's big return, Orlando Scandrick made a key block among the convoy of blockers that were escorting McCann. Doug Free was all the way down field blocking a cornerback on Kitna's touchdown run. Last week, Anthony Spencer sprinted downfield to throw a block for McCann's interception return. The Cowboys players are certainly exhibiting effort since the change in coaches.
The Cowboys got effective, if not spectacular, running from backs Marion Barber and Felix Jones. Jones also had a couple of big plays on screens, one of the Cowboys most effective plays recently after being a dud for most of the season. The Dallas defense was able to get two turnovers on the day, although they struggled mightily with getting the Lions off the field on third down. They were able to generate some pass rush without the benefit of a lot of blitzing, once again helping the secondary.
The game wasn't perfect, there were plenty of mistakes by the Cowboys. And without McCann's big play, who knows what the outcome would have been. It's been said that in the NFL, a win is a win. That's especially true when you come into the game at 2-7. But with the win, the Cowboys officially move to 2-0, reckoning time by the Jason Garrett Era.