Frankly, the past few weeks have been tense for me. Disappointing losses, performances that were not up to what I expected, and the never ending round of injuries. I wrote last week about how tiring it was getting to be as a Dallas Cowboys fan, with the team facing one must-win game after another.
Now, the team is looking at a game that most people (well, outside the homeristic writers who pick games here) figure is going to go in the loss column. If the Cowboys wind up on the short end of the score, as long as they are not embarrassed, no one will think it is the end of the season.
I'm not saying it is all right for the team to lose a game. But Dallas is the clear underdog facing the New Orleans Saints, and no one is going to be shocked if they don't win. The shock would come if this team were to manage to pull out a victory.
Which is why this may be a perfect opportunity for the Cowboys to steal this one. The pressure is off. The team knows it will be no worse than tied for the division lead, no matter what. The team is facing a lot of injury issues, with Dez Bryant suddenly having back problems and Jason Hatcher still not able to use the arm with the stinger. Expectations are low.
Just relax and play, guys. Tony Romo needs to be himself, with a little Romodini and some gunslinger passes. Give the ball to DeMarco Murray and let him try to expose the weakness against the run the Saints have shown this season. Have DeMarcus Ware and the Band of Backups pin their ears back and go after Drew Brees. And let Sean Lee, well, just be Sean Freaking Lee. You have nothing to prove, and an awful lot to gain.
Right now, the other guys are the ones facing the pressure. They are also holding a one game lead in their division, but at the moment the Carolina Panthers look like a much more dangerous team than any of the Cowboys' division rivals. Rob Ryan is likely to be a bit pumped to play the most recent team to let him go, but he has shown a tendency to break under pressure. Every advantage he has from his time in Dallas is balanced by the time Romo, Garrett and Callahan had watching him. Bryan Broaddus sees a possible advantage to the Cowboys here.
This matchup has a chance to be a real classic, because these are the types of challenges that Romo seems to look forward to and thrive in. Romo lives for these games where he can match wits with a creative defensive scheme.
It is just a feeling I have about the game, which is hardly something to hang your hat on, but I know that sometimes highly trained people need to relax a little and go with the instincts and training. That transition from thinking to just doing is not always that easy. I have seen cases where getting over the tension going into a performance allowed the persons involved to find their rhythm and put on a really good show. This may be a great chance for all of the Cowboys to get things back on track, or onto the initial tracks as things may be.
But at least we don't have to sit and wonder how bad it will be if Dallas does not come through. We know the worst case scenario, and it is not all that bad. We can loosen up a little and just watch the game.
Maybe the players can do something similar, and turn it into something good.