Still giddy this morning? Yeah, so am I. It feels good to have something to cheer about, to have hope restored that something can still come from this season. That Dallas won't waste a talented but flawed team, but will actually compete down the stretch of the season. I don't know if we're going to make the playoffs, there's a lot of football to be played yet, but I do know that before the game the playoffs seemed like a dream. An island oasis that was dangling out of reach as our raft kept drifting further and further out to sea.
Now it feels like we've got a fighting chance. You could tell just how big this win was, and what an emotional relief it was, from the way the players and the Coach reacted in the waning seconds of the victory.
It showed after the Cowboys fell behind 14-0 and then scored 35 straight points, including a team-record 25 points in the fourth quarter, turning the postgame locker room into a party.
Bill Parcells turned the sidelines into a love-fest as the final seconds ticked off the clock. Keith Davis got a smooch on the head, Tony Romo got an enthusiastic "atta-boy" punch to the chest, even The Player got some Parcells love.
Chatting with Terrell Owens in the final moments of the Cowboys' 35-14 victory against the Panthers, Parcells turned to Owens and playfully grabbed his hat and turned it slightly sideways.
No mention if he called him by his first name.
Now that was quite a sight, let's watch ESPN replay it 97 times and decide that it actually shows how bad their relationship has become.
Over at the DMN, JJT says that Parcells gave a big speech on Saturday that had a big effect on the team.
Trust me, not every coach can do that.
In the locker room before the game, the players talked about starting something special with a win. The offensive line vowed to give Romo enough time to succeed.
They were simply following Parcells' lead.
"Bill was very positive. He was a very encouraging coach this week," said Jones, "and his message to the players Saturday night was a positive one."
In December, it might be called the speech that saved the season.
"He gave one of the most heart-felt speeches I've ever heard," Akin Ayodele said. "I haven't known him long, but it was one of the best speeches I've heard in a long time. It came straight from the heart. The whole team felt it. It was about having fun, be ourselves, and do what we do every day."
Yowza, chalk one up for the Tuna.
The offensive line deserves some credit this week, they weren't perfect by any means, but they were better. Combine that with Romo's mobility and pocket presence, and you've got a winning combo, for one week at least.
The line opened a cavernous hole for Julius Jones on his 14-yard touchdown run that, coupled with a 2-point conversion, gave the Cowboys a 21-14 lead with 9:43 remaining.
"The offensive line did a fantastic job of allowing me to wait a couple of times on some routes," Romo said. "I can't say enough about them. I was able to look, come off and come back sometimes."
The only chance the Cowboys had to win, and for Romo to be effective, was for this line to play better.
That started with Colombo. One week after being overpowered by Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, Colombo faced perhaps the NFL's best pass rusher in Peppers, who had no sacks Sunday.
"I wanted to show people that I could play in a big game against a big opponent," Colombo said.
Good stuff. And while the defensive line and linebackers were destroying the Panthers running game, the secondary held firm.
Each was held to season lows in catches and yards in Dallas' 35-14 win at Bank of America Stadium.
The pair had only three catches in the second half, and Johnson had one catch the entire game.
"It happens, man," cornerback Terence Newman said. "That's one of the things you hope for."
We did hope for that. We hoped the line could block a little, we hoped that Romo could play a little, we hoped that somehow Dallas could win this game and set a new course for the second half of the season. Looks like a little hope goes a long way.
Yes, Bill Parcells, we're having fun now, per your pre-game speech. I might just kiss my neighbor on the head and pull some unsuspecting kids hat to the side of his head this morning. It feels that good to win this game.