Remember last year when the Dallas Cowboys collapsed down the stretch and coughed up the NFC East title to the hated Eagles? Yeah, I remember it, too. We had just sort of righted the ship by wining in Atlanta after getting blown-out by the Saints. It was Christmas Day, the Eagles were coming to Texas Stadium and I thought we’d surely beat up on those lowly birds from the City of Brotherly Love. Well, that didn’t happen. We got snookered 23-7 and went on to drop our final two games after that including the playoff loss. Romo remembers it too, because it was one of his worst performances ever, ever being relative because he has only started a season’s worth of games.
Romo was limited to a career-low 142 yards on 14-of-29 passing. He threw a touchdown pass to Terrell Owens, but was intercepted twice and sacked three times. Romo's 45.5 passer rating remains his career low, even after he tied a team-record with five interceptions this season at Buffalo.
Time to avenge that beat-down. The Eagles have had a run of good play against the Cowboys, it’s time to flip the script.
In the press conference yesterday the subject of Andre Gurode was brought up in terms of calling the blocking schemes in the face of the Eagles’ blitzes. The Eagles are known for loading up a single gap or a particular side of the line and sending multiple defenders through on the blitz. I’ll have more about this today in my Scouting Report on Philadelphia, but it’s key for Gurode to make the right calls. We can have confidence in Gurode now, ever since the start of last season he has been one of our best linemen if not our best. In this article, Mac Engel looks back on Gurode’s rocky path to starting center here in Dallas, including a moment when he sat down with Bill Parcells to understand exactly what was expected of him.
"I didn't understand what he wanted out of me," Gurode said. "I think what helped was talking to him and understanding his expectations and my own expectations. And then doing what I needed to do to get to that point."
In a way, Gurode bowed down. But it was worth it. Beginning in training camp last season, he beat out Johnson and has consistently been the team's top offensive lineman. He has become one of the best in the league at his position.
You know what, quietly Gurode has become one of the best centers in the league. It’s a good thing we locked him up to a long-term deal during the offseason. We gave him $30 million and Chris Canty gave him a new nickname.
"You're talking about Andre $30 Million?" defensive end Chris Canty said of Gurode's six-year, $30 million extension he signed in February.
I don’t think Mac Engel got the reference to Outkast’s Andre 3000.
Speaking of Gurode, John Czarnecki put out his mid-season All-Pro team and Gurode was one of three Cowboys to make the cut.
C: Andre Gurode (Cowboys) — Ever since the incident with Albert Haynesworth, when he took a head stomping, Gurode has developed into a force in the middle of the Dallas offensive line, probably the most complete unit in the NFC besides being the biggest.
I don’t think the Haynesworth incident had anything to do with it, his good play started at the beginning of last season.
And the other two:
OLB: DeMarcus Ware (Cowboys) — Mike Vrabel of the Patriots and Lance Briggs of the Bears are right behind Ware, who has benefited greatly with the arrival of Coach Wade Phillips. Ware can rush the passer like Shawne Merriman, but he's better in coverage and also a better tackler.
PK: Nick Folk (Cowboys) — Two other worthy kickers are Houston's Kris Brown and Rob Bironas, who just made eight field goals in a game. But Folk deserves special recognition for kicking a game-winning 53-yarder against Buffalo twice while his best kick was the super high-bouncing on-side kick that put him in position to kick the game winner.
OK, Ware making the cut is a given. He’s a force of nature out on the edges. But check out our rookie kicker getting the nod. Folkin’-A!
Brad Sham discusses "swagger" in football and thinks the Cowboys might just have it. I say wait until we run this gauntlet of games in the NFC East, then check back with me about swagger.
You should check out this week’s archived version of Inside the Huddle. It has Deon "Cricket" Anderson as the guest and he is one dude brimming with personality. Go here to view the broadcast. At the top of the site you’ll notice I also do the write-ups for Inside the Huddle. They’re just small recaps of what’s going on, but it’s another place where I get to write about the Cowboys.