I’m impressed. This edition of the Dallas Cowboys handles their business, twice in two weeks going on the road in the NFC East and beating the crud out of their opposition. When I looked at the schedule at the beginning of the year I kind of marked down this two-week stretch as a potential pitfall; a detour that could lead to another season going off the rails. That doesn’t appear to be in the cards for this Cowboys team. On the field, they’re all confidence and smiles.
I remember when Tony Romo was first getting going last year after we benched Bledsoe and John Madden remarked that Romo was the guy who comes into the bar, grabs a cue and runs the table, sinks the 8-ball and takes your money. He’s cool like that because he just doesn’t feel the pressure. He’s all confidence and smiles. And now the team has taken on his personality.
There’s a carefree attitude about this team, they have fun while handling their business. They have fun winning football games, but they are deadly serious in executing the game plan. Sure, they can get a little too loose at times and end up gathering little yellow hankies in bunches, but somehow they manage to fight through those and still win games. Getting penalties isn’t a habit they want to cultivate but throttling the life out of the team to stop them would be a step in the wrong direction. I’m sure Wade Phillips will have some choice things to say behind closed doors concerning the penalties, but even his reaction after the game to Kevin Burnett’s egregious mistake was subdued and less about punishing Burnett and more about learning from it and moving on. Wade Phillips is not one to wreck the great atmosphere he’s created at Valley Ranch by harping on the negative when so much is going right for this team.
Credit goes to so many different places it’s hard to list them all and do it justice. Tony Romo deserves his recognition, and his money; when the Cowboys need something to happen, Romo consistently delivers. Terrell Owens is happy, and apparently when he’s happy he’s unstoppable, or maybe it just appears that way. Jason Witten, Marion Barber, Julius Jones and Pat Crayton are key cogs in an offense that only trails New England in terms of explosiveness.
On the defensive side of the ball, the pass rush is really starting to come together led by star DeMarcus Ware. They caused havoc all night and picked up five sacks and plenty of other hurries. Bradie James is playing the finest football of his life, Ken Hamlin picked off another pass and continues to direct an improving secondary, and even newest addition Tank Johnson got a sack on the day.
But again, I’ve got to reserve special credit to the Cowboys massive offensive line, which is the true MVP to this Cowboys season. Against what most everybody said was the most imposing pass rush in the league, the Cowboys offensive line had little trouble. Tony Romo was only sacked twice and had plenty of time to pick out his targets. They could run-block a little better, but the job they do in pass-blocking has allowed this offense to finally realize its full potential. And that potential was a serious juggernaut in-waiting.
A sterling 8-1 record and a stranglehold on the NFC East have this team thinking about the journey to somewhere better. This Cowboy team is confident, but not too cocky, they know that the most important game is the next one. They're just going to have fun getting there. And once they get there, they're going to have fun winning it.
"It's another step along the journey that we're trying to go through to get where we want to go," said Romo, who completed 20-of-28 for 247 yards. "A win like tonight just adds to your confidence. When you do something like this, you have a chance to do something special."
"We don't have a good offense, we have a great offense," Phillips said. "We were able to score a lot of points."
"I was pretty rusty," said Johnson, who hadn’t played in nine months. "It’s good I got one good play out of the whole thing."
Tank is already been indoctrinated into Wade Phillips’ team-first family atmosphere.
"It’s really not about me personally anymore," Johnson said. "That’s over and done with. It’s about this team, the Cowboys and what we’re doing together."
OK, if we’re going to criticize anything about this game, it would have to be the penalties. Randy Galloway catalogs a lot of the action in this article.
"Dumb players do dumb things, that what’s Coach Parcells used to say," said Burnett, one of those Cowboys guilty as charged when it came to a violation of discipline and wisdom.
Indeed. Burnett is having a very good season, but that penalty was inexcusable. Bradie James was also guilty of a dead-ball penalty.
"([Brandon] Jacobs) told me he was gonna keep running over me and I told him he hadn’t run over me yet," said James. "It wasn’t much of a shove, but he went down in a hurry, didn’t he. I was kinda chuckling about his acting job, then I saw the flag. Oh, man, I felt real bad.
"But it’s the Giants, and they talk real brash the whole game, and they hit late, and sometimes you just think you have to get your shot in too. That’s not smart. I know that."
No it’s not smart. So far, we’ve managed to get around them – except for the Patriots games – but in the future, especially in playoff time, they could become a game killer. Best to get in the habit of not picking up these dumb penalties now.
Patrick Crayton had a good night on the field and manages to deliver another crazy Crayton quote after the game.
"We love playing on the road," Crayton said. "One, because you love coming into another man's home. It's kinda like an invasion.
"We're kinda like big dogs, with what we're trying to do. We're trying to come in, urinate a little bit, and mark our territory."
That about says it all.