Whew, this win is feeling even better as time passes. Immediately after we won, it was all good but I had some minor worries about not being able to put them way early, the success of Aaron Rodgers, and the penalties and mistakes we made. But now, almost 24 hours removed, the perspective feels a little better. One, we have Tony Romo. Seriously, anybody who isn’t on this kid’s bandwagon by now has decided to walk, and it’s going to be a long walk, because Romo is going to be here for a long time. Franchise QB, that’s a good thing. You also got to love the work by Terrell Owens. I know, a huge drop that turned into an INT, but look at his body of work this year, especially over the last five or six games. Plus, he even gets an old curmudgeon like me to actually enjoy a TD celebration. You guys know I’m against them on principle – well, at least the most extravagant ones – and I’m against them because of the penalty that usually follows. But that popcorn in the face was just plain funny and somehow T.O. managed to avoid a penalty. So just this once, I’m going with the celebration.
But the group that is really blowing my mind is the offensive line. Everything works like it does only because the offensive line gives it a chance to work. Sure, Romo is the trigger guy and we have so many weapons for him to use, but with bad pass protection there’s no way we put up 33 points a game. The genesis of our explosive offense is the five 300-pond behemoths up front. Marc Colombo was all over Aaron Kampman last night. And usually, when the fourth quarter rolls around, they roll the defense and MB3 kills the clock.
OK, here’s my final thoughts on the pass interference play and the T.O./Al Harris quick whistle play.
Pass interference – I think it was a good call, but not a sure call. There is some wiggle-room here and a case for the penalty not being called, but I believe that's a weak case. The preponderance of evidence goes against the Packers on this one. First, the corner puts his hands on the receiver and tried to give him a little hook, it really didn’t have any effect, but still, strike one. Then seconds after that, he trips the receiver. This could be incidental contact but the defender wasn’t making a play on the ball. He was trailing the receiver and didn’t even know exactly where the ball was. If he had been stride-for-stride with Austin then maybe he has a better case. Austin does know where the ball is and is trying to adjust to it as he gets tripped. He was moving from the middle towards the outside with his body. Also, it appears that the Packer guy has his hand on Austin's back and helps him fall from the trip. He’s probably just putting out his hand to get his balance or break his own fall, but it looks like it’s right in Austin’s back. Finally, the ball is just on the edge of catchable/not-catchable. I don’t think Austin makes the catch, but he has to get the chance, however slim, to make the effort. So when you add up all those things, I think it was a good call. But, I will admit, if the situation was reversed, I would have been mad.
Quick whistle – Watching that play again, I think that whatever was called on the field would be the ultimate decision if the whistle wasn’t blown prematurely. The ref who blew the whistle was blocked out from seeing what was going on with the ball by T.O.’s and Harris’ bodies. The ref behind the play saw the ball transferring from T.O. to Harris and ran up after the play and ruled it a turnover. He was overruled because the whistle had blown. But, without the whistle, the call on the field would probably have been a turnover because that other ref was very animated in his call and had the best view. If it had gone to the booth that way, it would have been a tough ruling. There’s a point where Harris has the ball firmly in his hands with two feet inbounds, but T.O. still has a hand on the ball. That’s a tough call. I think they would have ruled inconclusive evidence and let the call stand as a turnover. But I agree this one is wide-open to interpretation without the quick whistle.
Let’s talk about where the Cowboys stand in the NFL hierarchy. Obviously, the Patriots are the top dog, but there is some hope for the rest of the league. Dallas hung with them for three quarters with an injured secondary and the Eagles and Colts showed that they can be beat, well, that there is a possibility they can be beat. Dallas is the second-best team in the NFL right now by a razor-thin margin over the Colts. The only thing that’s slowing down the Colts is injuries so if they get healthy, they could be the #2, but they’re at #3 right now. Plus, they have a huge showdown on Sunday with Jacksonville, which might be making it’s own bid to join the elite. Then come the Packers, who also could be right in the #2 mix if they were healthy.
If Dallas were to meet the Patriots today, I would give them a shot even though I think the odds would be in New England’s favor. But, it this team continues to gain confidence and continues to improve on the field, by the Super Bowl - if we make it - I think we could give them a solid game, and could get the win if things went right.