When was the last time the Cowboys played true smash-mouth football, where the game was won by the offensive line and the defense laid out big hits and swarmed to the ball? Last year the Cowboys were pretty close to a true finesse team, where the offense carried the rest and defense did just enough to hold on. We saw what happened in the playoffs when the other team was more physical and out muscled the line of scrimmage and our finesse offense couldn't save the day (a hurt T.O. didn't help much either). The type of game the Cowboys played last night was exactly what the doctor ordered: a physical, down to the wire game that showed this team does have the heart and drive to win a close one when things aren't going perfect. The win last year against Buffalo is a great example of this. This team can build on a win like that and really carry some confidence into the next few weeks, where gaining momentum for a playoff run is now a very real possibility.
Follow the jump for my random thoughts on a great win.
- Tony Freakin' Romo. It was obvious he wasn't back to being his old self physically and that the splint was hampering some of his throws. A couple of times he had some tosses that made you scratch your head a bit, like the first interception to Owens. He stated after the game that he didn't have the grip he wanted on that throw and it was obvious with how off it was. There was also another quick hitch to Owens that just had some weird loft to it. However, Romo's enthusiasm and magical touch were back and it was never more evident than on the third down shovel pass to Miles Austin.
- Romo might not have put up the greatest of numbers but it was plain to see what kind of effect he has on this team. Players on both sides of the ball played with confidence and aggressiveness and just seemed to have some fun out there while knowing how important this thing was. When things weren't going right you didn't see bickering or fingerpointing, you just saw guys talk it over and know that when they got another chance they would get it right. That was refreshing.
- Whatever effect Romo's return had on the team, Newman's was just as if not more important to the defense. He stuck on Santana Moss and allowed the safeties to play closer to the line in order to stop the Redskin's running attack. That wasn't able to happen when he was out or hurt, and I'm going to say this right now: That was Terence Newman's best game of his career.
- Keith Davis had one heck of a game. I'll have to go back and really look at it, but at least four times I saw Davis make a punishing hit in the hole against the run. That's exactly what you need from your strong safety: a guy that flies to the ball and makes the big hit when he gets there.
- Mike Jenkins had one pass breakup but you could almost single-handedly point to him as the problem on the big kickoff return before the half. Watching the replay it seemed like he was almost afraid to take on the wedge. I'm not sure, but I also don't think that's been his position on the kickoff coverage team this season. We may scoff, but the special teams missed Bobby Carpenter yesterday. Of course, they weren't much better with him either.
- The pass rush the past few weeks has been absolutely outstanding. Jim Zorn stated in his press conference that the rush the Cowboys were getting was dictating the play calls he had to make. When was the last time this defense dictated ANYTHING the opposing offense tried to do? That's how good the defense was yesterday.
- Rock Cartwright: I want to thank you. What the heck were you thinking? Let me introduce you to Leon Lett.......
- That drop by Jason Witten was jaw-dropping, mainly because it doesn't happen often. But the play call was what I loved the most. Those naked bootlegs are the plays when Romo is at his best, throwing on the run to receivers breaking free. However, I think the drop was partly due to the hurt rib that Witten has because it was obvious he had trouble stretching out for it.
- Speaking of play calling, good on ya Jason Garrett. You were willing to try some different things and really shake things up on offense. Those reverses and quick outs didn't amount to much, but it did have the effect of loosening up the defense that allowed other stuff to work. Two suggestions: less slants to T.O. and more RW2, and more no-huddle.
- Roy Williams is a stud and showed what can happen when he and Romo really start to get on the same page. That's going to be a magical duo for many years to come and I cannot begin to state how excited I am at the prospect. Plus it's great to have a Longhorn doing well on the team. Hook 'em.
- Terrell Owens, I love ya man. You have transformed yourself into the ultimate team player and you are just happy with winning. That is great. But you have got to start hanging onto the ball dude. I understand that you got hit pretty dang hard on that interception, but you get paid the big bucks to catch those too. If you truly think you are still an elite receiver, catch those. But, hey! Great blocking on the running plays.
- Finally, I want to talk about the celebration at the end of the game. That was just awesome, incredible, refreshing, any other superlative you want to use. That was what made that game so great for me. That celebration told me that this team FINALLY realizes what it needs to do to win and just how important these games have become. Last night we finally saw this group of talented individuals finally start to really gel as a team, which a great sign moving forward.