Welcome to the Tuesday edition of "What They're Saying", where things are a bit more enthusiastic than they have been in the past month or so.
The greatest thing of all about hearing and reading what the players had to say after the win is that it feels like they finally got it. The sense of urgency was there, the aggression, the intensity and the execution that was sorely lacking the past 6 weeks. After the game, players acknowledged that this was a big step in the right direction but that the journey is far from over. For this thing to get fully turned around the team needs this kind of effort every single week because the road only gets tougher from here on out.
The big story headed into the game was game was the return of Tony Romo. While it wasn't his flashiest performance, the most important thing was that Romo found that love for the game again.
"I was excited," he said, an observation he couldn't make often this season. "I think it was fun to get back out there and play, and it gave me a chance to miss the game quite a bit. "It's so much fun." Follow the jump for much, much more.
"I was excited," he said, an observation he couldn't make often this season. "I think it was fun to get back out there and play, and it gave me a chance to miss the game quite a bit.
"It's so much fun."
Follow the jump for much, much more.
There's no doubt that Romo's return had an effect on the rest of of the team. While he wasn't at his best his presence alone gave a lift to the team. "It just shows he’s our franchise," Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said. "Not just as far as making throws and all that; I think more importantly the leadership and keeping everybody upbeat and the tempo that we play with. That goes a long way, especially in those big games." Wade Phillips sums up Romo's effect: "He affects the game. He affects our players. He affects our attitude about what we can and can’t do when we got behind 7-0," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "I don’t think it bothered anybody that we got behind. We felt like we could score. I think it affects decisions of the game that sometimes you don’t see. And just his enthusiasm. His confidence, his calls."
There's no doubt that Romo's return had an effect on the rest of of the team. While he wasn't at his best his presence alone gave a lift to the team.
"It just shows he’s our franchise," Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said. "Not just as far as making throws and all that; I think more importantly the leadership and keeping everybody upbeat and the tempo that we play with. That goes a long way, especially in those big games."
Wade Phillips sums up Romo's effect:
"He affects the game. He affects our players. He affects our attitude about what we can and can’t do when we got behind 7-0," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "I don’t think it bothered anybody that we got behind. We felt like we could score. I think it affects decisions of the game that sometimes you don’t see. And just his enthusiasm. His confidence, his calls."
Another concern surrounding Romo was how the healing bone and splint would affect his throws. He says it was a factor, but not much of one.
"The adrenaline of the game is a great equalizer when you have things banged up or hurting," Romo said after the game. "I always felt if I could kind of do it during the week I would be able to do it in the game."
Perhaps the greatest sign from Romo's return came not when he was on the field, but after the game. Romo took over the locker room, blaring celebratory rock songs including "Burning Heart" by Survivor. Witten explains:
"It's from Rocky IV," Witten said. "Remember when Adrian told him, 'You can't win'?"
Nick Eatman said yesterday on his radio show that for the entire plane trip back home Romo didn't stop singing once. Not for one second.
Ladies and gentlemen, our quarterback has returned.
Not to be overshadowed, Terence Newman had perhaps his best game as a pro in his first game back after hernia surgery. Newman was upset at himself for getting torched by Santana Moss in week four.
"The first game I played, I was hurt. I tried to fight through it and didn't have a great game," Newman said. "I keep hearing my name on TV that this guy beat me and that guy beat me, so I had something to prove."
His biggest play of the game came on fourth and 4 with the Redskins in Dallas territory. Newman blanketed Moss like he had done all game and followed him on a crossing pattern.
"I was a little bit late, but I was able to catch up," Newman said. "Campbell had to hold the ball a little bit longer than he wanted to, I think, and I just looked back. The ball was in the air, and I just got a hand on it."
Aided by Newman's return the defense played perhaps their best game of the season. The big difference this game was the feeling in the huddle and the way tthe players responded to each other.
"I think we're a pretty intense team," Ratliff said. "Today was the first day we came out and just played together, and everybody made plays."
Man it's good to hear that.
Yet the unquestionable MVP of the game was Marion Barber, who conjured images of Emmitt Smith as he but the Cowboys on his back and carried them through the fourth quarter. Unlike the first game against the Skins, Jason Garrett made it a point to pound the rock in the second half.
"I just wanted to make sure we continued to run it inside, run it outside and have some balance in how we were attacking them running the football."
"The runner is a tough son of a [beep]," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. "He loves those situations and thrives on them. He did a heck of a job. That's just the way he is. He's a competitor. He has such great heart."
And with the Cowboys holding a four point lead late in the game, Marion Barber touched the ball every single snap on the final drive. Of course, Barber says its all part of the game.
"Every game is different," Barber said. "You've just got to keep pushing, working hard in practice and when you get the opportunity, you just take advantage of it."
The best part about that final drive, besides seeing Barber running over Redskins, was that we finally saw that offensive line from last year exert their will in the fourth quarter.
"What am I thinking?," guard Leonard Davis said. "Keep truckin' man! That's what makes it fun."
"We knew that we were either going to run the clock out, or we were going to go down there and score on them."
"That's what an offensive line is supposed to do. We take pride in that."
Behind the offensive line (and some GREAT blocking by Terrell Owens, Patrick Crayton, Roy Williams, Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett) Barber was the football equivalent of stone cold closer in baseball. When the team sees a performance like that, it makes everyone play better.
"Marion was a warrior. He fought for every yard. It wasn't easy. That's the way we're used to him playing, and at the end of the game, he just imposed his will."
The team also knows what this win means and they also realize what it takes to keep this thing headed in the right direction.
"You got to be a physical team, plus I think our line is that way too," Peete said. "The nature of the way those guys play it has to be that way. A lot of times you see physical teams you have to be physical."
"It was big. I'm sure y'all can see that yourself," Marion Barber said.
"This win is definitely big. Every win is big. We know what we've got to do and we know our situation. We're not going to just take anything for granted."
"Hopefully, this gives us some momentum," Witten said, "but our backs are still against the wall. We're not out of this thing yet."
"I think coming into this environment was a good test for us," Terrell Owens said. "We needed this. Are we back to the old Cowboys? Who knows, but this is still a step in the right direction."
"I felt us getting the swagger back and we hadn't had that swagger in awhile," Thomas said. "That's important. It's confidence. I think we've had the confidence but you have a little doubt in the back of our mind when thins aren't going well."
And now for the quote of the day. Martellus Bennett had his second touchdown catch of the season against the Redskins, but there is no doubt the game winner was much more significant than his trash time grab in St. Louis. When asked how the two compared, Bennett had this to say:
"You can get your first kiss from Oprah, or you can get your first kiss from Halle Berry," Bennett said, explaining the difference as only he could. "Oprah gave me the first kiss. This was Halle Berry right here."