For some reason, I had a great feeling about this game. Last week, with the weather and the Steelers' defense I just had this sinking feeling that things wouldn't go our way. Then when it almost did and fell apart in the end, it caused one heck of a letdown.
Not last night. I just had this feeling that the Cowboys would rally around each other and come out fired up against a tough division rival. I did get a little worried after the safety and the Giant's tried to start firing downfield, but the Cowboys held it together and came away with a tremendous victory.
Follow the jump for my random thoughts on the game.
- I'm going to touch on this tomorrow in a separate post, but how can there even be a debate as to who the Defensive Player of the Year is in 2008? DeMarcus Ware now has 19 sacks. Take a moment and try to let that sink in. In just fifteen games, he is 3.5 sacks away from tying the season sack record set by Michael Strahan. Ware is good for two sacks next week against a questionable Ravens offense, so that means that Ware will be attempting to break the record on the road against an improving Eagles team. I'm guessing that McNabb won't just fall down for the record like Farve did for Strahan.
- This was Tony Romo's gutsiest performance he has had so far in a short NFL career. The Buffalo game is a close second, but this was a different type of guts. I have had that same back injury and while I was nowhere near Romo's level of athleticism, it sidelined me for a good three weeks. I played hockey, and the motion of trying to use a stick was almost too painful to bear. I can't even imagine what Romo was going through, not only running around and throwing but constantly getting knocked down to the ground. Mr. Romo, I have respect you even more today than I did before.
- Speaking of Romo, this was his first game this season in which he did not commit a turnover. He came close, but a smart play by Romo prevented almost certain disaster. When Romo was sacked in the end zone by three Giants, he fumbled the ball when then fell in front of him with him laying on his back. He quickly batted it as hard as he could out of the end zone, ensuring a safety. Great heads up play.
- Don't fault Romo for fumbling either; blame Gurode for snapping the ball early. No one on that line reacted to the snap, in fact Cory Proctor stayed in his stance like a statue while his quarterback was getting hammered behind him.
- The Cowboys registered eight sacks last night, but not all of it was due to the tremendous pass rush. Credit the Cowboys' secondary as well. Those guys had the Giants' receivers blanketed for most of the night, but here's what is more important: Aside from one play, Kevin Boss was a non-factor. Have the Cowboys figured out how to cover tight ends?
- Favorite player of the week: Tra Battle. The guy is the smallest safety I have ever seen but he has all the confidence in the world that he can step in and hold his own on the defense. When Keith Davis left the game momentarily to get x-rays, Battle slid into his spot at strong safety. The very next play Battle flew to the line of scrimmage and stopped the Derrick Ward dead in his tracks. Impressive.
- Not only is this defense starting to execute and make more plays, they are also starting to become a physical, hard hitting unit. Didn't see many missed tackles (other than the Kevin Boss catch and run), and a lot of time I saw Cowboys players exploding at the point of impact. The leader in all this physicality? None other than Zach Thomas. His job is to blow the hole wide open and allow Bradie James and others to make the play on the runner. I can't remember how many times I saw Thomas fly like a man possessed into the blockers. No technique, just plain old crazy aggressivness. I love it!
- Anyone notice the special teams last night? Me either, and that's a good thing. For once, the coverage teams did their job.
- That was some spotty officiating last night, but I guess that's the norm this year. Some very ticky tack holding penalties on the Cowboys, and some blatant holds not called against the Giants (anyone see Ratliff get held on back to back plays as he flew off the line upfield?). My biggest gripe was how the PI call on Steve Smith was handled. If the other officials saw the play well enough to think the penalty was against the Giants and not Dallas, how come they didn't throw a flag?
- That being said, this team can not have that many penalties and expect to get far in the playoffs.
- Tashard Choice reminds me of a few different former players. The first is Thurman Thomas, especially with his receiving ability. The other is Emmitt Smith, although a smaller version. The guy sees a hole and hits it fast, and he has the vision to know how to follow his blockers. His touchdown run was a thing of beauty; he made one cut and exploded upfield behind a great lead block and was gone.
- Oh wait, I do remember something about the special teams. Sam Paulescu had his best day as a Dallas Cowboys, by far. Numerous times he was able to pin the Giants inside their own 20. He was masterful last night.
- Last thought. Terrell Owens was a good Romo throw away from an 87 yard touchdown. That pump and go was pulled off perfectly, but Romo had some pressure and couldn't step into the pass. The illegal bump also threw the timing off a bit, but it was great to see Romo and Owens make a smart, on the fly adjustment. And that was the key last night to the win. Romo and his receivers, not just Witten, were able to adjust their routes to make the Giants pay for continuously blitzing Romo. That was something that didn't happen last year in the playoffs.
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