The Cowboys ostensibly played the Chiefs today, but they spent roughly 66 minutes shadowboxing themselves. The Cowboys foibles which have erupted at the worst moments from Parcells last ride in '06 to last year's crater job recurred in force.
The offensive line showed an equal opportunity ability to take penalties and make mental mistakes. The receiving corps broke off routes, dropped passes and showed nothing to inspire confidence in the first half. The special teams bungled a punt, which handed K.C. three points.
On defense, the 55 minute men returned. For the third time in five games, the defense surrended a score in the final two minutes, letting the Chiefs drive 74 yards to tie the game immediately after Miles Austin's long touchdown reception gave Dallas its first lead of the game.
The Cowboys showed a lot of heart. They fought through the mistakes and scored 23 of the game's final 30 points. They blocked a field goal on K.C.'s next to last drive. Miles Austin, for one, stepped out of the receiver rubble, which included two touchdown drops of his own, to post the best statistical game in Cowboys' history. His 250 yards, with two TDs, knocked Bob Hayes from the Cowboys record books.
The result was a 26 to 20 Dallas win. But the overall view is that the team's heart and head are not working in concert. The effort, desire and resiliency showed today, but they are fighting the football equivalent of borderline retardation. The penalties which had been absent came back. The blows to the head penalties, the sloppy grabs, the dropped balls and confused routes suggest a team under intense emotional stress.
Will Dallas convalesce and regain badly needed confidence? The optimists will hope so. It was almost a year ago to the day that Dallas suffered a painful overtime loss to Arizona. Tony Romo's pinkie was broken that day and the team's collective ego shattered. The Cowboys might use this reversal of overtime fortune as the stepping stone to a stronger middle of the season, or may be deferring their schizoid tendencies a few games, until they erupt yet again.
Whatever the case, we won't know anything for two weeks. Take your sedative of choice and grab a nap. You've earned it. So, today, have the Cowboys.
-- Hope Austin's game signals the start of bigger things for him. The team needs a big play maker who isn't Felix Jones. The team would love to run a run-based, ball-control game even when Felix is healthy. But the offensive line's penalty-taking ways make this a very tough game plan to execute. The Cowboys can't convert 2nd and 20s running draws and tossing 8 to 10 yard passes to Jason Witten. They need a big play receiver who can give them 15 to 20 yard grabs.
Austin had a horrible second half in Denver and a very erratic first half today. He had some long catches just before the half but failed to end two possible touchdown drive. Fair play to him, he made two long TD catch and runs to win the game. This is exactly what the team needs while it tries to settle its many personality issues.
-- The winless got off the floor today. Carolina and Cleveland each got their first Ws. Admit it, that crossed your mind when the overtime started.
More later tonight.