Remember that clip of film with Bill Parcells on the sideline talking to his team late in a game? He's yelling encouragement. "This is what you work all off season for. This is why you lift all those weights. This is why you do all that (stuff)."
That's the speech someone should give to all of us Cowboys fans this week. This game against Philadelphia is why we do all this stuff. It's why we scour for every tidbit of information during the free-agency period, why we spend a whole weekend staring at the TV watching a guy read out names in the draft. It's why we suffer through the doldrums of the summer when only an occasional OTA slakes our thirst. It's why we follow training camp like our lives depended on it.
We do all that waiting for games like this one. Two bitter inter-division rivals, playing quality football, with matching records of 5-2, meet to grab first place in the NFC East at the midpoint of the season. What could be better than that? Oh yeah, stick it on a Sunday night so the whole football-watching world can check it out.
To paraphrase another old dude - this game has all the makings.
Make the jump...
Sure, we like to watch each and every game, each and every week. But every once in a while a game comes along that seems to mean more. Not only because it's a division game, we have six of those every year, but because it has that little something extra.
The game against the Giants was big, but it was so early in the season it was hard to know about the teams and how they would progress as the season wore on. The Denver game took place at a time when we didn't really know if the Broncos were for real. Playing Atlanta was sort of a statement game, but Atlanta was a flawed team despite their record. And really, they're kind of a one-hit wonder as a playoff team from last year; we still need to see them do it consistently.
That brings us to Philadelphia, who has been winning big in the NFC for the better part of this decade. Despite their unexplainable stumble in Oakland, the Eagles are a team that screams quality in the NFC.
So let's go through the checklist:
Playing a high-quality NFC opponent? Check.
Playing a divisional game? Check.
Playing a team for outright control of the NFC East at the midway point of the season? Check.
Two evenly matched opponents based on records and stats? Check.
Playing on Sunday night? Check.
One team trying to avenge an embarrassing loss that knocked them out of the playoffs last year, while sending the other to the playoffs? Check.
Playing a team we absolutely despise?! Double, no, triple check.
There's not a real point to this post except to say this game has the really big-time feel to it. A win this week says Dallas is the best team in the NFC East right now, and a serious contender for NFC supremacy. A loss knocks you back into the playoff masses and says there is still a lot of work to be done. We're on the road, which adds an extra layer of difficulty, but also offers an extra layer of reward should we win.
All 16 games are important. But some games have a little something extra, like a divisional foe or playing another team with a winning record and part of the elite in the league.
Then there are games like Sunday night, when you have everything rolled into one.
That is why we suffer through all the offseason downtime. Why we mine for nuggets of information going into training camp. Why we obsess about preseason games. Why we put ourselves up for heartbreak each week, like the Giants or Broncos games.
This is why we put in all that "work" every season. All to watch games like this one coming up.
It's worth it.