Unlike college football, the NFL does not concern itself with style points, which is one area in which the NFL is far superior to the college game. There is no such thing as a bad NFL victory. Winning is good. Beating the Redskins is always especially satisfying.
That was a good win.
OK, now that we've put that on the record...
WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT SUNDAY?
Yes, the 'Boys are now 4-2 in the Jason Garrett Interim Era, but let's not pretend for a moment that the on-field questions and cultural issues that produced that 1-7 first half implosion have been answered or solved. This remains an immature, fragile, easily distracted team with grossly overrated talent at some key positions.
Those were the largely punchless and internally shaken Redskins. That was a 20-point second half lead.
And that was Rex Grossman, who had thrown seven passes this season going into Sunday and was making his first NFL start in two years. Rex Grossman, whose very name is largely an NFL punch line. Rex Grossman, who threw for 322 yards, a career high tying four touchdown passes and a pair of two-point conversions.
It's even money whether Sexy Rexy could do that again Wednesday in a 7-on-7 drill. Matter of fact, I'd bet that he couldn't. It has come to this: The Dallas Cowboys' eleven-man, fully-padded, Sunday-Go-To-Meeting pass defense offers no stiffer resistance than a mid-week shorts-and-shells intrasquad skeleton session.
That was Rex Grossman. That was a Redskin offense that had not scored 30 points in a game this year coming into Arlington, and whose previous high of 27 points was posted against the Houston Texans' truly, sincerely, no-kidding, historically awful defense.
And this is a Dallas D that has now allowed 30 or more points in eight of fourteen games.
Yes, I am now reminding myself that the Cowboys won the game, and that there is no such thing as a bad "W" in the NFL.
But there are bad trends and indications. And despite the revved-up work rate JG has undeniably instilled, this team still has the attention span of a fruit fly. That, friends, is a cultural problem.
Jerry Jones, on his comfort level after the 'Boys went up 27-7 early in the third: "I thought it was gonna be a cakewalk." Yes, you did. And so did your employees. Instead, the Cowboys came THIS CLOSE to walking the plank.
In fact, had not Santana Moss dropped a streak route with the game tied at 30 midway through the fourth, we could be having an entirely different discussion today, not only about the outcome of the game but about JG's future. But that play gets lost and forgotten, followed as it was by consecutive sacks from Orlando Scandrick and Victor Butler that forced a Washington punt and set up the winning Dallas field goal drive.
How many Red Zone points did the Cowboys leave on the field, especially in the first half? A 13-0 lead early in the second could very easily have been 28-0. The halftime margin was 20-7. Coulda (shoulda?) been 38-7. That area inside the Redskins' 20-yard line became the Cowboys' Red (Faced) Zone.
When Alan Ball wasn't giving up inside position to Moss for an easy score, he was getting knocked keister-over-teakettle by Ryan Torain. Mike Jenkins was saved from another meltdown moment when Moss gut-dropped the aforementioned fourth quarter fly-route. Yes, Terence Newman came up with the victory-sealing INT, but only because Rex Grossman finally proved to be Rex Grossman. (Was that a horrible read, or what?) Prior to that play, Newman gave more argumentative ammunition to those of us who fear (make that strongly suspect) that his level of play is now in rapid decline.
The Cowboy O gets stuffed on fourth and goal from the one. Kyle Kosier commits a costly false start. Sam Hurd drops two touchdown passes. Newman commits a silly personal foul. Newman and Jenkins just stare at each other and shrug after turning Moss scot-free in goal line zone coverage. (Fortunately, Grossman overthrew the wide open Moss because he is after all Rex Grossman.) Buehler yanks a 35-yarder.
Effort problems? Probably not. But ongoing evidence that this team is still defined by its immaturity. Good teams know how and when to put the hammer down.
Too often, even amidst this encouraging 4-2 run, the Cowboys continue to drop the hammer on their own feet.
Dang, Paul. Don't you have anything good to say? Yes. Dallas won. The Hated Redskins lost.
But I am not blind to the major structural and cultural problems that remain.
Wednesday, positives--including Witten, Kitna, McCann, and, yes, Scandrick!