This was not an easy choice. In a game that had some warts but eventually turned out all right, there were several players that made key contributions. The problem is that you could put five or six performances up on a dart board and pick that way, because each one had something to do with winning the game.
I didn't actually do it that way, but I am prepared to see some difference of opinion on this one. And that is fine with me, because I could have gone another way entirely. There really isn't a right or wrong here. It's just one guy's opinion about who had the most noteworthy game against the Seattle Seahawks.
And it really is a good thing to have so many names to talk about before I get to handing this one out. At the halfway point in their season, the Cowboys need everyone to be stepping up if the team is going to make any kind of a run at the postseason. Starters and backups are all going to called on as injuries occur and the margin for error grows ever smaller. I know it may sound corny, but there were really several winners this week, and they all deserve recognition. This is just the way I see it.
Who answered the call this week, after the jump.
The first name is not really an honorable mention, just someone who didn't fail when a lot of people expected him to. Based on his preseason performance, most of us were more than a little apprehensive about Chris Jones filling in for Mat McBriar. I just want to say our concerns were unfounded.
Now, on to the names I had to consider.
Speaking of kickers, I have to mention Dan Bailey, who broke his own record for consecutive field goals by a rookie - three times.
Tony Romo is certainly deserving of consideration this week. No only did he have an impressive 112.2 passer rating, but he just looked better out there, and we can hope that discussion of his rib is now all in the past. And no turnovers on him. I did get a rueful chuckle out of listening to the postgame show on the radio, when Joe Avezzano and one of the other commentators admitted one was yelling "Rib!" and the other "Fumble!" when Tony was sliding down at the two yard line. It is nice to know the professionals yell pointless warnings at the players just like us sitting in front of our televisions.
DeMarco Murray is making a serious bid to be considered the steal of the draft. It's been a journey to go from all those who were complaining about "wasting" a third round pick on him to talk from people like Gil Brandt about how he would be a first rounder if the draft were re-done now. Just look at the numbers. A starter for only three of the eight Cowboys games, he is already 13th in rushing yards this year, and leads all running backs with 6.7 yds/carry. And while his 139 yards on the ground was impressive enough, consider the what the 47 yards receiving means going forward as he becomes a true dual threat. He is turning into the biggest (positive) story for the Cowboys this year.
On a much quieter level, Laurent Robinson had another effective day, catching five passes. The ESPN stats had him catching every ball that was targeted at him, which got me to wondering. Again, according to the ESPN stats, Robinson has been targeted 33 times for 24 catches, which is a 73% success rate, and 15 of them, or 45%, went for first downs. That says to me that he is very sure handed, and Tony is starting to look to him when he needs a possession completion. With Miles Austin having a bad hammy, Laurent is looking more and more like the FA pickup of the season for Dallas.
Defensively, there were more big plays than big performances, with three interceptions playing a huge role in securing the victory, but one player definitely stood out. Anthony Spencer had a sack, five tackles, two QB hits, and one stunningly athletic blocked field goal attempt. I don't remember ever seeing anyone else make that play look so easy, and I have been watching these games for decades, folks.
I bet most of you were expecting that blocked kick to win Anthony his second game ball, but I went with another player who, I think, turned the game around with one play and then kept the momentum going with another. At the start of the third quarter, the game was tied 6-6, and Dallas was again having troubles getting into the end zone. On Dallas' first possession of the half, Tony Romo recognized that Jason Witten was uncovered, and connected for a 33-yard touchdown pass that put the 'Boys ahead for good. But the best play Jason made all game was on the next to last play of the third quarter. While the touchdown pass was an on target throw from Tony, the pass Jason caught at the Seattle 13 was low, and it took a diving attempt to snare it. The replay showed that Jason did manage to get his hand under the ball, but it took a great move, and the third down play kept the drive going that led to the second Dallas touchdown. That's one touchdown and one assist for JW. And one Game Ball from me.