While we are collectively still trying to gather our thoughts from the game, here are five quick thoughts on today's victory.
1. Orlando Scandrick, Baller: For the second week in a row Scandrick jumped an outside route and it paid off this week with an interception. Scandrick has been on fire since his return from suspension. The only real question is, will this new-found tendency to jump routes come back to bite him because he's gambling? Or is it the result of film study and just making great plays? My money is on the latter.
2. The Defense: For the majority of the game Dallas's defense was phenomenal. Early in the game Brandon Carr was playing coverage about as well as I've seen during his time in Dallas, and Tyrone Crawford and Henry Melton were causing disruption along the lines. The catalyst for this defensive performance, as it has been all year, was Rolando McClain. When he went out with what is sounding like a groin injury, the defense began to crumble. Of course this wasn't helped out by...
3. The Coaching: So far this season Rod Marinelli has done a great job coaching, turning a not so talented group into, if not filet mignon, at least a decent strip steak. But he's had to reach deep into his bag of tricks to do so, and it bit him some today. On Arian Foster's first TD run, the Texans clearly saw something in the defense (Fitzpatrick pulled up and went to talk to Foster, they pointed to the left side of the field). The play, sure enough, went to the left with the Cowboys line crashing hard the other way. This left Foster one on one with the safety (Church), who mised the tackle in space. Touchdown Texans.
There were a few other questionable coaching decisions. It's easy to question play calling anytime you're trying to run down the clock and it doesn't work, but to only run once on that final drive of regulation was a bad decision. It was exacerbated by a horrible intentional grounding call by the refs, but the coaches should have never allowed the refs to have that kind of impact. Murray has been the bell cow all season, roll with him.
4. Terrance Williams regresses: Despite having a pretty good statistical day, I thought Williams regressed from his breakout game last week against the Saints. We're still seeing way too many body catches, and he had a number of drops today, including one on a beautiful throw by Tony Romo that would have resulted in either a first down on the one yard line or a touchdown. Instead, Dallas settled for a field goal; a four-point swing in a game that eventually went to overtime.
5. F-I-G-H-T: During training camp it was noted that the players and coaches were often seen wearing shirts with "FIGHT" emblazoned upon them. Well, the team did just that today. It seemed after every setback the Cowboys came out and countered. Romo throws an interception in the redzone? The defense forces a three and out and the return team puts the ball back nearly were it was before the pick. Houston scores? Dallas comes right back down the field and counters. Make no mistake, this was an ugly win, with a lot of ugly play. But sometimes those games happen, and good teams find a way to fight through them. The Cowboys did that today.
BONUS!!! Just two more quick observations that I feel need to be mentioned. I don't think that interception in the end zone was really a bad read by Tony. If he had been able to zip the ball I thought that was a pretty easy touchdown. Unfortunately he couldn't zip the ball because Tyron Smith (who did not have his best game), got beat and the pressure forced Romo to throw off his back foot, the ball fluttered a bit, and the safety was able to make the play.
Secondly, DeMarco Murray had another 30+ touch game (31 rushes, 6 receptions). I said above he was our bell cow, but I'm really getting concerned with his workload, and I worry that it's going to start having an effect on his production. We need to do a better job spelling him.
Whew. What a game. It was ugly, it was exhausting, but it was a win. How Bout Them Cowboys!!!