It is so much more fun reviewing the news about the Dallas Cowboys after a win.
The theme of this post is that getting Tony Romo back on the field made the team what it had become in the weeks before he got hurt against Washington. And that normal is to be very, very good.
But with Romo back, everything is better. DeMarco Murray runs the ball better. Dez Bryant gets open a little easier. Guys like Gavin Escobar and Cole Beasley are found over the middle. And somehow the offensive line holds its blocks for a half-second longer.
Sturm points out something that I also noticed: This edition of the Cowboys is not afraid to show a little ruthlessness and daring, as evidenced by the 68 yard touchdown pass to Bryant that came in the waning seconds of the second half. The last few years, you just wouldn't expect Dallas to try this.
We don't know exactly who to thank for the newly found aggressiveness (my best guess: thank you, Scott Linehan, for your influence on Jason Garrett), but when the Cowboys took the ball at their own 32-yard line with half a minute to play in the 2nd Quarter and up 10 points, I expected a run and then a subsequent run to the Wembley Stadium locker-room. Instead, the Cowboys decided to go all "Joe Kane" and put the women and children to bed and go looking for some dinner.
One thing that is probably going to be an ongoing debate for the rest of the season is whether Dallas should be more willing to pull the starting quarterback to protect him, and when they should do that.
Having said that, why was he in this game so late? The Cowboys were up 31-7 in the 4th quarter and their battered QB was still taking hits and running around for his life with two broken bones in his back. If that wasn't a foolish gamble by Jason Garrett, I don't know what is. Had he been knocked out for the season during that meaningless 4th quarter, Jason Garrett should've been fired on the spot. Fortunately for the Cowboys, when Romo was sacked with 8 minutes to go while up 24 points, he was able to peel himself off the field.
"Just sore," Romo said. "Anybody that's had any broken bones, it's uncomfortable at times and things like that. But if you play football, you go play."
A look at just how big that record setting second quarter was for Bryant. It's hard to pick out which is the most impressive number, but this one may sum up the relentless nature of how he was playing.
Bryant amassed 81 yards after the catch. It was his third-highest yard-after-catch total in a game.
Fourth-round rookie Anthony Hitchens was probably the third most mentioned player behind Romo and Bryant. Filling in at middle linebacker due to injuries to others, he led the team in tackles and had a key stop on 4th-and-1. His contribution was not only for what he did on the field in the game, but also what he did for the team going forward.
With Hitchens in comfort, the Cowboys were able to rest McClain, who was in discomfort because of a knee injury. He did not practice during the week but after a pregame workout the Cowboys decided to keep him active. With the way Hitchens played, the Cowboys didn't need McClain to take a snap.
This has some really fine graphics that are worth a click to see. The day was an unusual one for Murray, who usually takes a while to get going.
On Sunday, DeMarco Murray's longest carry was also his first. He gained 23 yards on the Cowboys' opening play from scrimmage, immediately making his presence felt during Dallas' 31-17 victory over Jacksonville.
There are a lot of reports out painting a strained and hostile relationship between the star receiver and the team about trying to come up with a new contract, but this report doesn't show any real sign of that.
Bryant, with a towel wrapped around his waist and a smile on his face as he headed to the showers, said he's more at peace than he has ever been in his life.
It's hard to understand just how important that is for the 26-year-old Bryant. If you don't know, he grew up in an environment you wouldn't wish on anyone, about 150 miles southeast of Dallas in Lufkin, Texas.
"I'm not letting anyone steal my joy," Bryant said with smile. "You can write that. You can write all of that."
Romo was not the only offensive starter to return. The offensive line got Doug Free and Ronald Leary back.
It was nice to see the way that the Cowboys offensive line handled their business up front in the running game. It is a different group when they are all together. Early in the game, I thought the way that Doug Free and Zack Martin came off the ball and created room for DeMarco Murray was a very good sign. It is usually off the left side behind Tyron Smith and Ronald Leary where they have the most success.
There is an attempt to make a story out of a missed curfew on Friday night.
Up to 20 players missed the team's midnight curfew on Friday, a source said. Several of those players were repeat offenders from earlier in the week, according to the source.
Head coach Jason Garrett told reporters on at least two separate occasions before the team departed for London that his players would have a midnight curfew during the first four nights of the trip. Upon the team's arrival in London, rookie right guard Zack Martin told reporters a midnight curfew was in place.
Here's the thing, though. The ability of a team to impose curfews is covered under the CBA. And it only allows one time each week for teams to impose them.
Did Garrett want his players to get back to the hotel at a decent hour? Probably. But he had no authority to enforce his wishes. And, as you may have noticed, it certainly didn't seem to affect things on the field.
Jack Crawford grew up in London, and got a real star treatment from the local fans. He also shone during the game.
Jack Crawford hadn't recorded a sack since Week 4 against New Orleans, and he hadn't been active for a game since Week 5 against Houston. The third year veteran, a London native, has been battling a calf injury ever since.
How fitting is it, then, that Crawford posted two tackles and a sack Sunday against the Jaguars, playing in front of a hometown crowd at Wembley Stadium - a field usually reserved for soccer.