For one group of people, the year 2016 has been a true gift. That is us, the fans of the Dallas Cowboys. After suffering through last season, this has been a year of wonder and delight, at times verging on the hilarious as we watch the consternation of the rest of the NFL at what has happened in Dallas.
The best presents are the unexpected ones, and the Thursday night game saw the hated Philadelphia Eagles in the most unusual role of Santa Claus for the Cowboys as they upset the New York Giants and locked up the NFC East and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs for Dallas. (That raises the question, given the history in Philly, of whether the fans felt some urge to boo themselves, but I digress.) The Cowboys did not have to have any help, as they had full control over their own destiny, but no one should have the slightest complaint about having all the pressure lifted for the final two games. Now the only questions the Cowboys face are who to rest and how much work to give the starters, and whether Tony Romo should ever see the field or be protected for possible emergency use in the playoffs. Those are the kinds of problems you want to deal with in the last couple of contests.
As far as the issue of the team keeping its edge with a couple of meaningless games and a bye week, the Cowboys have the perfect answer for that in Jason Garrett. His persistent approach of taking it one game and one practice at a time is just what the team needs to keep its focus, and it is clear that the team is on board.
Dez Bryant on being div. champs: "Really nothing to celebrate. Of course you're extremely excited for it but there's a lot more football."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) December 23, 2016
The team may be foregoing any real celebration until they see if they can go all the way in the playoffs, but that shouldn’t stop us from feeling a little giddy. Locking up the best record in the conference with two games still to play is a remarkable achievement. It is especially gratifying when you look at where this team was just four months ago, with the starting quarterback injured and an untested fourth-round compensatory pick taking the reins. At the time, the best case scenario was that Dak Prescott would do a good enough job to keep the Cowboys in the hunt until Romo could come back. If you really expected more, please raise your hand so you can be identified for the compulsive liars’ group. This simply was not supposed to happen.
Dak & Zeke accomplished in 14 games what Jason Witten has only just done for 2nd time in 14 years.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) December 23, 2016
NFL ain't supposed to look this easy.
Prescott and fellow rookie sensation Ezekiel Elliott have set the NFL on its ear, but we have already discussed that at length. Football is a team sport, and this has been a true team accomplishment, including the dominant offensive line, the receiving corps, the unexpected performance of the defense of late, and the steady special teams work. As the Cowboys have helped rescue the NFL’s sagging ratings, they have reestablished their reputation as both one of the most followed and hated teams in the league. And that feels good, especially when you look back at what some of the rival fan bases were saying before the season began. (Hat tip to @DCBlueStar for retweeting these.)
Dallas Cowgirls right now would be like "Dak Prescott gonna lead us to the superbowl!!!"... Shut Up... just shut up...— Alex Huynh (@AlexHuynh713) August 20, 2016
You Dallas fans are delusional lmao Zeke hasn't even played in a real game and you think he's the best back ever https://t.co/K0ji2qoglU— Caleb Shepard (@gabesonn) August 26, 2016
Cowboys fans saying that this dude Dak Prescott is better than Goff. After 2 preseason games. I gotta log out of this place.— Jason (@BayAreaFan4) August 21, 2016
Dak Prescott has played in 3 preseason games and Cowboys fans think they are set at QB. Lol we will see— Nick Verdea Jr. (@NickVerdea) August 28, 2016
@davysee9too Kirk will do better than Dak, you're delusional if you think Dak can lead the Cowgirls to a division title— 7-6-1 (@JReedGOAT) August 27, 2016
That’s just a sampling of the scorn that was heaped on Dallas before little things like an eleven-game winning streak and records falling like Eli Manning interceptions coming down Thursday night. Now, instead of laughing at the Cowboys, the NFC contenders are trying to figure out how to beat what may be the most balanced team in the league. In their own house, which is finally a real home field advantage.
Yes, Santa has been very good to us already. There is still work to do, but there is also not one thing wrong with enjoying what has already been accomplished. This has been a historic season in Dallas already. The holiday season is a bit more festive for fans of the Cowboys than almost any other fan base in the league (with the exception of those danged New England Patriots). So while you are opening the rest of your presents, don’t forget to enjoy this wonderful gift from the team you follow as a Cowboys fan.
Merry Christmas, y’all.