The Dallas Cowboys left Lincoln Financial Field with a huge victory on Sunday. What’s that you say? They lost an uninspired game 27-13 to the Philadelphia Eagles? You are correct. But one thing was even more important - their victory over the injury bug.
As of this posting (and very much knocking on wood), the Cowboys avoided any kind of major injury in the game on Sunday. Jason Garrett made every effort to make it seem like the Cowboys were going to go full throttle on Sunday, but late in the week it started to leak out that Mark Sanchez and Tony Romo would be playing significant parts of the game. That was the clear signal that the Cowboys weren’t gunning for a win over Philly, but a win over injury. They made that even more explicit when they decided to sit Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee for the game even though both players are keys for the team, and both are healthy. They also started sitting guys like Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and others as the game progressed.
Still, with only a 46-man active game day roster, you have to play some players. The offensive line was one area where the Cowboys had to hold their breath for the entirety of the game. With Tyron Smith out, and Ron Leary held out because of a back injury, the Cowboys had limited options on the offensive line. Travis Frederick, Zack Martin and Doug Free had to play. Luckily, they came away with no issues.
So even though the Cowboys lost, there is a lot of good news from that game. Jason Garrett has said that he thinks all of these players - Tyron Smith, Ron Leary, Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Cedric Thornton, Terrell McClain, and Justin Durant should be able to play in the first playoff game. In addition, there is speculation that Morris Claiborne could make his return.
Some of those players will be getting two weeks of rest, others up to a month or more of rest at just the right time. Jason Garrett has done a lot of things right this season. Add his handling of the last few weeks of the season to that list. He rested the guys he needed to, he kept the team motivated to play in a meaningless game, and then pulled back at just the right time to hit the playoffs healthy.
Certainly good enough for Coach of the Year in my book.