Stop me if you’ve heard this before. A Cowboys team comes into a game they’re supposed to win and plays undisciplined, turnover-prone football, allowing the inferior team to hang around and ultimately win the game.
If you haven’t stopped me by now, you should have. That sentence sums up the last decade for the Dallas Cowboys. Lofty expectations that usually have been met with unfulfilling results.
With 2:46 remaining on Sunday, it looked like the “same old Cowboys” were about to be back. Dallas came into New England as 3.5-point favorites, but two turnovers, failing to score from the one-yard line, and a poor first half on defense put them in a hole.
The Cowboys had a fourth-and-one from the New England 33-yard line. Instead of trusting in their dynamic offense and going for the one yard, Mike McCarthy decided to send out Greg Zuerlein for a 51-yard field goal attempt. Zuerlein wasn’t even close, and the headlines were already being written about the “same old Cowboys” finding ways to lose a winnable game.
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For the Cowboys teams in recent history. that would have been it. New England would have converted a game-sealing first down, and Dallas would have come out of the game forced to think about what could have been if they didn’t shoot themselves in the foot.
But on a brisk October day in Foxborough, we saw that this team is different.
It started with Trevon Diggs taking his league-leading seventh interception to the house and helping the Cowboys crawl out of their almost buried grave. Diggs’ game-saving play tied Hall of Famer Rod Woodson for the most interceptions in NFL history through six games.
But then, less than 30 seconds later, disaster struck. Diggs and fellow teammate Damontae Kazee had some miscommunication on a deep ball to Kendrick Bourne, and the Patriots went 64 yards on one play to take back the lead.
Another gut punch, and yet another chance to fall back into the same old habits. But once again, this team proved they are different.
Dak Prescott, who ended up throwing for the most passing yards (445) against a Bill Belichick-coached Patriots team, led Dallas on a nine-play drive to get in field goal range and give Zuerlein a chance at redemption.
Yes, another chance to have a “same old Cowboys” moment, but yes, once again, this team refused to let history repeat itself.
After losing the coin toss in overtime, Dallas was faced with more adversity. They’d have to stop Mac Jones and the New England offense that hit them with a 64-yard bomb the last time they were on the field. Fortunately for the Cowboys, they were able to force an incompletion on a third-down pass, getting the ball back in their franchise quarterback’s hands needing only a field goal to win.
We know this team lives through their signal-caller. When adversity’s thrown at them, they turn to #4 to lead them down the rocky road. There aren’t many players in football you’d want to have the ball in that situation over Prescott, and the 28-year-old quarterback did what he does best, make the improbable possible.
Prescott marched Dallas down the field and connected with Cee Dee Lamb on a 35-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to pull off one of the best wins in recent Cowboys’ history.
Now, how could this be one of Dallas’ “best” recent wins if they were sloppy, (12 penalties), turned the ball over twice and didn’t execute up to their standards? Well, because it proved something we’ve been looking for a Cowboys team to prove for the past decade.
This team isn’t like the ones we’re used to seeing. This team can take a punch, or twenty, and stay standing to deliver a powerful uppercut right back.
Dak Prescott said it best after the game. “Life keeps throwing punches, and I’ll keep throwing them back.”
“Life keeps throwing punches, and I’ll keep throwing them back.” - Dak— David Helman (@HelmanDC) October 18, 2021
Says he’ll be fine, and the calf strain is something they’ll work through. Wanted to give us all something to talk about while the team isn’t playing.
This quarterback, and this team, can take and throw more punches than any team we’ve seen in Dallas in quite some time.
Over the next few months, the Cowboys are going to take and deliver plenty of punches. If Sunday is an indication of what’s to come, there’s a solid chance for the first time in 25 years they could be the last one standing at the end of the fight.