Dallas Cowboys: Week 7

demarco murray verses giantsLast week, I had to talk some of my friends down from Dallas Cowboys euphoria. The Dallas Cowboys were 5-1 and it just beaten the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. Many cowboy fans could not contain their glee. Look, I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan. I’ve been a Dallas Cowboys fan since 1966 when I went to my first Dallas Cowboys game back in the Cotton Bowl. Collectively, we need a group hug. We also need to remember that the Dallas Cowboys have less down time after time… After time. We’ve seen the Dallas Cowboys go 8-8 over the last three years. In the four years that Bill Parcells was the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, we lost in the wild card game twice and didn’t make it to the playoffs twice. We’ve seen November/December collapses from the Cowboys on numerous occasions. Our best season in the last decade was in 2007. We had Tony Romo, Marion Barber, Terrell Owens and a host of offensive weapons. We controlled the ball. We held Eli Manning to only 163 yards passing. Yet, somehow, we lost that game. This was our last, best chance to get to the Super Bowl. If you remember this team was 13-3. They were favored to beat the Giants.

Fast-forward to yesterday. This was simply another hard-fought divisional game but unlike what we saw in the last two or three years, the Dallas Cowboys have proven (gulp) that they can overcome adversity. After going up 7-0, the Dallas Cowboys fell behind 14-7. The defense, which I’ve been worried about all year, again proved to be porous at best. It seems that every other play there was a flag for defensive pass interference or illegal contact. We generated absolutely no pass rush. We had no sacks. Not one! Eli Manning was 21 of 33 for 248 yards and three touchdowns. He had no interceptions.

The New York Giants played the run. It was tough sledding for DeMarco Murray. Yet, once again, the Cowboys stuck with a run and were rewarded in the fourth quarter. (Congratulations to DeMarco Murray for 7 straight games with over 100 yards breaking Jim Brown’s mark of 6 games.)

Eli Manning made his typical, come-from-behind charge in the fourth quarter. For those of us who are longtime Cowboy fans, we’ve seen Eli Manning look terrible for 3 1/2 quarters and then shred the Dallas Cowboys defense for a victory. The Dallas Cowboys won this game in the fourth quarter. They were up 28-21 with 5:28 left in the fourth quarter. Eli Manning and the Giants just scored quickly on 11 play drive in which the Dallas Cowboys defense looked completely hapless. Now, the Dallas Cowboys offense needed to seal the game. This is where we failed, time and time again in past seasons. Our first play from our own 20 was a run up the middle by DeMarco Murray. He was stoned for a 1 yard loss. On second and 11, Tony Romo hits Dez Bryant for 10 yards. Third and one, this is where the Dallas Cowboys would falter, crash and burn, spontaneously implode. Instead of coming up with some gadget or trick play, they hand the ball to DeMarco Murray who goes off the right tackle for 8 yards and a first down. The next play, we hand the ball to DeMarco Murray for 17 yards. The Cowboys run the clock and run DeMarco Murray. There’s one more pass to Dez Bryant for 13 yards. The Cowboys moved the ball into field-goal range. Dan Bailey, formally our most viable player, kicks a 49 yard field goal with a little over one minute left in the game to make it a 2 score game. The game is over.

This is what I find most impressive. The Dallas Cowboys are actually forcing their will on opposing defenses. It is wonderful to see. I would encourage Dallas Cowboys fans to have reserved optimism. We still have a lot of problems. Too many penalties. No pass rush. Inability to cover receivers. I will start getting excited when the Dallas Cowboys start winning in December. :-) For now, it’s just good to have the Dallas Cowboys winning.

Kansas City Royals got it done

Kansas City Royals are going to the World Series.

From ESPN:

James Shields led thousands of fans in a celebratory chant. Lorenzo Cainpranced along the warning track, cradling his newborn son. Ned Yost finally allowed himself to smile.

After nearly three decades spent as one of the game’s biggest laughingstocks, the Kansas City Royals are once again baseball royalty. They are headed to their first World Series since 1985, finishing a four-game sweep in the AL Championship Series with a 2-1 victory Wednesday over the Baltimore Orioles.

In a perfect postseason, the Royals are intent to relish every moment.

“It’s hard to explain,” said Cain, whose clutch hits and dramatic catches earned him the series MVP award. “We’re clicking at the right moment right now.”

There’s no doubt about that. (more…)

Congratulations to the Kansas City Royals!!!

Dallas Cowboys – Week 6

cowboys win

Well, well, well. The Dallas Cowboys are 5-1. Who would’ve thought? I famously predicted (famous in my own mind) that the Dallas Cowboys were going to go 2-14 this year. With a historically bad defense last year and the losses of DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee, I couldn’t see the Dallas defense being better. Last year, their offense was good, but not great. You can never count on anything positive from the offense. Oh, and add to that an absolutely abysmal preseason.

Fast forward to now. The Dallas Cowboys have to go to Seattle to play the Super Bowl champs. Let’s understand that the Super Bowl champs aren’t the team that they were last year. They’re having some issues. They need wide receivers who can separate and catch the ball. They need another playmaker besides Percy Harvin. Yet, they still have a stout defense. They still have Russell Wilson. I remember just two years ago when the Dallas Cowboys went to Seattle and got shredded early in the season. It was the first time I had an opportunity to see Russell Wilson. I wasn’t dazzled by anything that he did but at the same time, he really didn’t make any mistakes. That is probably the hallmark of Russell Wilson’s game. He may not dazzle you with outstanding throws and arm strength, but at the same time he doesn’t really make any mental mistakes. During that game, the Dallas Cowboys took control early only to have a punt blocked and a couple of key turnovers to seal the game for Seattle.

On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys had plenty of opportunities to roll over and play dead. They did not. They spotted the Seattle Seahawks 10 points. Through sheer grit and determination the Dallas Cowboys scored the next 17 points. They were in control of the game. Dwayne Harris fumbled a punt, giving Seattle not only momentum, but seven points. The very next drive, the Seattle fans were going crazy. The Dallas Cowboys were deep in their own end of the field, Tony Romo frantically trying to signal his receivers. The center snapped the ball. The ball bounced off of Tony Romo’s leg into the hands of a waiting Seattle defender. Another three points for the Seahawks. Normally, this would lead to Tony Romo trying to fit the ball into an impossibly small window, which would lead to an interception. For some reason, that didn’t happen.

Instead, we saw a remarkable sequence of plays. On a third and long, deep in our own end of the field, Tony Romo throws a back shoulder fade to Dez Bryant who leaps up and grabs the ball over Richard Sherman. First down. A couple of plays later, the Dallas Cowboys have it third and long, again. We’re in the fourth quarter. The Seattle fans are going nuts. Tony Romo goes back to throw and gets immediate pressure off of his left side. He spends out of pressure only to have to avoid another defender in his face. He scrambles to his right. He throws about a 30-yard pass and appears to have overthrown Jason Witten, but the ball lands in Terrence Williams’ hands. Williams makes one of the best catches I’ve seen by a Dallas Cowboy in years. He drags both of his feet as he is falling out of bounds. Magnificent play. Then, the Dallas Cowboys don’t forget how to run the football. In the past, when we were down in the fourth quarter, we would always throw the ball, throw the ball, and then throw the ball some more. Instead we handed the ball to DeMarco Murray. He breaks it for 25 yards. Next play, DeMarco Murray off the right tackle for 6 yards. Now, in my opinion, one of the most remarkable things was when the Dallas Cowboys run the ball again. DeMarco Murray runs right, cuts it back left in his head at the 2-yard line by Richard Sherman. He carries Richard Sherman into the end zone for a 15-yard run and a touchdown. That was the game.

What is remarkable to me is the toughness the Dallas Cowboys have shown on both offense and defense. The Dallas Cowboys have shown not just physical toughness but also mental toughness.

No, I have not jumped on the Dallas Cowboys bandwagon. The Dallas Cowboys have torn my heart out on a number of occasions over the last 15 years. Right now, I’m just gonna sit back and smile. (Let’s see how we do at the end of the season. Let’s beat Philadelphia.)