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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 had just beaten the Super Bowl champions, the 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’ve 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 hit 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 handed the ball to DeMarco Murray who went off the right tackle for 8 yards and a first down. The next play, we handed the ball to DeMarco Murray for 17 yards. The Cowboys ran the clock and ran DeMarco Murray. There was 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, kicked 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.

NFL: Week 16

I stopped giving a weekly update of the NFL a couple months ago. First of all, a weekly update took way too long for me to write. Secondly, there was so much flux from one week to the next, I couldn’t thoughtfully tell you who I thought was good and who I thought was bad.

There are certain things that we knew at the beginning of week 16. We knew that the San Francisco 49ers were very good. They quite possibly may be the best team in the NFC, maybe the best team in football. They made a huge statement by flying across the country last week and beating the New England Patriots, in New England, in the cold rain.

Well, it is week 16 and we’ve learned a lot more about the NFL. Briefly, let me run it down to you like this. The Dallas Cowboys have played above my expectations. They lost today to the New Orleans Saints because their defense, in my opinion, was unable to make plays. Tony Romo is playing out of his mind. For the last six weeks, he has really been playing some outstanding football. Very few quarterbacks in the NFL have been playing as well as Tony Romo. The Washington Redskins, unlike the Dallas Cowboys, have been playing extremely well on both sides of the football. Robert Griffin, III is the real deal. He throws the football with touch and accuracy. He is one of the league’s highest rating passers. The New York Giants, on the other hand, have been imploding. If you’re a Dallas Cowboys fan, like I am, it’s been beautiful to watch. Here’s the deal. The New York Giants have a great defensive front four. They must dominate for the Giants to be able to cover up their relatively weak secondary. On offense, they have to be able to run the ball. Victor Cruz hasn’t been making those great plays like he did last year. The combination, failure of their front four and their inability to run the football, has made them an extremely mediocre team. Continue reading NFL: Week 16

Week 6 in the NFL – Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?

We are just over a quarter of the way into the NFL season, so I thought I would briefly chat about the NFL.

Who’s hot?
In my opinion, the Houston Texans are probably the best team in football. They have a fantastic offense run by Matt Schaub, who is playing really solid football. They have a fantastic running attack in Arian Foster. Andre Johnson may be the best receiver in the NFL. Their defense is incredibly solid. Although they’ve recently lost Brian Cushing, Bradie James will be an adequate backup.

The Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers are probably vying for that second spot. They’re both very solid on offense and on defense. The Atlanta Falcons seem to have a more explosive offense. The San Francisco 49ers have a much more suffocating defense. The only reason I can’t give a nod to the 49ers above the Atlanta Falcons is their inexplicable loss to the Minnesota Vikings. That was a head scratcher. Of course, they made up for the loss by destroying the New York Jets and absolutely spanked the Buffalo Bills.

I would like to give honorable mentions to the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. Tom Brady is having another tremendous season. The Patriot defense seems to be much improved over last year’s debacle. The New York Giants, who looked absolutely awful against the Dallas Cowboys in week one, have managed to put together a pretty solid season up until now. Eli Manning may be playing his best football. The thing that is going to hold the New York Giants back is their defense. Specifically, their secondary. Continue reading Week 6 in the NFL – Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?