DeMarco HAS to Play Sunday
Say what you will about DeMarco Murray’s injured left hand, that he won’t be able to catch passes or block effectively. There’s only one way to see this playing out in Sunday’s game against the Colts; Murray absolutely has to play. This is the ultimate win or go home scenario for the Cowboys. A one game lead over the Eagles is really just a half game. If the Cowboys lose to the Colts on Sunday and then beat the Redskins in the season finale, it won’t be enough for the Cowboys to make the playoffs. A loss on Sunday by the Cowboys and a predictable win by the Eagles over the Redskins means that the Cowboys and Eagles will again be tied for first in the NFC East, but not really. Philadelphia has the tie breaker so Philly would actually be ahead of Dallas going into the last weekend of the season.
The Cowboys play the Redskins and the Eagles play the Giants, so both Dallas and Philadelphia should win and finish the season tied with 11-5 records. Again, Philly will have the tie breaker so they would win the division. That leaves the Cowboys as a possible wild-card team. There will be three wild card teams going for those two wild card spots – Dallas, either Seattle or Arizona and either Detroit or Green Bay. All of the other teams have better division or conference records than Dallas.
If the Cowboys win out, meaning they beat both Indianapolis and Washington, then they win the NFC East and make the post-season. The HAVE to win both games, so that means Murray HAS to play Sunday. Hell, he can miss the Washington game if he needs to heal his hand. A broken ring finger in his left hand isn’t the worst thing in the world. It will have to be numbed, taped and have a soft cast put on it but it’s doable. Emmitt Smith had almost the same injury back in the 1999 season and missed just one game. He had the luxury of missing that game and not hurting the team, but Murray doesn’t have the same luxury. He’s responsible for 38 percent of the Cowboys offense this season, the highest of any player in the league. He’s a MVP candidate, and even if he only carries the ball 15 times for say, 75 yards, the threat he provides the Colts defense is enough to make them honor him on every offensive play.
If you want to talk about playing hurt, Emmitt played the entire second half of a game against the Giants in 1994 with a separated right shoulder. I was there and all of the members of the Dallas media thought Smith was crazy. His arm was just hanging from his body and Troy Aikman had to hand the ball off extra low to Smith because he couldn’t lift his arm as high as usual to accept the hand off. Here’s what Emmitt said after the Cowboys NFC East-clinching game, in which he rushed for 168 yards, “What helped me get through that game was the fact my teammates were counting on me,” Smith said. “When I came to the huddle and looked the guys in the face, I could see their concern for me, but I also knew how important the game was. There was a lot at stake.”
DeMarco has to heed those same words and get out there on Sunday and do whatever he can to give Dallas the NFC East title, again.