Emotional Cowboys Earn Playoff Berth
ARLINGTON – The rout was on early, freeing the Cowboys – 42-7 winners over the visiting Colts on Sunday – to launch into a “still-work-to-be-done” celebration of the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2009 and the NFC East title.
So I wonder if maybe Tony Romo’s mind drifted just a bit … allowing him to plan his blue Gatorade shower of coach Jason Garrett.
And I wonder if maybe offensive leader Dez Bryant and defensive leader Jeremy Mincey permitted themselves a moment … to orchestrate the post-game locker-room music so behind closed doors, the fellas could participate in an exuberant dance-off.
And I wonder if maybe Jason Witten — who caught one of Romo’s four TD passes, the one that allowed Romo to surpass the great Troy Aikman as Dallas’ all-time yardage leader — freed himself to think of how to express his admiration for best pal Romo and the rest of a team that damn sure wasn’t supposed to be 11-4 and rocketing into the postseason.
“We’ve been through hell and back together,’’ Witten said of himself and his QB, for the last three seasons stuck on an 8-8 treadmill that always included a Week 17 loss that kept them from the tournament. “To get a little bit of success … it was emotional.”
The Cowboys are achieving something few dared dream, grandly exceeding expectations by dominating a good Colts team, thus leaving nothing to chance for Week 17 by wrapping up the NFC East title a week early.
“This is such a long journey,” said Garrett said, who suddenly deserves to be thrust into the Coach of the Year conversation, just as Romo and DeMarco Murray should be in the MVP conversation and yes, just as Jerry Jones should get Exec-of-the-Year attention. “And to get to a point to achieve your first goal of winning the division title, a lot goes into that.”
The Cowboys, who were 4-4 at home this year, will get a home playoff game. Since 2000, there have been nine teams that had 4-4 or worse home records and then hosted a playoff game. Six of those teams won their home playoff game. So what’s behind Dallas — including some mediocrity at AT&T Stadium and Witten and Romo’s “hell and back’’ — is immaterial now.
“There are 53 beasts (on this roster), ready to go at it, anywhere, any place, anytime,” Dez said. “We worked so damn hard. We deserved it.’’
There is talent on offense and effort on defense and, well, funneled emotion everywhere. Witten’s feelings swooped him beyond just his bromance with Romo. An all-time man’s man of this team and one of the greatest, toughest tight ends who ever played, Witten danced among and around Dez and Mincey behind those closed doors, in the hallowed privacy of a room few outsiders can ever understand, with a purpose. I’m told that Witten located every man associated with the team in the locker room, faced them, and, while they were also receiving their NFL-sanctioned “COWBOYS RUN THE EAST’’ T-shirts, issued them a personal “thank you.”
This win, and the way it was captured, freed the Cowboys to consider celebrations. Now they have earned the time, and the right, to consider the pursuit of a Super Bowl.