Cowboys Drama Nothing New
ARLINGTON – I literally said this right to the face of the despicable Skip Bayless, a quarter of a century ago, when he was just beginning to carve out what would be his highly-profitable but soul-less existence as a sports media charlatan: “Why do you need to make up fake stories about drama inside the Cowboys,’’ I said to him, “when there is so much real drama to write about?’’
My philosophy holds true at this moment, as you can imagine, with the late-night events on Sunday at AT&T Stadium, where “Dak Prescott vs. Carson Wentz” and “Prescott vs. Romo’’ and “bounties’’ and accusations against Ezekiel Elliott and challenges to a less-than-accomplished Dallas defense and gaffes by the Cowboys special teams and the return of Dez Bryant and the records of Jason Witten were just some of the story lines emerging from the Cowboys’ 29-23 overtime win over the visiting Eagles.
“I’ve never been prouder,’’ a hoarse Jerry Jones croaked after the victory that sends his Cowboys to 6-1. “One of the best wins I’ve ever been around.”
That’s quite something, because his Cowboys of 25 years ago won three Super Bowls and created countless dramatic stories. NFL teams that start 6-1 make the playoffs 85% of the time, so the 2016 edition of the Cowboys have a chance at something similar, as improbable as that may seem given their reliance on the rookie Prescott, who wasn’t very good here … until he just had to be.
Prescott rallied Dallas in the fourth quarter, looping around wildly before tossing a 5-yard pass to Witten in OT for the victory. Witten got to celebrate a score in his franchise-record 204th start. Prescott got to talk about “resilience’’ after guiding the team to a sixth straight win as he’s filling in for Tony Romo, who Jones said will need a little more time to rehab, meaning Dak is slated to start in Cleveland next week.
Said coach Jason Garrett of Prescott: “He plays with the same mentality, the same demeanor, the same temperament regardless of what’s happened before. The best players I’ve been around were able to do that. He was outstanding at the end of this ballgame.”
Eagles rookie QB Wentz was good, too, but did find himself harassed by Tank Lawrence and the defensive line, by Sean Lee and the linebackers and by Orlando Scandrick and the secondary. Meanwhile, Bryant returned to the field for the first time since Week 3, his knee now healthy, and caught a game-tying 22-yard touchdown pass with 3:04 left in regulation. And another rookie, Elliott, the NFL’s rushing leader, finished with 96 yards on 22 carries and had another 52 yards receiving, all coming amid reports of the NFL’s continuing investigation of a domestic violence incident he’s already been cleared of back in July by Ohio law enforcement (the league continues to probe but sources tell me there is nothing new about the investigation) and amid a mindless story generated by NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger that the Eagles should put a “bounty’’ on the head of Zeke.
Neither of those angles are very weighty. Being able to overcome strife (which in this game included some goofy special-teams play and one gem, punter Chris Jones’ sneaky run for a huge gain) is important. Dallas — which may need to deal with serious injury concerns for DBs Barry Church and Morris Claiborne — has itself some drama. But so much of it is positive. And none of it needs to be fake.
“We got a lot of momentum,’’ Elliott said after this sixth straight win. “We’re rolling right now. We got to build on that. I think it’s good that we had a tough game.”
Real tough. Real drama. Real success.