The Dallas Cowboys cannot be blamed for wondering “what if?’’ But no, not “what if we would’ve beaten the Packers and then beaten the Falcons and then advanced to the Super Bowl against the Patriots?’’
This “what if’’ is a simple philosophical regret from Green Bay 34, Dallas 31 in their playoff game a week ago: Dallas fell behind 21-3 in its final game … and stayed behind, for the most part, because it didn’t ride Ezekiel Elliott. That early deficit is being given by some as the reason they didn’t “stick with the run” more, in the form of more than 22 carries for Elliott.
But the point is being missed. The score was 0-0 when Dallas first decided to not “stick with it,” as on third-and-2 within field-goal range when they let Dak Prescott throw downfield into coverage for an … Read More »
ARLINGTON – It will be argued forever that the Dallas Cowboys’ playoff loss to the Packers yesterday at AT&T Stadium was about the results of rust. Or about the results about readiness. Or about the results of the reliance on rookies.
But to me? Packers 34, Cowboys 31 was exactly what I’d feared it would be: About the results of Rodgers.
Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers was my regular-season pick for NFL MVP based on the simplest of facts: He is the NFL star with the best chance to get to the Super Bowl with the least amount of help. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, after suffering through Rodgers’ conversion of a third-and-19 to set up the game-winning field goal with no time remaining, said when it’s all over, Rodgers “will go down as one of the three greatest to ever lace ’em … Read More »
ARLINGTON – It’s a classic cliche that is often applied to a Dallas-Washington meeting: “Throw the records out the window!’’ But in fact, in the history of this epic NFL series, team records are actually very predictive. To wit, coming into last Thursday’s Thanksgiving meeting at AT&T Stadium:
*When it’s the Redskins with a winning record, the Redskins are 23-10
*When it’s both teams with the same records, the series is 14-16-1
*When it’s the Cowboys with a winning record, the Cowboys are 28-17-1
And as Dallas came into the game 9-1 … guess what happened?
“’It’s a helluva ride,’’ Dallas defensive back Orlando Scandrick to me after the Cowboys’ 31-26 win. ‘And it’s just now beginning!’ Dallas is on quite a roll, with its two rookie MVP candidates taking lead roles. QB Dak Prescott accounted for two touchdowns and running back Ezekiel Elliott ran … Read More »
ARLINGTON – Last Monday I offered some pre-game “FishTips’’ as your guide for the Ravens-at-Cowboys match-up. Now, in review of Dallas 27, Baltimore 17 … How’d I do?
FISHTIP 1: I said Dez Bryant was working through the emotions of the passing of his father and that dealing with the loss included Dez’ Saturday attendance at the Saturday funeral in Lufkin. But physically? Despite appearing on the pregame injury report — “back’’ — Bryant told me it was a “take-an-aspirin’’ sort of issue.
RESULT: “I was no big deal,’’ Dez told me after a win in which he totaled six catches for 80 yards and two TDs, but refused to bask in credit over the big numbers. “We’re for one another. That’s it.’’
FISHTIP 2: I said that Ezekiel Elliott would face his truest test of the year in Baltimore’s best-in-the-NFL run defense, … Read More »
PITTSBURGH – Sunday’s thrilling 35-30 comeback victory against the Steelers at Heinz Field wasn’t about any of the storylines Cowboys critics continue to manufacture. Investigating Zeke? Puppet Garrett? Pouting Romo? Meddling Jerry? Deztractions?
Those aren’t the real stories.
“How our team responded in the latter part of the game is indicative of what they’re all about, the kind of people we have on our team, the mental toughness they have, the poise and composure,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said after a game won because Dallas somehow scored twice in the final two minutes in this hostile environment. “Our ability to execute when we had to was obviously critical to the outcome.”
Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott was a centerpiece of that as he scored on 32-yard run with nine seconds left to essential seal the deal. Zeke rushed for two TDs and scored … Read More »
CLEVELAND – I composed FishTips as the Cowboys got ready for the Browns on Sunday. Now we’ve got a 35-10 win and a review of how prescient those five FishTips were:
FishTip 1) Why does it feel like Dallas has the vibe of a contender?
Well, the Cowboys are 6-1 for the 11th time in club history. All 10 of those previous teams went to the playoffs.
Furthermore… since 1990, when the playoffs were last re-formatted, teams that started 6-1 made the playoffs 51 of 60 times. So historically the path is cleared.
RESULT: The Cowboys at 7-1 are the best team in the NFC – though their eye is so on the prize that even the outspoken Dez Bryant is unwilling to say those words. “I’m not going to get in to all of that,” Dez said. “What I will say: I love … Read More »
ARLINGTON – There are certain narratives that can serve as a comfortable groove. For instance, follow the groove and it all works out, the way rookie Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday followed the ballyhooed “best O-line in football’’ and powered past the visiting Bengals, 28-14, for 134 yards and two TDs.
That’s an easy narrative. Grooved.
There are other narratives that don’t propel you into a groove, but rather, shove you into a gutter. Those narratives, for this shockingly good 4-1 Cowboys team, include all the things they aren’t supposed to be able to do without the injured Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, and all the things this defense — from the beleaguered Morris Claiborne on down — wasn’t supposed to be able to do, healthy or not.
The Bengals are, on paper, a quality team … better than this Dez/Romo-less Cowboys bunch. On … Read More »
SANTA CLARA – You are on the road. A half-dozen of your team’s stars are in street clothes and you have a lifetime 2-8 record when two of those standouts, Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, are sidelined together. You start the game down two touchdowns and the guys assigned with fixing that are led by a pair of rookies.
“At the start of training camp, would I have been able to predict success (in that situation)? Probably not. But after getting to know them, and seeing their work ethic and their talent and their character? Yes,” Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee told me after Dallas secured this unlikely 24-17 win on Sunday.
The “them” in question is the tandem of running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott, who do most everything together; they are part of the same rookie class, obviously. They … Read More »
LANDOVER, MD – The Cowboys rallied to beat the Redskins 27-23 on Sunday with but a single glaring flaw — and optimists can cling hopefully to the notion that this flaw might never again be so exposed. “Whenever the ball is in my hand, it’s my responsibility to protect it,” said Ezekiel Elliott, the rookie running back who fumbled twice (losing one) to keep this NFC East duel all-too-close. “It’s on me.”
It was “on” Zeke’s backup however, veteran Alfred Morris, to provide the final margin of victory on a four-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against his former Redskins mates. And now some critics will wonder if Morris (five carries for seven yards) should supplant Elliott (83 yards on 21 carries with a TD) as a starter. You held your breath through Zeke’s dropsies. But don’t hold your breath … Read More »
ARLINGTON – “Average.” It’s a dirty word in the NFL, because in this parity-based league, two-thirds of the teams will end up within two games of .500 … and therefore, “average” is nothing. And that’s where Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott is today.
“I think I was average,” said Zeke, a focal point of Dallas’ season-opening 20-19 home loss to the Giants yesterday afternoon. “Average. That’s not why I was brought here to be average, so we’ve got a lot of work to get done. A lot to work on.”
Elliott, the fourth-overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, was supposed to be a reason Dallas might survive the temporary injury loss of Tony Romo. But Romo rookie replacement, Dak Prescott, joining Zeke behind the top offensive line in the game was supposed to do that too. And a healthy Dez … Read More »