By Will Martin
Recently after a string of icy cold weather in cold Texas and a return to warmer, there was a procession of people preparing to get a car wash. An ideal time to remove the week long buildup of dirt, salt, and soot for a return to normalcy. Three cars in a row. THREE in a row, mind you, were loaded with Cowboys fans who were getting their drink on and preparing for an afternoon of football watching. Seeing the amount of drinks and cigarettes smoked as the wait for the car wash to empty struck me as funny.
These so-called fans are buzzed before the damn game starts was my initial thought.
Now I understand why. Now I totally understand why.
Only the Silver and Blue can play like an all world playoff super power one half yet blow a 23 point lead in the latter half.
This was the Green Bay game in question which looked to be an easy victory against an even more dysfunctional squad of players and owner made sure to make Cowboys fans ingest a high dosage of Tums for the impending car crash that gets averted at the last second.
By now the tried and true pattern of crazy is apparent in every Dallas Cowboys game. At least one interception and turnover. At least one deficit to overcome when trailing. At least one great defensive stop to give the offense one more time to shine albeit against a mediocre team.
Tony Romo with a 17 for 26 afternoon and 226 yards with a key fourth down completion to DeMarco Murray for the game winning touchdown and a 24-23 win. Oddly enough that was the same score when Clint Longley did his magic on Turkey Day 1974 over Washington.
“I’m really proud of our guys and how they responded to different situations to win the game,” said head coach Jason Garrett. “They kept fighting, kept scratching, kept clawing and did what we needed to do to win the game. Excited about the opportunity next week.”
On a soggy field in Maryland DeMarco Murray surpassed the 1,000 yard mark with 96 yards on 22 carries. He would have surpassed 100 yards if not for a ten yard sack of a handoff at game’s end. No complaints about the lack of touches this time around. Alfred Morris for the Skins had 88 yards on 24 carries.
Dez Bryant and Terrence Williams would get 73 and 84 yards in the air from the arm of Tony Romo while the defense of the Dallas Cowboys made two key fourth quarter stops of Washington drives to help preserve a 24-23 victory to ensure that once again for a third year in a row and a fourth time in six years the Dallas Cowboys were featured in a Week 17 game to determine whether or not they reach the playoffs and win the Division.
The Cowboys 8-7 record and a 9-6 Philadelphia Eagles team that put up a 54 spot on Da Bears sure makes it look like it might be a long Sunday Night on NBC.
The first half was vintage Dallas as Tony Romo engineered the first drive of the game resulting in a DeMarco Murray touchdown. Two Kyle Forbath field goals pushed the game to 7-6 before Romo connected on a 31-yard strike to Dez Bryant right before the half for a score and a 14-6 halftime lead.
A Tyler Clutts and Tony Romo pick to DeAngelo Hall would lead to two quick scores for Team Shanahan and 20-14 lead as Pierre Garcon caught an 8-yard pass from Kirk Cousins and an Alfred Morris run up the middle.
Washington would proceed to score on a third straight drive when JJ Wilcox would lay a late hit on a downed player which led to a Redskins field goal from 47 yards out and a 23-14 lead.
Back came the Cowboys! Unlike the week before Jason Garrett committed to the run game. A drive that lasted a little under nine minutes brought Dallas to a 23-17 deficit before the defense was finally able to make a stop.
“I have thick skin,” said Brandon Carr, under the weather all week. “Playing at our level, a lot of things are going to happen to you, but like I said, in order to play this game and in order to survive on that island, there comes a time or two where your team needs you the most, when the game is on the line, you’ve got to stand up and deliver…That’s what we did.”
While this game was playing itself out it was noticed that Tony Romo was hobbling and wincing inside the huddle and when handing off to Murray. A few times he came very close to fumbling the ball. Even still the Cowboys maintained their composure in the final period and a season hanging in the balance.
“We felt like balance was important in the fourth quarter,” Garrett said. “We felt like we did a good job in the fourth quarter keeping the run alive. I think that was an important part of playing this game out.”
And play it out they did. Tony Romo engineered an 80 yard drive mixing up the run with the pass. Two key connections were from Romo to Terrance Williams who was an island all alone on a 51-yard catch with Washington’s secondary completely off guard and napping. Another 17-yard pass and Dallas was knocking on the door of a win. Four yards away with 2:16 left on the clock.
First there was a DeMarco Murray run to the one followed by a second rush for no gain. The clock kept ticking. Next play the Redskins lied in wait and nailed Murray for a nine yard loss as FedEx Field became very vociferous.
Fourth down and goal to go. Ballgame and season on the line for the Silver and Blue. Tony Romo on the 10 steps back to pass, moves out of the pocket and rolls to his right. DeMarco Murray stayed behind and slowly sauntered toward the corner of the end zone where Romo fired and the Cowboys scored for a dramatic 24-23 win!
Leave it to the Cowboys to even make a victory look so damn difficult, right Tony?
“We’re the only team who keeps getting themselves in the position to win the NFC East every year,” Romo said. “That’s a credit, that’s also a negative in the fact that we didn’t (win) it the last couple years. You just have to keep getting yourselves there, and when your team is good enough, you’ll knock down that door.”
And so, a 9-6 Eagles team will come to AT&T Stadium Sunday night December 29th at 7:30 pm and see who will win the NFC East. Winner advances and loser goes home. One added note of news: It’s unclear whether or not Tony Romo can play due to the announced injury he has in his lower back with a herniated disc.
Depending on whom you talk to Romo is out for the season and Kyle Orton will start Sunday. Dallas is looking to get a healthy quarterback if Romo can’t go (as many news outlets are reporting).
This is not the news that NBC, the Cowboys nation, nor Jerry Jones wants to hear with the need for a sellout crowd utmost on Jerry’s mind. Then again if the Cowboys somehow defy the odds and proceed to win a home game on a Chip Kelly team to advance into the playoffs and a trip to San Francisco or elsewhere….
Nah! These are the Cowboys. That team that makes you want to drink and smoke… a lot !