By Will Martin
Once in a while you will hear someone, somebody at this time of the year recite the meaning of insanity.
Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
And yes this is a paraphrase. It’s possible that Cowboys may start to feel this way from this day until the start of the new year.
After 17 years that is understandable in the land of over-hype and under achievement.
Once again Tony Romo led this team from a double digit deficit to the riches of victory on Thanksgiving Day over the Oakland Raiders 31-24. With the win Dallas sits at 7-5, Tony Romo continues his incredible run of success in the next to last month of the season, and the destinies for a playoff run lie right upon their lap.
Last Sunday yours truly came up with a truly unique math problem in describing their win at NJ in the final moments based on the play of Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Jason Hatcher. 9+88+97!! For the moment that was golden for the Silver and Blue.
In light of what transpired on Turkey Day I would now like to get Algebraic. Why? Well, has anybody else noticed that since the fall from grace at New Orleans the Dallas Cowboys will have managed to play only three games in 29 days? December 9th will be the next contest in Chicago. A Monday night where Mike Ditka’s number will be retired.
Stay with me on this. Kudos indeed is to be given to the Oakland Raiders for the torrid start in Arlington on the opening kickoff. Matt McGloin was able to play with a chip on his shoulder early on after special teams recovered a Terrence Williams fumble for a touchdown courtesy of Greg Jenkins. The play covered all of twenty three yards.
If Oakland could use the turnover to convert a play into a score then credit the Cowboys for doing the same. On a bad snap between center and McGloin deep in Raider territory Dallas would recover a muff and be in business two yards away.
Enter DeMarco Murray for what would turn out to be a big day for him! A two yard trot and game tied 7-all. Period two was about to get interesting for the Silver and White.
You could term this game the battle of the running backs. Oakland’s answer to DeMarco Murray was Rashad Jennings who would amass two touchdowns on 17 carries for 35 yards. Most of that came in the second period.
One where the Oakland Raiders and the Nittany Lion led offense kept the ball for over 13 minutes. In so doing two twelve play drives would ensue that finished with two Rashad Jennings 1-yard runs and a 21-7 Raiders lead. Credit Matt McGloin with five straight conversions of third downs.
Even with the blue uniforms on was there any sense of panic on the Cowboys side?
“To have the opening kickoff fumbled and returned for a touchdown and then be down a couple of scores in the first half, nobody blinked,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “The momentum kind of turned and I think guys started feeling pretty good and it just continued.”
We later learned that Tony Romo was dealing with a case of a virus that started Wednesday night. Whatever was ailing him Dallas made a statement right before the half with an 8 play 73 yard drive that took all of 106 seconds to cut the deficit to 21-14. Two completions to Dez Bryant the key to that drive before DeMarco Murray ran for another touchdown from four yards out.
“He’s already a beast, then that beast times two comes out,” said Dez Bryant. “That’s exactly what he showed. Whenever he’s doing things like that, like I said, it just boosts everyone in this locker room.”
Tony Romo had only 55 yards completed in the first half. Sick or not did Jason Garrett have anything special to offer his starting quarterback at the break?
“We talked about the great Joe Montana story in the Cotton Bowl,” Garrett said. “We didn’t actually get him the chicken soup, but we tried to get a little drama going so maybe he would respond to it. I think as much as anything else, when he got going out there he started feeling good, particularly in that drive before the half, and I think it carried into the second half.”
In the second half Tony Romo was a perfect 12 for 12 as the Cowboys would respond with 24 unanswered points before Oakland mustered up a field goal. Dallas would engineer a ten play 87 yard drive resulting in a Dez Bryant 4-yard pass (against the former Cowboy Mike Jenkins) to knot things things up at 21.You could see and feel the momentum continue to turn in Dallas’ favor.
“The game boiled down to, in the second half we wore down,” said Raiders coach Dennis Allen. “They were able to run the ball and we weren’t able to get off the field.”
Even after DeMarco Murray’s third touchdown gave the Cowboys a 28-21 lead early in the 4th he had only 25 yards. Murray would add another 38 on the ground as Dallas successfully burned time off the clock late.
Matt McGloin in defeat was 18 for 30 for 255 yards with little to no help in the second half from his rushers as Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings were essentially shut down by the patchwork Cowboys defense. Only 48 yards on 22 carries.
It looked like Oakland was about to knot the game at 28 on the drive after Murray’s final score. Despite an impressive afternoon by ex-Cowboy Andre Holmes (7 catches for 136 yards) McGloin would get picked off in the end zone by Brandon Carr. With that play the hopes and dreams of a playoff return by the Bay were snuffed out for an 11th straight season at 4-8.
Lance Dunbar also showed flashes of brilliance with the ball in his hand. Leading all rushers with 82 yards-one on a 45-yard burst-sadly he would leave the game with what will in all likelihood be season ending surgery.
For the game Tony Romo was 23 of 32 for 225 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Just like in New Jersey Tony Romo had no qualms about spreading the wealth. Seven different receivers got a touch from his arm. Dez Bryant would catch seven for 61 yards.
Dan Bailey’s 19-yard field goal would highlight a 4th period where the Cowboys would possess the ball for over 12 minutes in a tit for tat of the second period.
How bad was the virus Tony?
“Just whatever it is, a bug, some shape or form,” Romo said. “You know, you just kind of feel down, but it’s no different than guys playing through pain or anything. It’s just part of football.”
“This is the NFL,” Romo said. “You play through everything. Guys play through a lot worse, I can promise you that.”
Despite the bad news about Lance Dunbar the Dallas Cowboys are assured of at least a tie for first place come December 9th when they play on a Monday night in Chicago. Cowboys fans have been here before.
Straight from the ballpark and off to the turkey table, feeling excited and thankful. December always tends to bring on a different dimension of how not to finish what you start. December Green Bay will be in town for their first visit since Super Bowl XLV sans Aaron Rodgers. That’s a winnable game. Away at Washington is always a test despite RG3’s latest struggles.
Think the schedule makers weren’t sage in the planning of the matchups? We already know that December 29th will be on NBC for all the marbles and that Dallas can win and get back to the playoffs. Come to think of it, the same thing happened in 2009 as the Raiders came to Arlington on Turkey Day, lost 24-7, and Dallas defeated Philadelphia to get to the playoffs in the season finale. How’s that for Deja Vu?
Back in August I joked that 8-8 would win this division. Barring any crazy injuries or setbacks, and as beaten down as this defense has been the Dallas Cowboys of 2013 have a chance to rank near the bottom in everything yet still get to the playoffs.
Appearances indeed can be deceiving. Now back to my equation. Last week it was 9+88+97. Turkey Day it was amended to 3-29/3X29=Playoffs. As in the number of games played between a bye and a holiday break and…the play of DeMarco Murray. And here they sit at 7-5!
I’ll take that math anytime. For better or worse, bring on December! Either the play will repeat itself or a little bit of insanity will take the masses to another dimension come January!