In 2014, we didn’t have much expectations for the Dallas Cowboys. Analysts and fans thought they could become one of the worst defenses in the history of the NFL. Some were even calling them to end the season with only four wins. Then the Cowboys ignored every expectation and won 12 games, the NFC East title, and beat the Detroit Lions in the Wildcard round. Even though they were defeated by the Packers in the Divisional Round (The catch-no catch will forever be an argument), it was an amazing season for such terrible expectations.
In 2015, we had big expectations for Dallas, but after Tony Romo got hurt, and Dez Bryant too, they faded week after week until finally they ended the season with only four wins. We had to go through the terrible Brandon Weeden/Matt Cassel/Kellen Moore carousel, and it was the worst season I’ve ever seen in my whole life.
But Things Were Different In 2016
Heading into the first game of the regular season, most of us didn’t know what to expect. There was this young rookie who had played a pretty good preseason at quarterback. With help from the fourth overall pick, Ezekiel Elliott, we all had hopes that Dakota Rayne Prescott would win a fair share of games before Romo’s return.
The season began with a tough loss against the New York Giants, but even after that, we weren’t that sad; we were hopeful. So we moved on, and so did the Cowboys.
The Cowboys’ 11-Win Streak
Last year, after Tony Romo went down versus the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys lost seven straight games.”The Streak” that year was something bad. This year though, things were different.
It didn’t look like much at first. The Cowboys had beaten the Washington Redskins, the Chicago Bears, and the San Francisco 49ers, and suddenly were 3-1 under Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, who had built upon his impressive performance during the preseason. The next games were tough. “This week the Cowboys face their first real test,” the media said before the Cowboys dominated the Cincinnati Bengals in a home game, beating them 28-14.
They said the same when Dak & Co. traveled to Lambeau Field. I’d dare say this was the game where the Dallas Cowboys made their first statement.
Dak Prescott threw his first career interception but made it right, throwing for 247 yards and three touchdowns, including one great drive just before the first half ended. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 157 yards against the then number one rush defense. The Cowboys won the game 30-16, and it was when the streak began to be something real.
The Tony Romo vs. Dak Prescott debate was at full speed when the Cowboys hosted the Eagles in possibly the best Sunday Night of the season, but that didn’t matter to the team.
This game was a huge deal. The first Carson Wentz/Dak Prescott match-up ever.
The Cowboys started slow; Dak was shaky, the team drew a lot of penalties, and for a moment it looked like they were going to lose the game. Late in the game, Dallas rallied. With the help of Chris Jones and his infamous fake punt run and a settled-in Dak Prescott, they were able to get the game to overtime. They finally end the game with a Romo-esque scramble by the rookie before tossing TD pass to Jason Witten.
And The Streak Lived On
One week later America’s Team — now with a 8-1 record — had its way at Cleveland, beating the Browns 35-10 in a game where we even got to watch Mark Sanchez throw a pass. A week later they played in another thriller against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This was their “real test,” something people seemed to say every single week the Cowboys played a football game.
The game turned into a shootout between one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, Ben Roethlisberger, and the sensational rookie Dak Prescott.
In what was probably the most exciting 45 seconds of the season, Big Ben faked a spike and threw a touchdown pass to Antonio Brown for the lead. With 15 seconds remaining Dallas was in field goal range, but the offensive line decided to give Zeke the game-winning touchdown by blocking the Steelers’ front seven and clearing the way.
The Streak Kept Going
The Cowboys kept rolling. Ezekiel Elliott beat another then #1 rush defense in the NFL. Dak posted another 300-yard performance along with three touchdowns. Later that week, Tony Romo spoke to the media for the first time since August.
Tony Romo held a press conference, one I’ll never forget and I’m sure no Cowboys fan will.
He talked about the whole situation and how Dak Prescott earned the right to be the Dallas Cowboys quarterback. It was the classiest of acts. Tony said he didn’t plan to be a distraction for the team, and he put an end to the media distraction that for weeks had discussed the QB controversy in Dallas.
It was hard to watch because, at the end of it all, it was the end of an era. Young fans like me had never really seen another quarterback leading this team. But it was the right thing to do, and we’ll never forget it.
The Cowboys won another close offensive shootout against the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving, then headed to Minnesota to face a pretty tough defense on Thursday Night Football. It was a bad game with lots of penalties and mistakes by the offense. The Cowboys got away with a win, which didn’t seem so important, but it really was. The Cowboys proved they could win in situations where the offense wasn’t working like it should. Being able to win ugly games is an important thing in January.
A week later, Dallas got their second loss of the season, against the same team as the first… the New York Giants swept them.
It was sad, sure, but we were still atop the division, so it wasn’t that bad. The defense played great and Anthony Brown even got his first career interception. A lot of questions were raised about this offense and some people even started the Romo vs. Prescott debate again.
Dak hushed all this talk by beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the second highest completion percentage in NFL history, with the help of an amazing performance by Ezekiel Elliott.
This offense was suddenly back on track.
2016 Has Been One Hell Of A Season For Cowboys Fans
Sitting one win away from clinching the NFC East title, a first round bye, home field advantage, and the #1 seed in the NFC, the Eagles did us a favor last night.
They beat the Giants and saved the Cowboys the trouble of having to win at least one of their last two games. When your hated rivals — the Eagles — give you the #1 seed by winning a game, you got to ask yourself: How amazing has this season been?
Two rookies who have become super stars have led our team, the Dallas Cowboys, to a 12-2 record. Some wins have been dominant, some have been thrillers. Jason Garret is the front-runner for the Coach of the Year award. Zeke is in the conversation for MVP, and with two games left the Cowboys have nothing else to fight for in the regular season.
But the best part of it all? The Dallas Cowboys are just getting started.
What are your favorite memories from this Dallas Cowboys 2016 season?