If you want a seminal snapshot of the season to date, it was right there, late in the game, for the nation to see in all its dominance and glory.
Five linemen, a fullback, and DeMarco Murray celebrated together in the end zone, apart from the shiny toys on offense, away from Romo, isolated together in the end zone of the world champs. They hugged and head butted, knowing full well what they’d just done, and what they’ve become.
They are one. The most dominant collective unit in the National Football League. Soak in that for a moment.
They are also everything Jerry Jones avoids at every turn, which makes it all more improbable and twice as delicious. They are fat guys with 70-something jerseys that don’t sell in the pro shop. “Zack Martin picks get you to 8-8,” said Jerry the Football Imbecile. How’s your boy Manziel doing, eh Jerry?
It’s so much more enjoyable knowing Jerry is looking at it from the outside with “I told you so” etched in lipstick across his thick skull. I’ll let you figure out who’s lipstick.
Yesterday was so much more than a win. Somebody every week upsets a team in difficult circumstances, especially in the watered-down parity the NFL has devolved into. There’s nothing specifically noteworthy about that in and of itself.
But that’s not what happened yesterday. This was an institutional change in NFL hierarchy. Richard Sherman’s cockiness and bravado turned into congratulatory daps with Dez, and a post-game hug of respect with Romo. Pete Carroll’s early camera smugly smirks turned into lost looks of confusion and helplessness.
Dallas had just Seattle-ed the Seahawks, as if to say, “Looky here, boys, we are now who you used to be.”
Dominance is a tricky concoction to make. It needs a catalyst, perhaps two, to fester into the fabric of reality. It’s quiet, and it’s everywhere. You know it when you see it because you can feel it, too.
That’s what this offensive line has done for this team. Everything is feeding off of it, the backs, Romo and his now deadly play fakes, receivers and tight ends blocking downfield, and a defense that is flying around and hitting everything without mercy. Everybody feels fresh, mentally and physically, for four quarters and every Sunday.
Even Gavin Escobar is blocking. Good gosh, it’s a miracle.
Such a unit infects malady into the other team, too. We watched Drew Brees stand on the sideline as a spectator. Russell Wilson did the same yesterday, merely a face in the crowd, watching a bloodletting reversal. Seattle’s offense looked impatient and uncertain, as if their identity had been ripped from their souls and held up to their faces. Fingers pointing, coaches pacing, opposing fans pondering. Oh crap, the stinking Cowboys are back.
Murray for 5, Murray for 3, Murray for 7, Randle for 15, Dunbar on a catch for 20. Pound, pound, pound. The message is loud and clear. We’re running right there, and you can’t stop us. And when needed, Romo can still work his magic. And lest you forget, our receivers are pretty dadgum good, even the ones you barely know. I can’t remember the last time first downs tallied with such ease and expectancy, but it’s making this a superbly fun season.
OK, it’s October, I know. Ten games to go, fraught with potential injuries, and pits of calamity lurking around every corner. Learning to live with expectations remains unproven. Wearing the proverbial “team to beat” target is a burden, even when accustomed to what wearing the Star brings by its very nature.
But I take you back to that picture of Murray and his team of gladiators in Seattle’s end zone. That’s a bond that doesn’t break in thick or thin. That doesn’t wilt in the cold and pressure of December and January. That’s a constant in any equation.
This is a playoff team, and a mighty serious one at that.