What a game that was. An opening kickoff accepted – instead of deferred, for a change – began the festivities in Arlington, TX last night with a first half of football Saints fans are still reeling over. We've grown accustomed to the way of the Cowboy over the years as a comeback kid, but the only struggle the Cowboys experienced last night seemed to come in the fourth quarter after the defense took a break for two Saints' touchdowns.
Chris Collinsworth and Al Michaels were quick to attribute the emergence of Drew Brees and his offensive teammates to an inevitable wake-up call, but I knew better.
The Dallas D was tired. They moved slow and sluggish out there as the Saints twice marched down that field to within two scores of a neck and neck game. And then our defense sprung back into action, making Brees seriously consider every throw twice before making it.
Before going on, I want to mention Morris Claiborne going down early with an injury. Many fans seemed happy that he got hurt, judging from the cheers that invaded my surround sound game experience and heaps of tweets saying as much. Shame on anyone who felt anything other than sympathy for Mo. We're hearing today that it looks like a torn ACL and we've all seen what happens to players after that injury – most don't return to form.
With that said, where the hell did Bruce Carter come from this year? My fellow fans here on Blue Star Times have been touting his skill as something opposing offenses should fear, but I had my doubts. History tends to repeat itself and his history just hasn't warranted such high expectations. They may not still, but he's certainly a different player than he was a year ago. Hopefully his MRI today reveals better-than-feared results.
Last night was full of big stories for Dallas.
We witnessed the start of the 2014 season with an ailing quarterback the likes of which we haven't seen since some guy named Quincy Carter donned a star on his helmet a decade ago.
As a known Romo apologist, even I was hollering at my television as he was sacked again and again, but was never actually hit.
We got a glimmer of the Romo we all know and love last week against the Rams; it was a mid-game resurgence full of the kind of hope he's always brought onto the field each week. And against the Saints I breathed a sigh of relief as the Cowboys marched 80 yards down-field on their opening drive to a touchdown for the first time in god knows how long – too long.
He's got his range of motion back and, while he's still not 100%, he is well enough to pick apart Rob Ryan's New Orleans defense most of the night.
Brian Leatherman said it best in his players to watch yesterday – hold on to the damned football man, high and tight. Those first drive fumbles in weeks one through three were much harder to overcome than they appeared, especially with our quarterback struggling to find his mojo, and facing off against Drew Brees and the Saints made me pause more than once to pray that boy got it worked out.
I could go on and on about how Murray's performance catapulting him to the league's leading rusher this season is something we Dallas fans have not seen since #22 was taking hand-offs from #8 (and they shall remain nameless), or how Romo, for the first time in his career, now has a substantial partner to manipulate the down and distance every two or three snaps, but I won't.
The only thing I need to say about Sir Murray is he didn't drop it! Then I proceed to dance and jig while giggling like … well you get the idea. Sing it with me now – Fat guy in a little coooaaaaat.
But putting the offense aside for a moment, no one had any realistic notions of Dallas' defense being able to so much as slow the Saints' high-powered offense down, let alone stuff them for an entire half of football. That they did it so convincingly though, it's definitely something – but something I won't say for fear of angering the gods. Sorry to leave you hanging.
These were the nobody's, predestined all to be remembered in history the never-wases of Cowboys football just a few short weeks ago. But that 60 minute game of cat and mouse those backs played with Brees' every pass might have just sprinkled some gold on a roster full of jersey numbers.
Perhaps today we'll begin to learn their names (I'm talking to you Al Michaels – who is Jack Crawford???).
As soon as the clock ran out in Arlington last night, the mediots began buzzing with talk of Cowboys legitimacy – even the talking heads over at BSPN and NFLN followed the lead of long-time Cowboy hater Chris Collinsworth praising the Cowboys for their performance.
Never underestimate the media's uncanny relation to that of a public doorknob…
But for me this game said a lot about our beloved ‘Boys. There can be no talk of beating an easy team, nor blame placed on the Saints shooting themselves in the foot with penalties, given the unusually low number of flags thrown during the game.
It's a game against a respected opponent of historical record these past few years. In fact, about the worst you can say to deflate this victory over the Saints is that they're struggling on the road, and they've been hearing about that since well before kickoff yesterday.
So yes, the game did legitimize this Cowboys team. But it's still a long way to go before we toss their hats into the playoff arena.