As we all listen to the praise suddenly being heaped onto our beloved Cowboys we have to keep in mind that we've seen this movie before. It was the end of the 2007 season and the Cowboys were sitting at 13-3 waiting for the winner of the wild card game. The Giants came to town, a team that the Cowboys had beaten twice in the regular season. And we all know how the story ended. That may have been the most disappointing loss I have ever endured as a Dallas Cowboys fan.
So here we are two years later and the Cowboys have finished the season strong. The local and national media are suddenly heaping praise on the team and many are picking the Cowboys to make a Super Bowl run. Sure, a few things are different. This year's team finished the season on a high note, Tony Romo is a more seasoned quarterback, and the defense is a much better unit. But a lot of this story feels the same.
The Cowboys have one more demon to exercise before we can start talking about all of the different playoff scenarios that could unfold if they win. And this one is the grand-daddy of all of the demons. This would be the first playoff victory in over 13 years. Think about that. Where were you in your life 13 years ago? How much has changed in the time span? When you start to look at technological advances, wars, and presidents you quickly get a sense of how long it has actually been since America's team has been a real contender.
The core group of players on the roster are all starting to hit their prime. Tony Romo has matured into a controlled, but still playmaking quarterback. Jason Witten is in his prime and has been for years. Miles Austin is a breakout star. Demarcus Ware has become a beast. Anthony Spencer is finally playing to the level of his draft status. Mike Jenkins has become a shut down quarterback. I could go on but you get the point.
So the question now becomes whether this group of players has what it takes to win the big games in the playoffs. The December woes have been fixed for at least one season. But the last two playoff games for the Cowboys have been disasters. Tony Romo and the rest of the players need to prove not only to all of the fans and media, but more importantly to themselves that they can win the high stakes games. I believe this team has what it takes. And a playoff win is going to take this team to a new level just like the win over the undefeated Saints a few weeks ago seems to have transformed the team.
A loss could be devastating on many fronts and I don't even want to get into how bad things could get if the Cowboys lay an egg. But a win opens up possibilities not only for this season but probably for the next four or five seasons based on the ages of the key players on the team. If the Cowboys can start believing that they can and will win playoff games then I think we are seeing the start of a great run of football from them for years to come. But they have to get over this last hurdle to take the next step.
The players have earned the right to win a game like this. The fans who have stuck with the team through thick and thin have earned the right to celebrate a win in a game like this. Jerry Jones, love him or hate him, pours his heart, soul and money into the team and deserves a win like this. Wade Phillips deserves to win a playoff game after being such a great defensive coordinator and all-around nice guy for all these years.
This game is going to determine the future of the team for the next few years. I know I'm ready. I think the players are ready. I just hope that the game goes how we are all expecting so we can finally have the big celebration we've been waiting for. How good will it feel to wear your Cowboys attire around if the Cowboys win this game? How nice will it be to rub it in the faces of all the naysayers who we've been hearing from for years? I'm talking about the media, friends, family and anyone else who have been laughing at us while we wallow in misery. All of that needs to change on Saturday. It is going to feel awesome if the Cowboys can find a way to win the game!