Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Another Heartstopping Finish

What a game last night. And what a season it has been so far. The Cowboys could easily be 0-3. But they could just as easily be 3-0. After escaping last night with a win that felt like stealing you have to be happy with the Cowboys sitting at 2-1.

Say what you want about the embarrassing performance of some of the players on offense last night. There is something to this Jason Garrett guy. For some reason the Cowboys have suddenly remembered how to come through in the clutch and win the game late. And, like I have said many times, winning in situations like that becomes a habit just as much as losing games like last night’s does.

It was another gutty performance from Romo. I have never seen him get so visibly angry with his teammates as he did last night. I’m sure the “leadership” questioners were loving the fact that he was yelling at his teammates to get things fixed. That is what many people think leadership is. But it really isn’t too shocking that a guy playing in immense pain is going to get more than just a little frustrated with repeated boneheaded mistakes. What I really liked about Romo was the way he kept fighting throughout the game even though things just weren’t going right. That is what I am looking for in a leader. I don’t mind the yelling but I think what he does when he is coaching up his teammates on the sidelines is a bigger sign of leadership.

The play on 3rd and 21 late in the game was the back breaker for the Redskins. They sent an all out blitz and the Cowboys did a decent job picking it up. Nothing was there for Romo so he retreated and rolled right to buy time. Dez broke deep and Romo made a Romo play. He threw off his back foot across his body running away from the line of scrimmage. It was basically everything that a quarterback is taught not to do. But it works for Romo when he is in the zone. It was one of those plays where it was amazing but it could have also turned out to be like the interception late in the Jets game where you wonder what in the hell Romo it thinking. It’s what makes him Tony Romo.

I have to admit I was wrong about Dan Bailey. I was ready to cut him after he missed the 21 yard field goal early in the 49er game last week. After nailing the kick to send the game to overtime last week and the game winner last week and then going 6 for 6 with another game winner this week I think he’ll be the kicker for years to come. I love the way his kicks go right down the middle. I am actually starting to have a little confidence when the Cowboys line up for a field goal that the kick will go through the uprights.

Is there any doubt that Sean Lee is a force to be reckoned with at this point? The guy is just all over the field. He reminds me of one of my favorite Cowboys of all time, Dexter Coakley. The reason I loved Coakley is the same reason I am loving Lee. Just watch where Sean Lee is and that is where the play is going. He has a natural feel for the game and he just keeps making plays.

And let’s not forget that this game was really won by the defense and special teams. Sure, Romo gets a lot of credit because he is the quarterback. But the offense was not very good most of the night. The defense kept the Cowboys in the game. And Dan Bailey’s field goals speak for themselves. In a low scoring game like last night’s game it reminds you how important Matt McBriar can be. He completely swung the field position on a couple of punts and you can’t overlook how important that can be.

I’m certainly not going to complain about a win. But there are a lot of problems that need to be fixed. The biggest problem has to be the confusion with the wide receivers on where to line up and what route to run. Not knowing your job is at least understandable if you are new to the team like Laurent Robinson. But Kevin Ogletree should be ashamed of his performance outside of one nice catch that he made late in the 4th quarter. One more game like that from Ogletree and he’ll be packing his bags at the end of the season. I’m not going to harp on the botched snaps too much because it turns out the Redskins were illegally mimicking Romo’s snap count to get Costa to snap the ball early. The Cowboys should have adjusted once they realized that the horrible officiating crew wasn’t going to call a penalty but it is a problem that is easily corrected.

At the end of the day the Cowboys escape with a win and a 2-1 record. Not bad for a team with so many injuries. Next week’s game is going to be a real test. The offense better find a way to play much, much better or it is going to be a long day against Detroit. Hopefully the defense will be able to continue their stellar play and shut down the Lion’s seemingly unstoppable offensive machine.

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