The Cowboys completely dominated on Saturday night. Looking at the final score, 31-15, it doesn't look like complete domination. But if you watched the game it was easy to see how much better the Cowboys were than the Bucs.
If the Cowboys hadn't taken the pedal off the gas in the second half they could have easily put another 10-14 points on the board. But after an early strip sack returned for a touchdown by the Bucs in the second half Jason Garrett went a little conservative. But it was the smart move. Winning by 30 points doesn't get you anything extra.
And some might point to the way the Bucs moved the ball in the second half as a sign that the defense went soft again. First of all, Demarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff sat out the entire second half. Take away two pro bowl caliber players from any defense and there will be a drop off. Secondly, most of Josh Freeman's completions were underneath the coverage because the Cowboys were forcing the Bucs to use a lot of clock to get the ball down the field.
What was even more impressive than the play of the defense was the performance of Tony Romo. He is playing the best football of his career. It is too bad that the Cowboys lost in the final minutes to the Cardinals and the Giants because there would be more recognition nationally for just how great Romo is playing. Romo played so good in the first half with three passing TD's and one rushing TD that he didn't need to do much in the second half but manage the game. The blowout score prevented him from having a career game.
The trio of wide receivers for the Cowboys are making the offense very dangerous. Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, and Laurent Robinson all have the ability to make big plays and they are forcing the defenses to stop over-committing to the run. And Jason Witten is finally starting to find a little room to work again.
Felix Jones played pretty well for the second straight game. He was tough between the tackles and was explosive when big play opportunities presented themselves. I just hope he can stay healthy because the more touches he gets the more concerned I become. If he can keep running like he is then the running game will be ok. Especially if Sammy Morris runs with power for the rest of the year like he did against Tampa Bay. Morris might be a good short yardage back for the offense with the power he showed in this game.
It isn't all roses for the Cowboys coming out of this game. It is still worries me that the pass rush seems to disappear whenever Demarcus Ware is out of the game. Ware's health seems like a big concern heading down the stretch. Anthony Spencer and the rest of the pass rushers need to make a bigger impact over the next two games. Sean Lee missed several tackles in the game and it is obvious that he needs to get full use of his left hand to be at his best.
The loss the Giants suffered to the Redskins this week was helpful but doesn't change much if they can beat the Jets next week. But there is at least a chance now that the Cowboys could clinch the NFC East next week with a win over the Eagles and a Giants loss to the Jets. It just feels like that would be too easy. My gut tells me that this season will come down to the final game of the year. The luxury the Cowboys have now is that they can lose to the Eagles and still come away with the NFC East title with a win in the final game.
The great thing about the schedule next week is that the Giants and Jets play in the early slate of games. The Cowboys have a 3:15 CDT kickoff so they will have a good idea at kickoff if the are playing for the NFC East title. I'd love to see the Cowboys clinch next week but things just don't usually play out so nicely for the Cowboys. Either way, bring on the Eagles!