Twelve months after losing to the New York Giants to end the 2011 season with the NFC East title on the line the Cowboys are back in the same situation again. The only difference this time around is the opponent. The Cowboys will get a second shot at RGIII tomorrow night. It hasn't been that long since the Thanksgiving game but the Cowboys will have many of their injured players back for this game that weren't there the first time around
The offensive line was a mess with injuries. This time Tyron Smith and Ryan Cook will both be starting and the offensive line won't have to shuffle around to fill in the missing pieces. Miles Austin will hopefully last longer than he did in the first game. And, most importantly, DeMarco Murray will be on the field and probably the healthiest he has been since the season started.
To me the deciding factor in the first game was turnovers. The Cowboys were able to move the ball against the Redskins with ease in the first game. The problem was the Cowboys dug a 28-3 hole in the first half thanks to three turnovers. The Cowboys need to protect the ball this time around
Defensively the Cowboys gave up way too many big plays to RGIII and the Redskins. More than anything else the Cowboys need to force the Redskins to earn their points. The key will be forcing field goals and limiting touchdowns. The defense is too beat up to be expected to shut down the Redskins. But they can play sound assignment football and limit the big plays. And I want to see Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr willing to take a few shots at picking off some passes. Turnovers will decide the game. The Cowboys must win the turnover battle.
The special teams match up is very even. Both teams have good kickers and dangerous returners. Dwayne Harris is showing a knack for making big return plays at critical moments. A big return or two could really turn the tide in this game.
No matter how this game plays out you have to give the Cowboys a lot of respect for battling to get back into this position. With all of the injuries on defense and the Josh Brent tragedy there have been countless reasons for the Cowboys to give up on the season. But they haven't. And they seem determined to prove everyone wrong.
I can't even explain how excited I will be if the Cowboys can find a way to get into the playoffs. I really think they can beat the Seahawks if they get another shot at them. This time the game would be a home game and I think that would be the difference.
I hope Jason Garrett and Rob Ryan have a better game plan this time around. Rob Ryan appeared to figure some things out in the second half of the first game against RGIII. Hopefully he can get the defense going earlier in this game. And the offense has got to get out fast and score touchdowns. It is going to take a lot of points to win this game. The play calling should reflect that.
This is the moment that we dream about as fans. Don't forget to enjoy the moment. I'm expecting the Cowboys to win but it could very easily be the last game we get to see the Cowboys play for about 8 months. Savor the moment!