Monday, February 15, 2010

Well, I'm back after a hiatus

Lots of Computer issues have made me not get around to my Cowboys blogging since this past Nov. 9. Back then the Cowboys had just beaten the Eagles in Philadelphia on a Sunday Night 2o-16 and move to 6-2 and into sole possession of first place in the NFC East. Unfortunately, Dallas would be upset the following week by a Green Bay team that was 4-4 at the time and had given Tampa Bay it's first win of the season the week before. After the 17-7 loss up at Lambeau field(also in a game that started the Nick Folk slump that led to his eventual dismissal) Dallas returned home and struggled to a 7-6 win over division rival Washington, who was having a tough year, but was in just about every game this year. A win was a win. Then the Cowboys remained in first in the NFC East four days later with a bit better of a performance on Thanksgiving Day against the Raiders. The Raiders struggled this year AGAIN, with 5 wins (maybe 6, I'd have to look it up for sure) but defeated Philly, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh. The Raiders also played the San Diego Chargers tough twice in losses in '09. Anyway, after the 24-7 win over the Raiders the Cowboys had the extra three days off before going up to the Meadowlands. And as if on cue, the calendar by this time had switched over to December, which meant in recent Cowboys' history, DOOMSDAY. The Cowboys played a desperate Giants team, who was fighting to stay in wildcard contention. Romo played well, no turnovers but the Cowboys gave up a blown assignment on a checkdown throw from Eli Manning to their big fullback Brandon Jacobs and he was untouched and out in front of everyone, lumbering 74 yards for the go-ahead score, one play after Dallas had gone ahead 17-14 on a TD pass from Romo to Roy Williams. Then the Cowboys Folk missed a FG that he once routinely made, the Cowboys special teams gave up an inexcusable 87 yard punt return TD to Dominique Hixon and Dallas fell to the Giants 31-24 and their two losses to the Giants would come back to haunt Dallas later but not for the division crown but the divisional playoff game at Minnesota. More on that in a bit. Next at 8-4, the Cowboys fell at home in a close one to the red-hot San Diego Chargers(who began the year 2-3, but then won 11 straight to finish 13-3) The 20-17 loss to a good team like San Diego wasn't bad on the surface appearancewise but it left Dallas at 8-5, now one game back from the division lead against Philly, and only one game ahead of the Giants who had the tiebreaker over Dallas by virtue of their season sweep. And the worst thing was that AGAIN Romo didn't turn it over. But a failed 4th and one gamble at the one yard line after having first and goal at the two was dear as was Nick Folk missing a field goal for by then, the FIFTH consecutive game, contributed to this crushing defeat. So Cowboys Nation, myself included was groaning "here we go again" for December. And the next game was at New Orleans, against the 13-0 Saints. But then the Cowboys must've had the mentality that "what's done is done" and went into the Big Easy and jumped on, controlled, dominated the Saints. The final was 24-17 but it wasn't nearly that close. The only bad thing was that Folk kicked himself out of a job by missing a gimmie 24 yard field goal that would have sealed the deal with just over two minutes to go. The Saints, 87 yards away, had one last chance when the Dallas D rose up and stopped Brees and Co. forcing a sack and fumble by DeMarcus Ware, who wasn't even going to play supposedly. He'd been carted off the field six days earlier against the Chargers. Then the Cowboys, reenergized, shut out the Redskins on the road 17-0(again the game itself was more lopsided than the score would indicate) to clinch a playoff spot. Still a game behind Philly, a win against the Eagles on Jan. 3, 2010, in Dallas, would give the Cowboys the division title. And the Cowboy stomped the Eagles into the ground 24-0. With the division title theirs, the Cowboys finished as the NFC's number 3 seed behind New Orleans and Minnesota. The Eagles sank to the number 6 seed and were returning to Dallas only six days later after their 24-0 shellacking. On Saturday Night, Jan. 9, 2010, the Cowboys broke open a 7-7 tie midway through the 2nd quarter and led 27-7 at the half. They were well on their way to their first playoff win since Dec. 28, 1996(a 40-15 win over Minnesota in Texas Stadium). With the 34-14 win against the Eagles, completing a nice DELICIOUS hat trick against their hated rivals(and more than erasing the season ending debacle against Philly the year before) the Cowboys were on their way to play Favre and the Vikings in the old Metrodome. Arguably, the Cowboys were playing about the best football in the NFL. Even no, there is very little doubt in my mind that had they gotten by the Vikings, the Cowboys would have done the Saints again. But the Cowboys had a bad game at Minnesota. After flubbing a couple of early scoring chances, the Cowboys defense did something that they hadn't done in what seemed like forever. They gave up a big play TD, a bomb from Favre to Rice.(not Jerry Rice mind you) And then after going down for a first and goal and having to settle for a FG to cut it to 7-3, the Cowboys defense gave up a long drive for another TD, and I think that I knew right there that it wasn't going to be our day. That we would have to view it as a significant amount of progress. The Cowboys moved the ball all day, but something kept happening each time, repeatedly thwarting potential scoring drives. And Favre went on to have FOUR touchdown throws. Final Score: VIKINGS 34, Cowboys 3. It sure hurts to lose far more than how wonderful it feels to win. Now, what is next for the Cowboys? Well, the Super Bowl next year, is in Dallas at the new Cowboys Stadium. What is more motivating than that? I am already predicting that we are in it at this time next year. Hosting it. This team has found it's cohesive niche. Just a bad game against the Vikings. Not indicative of how well this team was playing to get that far. Going to need a new kicker. Unfortunately Folk got into a slump and never came out of it. Then the Cowboys signed Shaun Suisham, cut by the Redskins for the remainder of the season. He missed a couple against the Vikings. Makeable kicks. So who knows? Maybe Folk comes back if he's fully recovered from the hip surgery from last offseason. Only thing is, he seemed to be fine up until that Green Bay game in mid-November. But we need a reliable kicker. This year in the NFL, I've never seen a worse year for Kickers in general. Miles Austin has emerged as the Number one receiver on the Dallas Cowboys. He had 81 catches and over 1300 yards, 12 touchdowns, starting in only 12 games. Roy Williams looks more like a number 2 or 3 but certainly not a number one. Witten posted his usual numbers. Romo only threw 9 interceptions. There's talk of returning Marion Barber to the closing role again instead of the feature back. He flourished so much in the closing role, scoring more and having a late game, clinching effect before. Felix Jones very well might be best to be the starting back, and his tendency to rip off the home run can not be overlooked(49 yard TD run in the 24-0 regular season finale over Philly. A 73 yard TD six days later in the 34-14 playoff win against the Eagles only six days later) Anyhow, hopefully the offseason will go by a little bit quicker this time around. I'd like to think it will. And suprisingly the Saints wound up winning it all. Enjoy your day in the sun New Orleans. It will be over soon enough.