This game is a must win for both teams. The Cowboys were embarrassed by the Vikings in last year division playoff game. The Vikings scored a seemingly meaningless touchdown late in the game. Keith Brooking vowed revenge. It’s now time to cash that check his mouth wrote. The game hinges on the four P’s (there would have been five, but prowd noise isn’t clever word play).
Pride: Normally when teams get beat badly, they come out the following week and play with purpose. I haven’t seen this from the Cowboys in many years. You could say that it is because they are in close games. They did beat the Eagles 3 times last year washing the taste of the the 2008 season finale from their mouth. That first game against Philly was a close win, 20-16. The Cowboys were beaten, battered, and embarrased last year. They were even belittled this year. If they are unable to find motivation to play hard against the Vikings, you can call the time of death of the Cowboys 2010 season at 4p.m. eastern time.
Penalties: This is common sense. Penalties prevent positive plays. The Cowboys haven’t simply been penalized, they have had big plays taken off the board. They have had winning plays taken off the board. Games can hinge on one or two plays in the NFL. If one of those plays is negated by a penalty, you are simply asking a good team to make one more miraculous play. That is too much to ask of any team, let alone an immature team like the Cowboys.
Protection: Romo had good protection against the Texans. Cowboys win. Romo had spotty protection against the Bears and Redskins. He was sacked only once, but was running around for his life most of the afternoon. Cowboys loses. Romo was harrassed on nearly every dropback against the Titans. Cowboys loss. When Romo has time, he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. When Romo is under pressure, he has the innate ability to move and make things happen. When Romo is beaten and battered, he is average at best. He is in good company, however. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are the exact same way. If Romo has time, the Cowboys will win. It’s up to 5 players to carry this team to victory. Anyone who has played offensive line knows this to be true and relishes the opportunity.
Perseverance: I don’t want to watch this game. It may be a close game coming down to who has the ball last. It’s like looking at a train wreck through a small crack in your fingers. It’s awful but you just can’t turn away. Despite being 1-3, the team that perseveres and keeps fighting the longest will win. I hope that team is Dallas, but I’m concerned they simply don’t have enough fight in them. They better prove me wrong.