A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine – a diehard Cowboys fan – told me after the Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles 38 – 33, renewing their slim playoff hopes, that “They’re just sucking us in”.
Then Cowboys NT, Josh Brent drove intoxicated and crashed, killing his passenger – good friend and fellow Dallas Cowboy, Jerry Brown Jr. Life, we were again reminded, was more important than a football game. A football game had to be played anyway. The Cowboys flew to Cincinnati to play the Bengals, and with that tragic accident just the day before weighing on the players, coaches and staff’s minds, the Cowboys somehow found a way to win.
An emotionally draining game. They left everything out on the field – particularly Cowboys CB, Brandon Carr. Brandon was still dealing with another tragedy that took place just the week before that. Former Kansas City Chiefs teammate, Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, then killed himself. Both were friends of Carr’s. Brandon Carr had to play his second game in a row right after a tragedy.
Make that three in a row, after the horrifying elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT. – 20 innocent children and 6 innocent adults killed, murdered… There are no words.
Brandon Carr not only played, he played well. A game changing interception in last weeks Bengals game and the interception that set up the winning field goal against the Steelers yesterday. Clearly, Carr was able to channel his emotions to play well. The Cowboys team as a whole played well, and they were kept together through tragedy by their coach, Jason Garrett. I didn’t know he had it in him. How many of us did? I’ve never seen Garrett put on such an emotional display after winning in Cincinnati, that is, until yesterday’s overtime win against the Steelers.
Is this a new Jason Garrett? It just might be. I’ve offered before that I would rather see Sean Payton as the Cowboys head coach, and I still would, but Garrett’s ability to keep this team focused and how he handled tragedy is impressive. The team has come together and rallied around him. They believe in him, they’ve bought in now.
One thing I noticed, even before the adversity of the last few weeks, is these Cowboys don’t quit. That’s Garrett’s doing. I guess that leaves little hope for the return of Sean Payton. It’s hard to imagine, even if the Cowboys lose the next two games, that Jason Garrett won’t be the Dallas Cowboy’s head coach next year.
As for the rest of the team, QB, Tony Romo is playing well. WR Dez Bryant seems to have reached that next level, broken finger and all. DeMarco Murray is running again, which brings balance to the Cowboys offense. Jason Witten is Jason Witten, and Miles Austin is even getting into the act. Defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan is patching a decent defense together with a combination of players off the street and Duct tape. Add to that LB Anthony Spencer playing to his potential all year and we might be on to something here. Is this a playoff team? Possibly. It’s not unrealistic to believe these Cowboys can win the next two games and win the NFC East the way they’ve been playing.
That same friend of mine that warned me not to get sucked in, text me during the second quarter of the Cowboys – Steelers game with the Cowboys up 10 – 0. He wrote, “Dare I start to believe?”
- Artie Cappello