The Dallas Cowboys lost their second game in a row Sunday falling to the Denver Broncos in a shootout, 51-48. With that, their record drops to 2-3 – all 3 losses coming at the hands of AFC West opponents (Denver, KC, and San Diego). Their divison lead has evaporated and they are now tied with the Philadelphia Eagles and are a mere half game ahead of Sunday’s opponent, the Redskins.
But, all is not lost. There were some very good signs in Sunday’s effort that could and should be harbingers of good things to come for the balance of the season. Here are just a few I noted:
> This was not the blowout many people expected. Any honest Cowboys fan approached Sunday’s game against the Peyton Manning juggernaut as a chance for the already struggling Cowboys to once again be publicly embarrassed on a national stage. It could have been a one-sided track meet. Instead, the Cowboys gave Peyton’s Broncos all they could handle. If there were such a thing as moral victories in the NFL, this would be as close as you get. It should go a long way toward building this team’s confidence that they can (and should) play with anyone.
> The Cowboys may have given the rest of the NFL the ultimate secret to beating the Broncos. Expected to try and pound the ball with DeMarco Murray to keep the clock running and keep Peyton on the sideline, Dallas instead went to the spread and threw the ball around like it was an Arena League game. It worked really well and almost gave them a win. It also may have given the Cowboys a recipe for saving their season. That game plan may not work on every team, but with the skill position players we have, perhaps we should just go with it and stop trying to run that square peg into a round hole that our line doesn’t seem capable of creating.
> Much will be made of Tony Romo’s late interception which ultimately handed the game to Denver, but our QB is playing at an unbelievably high level. He was not responsible for losing that game no matter what anyone says. Denver linebacker Danny Trevathan made an unbelievable diving catch for a linebacker. And, looking at the play again one could certainly say that rookie TE Gavin Escobar made no effort either to catch the ball or to prevent the interception. Was it a perfectly thrown ball? No, it was a little behind the receiver but it was not like the awful floater Romo threw to end our season against Washington last year. Even man-god Peyton threw his first pick – a very poorly underthrown ball – and it helped get Dallas back in a game that was slipping away, but no one was calling for Manning’s head.
> The offensive line is definitely starting to gel. Tony Romo made some incredible plays with his feet on Sunday to escape but by and large the line gave him adequate time most of the day. I like how they are developing as a unit. I worry about what happens if Brian Waters decides to call it a career again at the end of this season, but we’ll cross that bridge when we have to I guess.
> A 2-3 record five games into the season is not where any of us thought we would be – the meat of our schedule still lies ahead. But, the bottom line is all we have to do initially is win the NFC East. Based on the level of play so far, that isn’t going to take anything more than an 8-8 or 9-7 record. That’s still very achievable and the Giants have proven twice now that once you qualify for the post season, how you are playing late in the year is much more significant than your won-loss record. With the preseason “locks” like Atlanta and the 49ers both struggling, the NFC appears more wide open than ever.
Still a lot of football ahead Cowboys Nation – no need to panic. If we somehow find a way to lose to the Redskins in Dallas this Sunday night, well then we might start to panic. But, I don’t see that happening. We owe this Redskins team a giant butt whooping after last season - so come and get it! Go Cowboys!