October 20, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Sean Lee (50) during second half action against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys Creating Their Identity


Today, your Dallas Cowboys are sitting at 4-3. Nothing amazing, but a good enough record to say that they have sole possession of first place of the NFC East.

Three of those wins came against their divisional opponents. The East isn’t as strong as in recent years, but in a division with such animosity between the teams it still means something.

It’s a good feeling, but you can’t help but wonder about the games that could’ve been. Had Dallas been able to hang in to win close games against the Chargers, Chiefs, and Broncos, this could be a much different story.

But it is what it is. And a division lead is nothing to complain about.

Especially when you consider the way the team has played during this run.

Throughout seven games, there has not been one where I felt like the Cowboys never showed up. Even in their worst game, against the Chargers, it took a devastating goal-line fumble to put them away.

The team has played with, as Jason Garret would say, a relentless spirit. Not once has there been a game where the Cowboys have been thoroughly beaten. Every time they’ve had a chance.

The last bad loss I remember goes back to week 4 last year. The week before the bye, Dallas got destroyed by Chicago on Monday Night Football. Two weeks earlier, they’d had the same treatment from the Seahawks in Seattle. Out of the bye, the team lost 3 of the next 4 close games to drop to 3-5. After the Atlanta game, the season seemed doomed.

Of course we know how it ended, the Cowboys would find a way to win 5 of their next 7 to set up a showdown on Sunday Night Football with the Redskins for the division title. And then they lost in another close game. Romo, needing one more game-winning drive in a season that had lived off them, threw a 4th quarter interception and that was it for the year.

But what I want to concentrate on is not the disappointment from that loss. I want to talk about the play that gave them an opportunity to get to that point, the type of play which has continued through this year.

See, to me it means something that the last terrible Cowboys game I watched was that Monday Night game against the Bears. And that’s because I’ve seen a lot of terrible Cowboys games in my time.

As a fan born in 1990 (one of my first memories is the ’95 Super Bowl win over Pittsburgh) there hasn’t been a ton of winning going on since I’ve been watching. Since ’96, the Cowboys are one of only three NFC teams to have not made the Conference title game (Detroit and Washington are the other two).

That kind of futility means there’s been a lot of bad football to watch. I learned to recognize it pretty well.

I haven’t seen that kind of play from this year’s Cowboys.

This team fights and scraps. It makes turnovers. It stays in games. It goes blow to blow with great teams on great days. It may make mistakes, but it’s confidence in itself never changes. It has an identity, something that has been seemingly lacking from Dallas during the years I’ve been a fan.

The season isn’t going to get any easier from here. Detroit is no pushover and I expect this guy to be a bit of a problem. The Cowboys will, once again, be in for a fight next Sunday. Winning, losing, and tying are all possibilities.

But I do know the Cowboys will come out and play their asses off. Because that’s what they do these days.

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