When Romo threw the interception that led to the winning score, he flexed out of a run play because he saw 10 Packers in the box. It was the right call, because moments later Miles Austin had a step on his man and no one between him and the end zone. Play calling is nothing more than the art of creating moments like this in a game. It was a great play call. The circumstances of the final minutes forced the Packers to load the box to stop the run, and Bill Callahan made them pay for it, twice calling plays that got his receivers behind the defense.
But his quarterback didn’t make the throws he had to, so Cowboys fans are exposed to a week of TV expert bile about playcalling.
They’re the same experts who praised Jimmy Johnson for throwing with 4:22 left to play, a four-point lead, and the league’s reigning rushing champion Emmitt Smith in the backfield. Remember the revered 73-yard, game-icing Aikman-to-Harper slant in the 1992 NFC Championship at San Francisco? Of course you remember it. You love that play.
But why didn’t Jimmy just run out the clock? He was up by four with four minutes to play. He had the Holy Grail of offensive lines and Emmitt Smith, for God’s sake. Why risk throwing in that situation? It’s just moronic – give the ball to Emmitt ‘till there’s no time left and go home champions!
Ever thought that way about that play? Nope. Know why? Because they executed. If Troy misses that throw, or Harper runs a lazy route, and they lose that game, the last 20 years would have been filled with talk about the wisdom of handing off the ball to Emmitt to close out the game. Instead, Cowboys fans celebrate that play – it may be the most famous in franchise history. Why? Because the players executed.
So let’s give the whole play calling thing a rest. This coaching staff is putting the players on the field in position to succeed, and the players aren’t getting it done.
And that brings us to the last thing we know for sure about this Cowboys team. They bounce back. They’re resilient. They’re tough. When they lose painful, they win the next week.
Last week’s 37-36 loss to the Packers was brutal, but it wasn’t any more gut-wrenching than the 51-48 loss to the Broncos in Week 5 and the 31-30 loss to Detroit in Week 8. How does one team bounce back from any of those epic collapses?
This team just does. They found a way to win after both the Denver and Detroit losses. Don’t ask how. It’s not because of the talent on the field. It must be because of the coaching staff. They get these guys ready to give their best every week, regardless of what happened last week, and put them in position to succeed on the field.
The hire of Wade Phillips as head coach in 2007 was a decision that set back the talent and culture of this franchise by a decade. It might be the worst decision GM Jerry has made since allowing Jimmy to leave 20 years ago.
Bad as it was, firing Garrett would be worse. Garrett and his staff get everything that can be got out of Jerry’s roster. Turns out, surprise, there’s just not much to get.
Will they win this weekend in Washington? Maybe. Will the players have put the Green Bay loss out of their minds and be focused on the task at hand? Assuredly.