Welcome to the first post in an interminable series of posts I’ll make each week until training camp commences in Oxnard, California. I mean, you can still collect your toe lint and try to get into the Guinness Book of World Records or organize your cereal box top collection. People have to do what they have to do to pass the time ’til training camp. I understand that. But if you want to sit with me on the front porch of days gone by and speculate what might have been, then get a Cherry Coke out of the ice box and have a seat.
Now, you, as a Cowboys fan, have been tricked by the media into thinking Tony Romo’s bobbled snap in the 2006 NFC Wild Card match against the Seattle Seahawks was the final play of the game. In fact, you’ve been so tricked to think Romo pulled a Warren Moon when the reality is the ball was so slick the NFL amended their K-ball rules in 2007.
That field goal to give the Cowboys a 23-21 lead was a penultimate play, because there was a little over a minute remaining. Even when the Cowboys turned the ball over, they had all three timeouts and the Seahawks backed up on their own two yard line and still managed to get the ball back for a desperation throw to the end zone. If the Cowboys didn’t let Shaun Alexander run for about twenty yards on first down after the bobbled snap and just forced a three and out, there’s a good chance Romo and the offense gets another chance to set up another field goal attempt, which would have been more terminal than the try at 1:19.
But the title of this article deals with Romo not bobbling the snap, so let’s stick with that alternate reality. The field goal try is good. Seattle gets the ball back. Their average starting point after a kickoff return was at the 29 yard line, and this is not taking into account Martin Gramatica’s kick out of bounds to start the contest.
After Terry Glenn committed a safety in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks got the ball back and marched down the field for a 50-yard, four-play scoring drive that concluded in a 37-yard strike to Jerramy Stevens. Matt Hasselbeck’s stats in the fourth quarter of that game were 5/8 for 91 yards, a touchdown, and a pick. It’s also worth noting Terence Newman had a 30-yard pass completed against him and also committed a 29-yard pass interference that set up the Seahawks at the Cowboys’ 1 yard line. And don’t even get me started on how atrocious Anthony Henry was that season, even if it was because of his gimpy knee.
The Seahawks were also known for their two-minute heroics that season, especially was this so for their kicker Josh Brown who nailed four game-winning field goals that season. Al Michaels even mentioned that right as Gramatica was lining up for the kick that would give us the mythical 23-21 lead.
So how I see it going down is like this. We nail the field goal to go up two points. The Seahawks start at their own 26 yard line with 1:12 remaining and no timeouts. The Cowboys would have been in prevent defense and allowed the Seahawks to complete passes in the middle of the field. And you know those 2006 Cowboys with the bad coverage. You know there would have been a couple of passes thrown that were caught near the sideline out of bounds.
With two seconds remaining, Josh Brown connects on a 46-yard field goal giving the Seahawks a 24-23 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
HOW THINGS WOULD BE DIFFERENT:
1. Romo wouldn’t have the perception of a choker… yet. The mediots would still give him a pass because he hadn’t “blown” something key in crunch time. They couldn’t blame this one on Romo.
2. The Cowboys draft a safety in the first two rounds. Seeing as how the secondary has let them down in the playoffs, I think the Cowboys, instead of trading with the Browns and then re-entering the first to take Spencer, trade up a spot to take Reggie Nelson from Florida or take Brandon Meriweather from Miami. Or, they take Spencer with their first pick because of Ellis’ injury situation but still devote their second round pick to Eric Weddle, Gerald Alexander, or Sabby Piscitelli. What either of those scenarios means is no Felix Jones or Mike Jenkins in 2008.
3. No Ken Hamlin. The problems in the Cowboys secondary would have pointed out to management that it couldn’t be fixed with a simple free agent. It needed some first round attention. The Dallas Cowboys don’t sign Ken Hamlin to a one-year contract that bloats into a multi-year mistake.
HOW THINGS WOULD BE THE SAME:
1. Bill Parcells still would have quit. Co-existing with Terrell Owens took a lot out of Bill Parcells in 2006. Furthermore, the wild card loss just deflated him, and he was already disconsolate throughout the season. One of his former Giants players remarked that he wasn’t having fun anymore. So I think Bill Parcells still would have quit and we would have wound up with Wade Phillips.
2. Jason Garrett still becomes offensive coordinator. Jerry Jones wanted to work with Jason Garrett in the capacity of coach well before his playing career was over. So we were getting Garrett no matter what, and especially with Bill Parcells out of the way.
3. The ’07 Cowboys and Tony Romo still would be unproven. They would have to show the league that their run in 2006 wasn’t a joke, and that they meant business. The laxer atmosphere under Wade Phillips after having a nominal disciplinarian would allow the guys to focus better and go out to another 13-win season.
This was a significant moment in Tony Romo’s history and also the postseason lore of these current Dallas Cowboys. But I don’t think it was the defining or ultimate moment that it’s made out to be. If Romo didn’t bobble the snap, there is no guarantee that the Cowboys still beat the Seahawks.
Check out next week’s article when I explore how winning Super Bowl V would have impacted the future of the Dallas Cowboys.