Friday, November 30, 2007

Notes from the Packers/Cowboys

Last night's game between the Cowboys and the Packers was very much an emotional roller coaster. I'm came really close to calling my friend Steve during the second quarter and beginning the celebration. If I had, I'm sure the Packers would have completed their comeback. I did get to watch the game (thank you, Direct TV) and I also listened it on the Cowboys network broadcast over the internet (thank you, high speed internet). I came away with several thoughts.

1. The Cowboys had to win that game. Not in a if they didn't the season was a failure or a playoff game at Lambeau Field is certain death, but considering the circumstances, they had to win the game. The game was at home. The Packers were dealing with injuries even before Favre got hurt: with the injuries to Charles Woodson and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila the Packers were hampered on the defensive end of the field. The Cowboys had to take advantage of the injuries. I think we'll see people who downplay the win because of the Packer injuries. Well, too bad. That's football. The Cowboys have been blessed with amazing health (knock on wood). I don't know if it's luck or conditioning (maybe both), but they have had an amazing run. The one major injury the Cowboys have had to face is Terry Glenn. Can you imagine what this offense would be like if Terry Glenn was playing? The sound you hear is defensive coordinators around the league shuddering.

2. If Brett Favre had played the whole, it may have been a complete blowout. I think after Favre went down, the Cowboys defense let up and let the Packers back in the game. Give the Packers credit. They didn't quit. Aaron Rogers played really well. They have some really good receivers and their running back, Ryan Grant looked really good. It proves my theory that you can find a running back just about anywhere and unless you have an Emmitt Smith, there's no reason to spend a high draft pick on a running back or sign a running back to big free agent contract. Ask the Chiefs. Are they happy about Larry Johnson and he 70 yards a game average? How about Seattle and Shaun Alexander not even getting that much?

3. Speaking of running backs, on the 4th and 2 in the third, I was all for going for it (shoot, I'm a fan. I always want to go for it). But why give the ball to Julius Jones when you have a battering ram in Marion Barber? Was there anyone who believed Jones would get those two yards? I didn't. I think Jones would have gotten those two yards and then ran over a DB picking up 4 more yards. I liked Jones when they first got him. He had burst and he made people miss, a true home run hitter. Now, he rarely gets in the open and, when he does, he can't make safeties miss him. That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if he's back here next year because I wonder if anyone else will pay him what he thinks he's worth. Barber is the horse the Cowboys ride to win. That last drive was like watching vintage Emmitt Smith. The Cowboys knew they were gonna run, the Packers knew they were gonna and, the Cowboys ran down the field for the game sealing field goal.

4. DeMarcus Ware is the man and he made the most important defensive play to this point in the season. It's 27-24 early in the 4th. The Packers had just picked off Tony Romo in the end zone on the drop by TO. The Packers had up to that point scored 14 unanswered points and had already moved the ball 20 yards to their own 40. Third down and 5 and Ware just abused Chad Clifton (the brother in law of one of my co-workers, fyi) and just swallowed Aaron Rogers. That's the kind of play that gets a guy defensive player of the year. For three years now we've been wondering about whether the Cowboys were right about Ware over Shawne Merriman. But that play and a later play when he dropped back into coverage and deflected a pass show that Ware is true all round line backer and one of the best in the NFL.

5. I don't know about that pass interference call on the Cowboys last touchdown. Looked like a tough call to me. If that had been called on the Cowboys, I would have been mad.

6. I don't know for sure that the Cowboys are a shoe-in for home field advantage. They don't have an easy schedule down the stretch. There'll be favored in every game, but maybe only one is without true concern:
A. At Detroit: They have lots of talented receivers and the Cowboys lost to them last year. One good thing: The Cowboys have 10 days off before then.
B. Philadelphia at home: Who will be QB for the Eagles? Was the game they played against the Patriots a mirage or is this team together? Will they have another game like it? The Boys blew them out the Philly and this is at home.
C. At Carolina: The Panthers will trot out either Vinny Testaverde, David Carr, or Matt Moore, whom the Cowboys cut in the preseason. As they say, 'Nuff said.
D. At Washington: It doesn't matter what is happening around the rest of the season, this game is almost always close. Hopefully the Cowboys won't need it for home field and can rest a few guys. I'm just saying don't hand the Cowboys home field before the playoffs start.

All in all, great win by the Cowboys. But as they've been saying the last several weeks: It's been nice to get these wins, but it's not the final goal. For the first time since maybe 1996 the Cowboys have a team that they can legitimately say are Super Bowl contenders. It's a great place to be.

No comments: