Monday, October 30, 2006

Tales From the Dark Side: WTF?

It's a stranger-than-average Monday here on the Dark Side. I mean, it's the first business day of Standard Time, so everyone's a little messed up. But it's more than that.

Of course, I refer to last night's adventure in Charlotte, which finished up, as you know, Cowboys 35 - Pathers 14. What is a Dark Sider to make of this unexpected event? I'm still working that out for myself. Let's explore, shall we?

On one hand, Carolina played a dreadful game. They have no ability to run the ball, as was evident last night (and all season - this was not a "Doomsday III" moment). Most of the Panther offense appeared to have been greasing muffin tins at halftime, as no one could hang onto the ball in the second half. In addition, the Panthers did their best to ensure the zebras kept busy, committing idiot penalty after idiot penalty.

The Charlotte papers today are talking more about the Panthers' collapse than about a Cowboys triumph. Which is about what you'd figure, right?

But here? Here in the DFW Metroplex of Love, it's not a choke by the Panthers. Oh no. It's pretty much the arrival of The Messiah, trumpets, gleaming chariots, and peals of celestial bells included. The euphoria being expressed in the paper and on talk radio is vaguely reminiscent of VJ Day. The Pear Shaped Football Genius is, today, no longer a dour old man with anger issues; instead, he's a kindly grandfather, maybe even Santa. And Tony Romo, if not quite the Lamb of God, is at least David on the way back from that fracas with the Philistines.

This much hyperbole has got to have a ton of fat and cholesterol. There's no way it can be good for you.

So, what did we really witness last night?

This may come as a surprise to you, but I am going to give the Cowboys, esp the offensive coaching staff and most esp Tony Romo, credit for doing what I didn't think they could. They put together and, more importantly, executed a gameplan which took advantage of the talents of the team. I'm not going to compare this bunch to the Cowboys or 49ers of the 1990s, but there's no question there is some talent on the Cowboy offense. And, for the first time this year, that talent was utilized. Witten and TO Owens were MUCH more involved in the passing game than at any time in the previous six games. Terry Glenn's role, while diminished a bit, was still important. The O line, which is still terrible and looked it last night, got a break in that Romo can move a bit and, I think more importantly, gets rid of the ball in a hurry. And Julius Jones continued his very good, but strangely very quiet, year. MBIII was pretty good too.

Last night's offensive performance looked like a round peg in a round hole, for the first time this year.

The defense came up with some big plays. Some of this was the result of the Panthers' skill players' inability to hang on to the ball, but you have to give the Dallas D some credit. The Carolina offense looked bad, and you have to think the Cowboys had something to do with it.

So, what's next for the Team We Love to Scorn? With road games coming up in DC and Arizona, a 6-3 record is a distinct possibility, although both games are certainly losable. Can the Cowboys string a few good performances together? They haven't in the past few years, but anything is possible and the sheep are bleating with excitement and anticipation.

For my fellow Dark Siders, I would say continue to view this team with healthy skepticism. I still don't think the Cowboys are a very good team, and despair is always a week away. In the long term, it's really hard to believe an undrafted QB from Division 1-AA is the answer.

Until proven otherwise, I'm going to call this week an aberration. I expect a return to the cheery days of matador-style blocking, ill-timed penalties, brain-dead turnovers, and blown coverages before Thanksgiving.

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