Cowboys’ perfect game should make for quiet week
09/22/2013 8:09 PM
11/12/2014 3:03 PM
It’s going to be a different kind of Monday in all local precincts. The masses and the media have nothing to gripe about, nothing to second guess, nothing to doubt.
Bring on the admiration instead of the usual abomination.
How that can be?
A Sunday afternoon of football perfection, that’s how.
The Dallas Cowboys played a game, won a game, and there was absolutely nothing not to like.
Everything went right in a 31-7 wipeout of the St. Louis Rams as 80,000-plus looked on in wonderment at the Big Yard. What had been observed a week earlier, with all the self-destruction in Kansas City, suddenly seemed liked a distant memory.
This time it was DeMarco Murray running as if the offensive line always opens those kind of holes, and it was the defense barely missing a first-half shutout, not, by the way, just on the scoreboard, but in first downs allowed.
The Rams had exactly one first down in the opening 30 minutes.
Overall, the Cowboys can’t play any better than this. Then again, basically nobody can.
A week ago all that despair in KC, and then…
“What happened to us in Kansas City, that played a role in what was seen today,” safety Barry Church said. “We were coming off the kind of loss that had to motivate us today.
“If it didn’t, then we’re not the kind of team we think we are. Today, we were the kind of team we want to be, and have to be.”
The loud and adamant “Run It” army was in full voice last week, and that group certainly got its jollies as Murray went on a ground rampage, which came because the dog-cussed offensive line was as dominant as it’s been since the Baltimore game a season ago.
And yes, the Cowboys’ brain trust thinks this is a much improved version of the offensive line, in case, of course, you are saying the Baltimore game was a one-and-only occurrence.
Anyway, Murray was given a 26-carry load, produced 175 yards, and averaged close to 7 yards a carry. The Cowboys had 193 yards rushing on 34 attempts.
With a lesser load on Sunday, Tony Romo picked his targets skillfully, throwing three touchdown passes.
But this kind of win was as much about defense as offense. Actually, it was about every area, and all this perfection came a week after the “one that got away” in Kansas City.
“It’s just the nature of the game,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Every time you break the huddle in the National Football League, you’re going to be challenged. Sometimes you are going to win those challenges, sometimes you are going to lose.
“You have to respond the right way when you have success and when you have adversity…. I thought we practiced well [last week], the mindset was right, and I think it reflected in our performance today.”
Actually, it wasn’t Murray and it wasn’t Romo who established the foundation for Sunday’s win.
That came from the defensive unit, which faced immediate adversity.
The always dependable Dwayne Harris flat butchered an attempt to field a punt after the Rams went 3-and-out following the opening kickoff.
St. Louis’ offense had quick life again at the Dallas 34.
“The objective at that point was pretty simple,” Church said. “Keep ’em out of the end zone. And they got nothing, not even a field goal, out of it.”
A third down sack by cornerback Orlando Scandrick coming off the left edge took away a long field goal attempt, and then the Cowboys’ punt return unit sniffed out a fake, as a pass attempt didn’t work.
No points for the Rams right there was obviously a huge turn-around.
“I thought our defense just came out and responded the right way [after Harris’ screwup] and they put our football team in the right mindset to play the way we needed to play,” Garrett said.
Some also say it was defensive tackle Jason Hatcher who put the team in the right mindset last week during a practice-field verbal tirade/pep talk.
One national news outlet described the rant as being directed at Romo for using the audible to change run plays that had been called from upstairs.
Strong denials came postgame Sunday from both Garrett and Hatcher, who offered to hug Romo’s neck in the locker room.
But no one was denying the Hatcher verbal sermon had a positive impact. He also spoke to the team after the win.
“I was just telling them how proud I was of them,” said Hatcher, who had one of six sacks on the afternoon. The Rams’ Sam Bradford hadn’t been sacked in the first two games.
Each week in the NFL can be a new world, and the Cowboys were certainly in a better world on Sunday.
Perfection happened in all areas. Even the much-maligned current draft class got in on the act, with center Travis Frederick being in the middle of the run-game success (after a bad game in KC), second-round pick Gavin Escobar catching a TD pass, and a third-rounder, safety J.J. Wilcox, making his first NFL start and holding his own.
“The very last thing we want to be is what we’ve been in the past, an 8-8 team, winning one week, losing the next week, winning the next week, losing … well, you all know what we’ve been,” Church said.
“We’ve got to change that. We just do. Today was a step in that direction.”
This week, on the road in San Diego, will tell us more.
Meanwhile, it will be a peaceful and rare Monday around here. Nothing to complain about this time, Cowboys-wise.
Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM
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