Lose one a week ago you should have won. Win one this time you should have lost.
Ugly? Did you say, ugly?
The only beauty contest involving the Dallas Cowboys is the scoreboard. The scoreboard read 27-23. The home team survived by slapping lipstick and earrings on an armadillo, and finally overcoming the persistent Minnesota Vikings.
Football life with the Cowboys continues to be an adventure of uncertainty from Sunday to Sunday, but for the 2013 season to maintain a degree of relevance, an unlikely revival had to suddenly happen under the Big Yard roof.
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The other end zone was 90 yards away. The clock showed 2.44 remaining, with a three-point deficit in the point totals.
And it had been exactly a month of Sundays since the Cowboys’ offense had given any indication it could and would cover that kind of real estate while operating under that kind of pressure.
Tony Romo, however, climbed aboard the redemption train. So did the Cowboys’ resident man-child, Dez Bryant.
And then there was the dependable Dwayne Harris, who popped open late as a secondary receiver, taking Romo’s pass over the middle and diving into the end zone, a 7-yard catch that rescued the W with 35 seconds to play.
Ninety yards, nine plays, in a flat two minutes.
To watch the Cowboys’ offense struggle since the Denver game on Oct. 6, and with only one touchdown drive all afternoon (to start the second half), were there any
“No, I didn’t have doubts,” answered Romo, who quickly deadpanned, “after we scored.”
“You don’t think about doubts,” continued Romo. “I don’t think you ever think you’re not going to score.”
Regardless, the Cowboys’ offense has not exactly been a touchdown machine of late. More doubts about those struggles surfaced repeatedly on Sunday, lowlighted by the previous late possession.
Trailing by those three points (and only three because of all things, a missed extra point), Romo had thrown a pick that obviously had the Romo haters bellowing, “I knew it.”
Except this wasn’t one of those mindless throws that drives everyone nuts.
This was a one-on-one jump ball throw where rookie receiver Terrance Williams has to be better than the cornerback. In this case, Minnesota’s A.J. Jefferson simply outmuscled the kid.
Still, the Cowboys’ defense, depleted with injuries again, had to have a midfield hold and punt for Romo to get another chance.
Suddenly a long and flawless touchdown drive happened. Suddenly his receivers started holding on to throws after at least eight drops on the day.
The biggest play of that drive, with Romo completing 7 of 9 passes in the march, went to Dez, who covered 34 yards over the middle to the Vikings’ 21.
Bryant had been a total mess on this afternoon, with two costly drops stopping previous drives, plus Dez drew a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after yanking off his helmet to argue a call that went against him.
That flag took the Cowboys out of field goal range.
But on the final desperation drive, Dez did make a critical catch and run.
Asked if Bryant, who created a national scene last week as a screamer on the sideline when the ball wasn’t coming his way, offers an apology for his drops, Romo laughed and said, “He does. ...I got on him pretty good after that last one. I think I was mic’ed up today, so I’m sure they got that one.”
On the game-winning drive, Romo achieved ample yardage on a couple of catches by The Little Man from Little Elm, Cole Beasley, and he also found Jason Witten twice.
It was Witten who was the intended target from the 7-yard line, but the coverage came Jason’s way.
Harris alertly picked up on an emergency situation and broke underneath. Romo scrambled, then stepped up in the pocket and delivered. A game-winner happened.
Redemption for the nightmare in Detroit a week ago?
In his postgame comments, Romo didn’t want to go the redemption verbal route, but sure, there was some of that, even if the Cowboys were a heavy home-field favorite against the struggling Vikings.
But Romo hit the high point of what Sunday’s rescue really meant.
“I’ve played the game long enough to know you’re going to lose some close ones in the year and there are going to be these kind of games where you win,” he said. “The idea really is to put yourself in a position to win your division and go on and give yourself a chance in the playoffs to do what you want to do.”
OK, you may hoot at the Cowboys’ chances in the NFL tournament, but they have to get there first.
And even in the puke-pathetic division that is the NFC East, losing this home game could have been a killer.
There’s a massive difference between a 5-4 record or the dreaded alternative of 4-5 going into New Orleans next Sunday night.
Watching this one, you were probably thinking, “ugly, real ugly.”
Regardless, that’s not what the scoreboard said when it was over.