Mac Engel

Right now, your Dallas Cowboys are the best team in the NFC

There is not a better team in the NFL than the hated New England Patriots, but the best team in the NFC is your Dallas Cowboys.

Don’t be afraid to think big — like Houston big. Houston may not be a good place to visit in early February, but it is home to the Super Bowl this season. And this team is good enough to go to Houston.

The Dallas Cowboys played nearly an entire game in which their quarterback was bad, and a whole host of other individuals from the coaches to the offensive linemen to certain members of the defense took turns drinking from the aged Barrel of Stupid.

Somehow they won.

This is one of the surest signs of a good team — they can win when they are bad. The Cowboys were bad Sunday night and they won Sunday night.

Up until the final moments of regulation, the rookie Hall of Fame quarterback was terrible, and there was plenty of evidence to suggest that the Philadelphia Eagles were going to be the second NFC East team this season to leave Jerry World with a win.

The Cowboys had no business winning Sunday night but they did just that — 29-23 in overtime.

Students, gather ’round for the Dallas Cowboys are 6-1. If you need to say that again, go ahead because no one from Jerry Jones to Jason Garrett nor anyone else saw this coming.

The Cowboys’ 6-1 record is not a fluke and it’s not a joke. The injuries are a concern — Barry Church and Morris Claiborne both left the game — but that is going to happen to every team. And remember the Cowboys are actually playing their third string quarterback.

Garrett’s team was flat coming out of the bye but he tried everything to win a game where they were not good; whether it was the successful fake punt and run by punter Chris Jones from deep in his own territory, the unsuccessful wide receiver option pass from Cole Beasley, or the decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 in overtime, Garrett coached to win the game.

“A lot went through my mind,” Prescott said, “that’s my first touchdown pass to [Jason] Witten.”

Good teams don’t play scared, and Garrett coached like a man who trusted his team.

The Cowboys used to be a team that died without Tony Romo playing. Now they are (finally) thriving while he merely watches.

It was only slightly fitting, and even a little bittersweet, to watch Prescott complete the game-winning touchdown pass on a play that Romo has mastered both at old Texas Stadium and now Jerry World; the play was broken, and Romo — sorry I mean, Prescott —did the Romo spin move and threw a short pass to Romo’s best friend, Witten, to end the game.

Mass chaos ensued in the end zone and there were more giddy smiles at AT&T Stadium than when Taylor Swift played here.

If you ever needed a single reason to buy this team and feel good about it, Sunday night was all the evidence you should require. This group would have lost this game last year 50 different ways, but this year’s team is different. They were bad all night but never stopped trying like hell.

“To overcome the different adversities that happened during the game,” Garrett said after the game, his voice noticeably cracking. “A number of times we had opportunities to go away and we kept battling. The thing that stood out was the fight and the will to win.”

If it sounds like more lame, typical Garrett cliche speak you would be right. And so would he.

That single fact remains the most impressive credential of the Coach Process regime — whatever campaign-style rhetoric he sells, his players always buy. Even in a pro locker room where guys routinely do not listen to their coaches’ rah-rah speeches, Garrett has cultivated a culture of persistence.

In a league full of 8-8 garbage, that is worth a lot.

Every Cowboy knew their quarterback was having a bad night, and other Cowboys chipped in to give the Eagles’ the game, too. But players like Orlando Scandrick, Dez Bryant, Beasley, Tyrone Crawford all made enough individual plays to give their team a chance to win.

Besides Prescott’s poor game, there were so many other instances where the Cowboys should have lost.

The Cowboys committed 11 penalties for 84 yards. If it weren’t for the Oakland Raiders’ NFL-record 23 penalties on Sunday, the Cowboys may won the Dunce Contest.

The Cowboys handed the Eagles three first downs on penalties. Center Travis Frederick had a questionable holding call that erased a loooong Ezekiel Elliott run in the second half. Orlando Scandrick dropped an interception.

Some of the play-calling for Prescott inside the red zone called for passes when the running game was working — the Cowboys averaged 5.5 yards per carry; Dak’s second-quarter interception in the end zone was a forced pass on a play when a run seemed more logical.

Eventually, however, persistence had its moment. Guys like Crawford, Brandon Carr and so many others made plays and bought time for Dak to get it together.

It was not particularly pretty, but it worked because they never stopped.

And right now there is no better team in the NFC than the Dallas Cowboys.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

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