The Cowboys brilliantly marched into the Meadowlands on opening night, and handled the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Indeed, all was temporarily well for Cowboys fans.
And then Week 2 happened.
The same Cowboys took their show to Seattle on Sunday, and were rendered powerless by a Seattle Seahawks team coming off of an opening week loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The final scoreboard read: Seahawks 27, Cowboys 7.
Yet again, Cowboys fans are left exasperated. And we're only arriving at Week 3, folks.
But take courage, fans of America's team. All hope is not yet lost. In all reality, the Cowboys still stand at 1-1, have a victory over the Giants at the Meadowlands in their back pocket, and not to mention, a winnable home-opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on tap for this weekend.
Plus, they have an X-Factor.
An X-Factor you say? Tell me more.
The ever-present Dictionary.com defines the term X-Factor as "a hard-to-describe influence or quality" but at the same time calling it a "variable in a situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome."
So in football language, an X-Factor is difficult to identify, but could also end up having the biggest impact on a teams' success.
Let's find out which Cowboys' player fits this build for 2012.
Could it be Tony Romo?
Anytime a football conversation centers on one individual that could have the biggest impact on a team's success, the quarterback must be included.
When a team is succeeding, the quarterback takes all the praise. When they falter, the same quarterback takes all the heat.
Tony Romo is no exception to this rule. However, just because he receives all of the public's praise/heat for his team, doesn't mean he is the one having the biggest impact on the Cowboys' success.
This is evidenced by Romo's numbers from 2011. Tony threw for 31 touchdowns compared to just 10 interceptions while passing for nearly 4,200 total yards.
And the Cowboys still missed the playoffs.
In the Seahawks game, Romo couldn't have placed the ball any better on some of his throws, but Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and company were dropping passes left and right.
So yes. Tony Romo is vitally important to the Cowboys. But is he the X-Factor?
How about DeMarco Murray?
Much hype has surrounded DeMarco Murray throughout this young 2012 campaign, and each Cowboys' opponent has been concerned about his presence.
As well they should be.
When people describe DeMarco Murray, words like game-changing, dynamic and explosive are tossed around like candy in a parade.
However, the classic problem that can plague elite weapons in backfields across the country, reared it's ugly head against the Seahawks.
The Cowboys fell woefully behind. This meant they had to increase their reliance on the passing game which meant less unleashing of the Murray monster.
It also weakened the effect DeMarco Murray had on the outcome of the game.
So. Dynamic weapon? Of course. X-Factor? Not so fast.
Perhaps DeMarcus Ware...
I love watching DeMarcus Ware play. He's one of the most breathtaking linebackers in the game of football, and I firmly believe that he has a shot at the sack record this year.
But his quote following the Seahawks loss eliminated him from consideration for the team's X-Factor.
As reported by Charean Williams of the Star Telegram, "It comes down to tackling," Ware said. "[Lynch] is a big back, but we have to tackle better. We will have tackle drills this week to refresh our memory how to do it."
Refresh our memory? So if I read this correctly, Ware explains the reason that Marshawn Lynch ran all over the Cowboys on Sunday was because the defense forgot how to tackle?
These are grown men who having been playing football for twenty years. The defensive players get paid to tackle the opponent. And now, I'm supposed to believe that everyone now needs a refresher course on how to tackle?
And the X-Factor is...
So if the Dallas Cowboys' X-Factor isn't Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray or DeMarcus Ware, then who could it possibly be?
Look no further than Sean Lee.
The Cowboys' premier inside linebacker is the glue-guy who holds this team together. Where was this glue guy during the 27-7 shellacking the Cowboys just took on Sunday?
Let's recap. For starters, Felix Jones fumbled the opening kickoff, leading to a Seahawks field goal. The Seahawks proceeded to block a punt which was picked up for a touchdown. That's ten points which had no relation to the defensive performance.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Cowboys defense had given up a field goal to end the first half, and one sustained touchdown drive in the opening minutes of the third quarter. That's not terribly bad.
Then this happened.
Miraculously, Lee only missed six plays following the earth-shattering blow. Six.
In those six plays, the Seahawks advanced the ball 59 yards. 59 yards in six plays. It was the most prolific set of plays that the Seahawks had all game long.
And it sealed the Cowboys' fate.
You see, without Sean Lee in the middle of the Cowboys defense, something becomes noticeably absent. You can't put your finger on exactly what this something is, but you know it's important. Without it, the Cowboys are simply ordinary, but with it, the Cowboys can realize dreams of a sustained postseason run.
Just call it the X-Factor.
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