Sean Lee, yesterday's Player of the Game, in my book
The Cowboys put on one of their most impressive performances to date this season beating the Colts in Indianapolis 38-35 in an overtime thriller.
The Cowboys were running away with it in the beginning, much like the Saints did against them the week before.
Things started off well enough when Tashard Choice, who was filling in for an injured Marion Barber, busted off a 20-yard touchdown run less than five minutes into the game.
A 30-yard field goal by Buehler made it 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Then, it got ugly for Peyton Manning and the Colts.
Manning threw not one, not two, but four interceptions. For the first time in his career, he threw four interceptions in back-to-back games. While he did end up passing for 365 yards and 2 touchdowns, it wasn’t quite enough.
Alan Ball grabbed the first pick. Orlando Scandrick took full advantage of the second interception returning it 40 yards for a touchdown. That put the Cowboys up 17-0.
Manning hit Pierre Garcon for a 13-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-7 going into halftime.
Manning started the second half by hitting Reggie Wayne on a 34-yard touchdown pass, getting the Colts within three.
However, Buehler then hit his second field goal of the day, this one from 46 yards out, and then rookie Sean Lee, who was rotating with a less-than-100 percent Keith Brooking, picked off Manning and returned it 31 yards for a, you guessed it, touchdown.
That was the fourth Manning interception returned for a touchdown in the past two games.
With the Cowboys up 27-14 going into the fourth quarter, things were not looking good for the Colts. Javarris James and Taj Smith changed all of that.
James ran into the end zone from one yard out to start the fourth quarter, getting the Colts within six. Exactly two minutes later, Taj Smith made what could have been the play of the game when he blocked a Mat McBriar punt, scooped the ball up, and scored a touchdown.
The Colts finally had the lead for the first time, up 28-27.
The Cowboys then proceeded to go on their longest drive of the season, just over 10 minutes and 18 plays long. It would have been shorter, and led to a field goal, had it not been for Eric Foster getting called for unsportsmanlike conduct on the successful field goal attempt.
Instead of going up only two, the Cowboys had a new set of downs that saw Jon Kitna hit Jason Witten for a two yard touchdown pass with just over two and a half minutes left in the game. The two-point conversion pass to Roy Williams put the Cowboys up seven.
Was this the biggest win of the Cowboys' season?
Now, Manning had to get over his three interceptions and lead the Colts to the end zone.
He did just that, hooking up with Reggie Wayne multiple times before watching Javarris James score again from two yards out with just 29 seconds left.
The Colts won the coin toss and chose to receive the ball to start over time. They had to punt but so did the Cowboys on their first possession. Then it happened.
Manning threw his fourth and final interception of the day, again to rookie Sean Lee, who caught the tipped pass off of teammate Mike Jenkins.
Six plays later, Buehler came out for another field goal attempt, this one to win the game. Buehler not being the most consistent field goal kicker out there, the Cowboys and their fans had every right to be a little nervous.
He came through, though, nailing the 38-yard kick and getting bombarded by his teammates as the Cowboys got to celebrate their fourth win of the season and Jason Garrett’s third win in four games. The loss dropped the Colts to 6-6 and one game behind the Jaguars in the AFC South.
Believe it or not, if the playoffs started today, the Colts would not be participating.
The most positive thing to take from this game for the Cowboys, besides the big win, is the fantastic day they had on the ground (217 yards rushing, 4.7 ypc) and, in particular, the game they got out of Choice (100 yards on 19 carries, 5.3 ypc, 1 TD).
The defense held the Colts to just 40 rushing yards and created four turnovers (the Cowboys had none). Their 40 minutes time of possession helped keep Manning off the field.
The biggest negative is on the injury front. Orlando Scandrick had to leave the game with a concussion but even more troubling is Dez Bryant’s broken ankle. It looked bad when it happened, it looked bad when he had to be helped off the field, and it sounded bad when the announcers said what had happened. It doesn’t look like Dez will be back this season.
The Cowboys stay home this Sunday to play the Eagles for the first time this season. After a big over the Colts, can they carry that momentum forward and beat a division foe? We will find out Sunday night.