The Cowboys Are Still in It.
The Playoffs Start Sunday...
With the regular season winding down and games running out, the importance of each contest has literally become magnified by ten-fold, but don't tell the Cowboys. Let's face it—they must be part cat with nine lives. Then again, the Cowboys are like a never ending soap-opera with twists and turns designed to captivate and hold the interest of its audience.
Besides, just imagine how less exciting the world of the NFL would be without America's Team stuck right in the middle of things.
Distractions, controversy, and a divided locker room are what seem to make up one of the league's most recognizable teams. Despite all of this, the Cowboys just won't go away, at least not without a little drama. Okay, let's be honest, a lot of drama.
America's Team went into last Saturday night not just in the middle of a playoff race, but in complete control of their destiny, needing just a win to reach the post-season.
They entered their matchup with Baltimore knowing it was a must-win situation, only to lay a big goose-egg at the hands of the Ravens. The Cowboys did not prevail, they lost 33-24. As a matter of fact, surprisingly the defense folded their tents up late in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line.
All evening Dallas was engaged in a tough fight with the Ravens, but just could not get a whole lot going on offense. It wasn't until late in the game that quarterback Tony Romo sparked the offense and with 3:10 left on the clock, took them into the endzone to cut the deficit to 19-17.
The stage was set for the comeback, but Romo would need some help.
What had been feeding the Cowboys run for the past several weeks was not their high profile and at times volatile offense, but their relentless defense, which had actually played a solid game to this point. Now they would have the opportunity to stop the Ravens once more and give Tony Romo and the "O" a chance to win the game.
What ensued next broke nearly every heart in Texas, not once, but twice?
The first heart-breaker; needing a stop from the defense, the Cowboys gave up a 77-yard touchdown run to Ravens running back Willis McGahee which put the Ravens out front by nine points and forced the Cowboys back in a hole once again.
Following several collapses by teams (the Eagles, Buccaneers, and Vikings) vying for the post season, the Cowboys find themselves still sitting in the thick of things. It's one week later and just like last Saturday, the Cowboys just need a win. The playoff picture is too much to explain, but plain and simple the Cowboys will enter Lincoln Field on Sunday just needing a victory over McNabb and company.
The defense has been given a reprieve, Romo and company will have another opportunity to prove their worth as one of the league's elite. It wasn't planned this way, but the Cowboys understand they have been handed a gift. After losing a game that they desperately needed, they will be given a second chance, but rather than having the comforts of home, they must enter hostile territory.
With a few bumps and bruises to some key players (Barber, Witten) heading into Sunday, the 9-6 Cowboys are just one game from making the playoffs and it's anyone's ball-game (just ask the Giants).
Tony Romo and the offense did their part down the stretch last weekend, but this week against their bitter rival, the team can not afford to have any breakdowns on either side of the ball. While Romo has yet to win that big game, but what he did show last Saturday night is the will.
Without a win on Sunday, Ware's 20-plus sacks are meaningless and Tony Romo's 3,200-yards passing with 26 touchdowns don't mean a thing. Having one of the leagues best pass receiving tight end Jason Witten (74-receptions) to go with one of the leagues most talented wide receiver Terrell Owens will add up to very little, if the Cowboys come up short.
Could the unthinkable actually happen this week? Could the Cowboys actually fall victim to their own arrogance and can the NFL survive a post season without the most talked about team this year? At least for the moment we have to only consider, because the Cowboys are still in it.
For Ware could personal immortality stand above a team victory? Does Romo need to be concerned with getting the ball to T.O.? Will he even have his buddy Jason Witten available? Can the rookie (Choice) handle the load and the pressure if Barber is unavailable? For those fans following the storyline, there are many questions to ask, but one thing is certain all will be answered in Week 17.
As you can see this is not just any weekend for America's Team, for all of Texas and much of the NFL the playoffs start Sunday. Everyone get your popcorn ready!
By David G. Ortega