News & Blogs

Print
RSS

Spagnola: Cowboys Inching Forward In Right Direction

Posted Nov 29, 2013


ARLINGTON, Texas – All right, admit it, you were piping-hot mad when Terrance Williams fumbled the opening kickoff, and some Jenkins you probably never heard of – Greg, not Mike – picks up the loose ball and goes 23 yards for a Raiders touchdown in just 12 seconds.

You were spittin’-molars mad when that Holmes guy you did remember, Andre, only on the Cowboys practice squad late last season, available for the Patriots to sign him to their 53-man roster because he couldn’t hang on to the types of passes with the Cowboys he was catching here at AT&T Stadium for the Raiders, hauls in four receptions for 56 yards … in the first half.

And my guess is, you were cursin’-mad when the erstwhile 4-7 Raiders, losers of three of their previous four games and able to score more than 20 points only once during that span, had taken a 21-7 lead over the Cowboys with just 1:56 left in the first half before 87,572 disbelieving souls.

All the cred the Cowboys had gained with that spine-tingling 24-21 victory over the New York Giants four days earlier at MetLife to move to 6-5 was going right out the window like a bad pumpkin pie.

Same ol’ .500 Cowboys. Admit it, you said it, or at least were thinking it, right?

And sounds like Mr. Optimism was right there with you, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones actually saying, “You really, if it were like the rest of us, you could have gotten your enthusiasm down a little bit.”

A little bit? Heck, bet some of you were reaching for the remote, or at least the Brioschi if you already had indulged in your Thanksgiving dinner that was about to come up, the same shape Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo apparently had been in all Wednesday night and that morning of the game.

“We just had to get up out of our comfort zone,” mercurial wide receiver Dez Bryant explained. “I guess we were feeling too comfortable.”

Guaran-darn-tee you they then were the only ones feeling comfortable at that point, the Raiders starting to believe this was going to be a runaway.

But just like that, as if one of those blue norther’s came blowing in from Oklahoma, the gritty Cowboys dragged you and the Raiders back in, jettisoning Oakland, 31-24, while creating a not-since colorful holiday collage, as in …

Not since Oct. 13 against the Redskins had the Cowboys scored as many as 31 points or as many as four touchdowns in one game.

Not since Sept. 22 had the Cowboys rushed for more than the 144 yards they pounded the Raiders with.

Not since Dec. 6, 2004, against Seattle had a Cowboys running back rushed for the three touchdowns DeMarco Murray did on this day in a single game.

Not since Oct. 6 against Denver had the Cowboys converted a higher percentage of third downs than the 54 percent they did so against the Raiders.

Not since Sept. 22 against the Rams had the Cowboys held a team to fewer than the 50 yards rushing they held the Raiders to, and to think Oakland came into the game as the NFL’s fourth-ranked rushing team.

Not since the first four games of the season had Romo completed 70 percent of his passes, going 12 of 12 in the second half and 17 of 19 from the final possession of the first half to finish at 71.8 for the day.

Maybe having just three days between games suits the Cowboys well, because …

Not since the middle of October had the Cowboys won the two straight games they now have won in a five-day span, first at the Giants, 24-21, and then this one over the Raiders – only the second time in the last 15 games that they have won back-to-back outings.

So then, not since the 2009 season when the Cowboys finished 11-5 did they have a better record (8-4) than their now 7-5 record after 12 games, which by the way, puts them back in first place by a half-a-game over the 6-5 Eagles, who must now match the Cowboys on Sunday when playing the red-hot Arizona Cardinals at home.

And, not since Dec. 16, 2012, that’s 14 games ago, have the Cowboys been as many as the two games over the .500 mark they are now, with this weekend off and 10 whole days between their third win in four games and meeting the Chicago Bears on a Monday night in Chicago, Dec. 9.

Well then, maybe having grandiose postseason dreams will not jinx this team, just as wearing those blue jerseys at home did not on Thursday, nor did Tony Romo having the cover story on the Sports Illustrated that arrived in my mailbox on Wednesday.

But if your head needs leveling off, leave it to Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, the steady-as-she-goes believer, saying after the Cowboys completed their-two-game Thanksgiving week sweep, “You have to be careful about taking a global point of view. You’ve just got to get back to work.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to get away for the next couple of days and then get back to work next week on Chicago. We’re focusing on our preparation and what to do to win a ballgame.”

Maybe there is something to Garrett’s even-keeled approach that more of you need to appreciate. Because if not, for sure panic would have set in late in the second quarter when rookie quarterback Matt McGloin and running back Rashad Jennings had the Raiders up 21-7.

As if awakening from a winter slumber, the Cowboys only consumed 1:21 of the 1:56 left in the second quarter to march the 73 yards for Murray’s second of three touchdowns. And that began an offensive onslaught of four scores in five possessions to finally reach Thirtysomething for the first time in a month, coming up just one yard short – and a bit of common sense leading to Dan Bailey’s field goal from the one to go up 10 with just 1:56 remaining in the game – from scoring a fifth touchdown.

Just keep on grinding, keep that head down, and when it’s over, then and only then do you even dare take a global view.

“Everything is happening right now at the right time,” Cowboys veteran defensive end DeMarcus Ware said before the team headed out for some well-deserved rest the next four days, “but you can’t get complacent with where you are, and we aren’t, and we know we have a big game coming up.”

Heavens no, not at this point, not taking a 7-5 record and a two-game winning streak into Chicago next time out while no worse than tied for first in the NFC East.

And goodness knows, not when there is a real chance to break that same ol’, same ol’ mold for the first time since … 2009.

You guys enjoy the break, too.

Image Map

Game Rewind: Dallas Cowboys