Better Listen To Captain Dan

Johnson touchdown not as pivotal a play in this team's development?

"It may well have been," he concedes, "but we (the offense) were on the field. You're playing ball so you have control of it. When our defense was out there, we could only watch. And they came up with it."

So what did Campbell find out about his offensive teammates in San Diego that he didn't know or hoped, but wasn't sure of?

"I think we found out that we have enough fighters on this team," Campbell said. "Bad things are gonna happen, and they did early in the game. But we had enough guys who would say, let's calm down and get things fixed. Bledsoe was great in the huddle. Then when you have guys making plays like Keyshawn, (Patrick) Crayton, Terry (Glenn), Julius . . . "

Captain Dan didn't have to finish the sentence. That work-in-progress defense passed the first test. Everyone knows some of them, the youngsters in particular, will be, as Parcells likes to say, chasing cars for the first few weeks of the season. The question was always about the offense. Are the receivers too old? Can the quarterback still do it? Can the line protect?

That wasn't the Akron Zips they beat (and no disrespect to you Zips). Quick, do you know how many times the Cowboys put 28 points on the scoreboard last year? Here's a hint: If you get to three, you've gone one too far. That doesn't mean they'll do it every week. But what Campbell is saying is, if it can be done on the road against a quality playoff team and overcome a messy first half to boot, it's probably not a mirage.

Nor was Campbell simply geeked to be on the field after missing the final 13 games last year with a nasty foot injury. "I'd be just as pumped," he insists. "A win's a win, man, especially a good win."

There aren't many bad ones, of course. But listen to Captain Dan. He knows what he's talking about, which come to think of it, is why he's Captain Dan.

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