media criticism. "A win is a win," said Ware, "and you'll always take it. But I'm not satisfied with that. If we're ahead of a team 17-0, we need to beat them 45-0. That's the way we feel."
Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten was clearly perturbed in the post-game locker room. Asked the cause of the offensive doldrums once the score got to 17-0, Witten said, "I wish I knew. We had a turnover right before the half, and then we came out in the third quarter and didn't play the kind of football you're used to playing. Obviously we're happy to get a win, but it's disappointing because you've got a team that's 0-4, on the road, down 17-0, with a chance to put them away, and we didn't do it. That's what the good teams do, but we made a football game out of it."
By the way, Witten is my candidate to straighten things out when they need straightening. He will demand accountability from teammates.
So they know. They know when they're fortunate to get a win. But they also know, and it seems that some have lost sight of the fact, that they did win.
This is where the Johnson Corollary comes in. The problems your team had against Cincinnati are only really problems if they persist, and cause the team to lose.
Should the things that are not going well not be corrected, then this team and coaching staff aren't as good as a lot of us thought, and the season will end in disappointment. And, to borrow a popularly used word of the time, the result will be Change.
But looking ready to win a playoff game in October isn't the point. In October, the point is to win. It will be the point again in November. In December, it will still be the point, but in December, the judges will and should have sharper eyes. This team has two things to do, beyond the obvious: prove it can play well in the fourth quarter of the season, and be ready to win multiple games in the postseason. (Not one playoff game. This team was not assembled to win one playoff game, and it doesn't matter how many years it's been since the last one. Winning a playoff game won't do. This team was put together to win the playoff game.)
Today, the Cowboys are not as good a football team as the New York Giants, and they don't have to be. Remember which team was superior at this time last year, and which one ended up where. Today, the Cowboys are a team with a 4-1 record. Style points still won't get them extra credit Sunday. If they squeak out a three-point win over the Cardinals, that will be just fine. As current Kansas City coach Herm Edwards said pointedly while coaching the New York Jets, you play to win the game.
The Cowboys absolutely have to get better. They just don't have to do it all at once.