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Eatman: As Nation Anxiously Watched, Cowboys Locked Arms & Took a Stand

GLENDALE, Ariz. – When that phone is ringing, you answer it. Simple as that.

And without a doubt the phone was ringing off the hook this week. Not just any phone, but one of those beige, rotary-phones from the 80s with the piercing rings that you could hear three houses down.

In one very long week, the narratives included an O-line that might not be as good anymore to sophomore slumps by both Dak & Zeke to a defense that couldn't get the job done. And that was before this national story, created by our President, that turned the entire NFL world upside down for 48 hours, leaving the nation to wonder just how America's Team was going to respond.

Dallas Cowboys Joint Demonstration Before National Anthem at University of Phoenix Stadium, in Glendae Arizona.

Well, these Cowboys answered the call – all of them.

They answered the call before the game … maybe let it ring for a little while in the first quarter and beyond, but they grabbed that phone in the second quarter and did most of the talking -and the walking - here in Phoenix.

Say what you want about the team they beat, but the Cowboys won a lot more than just a football game Monday night.

Yes, they needed a win in the worst way. It might seem like one game in the standings but being 2-1 and 1-2 just feels like night and day. And after the beating this team took in Denver, coupled with beatings through the media all week, the Cowboys simply couldn't come away from this game with anything but a W.

Yeah, there were some ugly parts to this game, but the beautiful moments spliced into the action more than made up for it.

Let's focus on the actual game first.

I thought it was one of the more impressive victories we've seen from this team in quite some time, based on the circumstances. And what does Jason Garrett always, I mean always, tell his team, the media and anyone else within earshot?

*Be your best regardless of circumstance. *

Maybe this wasn't the Cowboys' best performance. Let's hope not at least because it wasn't always pretty. But considering the performance we saw last week, everyone seemed to step up their game.

The offensive line had another slow start but when the Cowboys needed to close out the game, they mauled the Cards off the ball and Zeke found his way into the end zone.

The defense was embarrassed last week in Denver. Umm, they responded, too. When you can shut down the run and make teams one-dimensional, it allows the rushers to … rush! And that DeMarcus Lawrence is absolutely on fire. Yeah, he was credited with three sacks, but he easily could've had 4.5 had it not been for a penalty and another questionable ruling by the stat crew. He also forced a holding penalty that saved a touchdown in the second quarter.

Let's not forget the Cowboys were down two injured cornerbacks but still fought their tails off for four quarters.

Sure, the Canton-bound Larry Fitzgerald wore them out for 13 catches, but the defense didn't break, especially in the second half. That fourth-quarter stand to hold Arizona to a field goal was crucial. And then how about four straight stops from the 5-yard line to close out the game?

The biggest difference I saw was tackling. The Cowboys came to play on this night and didn't miss many tackles in the open field.

On offense, it still wasn't dazzling overall. Dak Prescott completed just 13 passes, but he had some unbelievable throws on the run, giving his receivers a chance to make a play. Brice Butler made two of the biggest plays of his career. Let's not forget he had two big drops in the first two games and battled an ankle injury all week. Talk about answering the call.

And if Dak wasn't throwing it, he was running –and flipping – into the end zone. That will to find the end zone, the same thing Dez showed in the second quarter, was the kind of spirit this team needed.

Maybe it all began from the pregame. It was definitely an emotional rollercoaster for the Cowboys, who had to watch 30 other teams respond to President Trump's comments. It's not easy to try and come up with something different after you've seen it done 30 times, but the Cowboys certainly did.

In fact, you can argue it might have been one of all because it allowed the entire team to express themselves, but in a way of unity and equality. If you wanted to kneel in protest, you got to kneel. If you wanted to stand for the anthem, you got to stand. If you wanted to somehow do both because you're not happy with the current leadership of our country but still wanted to honor the American Flag and this country, you were able to do so.

The Cowboys managed to stick together, but yet allow the players and coaches to express themselves in their own manner.

Over the years of writing this column, I've tried to stick to the subject matter that I'm qualified to address – and that is this football team and the events that surround it, such as games and practices and so on.

Sure, I have my own thoughts on this situation, as do you. This matter is obviously bigger than football, therefore my opinion on players kneeling or standing for the anthem is irrelevant to the viewers, who are just as qualified to express their beliefs. They just don't have a weekly column.

But there's one thing I know for sure: had a few players decided to kneel in protest Monday night, they would've faced an enormous amount of criticism from some of the Cowboys' fan base. At the same time, there would've been others that gave them full support. That's just the simplicity of this very complicated subject. You can't please everyone.

But in a way, that's what makes sports - on all levels from junior high to the pros - such a unique unifier to communities and fan bases.

Throughout the week, you might be classified by race, or divided by religion or in this case, political views. During the week, it doesn't matter if you're white, black or brown. Doesn't matter if you're Baptist, Methodist, Catholic no denomination at all. And it really doesn't matter if you're Republican or Democrat.

When the game starts, we're all Cowboys, or Cardinals, or Tigers, Longhorns, Mustangs, Wildcats or whatever your team of choice might be. In this case, it's the Cowboys, of course.

When the game starts, it doesn't matter what differences you might have during the week, your navy blue and silver matches that guy's navy blue and silver right next to you.

The same goes with the football team. It's naïve to assume every player who locked arms Monday night shares the same views with each other.

But there's no better way to unify a team or even a fan base than to do what the Cowboys did. They started together, they played together, and they won together.

Now, that's something we all should be able to agree on.

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