Nick Eatman is the author of his third book, the recently published ***Friday, Saturday, Sunday in Texas**, a chronicle of three football teams on three levels in Texas, from high school to college to the Cowboys. *
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Early in the fourth quarter, after the Cowboys had responded yet again to push the lead up to three scores, I received a random text message from a college friend.
There was no "Hey, what's up," or "Wow, can you believe this game?" It was just four simple words:
"I love this team!!!"
And he's not alone. Cowboys fans have no other choice but to love what they're seeing and to love this team because that's exactly what they've become.
The Cowboys are indeed a football TEAM, and they showed it so many times here Sunday in a 30-16 win over the Packers, which just might be one of the more impressive games I've seen them play in several years. This one probably relates to that 2014 win over the Seahawks, which proved to be a benchmark game for the Cowboys during that 12-4 season.
But there was another reason why I decided to take the team angle for this column. As the minutes rolled off the clock in the fourth quarter and it was becoming apparent the Cowboys were about to win their fifth straight game, the question was surfacing throughout our digital media team about Sunday's MVP performer.
Was it Dak Prescott, who just outdueled Aaron Rodgers on Brett Favre day and broke Tom Brady's record – all in three hours? Not to mention he threw for three touchdowns, another career best for this unbelievable rookie.
[embeddedad0]Or how about Ezekiel Elliott? The "runner," as head coach Jason Garrett calls him, became the first rookie in NFL history to post four straight 130-yard games. He ran with power, quickness, awareness and smarts, shown in the fourth quarter when he covered up the ball after a long run with defenders chasing him and then had the smarts to stay in bounds on a sweep to the outside.
If it's not those two guys, there were probably two handfuls of unsung heroes. Quickly let's roll through them.
- David Irving missed two straight games with a concussion but comes in and forces two fumbles, including one on Aaron Rodgers at the goal line. He also deflected a pass on third down to force a field goal.
- Barry Church had quite a day. He forced a fumble early on Jordy Nelson, picked off Aaron Rodgers in the third quarter, was checked for a concussion but passed the protocol tests and then lost a contact in the fourth quarter but returned several times. He even had a nice tackle on a kickoff return in the fourth to stop a big gain.
- Cole Beasley continues to shine for this Dez Bryant-less offense. He scored two touchdowns and was a mismatch nightmare again for the Packers. He literally catches every pass thrown to him, getting six more on six targets Sunday.
- Lucky Whitehead finally went vertical! We've seen the side-to-side stuff for two years but a play down the field was huge in the fourth. He also changed the momentum in the second quarter with a big-time run that led to a touchdown.
- So the Cowboys lost Morris Claiborne to a concussion in the second quarter, but Anthony Brown just continued his stellar play. Not only has he stepped up for Orlando Scandrick in the slot, he moved to the outside and the defense didn't miss a beat. Brown finished the game with 10 tackles. The two offensive studs are getting all the credit but the Cowboys' selection of Brown might even be a better pick.
The list just goes on and on. And that's when it hit me that this TEAM is getting the job done. Sure, the players make the plays, but the coaching staff drew up some amazing calls once again. We also talk about coaches being predictable, but in this sixth game of the season, how many new plays did we see?
The touchdown to Beasley on the double-move-motion was a new wrinkle. Putting Whitehead in the backfield was another one. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan called a great game once again, picking the right spots to be aggressive.
In the postgame press conference, Garrett stepped up to the podium and after his traditional, "How we doing guys?" line, he described the game the only way he knows how, and the only real way to say it.
"It was a great team win."
It certainly was a win. And this is certainly becoming a team.
The reality of the situation is the Cowboys are a better football team than the Packers at Lambeau Field. Saying that, it probably means the Cowboys are better than a lot of teams on a lot of fields.
And as my friend said in the text, what's not to love about that?