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Eatman: Forgetful Cowboys Finally Right the Ship


TAMPA, Fla. – Sometimes forgetting things isn't so bad.

On a quick personal note, this comes from someone who not only left his hotel key on a table in the lobby, but then went back for it and proceeded to leave his luggage in the same spot. And then came back to get the luggage and left his cell phone as well.

All were eventually retrieved with no harm, but I'm not sure why I was being so forgetful.

Turns out, the Cowboys seemed to forget things as well.

They forgot they hadn't ever beaten Tom Brady before in seven attempts. They forgot they hadn't won a road playoff game in 30 years. And yeah, they even forgot (or never knew) they hadn't won a playoff game in blue jerseys since Roger Staubach was the quarterback in 1978.

Dak Prescott forgot about those interceptions he's been throwing and definitely didn't even listen to the narrative that he's not good enough to get the job done.

They forgot all of their past issues – and even forgot about that terrible loss to Washington last week.

In the shadows of Tampa Bay's huge pirate ship that sits in the end zone, it was the Cowboys that figured out how to right the ship and overcome all of their issues – from Brady to the playoff road, to anything else in between.

Now, you could say that Brett Maher forgot how to make extra points, as he missed four straight after also missing one last week against the Commanders. At least he was able to make the last kick, but it'll be something to watch moving forward next week.

But when you think about it, missing four extra points in a row usually will haunt you. However, that's how much the Cowboys really beat down the Bucs. They were leaving points on the board, and still dominating the game.

Overall, it was an absolute beatdown against a team the Cowboys definitely should've beaten. Now, not many really expected it to be this one-sided, but that was based mainly on the history of this team.

I've said it several times this week – these current players and coaches have nothing to do with the Cowboys' lack of playoff success over the last three decades. Sure, as fans and media, we talk about the history and the trends, and it gave us pause to think this game would be different.

But give credit to head coach Mike McCarthy and his staff for changing that narrative. In fact, McCarthy embraced it earlier in the week – showing baby pictures of the 10 players who were actually alive when the Cowboys won their last road playoff game in 1992.

That's how you to tackle an issue that really wasn't their issue to begin with, but still, the Cowboys didn't run away from it.

As for the game and what happened, I think it starts with the defense, even though Dak and his guys were awesome on offense. But the defense was amazing, getting after Brady all game long.

If there's some talk about Micah Parsons being worn down, he didn't look that way at all. He was pressuring Brady from all spots on the field, and he got his hands on the ball with a couple of key deflections near the goal line. It wasn't just Parsons, but like he's been all season, he was the catalyst.

Give defensive coordinator Dan Quinn a lot of credit as well. Last week, the Cowboys made Israel Mukuamu inactive against Washington, but this week he was the centerpiece of the nickel defense. They used him in a passing-down package that showcased his length and his ability to play both corner and safety. No, he wasn't the difference in the game, but that was an example of how the Cowboys were able to change up the game plan when it mattered the most.

Now, other than Maher's missed extra points, another negative from this game could be the fact that Quinn might be a huge target once again for teams needing a head coach. Not only do the players love him, but a game like this, where he was able to keep Brady in check, will raise his stock even more.

But that's for another time because there's no doubt Quinn, McCarthy and the entire coaching staff will turn its attention to the 49ers, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season.

Who knows? Maybe the Cowboys can figure out how to forget that one too.

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