NEW ORLEANS – Well, perhaps I have a different definition of the word ugly.
After this crazy game Thursday night, my mentions on Twitter were filled with two topics:
1 – Yes, they finally ran the flea-flicker than I've been begging for about 15 years. No, it didn't work at all, but that's Ok. They ran it, and I think they should try it again, maybe on a day when the running game is working a little better.
2 – All I kept seeing from fans is how the Cowboys got away with an "ugly" win.
Ok, well first of all, who cares what it looks like. But really, ugly? I'm sorry but getting shut out for the majority of the Broncos game at home was ugly.
Scoring three field goals in Kansas City was ugly.
Getting flagged 14 times for a franchise record 165 penalty yards to spoil Thanksgiving, was as ugly as you can get.
So, excuse me if I'm willing to describe this game as an "ugly" win. This coming from the guy on Tuesday that picked a freakin' tie. A tie? Yes, I'm embarrassed by it, but with everything the Cowboys were dealing with, picking them didn't seem right. Then again, with the Saints' injuries and QB situation, I couldn't pick them either. So I went with the tie, although by kickoff Thursday night, I sort of had the hunch the Cowboys might be ready to turn the tide a little.
But they had to prove it, they did.
The Cowboys came into an environment where they haven't won since 2009, a place where it's always tough to win, and they controlled the game, set the tone and kept answering the bell time after time.
Ok, so the offense sputtered to run the ball ... until they broke free with a huge run for a game-breaking touchdown. Isn't that how it works? Offensive coordinators, including Kellen Moore just a few weeks ago, often get criticized for not sticking to the run. Well, the Cowboys weren't having any success, especially in between the tackles, but finally got one to bust open with Tony Pollard.
I did find it somewhat ironic that Alvin Kamara wasn't playing Thursday night for the Saints. He was the one player the Cowboys always compared Pollard to when they drafted him, saying that Pollard and Zeke could be that 1-2 punch that Mark Ingram and Kamara have been.
Only it was Pollard, out of the four players, who had a big night.
There was nothing ugly about that run, as Pollard, for the second week in a row, finds a way to out-run guys who have an angle on him. That break-away speed is such a weapon because he gave the Cowboys a jolt when they needed it the most.
And let's stick with the offense. No, it wasn't perfect at all, but when they had to make plays, like backed up near the end zone with a 10-point lead, credit Dak and CeeDee Lamb for making some big plays to give the offense that much-needed breathing room.
To me, that was the most impressive part of the game. Sure it was tough-sledding but when it was time to go make plays – on offense or defense – the Cowboys did that.
Now, let's get to the defense. We all wondered just how things might be different with Mike McCarthy out and Dan Quinn moving down to the sideline to call the game and run the show as well.
Didn't seem to be an issue at all. Now, it certainly helps when you're facing a "quarterback" who is really just a runner.
As soon as I heard this week that Taysom Hill was starting, I thought it gave the Cowboys a chance to win. Sure, he's an amazing athlete, but he's not a polished passer at all.
And on the second play of the game, when he rolled out and threw back to the middle and was almost picked off by Leighton Vander Esch, I made a prediction right there. Ok, you snuck a pass by LVE there, but do that again and you'll be picked off 2-3 times.
Ok, so it was four times. But that's what happens when the Saints got down and had lean on his arm to get them back in the game. Wasn't going to happen and credit the defense for making sure of that.
And while Trevon Diggs got him yet another pick – his ninth of the year – and DeMarcus Lawrence returned to add a spark, and the Cowboys are waiting to get Randy Gregory back for the next game, this defense is led by Micah Parsons.
The rookie was phenomenal yet again, coming up with the play of the game when he sacked Hill for an 11-yard loss to knock them out of field goal range on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Somebody like Hill, who hasn't played a ton of quarterback reps, just couldn't adjust to the speed Parsons has when he's attacking the quarterback. It's like he gets shot out of a cannon and before you know it, he's in your face.
I seriously can't wait to see what this defense looks like with Gregory, D-Law, Neville Gallimore and then Parsons, roaming around playing different spots.
This defense was pretty nasty on Thursday, and we should expect them to be even tougher down the stretch.
More than anything – whether it was the offense or defense or the interim head coach – the Cowboys just needed to get a win.
Nothing else mattered, other than figuring out a way to get to New Orleans, beat a team that has less talent, and get back on the plane, fly back to Dallas with an 8-4 record.
And that's what happened. There's nothing ugly about it.
Other than maybe the flea-flicker.