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Eatman: Raise The Bar After This 'Perfection'


MINNEAPOLIS – As one who truly believes football is the new "America's Pastime," let me take a moment to steal a phrase that is really only used in baseball.

It's a rare feat that when a pitcher goes out and throws a perfect game. I've never come close to seeing one in real life and can't imagine how dominant a pitcher has to be to face 27 batters and get every one of them out.

But in football terms, I just watched a perfect game.

Yes, without a doubt, that's about as perfect of a football game that one team can play, especially on the road against an opponent that entered the day tied for the best record in the NFL.

And I think we all know the Vikings are a team that has gotten a few bounces their way as of late. Even Las Vegas had the Cowboys as slight favorites, which is unheard of against a team with this record and playing at home.

So while the Cowboys coming in here and winning wasn't a huge surprise, the way it was done certainly is. In fact, the 37-point win is the Cowboys' largest margin of victory on the road in team history.

Yeah, can't say I was calling that performance at all.

And it's hard to ever gauge the mental state of a team, especially after losing a heartbreaker in Green Bay the week before, knowing how close they were to getting out of Lambeau Field with a win, only to lose to Aaron Rodgers ... ugh-gain!

So what happened? Well, the team kind of got after each other during the week. Word has it that a few players – mainly on defense – had some heart-to-heart talks that probably couldn't be aired for regular TV. There was some accountability issues back and forth and it sounded like a few players were called out.

Whatever happened, the defense was pissed off.

Even Dak Prescott said he could sense it during the week of practice, saying he knew the Vikings would have some problems because the defense was flying around "100 miles per hour" in practice.

But here's the thing: It looked like the Cowboys offense was able to handle it rather well, too, because against the Vikings, Prescott and company did everything they wanted to. Seven possessions to start the game – seven times they ended with points. That's the first time the Cowboys have done that in over 40 years when the NFL started keeping those kinds of stats.

The defense was menacing. The offense was straight-up dominant. And if that's not enough, the special teams was downright special.

Brett Maher? Are you kidding me? The NFL should give him the league record with a 120-yard field goal after he drilled two 60-yarders in a row, especially since it was the NFL's fault for that even happening. Seriously, someone upstairs has ONE JOB in the final two minutes of a half and that's to review any play that seems worthy of a second look. And the Cowboys even gave them some help by calling a timeout.

Yet, they still had to wait until the ball was snapped to decide to do it? Man, I can't imagine how angry Mike McCarthy would've been had Maher not made it. But he drilled it, further signaling what kind of day this was for the Cowboys.

It was absolutely perfect!

OK, so now what? We all know what this means.

I'm sure whenever a pitcher goes out and throws that perfect game, expectations are raised even more for his next start. And the thing is, that last perfect game has nothing to do with the next one. In fact, the opposing hitters are probably locked in even more.

And the same applies here with the Cowboys. Just like the losses are only one game, the wins are obviously the same.

But what it does is raise the expectations for everyone – and rightfully so.

This game right here, this 40-3 shellacking of the Vikings is the one we're all going to point to. If future moments have issues or a bumpy road here and there, we're all going to go back to this game in Minnesota.

Just like a kid in school who isn't consistent with his grades – and let me tell you that I can relate to this one – if he ever goes out and gets a 100 on a test, from that moment on his teachers, his parents and even himself should be expecting more of the same. Plain and simple because it's been done.

No, the Cowboys probably won't play a lot of "perfect" games like this one in the future. Who knows when we'll see one like this again?

But that's not the point. The point is if the Cowboys can do this at Minnesota to a team that was supposed to be one of the NFL's very best, it should send a message to everyone else what the Cowboys are capable of.

Does this mean they're going to win out? Does this mean they're going to make the Super Bowl? Who knows any of that? But we do know the Cowboys have the capability of being perfect.

And if they do that at that right time, yes, all of those other things are possible.

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