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Eatman: Wild, Crazy Week Gets A Hollywood Ending


LOS ANGELES – Now that's how you finish!

No, I'm not just talking about the actual game, although Dak Prescott and the offense found a way to move the ball just far enough to get into range for Greg Zuerlein to win.

It was a crazy game with many ups and downs, and this time, the Cowboys came out on top Sunday.
The victory tied on a bow on one of the craziest weeks I can remember here covering this team for over two decades.

If some Hollywood filmmaker wanted to write a script, depicting a week in the life of an NFL football team, the Cowboys just wrote it for them this week.

And we're not talking about your average week that just goes behind the scenes to check out a few practices, coaches meetings and maybe some injury news.
No, let's really give them a script that no one would believe.
Like, let's take your two pass best pass rushers and put one of them – Randy Gregory - on the COVID-19 list and take him out of the game. And then the other one, DeMarcus Lawrence, arguably your best defensive player, he's going to break his foot – IN PRACTICE – and be out for two months.

Let's see, we'll take another starting safety, Donovan Wilson, and he'll re-aggravate a groin injury that will keep him out of the game.

There will be a freak injury in practice to Leon Lett, one of the team's most likeable coaches and former players, that will send him to surgery and away from the team for a while.

More accidental injuries in practice saw safety Damontae Kazee collide with rookie receiver Osirus Mitchell, causing both to leave practice. Kazee wasn't seriously hurt with a hip injury but Mitchell is out 3-6 weeks with a foot sprain.

And then, if that's not enough, the Cowboys saw one of their teammates, Ty Nsekhe, leave practice with a heat-related body cramp that sent him to the hospital overnight.

And that was all before the game!

So what we witnessed on the actual field at SoFI Stadium was just a culmination of a week filled with challenges, setbacks, and anything else that could prove to be a distraction.

But somehow, the Cowboys just found a way. They found a way to stay focused, and come out hitting on all cylinders from the opening kick. The first dive was a thing of beauty, showing just how genius of a play-caller Kellen Moore can be, and how good Dak Prescott can be when he's running the show.

The Cowboys were on fire, building a 14-3 lead, making us all in the press box start to wonder just how dynamic this offense is going to be this year.

And to think ... they wouldn't score another touchdown. And would get six more points. And on top of that, still win?

Nah, I wouldn't have taken that bet. I would've chalked it up to the week that was – just another way for the Cowboys to find themselves on the wrong side of misfortune.

But this team didn't go out like that.

Credit the defense – something we haven't said a lot of around here – for answering the call time and time again. Think about what they did. They lost their two starting pass rushers this week, and on the fly, created a game plan that moved Micah Parsons to rush the passer, using both Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch in the middle.

I'll be honest, I wasn't really crazy about the move and still don't know if I love it. Parsons is so dynamic and can help this team the most if he's in the middle of the field.

But as the game went on, he kept getting a little better coming off the edge. He was starting to get pressure, win those 1-on-1 battles and eventually, you thought he might get home and get a sack. As it turned out, he made arguably the play of the game with his 18-yard sack of Justin Herbert, who is taught to throw the ball away. And he tried, but Parsons got in his face so fast, there was just no time to react.

And with Parsons rushing the passer, Jaylon and LVE went back to their usual spots, and looked as good as we've seen them both in a while.

For all the crap that Jaylon gets from fans and media, he responded nicely on Sunday. This was probably one of his better games as he helped the defense get off the field on some key third-down stops and he was physical in the run game.

You don't consider Jaylon Smith to be in the "Next Man Up" category, but he was. As did Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker, who solidified the safety spot – as did Kazee, who made a game-changing pick in the end zone.

That's two weeks in a row for Kazee to make a turnover near the goal line to save a touchdown. He forced a key fumble against Tampa Bay to give them a chance to win that game.

And let's actually go back to that game in Tampa because I firmly believe that game played a part in the outcome of this one.

Now we don't need to go down the whole "Moral Victory" debate once again. But I won't ever change my stance on the fact that circumstances – win or loss – can help build morale and confidence. There are things you can take, even in a loss against the defending champs and Tom Brady, and apply to the next week.

That's exactly what the Cowboys did. They didn't celebrate their loss to the Bucs because it was close, but instead, they took the positives – and carried them over to this week.

They realized this offense has a lot of weapons and can move the ball in a variety of ways. They realized the defense can fly to the ball and get turnovers, especially when backed up by their goal line.

They also realized Greg Zuerlein, despite his earlier misses in the Tampa game, can hit a clutch field goal in the final moments of the game.

No, they didn't win that game, but in a way, that figured out how to win.

And that's exactly what they did Sunday in Los Angeles, putting the finishing touches on a week this team will likely never forget.

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