That is to say, there were an awful lot of parallels between Sunday's Cowboys win over the 49ers and the team's overtime victory at Kansas City in 2009, right down to the dumpy, outdated venue where the game was played. Visiting Candlestick Park is the perfect reminder that the Cowboys need to get home after what has now been a month of road trips dating back to the final two preseason games.
But Sunday's game, like that Week 5 contest in '09, had a must-win sort of feeling to it. After last year's terrible start, the Cowboys just couldn't afford to drop to 0-2, whereas the win over the Chiefs kept the Cowboys above .500 just a week after falling on the road to Denver.
Tony Romo and the offense were sluggish to start both games, needing the defense to carry the team for much of the game until things picked up in the second half. Arguably, the offensive slowdown had a lot to do with the Cowboys missing a starting receiver. In '09 it was Roy Williams sitting out, and this time Dez Bryant.
In that game, unforgettably, Miles Austin stepped up to produce the biggest receiving game in team history, the 250-yarder. He was pretty close this time, with three touchdowns and 143 yards. That game ended on a breakaway catch and run for him in overtime, and Sunday it was the improbable breakout of Jesse Holley that essentially decided the fifth period.
Just as the Cowboys seemed to play down to the 49ers on Sunday, the feeling was very much that the team was mailing it in against the Chiefs for the better part of that day. But all wins cannot be pretty, and the Cowboys were certainly glad to have both. I remember in 2009, Wade Phillips saying he believed that winning in dramatic, fighting fashion would be better for the team than winning "another kind of way," and I think the same may be true this time around.
There's no denying that they needed something good to happen in a very cosmic way.
"My karma had gone the other way," Jerry Jones said afterward. "Unlike this team, I was feeling low and feeling like we weren't going to get it done. My team felt the opposite. I'm so proud of them, individual effort as well as the team.
"We all know that old heavy deal that's hanging over us of how we started last year. And it is hanging over us, and we needed this win. Our franchise – our franchise – needed this win. This team, more importantly, needed this win, and we've got the right kind of guys in this locker room."
After beating the Chiefs in '09, the Cowboys had a bye, then came back to win their next three games.
These Cowboys will have two home games in a row, against the Redskins and Lions, before a bye in Week 5, followed by a trip to New England.