Best Win: Green Bay - This game was built up as the game of the year in the NFC and with both teams finishing with a 13-3 record, it turned out to be the difference in the Cowboys gaining home-field advantage with a 37-27 win. Sure, the Packers played without some key defensive starters and Brett Favre went out early with an injury, although his backup Aaron Rodgers played much better than Favre. However, the Cowboys were the better team on this night. They lived up to the hype and took care of business and because they did, any rematch with the Packers will be exactly that - a rematch with the same teams at the same place. They avoided an Ice Bowl II because of the win.
Midway pick - Chicago
Worst Loss: Philadelphia - I know there was an uglier game played just last week in Washington. But since the Cowboys are quick to just throw out the game or as head coach Wade Phillips said, "discount it", then we'll go to the Eagles game just two weeks earlier. There was no excuse for that one. They needed to win to stay ahead of the Packers in the race for home-field and were just beaten down by what appeared to be a hungrier Eagles team. It didn't hurt the Cowboys in the long run, except for possibly showing other teams a plan on how to stop this offense. Tony Romo had the worst game of his career and Terrell Owens was a non-factor.
Midway pick - New England (only because it was the only loss at the time. Hard to feel bad about losing to a team that went 16-0 for the first time in NFL history.)
Best Play: Jason Witten's No-Lid Run - Now this play didn't win the football game. The Cowboys were already pummeling the Eagles on the road in the first match-up between the two teams. But the way Witten ran through two defenders despite his helmet coming off in the middle of the play exemplified the type of toughness that not only he portrays, but this entire team. What a great highlight for a player that had a career season. Also, wasn't sure how else I could place Witten on this list and
there's just no way he couldn't be mentioned somewhere. But, Pat Watkins' field-goal block return against the Vikings, Romo's run against the Rams and Marion Barber's safety-avoiding-run vs. New England were all worthy as well.
Midway pick - Pat Watkins' blocked field goal return vs. Minnesota.
Worst Play: Brian Westbrook's game-clinching run - Now this might have been the smartest play in any Cowboys game this season - Eagles tailback Brian Westbrook darting towards the end zone for what would've given the Eagles a 17-6 lead with less than two minutes to play. Instead, he stopped on the 1-yard line. The Eagles ran out the clock with three kneel-downs, preventing the Cowboys from ever getting the ball back again. In a world where individual stats and honors seem to be so important, Westbrook not only showed his football smarts, but avoided rubbing it in to a Cowboys team that had already whipped the Eagles a few weeks back.
Midway pick - Donte' Stallworth's TD reception.
Still Waiting For: Terry Glenn's Role To Be Defined - This is one we'll keep the same. At the time, we didn't know if Terry Glenn would be able to return from the right knee injury that forced him to miss 15 games. Well, he finally played his first game last week in Washington, although only for a few snaps. He didn't catch a pass, but he did take a few big hits, one directly on his knee, and came out of the game healthy. Now, the question will be just how effective he can be in this offense, especially if Terrell Owens can return from his high ankle sprain as expected. If Glenn can provide a deep threat, it should only help this offense, and open up the middle and the running game even more.
Midway pick - Terry Glenn's return
Biggest Surprise: Jay Ratliff - We went with Jacques Reeves at the mid-season point, but the way that Ratliff has played here down the stretch truly is amazing. This is a defensive end converted to nose tackle. The Cowboys can say all they thought Ratliff could handle it all along. But if they didn't have any doubts, Tank Johnson wouldn't have been signed. Ratliff has been such a surprise that the seventh-round pick in 2005 avoided free agency by signing a five-year, $20.5 million deal last month.
Midway pick - Jacques Reeves
Most Underrated: L.P. Ladouceur - I know this might be from left field, but let's face it - the Cowboys have 12 Pro Bowlers. Who on this team isn't getting the recognition? OK, if you said Bradie James, I'll give you that. But to go all season long and not have one bad snap? Not one high ball back to the holder or a dribbler to the punter? Nothing at all over 16 games is impressive. I really hope I didn't just jinx the guy, but I doubt it. And when you're making your list of free agents the Cowboys need to re-sign this off-season, don't forget about him.
Midway pick - Marion Barber (When you make the Pro Bowl as a backup, people are obviously paying attention.)
Top Rookie: Nick Folk - Nothing changes here. He was the pick halfway through the year and still holds it. Now, there wasn't much competition for him, but he's still been outstanding. He set the Cowboys' single-season scoring record for place-kickers. He's been very consistent inside 50 yards, and who could forget his game-winning kick against Buffalo following a successful onside kick.
Midway pick - Nick Folk
Watch Out For: More Marion Barber - Nearly put Terry Glenn on this list, simply because it's the only thing we haven't seen so far with this offense. However, the way Barber has run the ball lately (not the minus-6 yard game against Washington, but down the stretch in general), the Cowboys just can't afford not to put the ball in his hands more, especially against some of these tougher defenses. If Glenn can give them something, I see the Cowboys spreading the field more, which could open things up for Barber in the middle.
Midway pick - Roy Williams
Toughest Injury: Tony Romo's Thumb - This wasn't the worst injury the Cowboys had,
especially since it never took him off the field. But since they went 13-3 and one of the losses is being relatively discounted, then Romo's bruised right thumb could have been the reason the Cowboys couldn't rally in the fourth quarter against Philadelphia. It should be noted that he was already having an awful game before he banged his thumb on Leonard Davis' helmet in the third quarter. But without a doubt, this could change to Terrell Owens' ankle if he doesn't return, or is not at 100 percent for the playoffs.
Midway pick - Anthony Henry's high ankle sprain.
Best Offensive Player: Tony Romo - You just have to go with the quarterback here, despite the last month not being so great. Still, he was outstanding, enjoying the best season of any quarterback in franchise history in terms of passing yards, completions, touchdowns and even tying Troy Aikman for most wins with 13. Of course, he'll be judged more by what he does in the playoffs. But coming back from last year's fumbled snap in Seattle to have this kind of year deserves much more credit and praise than he's getting. Instead, he has to hear critics question his personal life and his focus to the team. It's too bad.
Midway pick - Jason Witten
Best Defensive Player: DeMarcus Ware - No offense to Bradie James, whom I selected in the middle of the year, but I was just way off on that one. James has been really good. Ware has been really, really great. And hopefully, we'll see just how great next week when the Defensive Player of the Year award is announced. He might not win it, but he has a shot. That's one award the Patriots might not be able to touch. Not only did Ware finish with 14 sacks, the most by a Cowboys player since 1986, but he was huge in the big games. The Cowboys might not have beaten Washington the first time if Ware doesn't get a huge sack and forced fumble on Jason Campbell. When the Packers were making a comeback in the second half, it was Ware who sacked Rodgers and got the ball back to the offense, which put the game out of reach. Ware was great all season long, recording at least one sack in 11 of the 16 games. That's amazing. He is a phenomenal player and had just an unbelievable season.
Midway pick - Bradie James
Best Special Teams Player: Keith Davis - I'm going to go off the title of this award - best player. Keith Davis didn't lead the Cowboys in special teams tackles, only because opposing teams wouldn't let him. He gets doubled and triple-teamed every time out. When he missed two games with a pectoral injury, the Cowboys allowed a punt and kickoff return for touchdowns. Davis is the heart and soul of the special teams unit, not to mention the captain. The question the Cowboys must answer in the off-season is if that's worth paying him the money to stay.
Midway pick - Pat Watkins
MVP: Terrell Owens - Without a doubt. I had Romo in here back in November. But I think we've seen just how much Owens means to this offense. The Cowboys lost Terry Glenn for 15 games and still had a record-setting year offensively. But if Owens is down, it's different. Since he suffered the high ankle sprain against Carolina, the offense has not scored another touchdown, kicking four field goals. Owens makes this offense go and he opens things up for Witten, Patrick Crayton and even the running game. Not only that, I think he gives this team a swagger and jolt of confidence they may not have without him. He's not afraid to put the attention on himself. And while it's easy to criticize him for that, just think how many other players might benefit from that. Before you judge someone for their "look-at-me" approach, just know that it also has a lasting effect in the locker room with his teammates. Owens is definitely the most valuable player on this team and that will be evident next Sunday afternoon at Texas Stadium - whether he plays or not.
Midway pick - Tony Romo.