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Mick Shots: Never Take Anything For Granted

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FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys are 7-5.

        They have won four consecutive games for the first time since winning 11 straight during the 2016 season.

        They are in first place in the NFC East all by their lonesome for the first time this late in a season since 2016, and just the second time since the 2014 season.

        They have all of a one-game lead in the division over the Philadelphia Eagles (6-6) and the Washington Redskins (6-6), and the Eagles are up next, 3:25 p.m. at AT&T Stadium. Still a pretty dicey situation.

        And someone prefaces a question Wednesday to Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett with, “Now that you are in the driver’s seat in the NFC East …”

        Driver’s seat? Seriously? A one-game lead with still four to play, and the first of those four against the defending Super Bowl champs whose backs are firmly planted into the dry wall?

        Well, if it’s a driver’s seat, then that seat is no bigger than one of those in the old VW Bugs.

        Let’s get real. The Eagles have just won two straight, beating the Giants and Redskins. OK, nothing to shout about there, but wins are wins, and if they beat the Cowboys then the two teams will be even at 7-6 with three to play.

        No wonder Garrett began his answer with, “Yeah, I really don’t understand what you’re talking about …”

        Me neither.

        So better get on to taking some shots.\

·     Thousand Yards: Thought this quite interesting: Ezekiel Elliott, with 1,150 rushing yards with four games to go, already has put up his second 1,000-yard season in his three-year career, and definitely would have gone three-for-three had he not been suspended those six games in 2017 when he finished with 983 yards in just 10 games. Emmitt Smith also put up two 1,000-yard seasons his first three years with the Cowboys, and likely would have gone three-for-three, too, had he not signed his 1990 rookie contract until the Tuesday before the season opener. Emmitt still finished with 937 yards. But get this, Tony Dorsett opened his career with five consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons, most ever by a Cowboys player, and would have had nine straight if the 1982 strike hadn’t reduced the regular season to just nine games. Tony D would have needed just 255 yards in seven games to reach 1,000 in ’82. Dorsett’s streak ended in 1986 when he shared carries with NFL rookie Herschel Walker.

·     Get Serious: Let me get this straight. The Lambeau Leap is just fine. These choreographed TD celebrations are encouraged. But depositing $21 into The Salvation Army Red Kettles in the corners of AT&T Stadium after a touchdown and then your quarterback after he scored a touchdown, too, is a non-no. Finable for $13,369. Yep, that’s what the NFL has hit Zeke with for bringing exposure to the Christmas fund-raising campaign. Wonder how much the NFL will hit the Saints’ Marshon Lattimore for depositing his $23 he had stuffed into his uniform into the Red Kettle this past Thursday night after the fumble recovery. Hey, what’s right for the goose is right for the gander I’ve heard.

·     Witt’s End: The record most thought would last for a long, long time, Jason Witten’s NFL record 110 catches for a tight end during the 2012 season, is about to fall. Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz has 93 catches with four games to go. And the Cowboys defense didn’t do their just-retired tight end any favors the first time around against the Eagles, Ertz finishing with 14 catches for 145 yards. Be nice to make sure he doesn’t break the record Sunday at AT&T Stadium.

·     Big D: The Cowboys defense, after limiting the Saints to just 10 points, ranks second in points allowed, giving up 18.6 points a game. At that pace over the final four games, the Cowboys would finish the season giving up right at 297 points. If that happens, this would be the first time since 2009 that the Cowboys have given up fewer than 300 points in a season. And know the 250 allowed that year was the first time since giving up 260 in 2003 that they had finished under 300 points. The Cowboys turned that trick seven times between 1992-99. Oh, one more defensive thing: The Cowboys are the only team to not allow a 30-point game this season, and you have to go back to last year’s 39-9 loss to the Eagles to find the last time, a streak of 18 consecutive games under 30. And counting?

·     On This Date: Yes, Dec. 5, 2010, was sort of a coming out party for rookie linebacker Sean Lee in the Cowboys’ somewhat shocking 38-35 overtime victory the last time they played at Indianapolis. Lee registered nine tackles and was responsible for two of the Cowboys’ four interceptions of Peyton Manning, returning one of them 31 yards for a touchdown. Welcome to the NFL Sean Lee, and as for this season, get back soon. But judging from Wednesday’s practice, probably not this Sunday.

·     Final Shots: One thing to remember when trying to project how this NFC East race will finish: Let’s not forget the Eagles and Redskins have to play another time, the final game of the season, and this after the Eagles have to face the Rams and Texans in back-to-back games. Someone has to lose at least another game … Goal to nothing. Yes, over the past five games the Cowboys are 4-for-9 in goal-to-goal situations scoring touchdowns, and three of those have been first-and-goal at the 4-yard line, starting back in the first quarter of the Tennessee game. Got to stay away from the 4-yard line.

Just remember, like every game you play in an NFL season, every shot is important, too. a

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