when he says, "If you don't pull the trigger you're going to be average, and nobody wants to be average."
That's right, average can't pound away.
But here, the Cowboys are not going up to the Northeast with average talent, no matter only standing .500 coming off the bye and last year's pathetic 6-10 season. The gang's all here ... finally ... and that includes a healthy Miles Austin, Orlando Scandrick, Dez Bryant, Gerald Sensabaugh, Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins and a Romo now at least four weeks removed from a cracked rib that still will need a protective vest and a numbing injection.
As owner Jerry Jones told me on his 69th birthday the other day, totally stoked over Sunday's contest, "We are putting the best team on the field since the opening day of the 2010 season."
Knowing that, it would seem the Cowboys have two ways of winning a game like this:
- Outscoring the Patriots, which likely means putting up Thirtysomething yourself against a defense curiously ranked 32nd in the league.
- Or dancing with the devil on defense.
Doing the latter might be the most challenging because of the Patriots' offensive versatility. We know all we need to know about Brady, or as Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan says, "You're talking about the best quarterback, in my opinion, who's ever played the game, so hell, I know that, I know he's that good."
We know all we need to know about Welker, especially after that 2007 contest when he caught 11 passes for 124 yards and two of Brady's five touchdown passes that day, Ryan saying of him, "All I know is the guy is great."
But the Patriots offense is more than that these days. They have these two tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, who might just as well be an oversized wide receiver the way he runs at 6-1, 245 pounds. And they have the four-partner law firm in the backfield, Ben, Jarvis, Green and Ellis. The combination is becoming lethal, especially when the Patriots decide to go no huddle, meaning you can't make situational substitutions.
They can pair those two tight ends with two wide receivers and either Green-Ellis or Danny Woodhead, who appears healthy again just in time for this game, to go empty, meaning you had better be in your dime, but if you are, they can also bring those two brutes tight to the line of scrimmage to run on you if your dime is littered with little, ol' 200-pound defensive backs.
Or here is another little trick they pull if they get you run-conscious, as they did the Jets in last Sunday's 30-21 beating on the first play of the third quarter after Green-Ellis ran for 51 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries in the first half: Bring in first-round draft choice Nate Solder, the rookie OT, as the second tight end, making it look like a heavy-run formation, then play-fake to BJGE if you put eight guys in the box, as the Jets did, and if the free safety bites on the fake, as the Jets did, then all Welker does is run right down the slot past a mystified Darrelle Revis who's thinking he has inside safety help, as he did, for the 73-yard reception.
So now, and you can throw in rookie running back Stevan Ridley, the third-round pick from LSU, the Patriots can attack you in multiple ways: Going empty to spread a defense out and better identify where the pressure is coming from; going two-tight to better run the ball; going no-huddle to prevent matchups dictated by down-and-distance, which Ryan loves to do; and spreading out their tight ends to create mismatches on linebackers if they throw or on nickel backs if they run.
"You can't really let them know what you're doing all the time," says Sensabaugh, meaning the Cowboys must disguise where the pressure might be coming from, where DeMarcus Ware or Jay Ratliff might be lining up, whether Sean Lee might be dropping into coverage or sniffing out the line of scrimmage and just when they might be manning every eligible receiver if they indeed are blitzing, which can be a scary proposition if the blitz doesn't hit or hurry-up Brady.
Hey, nobody said winning games like these are easy, and certainly Norv knew that, too.
But with his back to a pole, and never to be misconstrued for a wall, Ryan in the locker room on Friday, insisted, "This is a fun week. Why is it a fun week? You're