The Cowboys have been waiting for this week since late September, but even the most pessimistic of fans and/or media likely never considered a seven-game losing streak without Tony Romo.
Now, Romo returns from his fractured clavicle injury and will start this week in Miami, but with little room for error.
The Cowboys certainly aren't out of the playoff race because none of the other division teams have pulled away. The Giants (5-5) sit just 2.5 game ahead of the Cowboys while the Eagles (4-5) and Redskins (4-5) are also right there, but still within striking distance of the Cowboys, who are at least 2-2 in the NFC East.
With Romo now back in the fold, the Cowboys did some housecleaning to their roster, particularly at the quarterback position. Brandon Weeden, who started the first three games while Romo was injured, has been released. Romo and Matt Cassel will definitely be the two quarterbacks active for Sunday's game with the Dolphins. There's a good chance practice squad quarterback Kellen Moore will at least make the trip to Miami for insurance purposes.
But Weeden wasn't the only player removed from the roster on Wednesday. The Cowboys also parted ways with running back Christine Michael and cornerback Corey White.
One player who stands to benefit with the return of Romo is tight end Jason Witten, who has been the quarterback's security blanket over the years. Witten is expected to break Bob Lilly's franchise record of 196 consecutive games played on Sunday. And with eight catches, he can reach 1,000 career catches. Witten also needs nine receptions to surpass Hines Ward (1,000) for sole possession of 10th place in NFL history.
Defensively, the Cowboys could get Sean Lee back on the field after he missed last week's game with his second concussion this year. Cornerback Morris Claiborne missed the second half of last week's loss to Tampa Bay with a hamstring injury and will be day-to-day this week in his effort to return and play.
The Dolphins actually did the Cowboys a favor last week by beating the Eagles in comeback fashion. That kept Philadelphia close in the standings, but now the Cowboys must go on the road and beat a team that just won in Philly to improve to 4-5.
[embeddedad0]Stranger things have happened, including an inexperienced tight ends coach being named the interim head coach midway through the season. But Dan Campbell's promotion, be it temporary or not, has seemed to spark a Dolphins team that began the season 1-3, but has won three of five games since he took over.
Campbell, who played for the Cowboys from 2003-05 and served as a mentor to Witten in his first couple of seasons, has always been a straight-shooting, no-nonsense personality that has the Dolphins fighting for their playoff lives in the middle of a highly competitive AFC East division that includes the Patriots, Jets and Bills.
Ryan Tannehill (2,454 passing yards) is looking to become the first Dolphins passer since Dan Marino to post consecutive 4,000-yard seasons. Running back Lamar Miller, a player once rumored to be on the Cowboys' radar in a potential trade, is averaging 4.9 yards per carry for the Dolphins, thanks to an 85-yard touchdown run against Houston.
Miami acquired Ndamukong Suh in the offseason and the perennial Pro Bowler is controlling the middle for the Dolphins, who also have three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes.