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Spagnola: Time To Finally Say There Is A New Set Of Triplets In Town

         LANDOVER, Md. – Look, I know this team hasn't won anything yet but a division title, and heck, this franchise has won 22 of those, an average of one every two and a half seasons, with 18 of them as members of the NFC East.

So when it's the first division title since 2009, a four-year drought makes this seem a really big deal.

I'm also well aware that this is just the first winning season in five years, but check this out, that means since 1991 when the Cowboys broke a five-year stretch of losing records, Dallas has now posted non-losing seasons in 18 of those 24 years, though not exactly the NFL's historic 20-year stretch of winning seasons they posted from 1966-1985, but highly respectable.

At this point, don't you think it's OK to invoke the word Triplets once again without being sacrilegious? Now, maybe we need the permission of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, those original Triplets. Or maybe we need to pass this by Barry Switzer, who was mostly responsible for coining the phrase, or at least making it a part of the Cowboys everyday lexicon.

Triplets, I'm telling you. Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant, together the offensive impetus to what many will call an out-of-nowhere run for the Cowboys this season, breaking away from three consecutive 8-8 records and the perceived expectation of a fifth straight non-winning year.

Why, these 2014 Cowboys are 12-4, best record since 2007, and second best in the 20 years after the Cowboys had posted three consecutive 12-4 seasons from 1993-95. They have won the NFC East and head into these playoffs as the NFC's third seed, fixing to play the Detroit Lions at 3:40 p.m. this Sunday at AT&T Stadium.

They are there thanks to a four-game winning streak this December, running the table to earn this playoff berth all on their own, not needing a soul to help them out along the way. Finishing this all off with Sunday's 44-17 crushing of the Washington Redskins here at a FedExField heavily infested with Cowboys fans.

And here are the most significant numbers in my book for why they have tied for the best record in the NFL this season: 41, 38, 42, 44. That's right, the number of points the Cowboys have scored during this four-game winning streak, a franchise record four-game streak of scoring more than 35 points in each game, totaling 165 points (41.25 average). This streak allowed the Cowboys to set another club record of scoring at least 30 points in 10 games this season, all victories.

This isn't to say these three guys, Romo, Murray, Bryant, will all end up in the Ring of Honor or Pro Football Hall of Fame as Aikman, Smith and Irvin. Or that they will be responsible for winning three Super Bowls in four seasons. But hey, for this year, the combination of, OK, I'm going to say it again, The Triplets, with this offensive line and all these other complementary players, propelled the Cowboys into tying for the best regular-season record in the NFL.

Just check out what happened here on Sunday.

Romo completes 22-of-34 passes for 299 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 100, meaning his season total of 113.2 is a franchise single-season record, breaking the previously owned mark by one Roger Staubach of 104.8 set in 1971, though Staubach only started 10 games that year.

Murray rushes for 100 yards and a touchdown, meaning he finishes the regular season with 1,845 yards, breaking Emmitt Smith's previous franchise single-season record (1,773) and also Smith's previous franchise record with his 12th 100-yard performance, tying him for second most in league history.

Bryant, and make that a once-again mad and motivated Dez from a Sunday morning newspaper story about his personal life, caught four passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns, meaning his 16 are now a franchise single-season record,

more than ever were caught by the likes of Michael Irvin (10), Bob Hayes (13) or the previous record-holder, Terrell Owens (15).

All that also means this at the conclusion of the NFL 2014 regular season:

Romo the NFL's No. 1-ranked quarterback (113.2).

Murray the NFL's No. 1-ranked rusher (1,845 yards).

Bryant the NFL's No. 1-ranked receiver with 16 touchdown receptions, one short of tying Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch for the NFL's most total touchdowns.

Pretty sweet, right? A triple those original Triplets never accomplished as these three Pro Bowlers have this 2014 season, and all at least having their names included in the conversation for NFL Most Valuable Player. This past week when Dez was asked if the MVP should be Romo or Murray, he said, "Co-MVPs," a good answer.

So Sunday when asked if maybe he has placed his name into consideration, Dez said, "No, not at all. It's like, I'm just here to do my job. I'm going to support my teammates the best way I possibly can. I want them to know that, hey, I'm here. One of them should get it, I'll tell you that. One of them should get it."

         Well, no matter what happens going forward, when they give out that Offensive Player of the Year award during the 2015 Dallas Cowboys Annual Kickoff Luncheon they ought to slice it up into thirds, one part Romo, one part DeMo, one part Dez.

         Because here is the beauty of what has been going on and what must continue if the Cowboys are to advance further in the NFL playoffs than they have since winning Super Bowl XXX that 1995 season, meaning winning more than the one playoff game they did in 1996 and 2009, and also where we come to that chicken or the egg dilemma:

Do the Cowboys run the ball so well, second in the NFL at 147.1 yards a game, because of the threat of Romo throwing the ball, or do they throw the ball so well because of the threat of Murray running the ball? And do they do both so well because of the defense's constant concern with tracking Dez?

         Man, how long has it been since we've waged that debate, probably having to go back to the first three games of the 1999 season when the Cowboys rocketed off to that 3-0 start before a neck injury in Game 4, followed by the discovery of spinal stenosis, prematurely ended the career of Irvin and the 10-year run of those original Triplets – Troy, Emmitt, Michael.

         So maybe that torch has been passed. Tony, DeMarco, Dez, certainly three of a kind.

         And now we will find out if these latter-day Triplets can power another mighty playoff run just as they have this offense all season long, and especially during the Cowboys four-game December run, Murray rushing for 418 yards and five touchdowns while playing the final two games with a surgically-repaired broken left hand; Dez totaling 368 receiving yards and six touchdowns; Romo completing 83 of 111 attempts for 987 yards, 12 touchdowns, one interception for a December passer rating of 133.7 that would have been 145.4 if not for his lackluster second half at Washington, including his first interception of the month.

         That's strong. That's Triplet-esque production.

         So there, said it, and not going to hush my mouth any longer.


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