Sullivan: Claiborne's All-Pro Play, Brown's Swagger, Among Thoughts

Some of the thoughts that run through an oversized, bald head:

  • Most impressive, whole-lot-of-good-vibrations-kind of win since at Seattle two years ago. There is nothing like winning those games that you shouldn't. Not so much being underdogs as trailing 14-0 on the road with a rookie quarterback. There's a saying in baseball, think it's from Tommy Lasorda, that every team is going to win 54 and every team is going to lose 54. It's what you do with the other 54 that matter. Well, this was one of those "other 54" games.
  • There are injuries during an NFL season. Seems like the Cowboys suffer more than most, but maybe that's just because we're paying more attention. That said, this was minus a trio of 2014 Pro Bowl picks at quarterback, left tackle and wide receiver. And Orlando Scandrick should have been named a Pro Bowler that same season. Lot of lofty expectations for La'el Collins this year, too. These are the games the Cowboys have lost the last decade and everyone lazily blames the injuries.
  • One of the problems with fans is they have long memories. Once a player is a bust or a bum, that label is all but impossible to change. Alex Smith is 52-22-1 in his last 75 starts, yet the majority of 49ers fans likely think of him as a disappointment. Such is the case with Morris Claiborne, who I wrote a feature story on in this very issue. Through the first three games, he was playing like one of the elite, top-tier cornerbacks in the game, yet fans were like, well, no interceptions, he can't tackle, blah, blah, blah.

Claiborne was everywhere: seven tackles, one for a loss in the fourth quarter, one pass defensed and an interception. He was all over the place, from the first snap to the last. I have no idea why fans care what he did in 2014. I don't, his teammates don't, his coaches don't. What he's doing here and now, I'm interested, I'm engaged. And he's playing like an All-Pro.

  • Here's the deal on Dez Bryant: He's been upset since early-September when he wasn't named a team captain. Was never an issue before because of Tony Romo and Jason Witten, but with the former sidelined, he assumed he was next in line and the honor went to Travis Frederick. Last week the entire situation manifested itself. No one wants to play and win more than Dez. It's just that, well, there are some immaturity issues. But, his teammates like him. He's not a locker room problem like, say, Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson could be.
  • I could not be more impressed with a rookie cornerback than Anthony Brown. My word. The confidence, the swagger, his feet. The kid has to watch a ton of film or be the luckiest dude on the field because he's always in position. Loved him at camp, loved him during the preseason and just, wow, wow, wow, giddy beyond description.
  • Speaking of rookies, Dak Prescott plays like he's in the backyard with friends after school, just kind of chilling, knowing he's better than any of them, so no need to rush or do anything risky. Still think he could do more with his feet in terms of running the ball, but come on, breaking the NFL record, a 97-year old league, for longest rookie run without an interception? Yeah, some luck there, too, but the kid is making decisions like he's been here for 15 years.[embeddedad0]
  • What's the deal with Jason Garrett breaking the Dez injury news first to the San Francisco reporters via conference call and then telling Fox's Joe Buck and Troy Aikman about Tyron Smith's bulging disc? Kind of bizarre to have both of those in the same week, almost like sending a message. I like Jason, pretty sure everyone knows that, but that wasn't his best week, media-wise. Also, while we're here, when it's fourth-and-1 at the 50, give the ball to Ezekiel Elliott and don't punt for a 30-yard net. Thanks.
  • Terrance Williams really played well. Not only catching the ball, the touchdown, but the kid blocks like no wideout since Hines Ward. He's in there every single down, physical, grinding, and he was open a whole bunch. I mean, we knock receivers for their lack of production sometimes, but it's a total package. He could have easily gone for 120 yards on eight grabs.
  • No one has hyped Brice Butler more than me, and his numbers were solid, five catches, a touchdown, but the taunting penalty was ridiculous. Just put the ball down and head back to the huddle. And, he should have caught that touchdown pass. The talent is there to be big-time, but have to harness it.
  • Punter Chris Jones continues to send balls high and deep, most underappreciated player on the team this season. Tyrone Crawford with another sack, maybe it's finally happening, the breakout. Elliott with 157 yards from scrimmage on just 24 touches, more than 6 yards per carry. No one realizes how well Zack Martin is playing right now. It's like Larry Allen in his prime.

Check out Jeff Sullivan's column each week in *Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine. Find out more at DallasCowboys.com/star. You can also follow Jeff on Twitter, @SullyBaldHead, or email him at jsullivan@dallascowboys.net.*

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