Watching the Dallas Cowboys handle the Washington Redskins Monday night came as no surprise to me. In fact, I had predicted as much. One constant theme in the best rivalry in all of sports is the fact that no one can predict the outcome when these two teams clash. Inevitably, there are questions that get answered after the final gun sounds each time.
This game answered quite a few for both sides once again.
The one thing the media had been harping on, in regards to the Cowboys, was the questioning of their intensity and dedication as an entire unit. Some said that the Cowboys showed little urgency in their recent swoon. I think it was too easy to point to injuries, because most teams are suffering from the same infliction of roster turnover. It is part of the game year to year.
The Cowboys were flat in recent weeks, but the leadership of the team kept their heads above water. Wade Phillips is to be commended for making adjustments through the firestorm of inquisition. The question of their intensity was answered in the fourth quarter in the form of a sound rushing attack. The Cowboys' have been up and down in the trenches thus far, but the line stepped up after everything else everything was stripped bare.
The season was truly hanging in the balance. This point was further proven by the Cowboys electing to run for a first down, instead of kicking a field goal, when leading 14 - 10 with under two minutes left on the game clock. Most teams would have kicked the field goal to get the safe seven point lead, but the Cowboys decided to prove a point. The rest of the NFL better have taken notice.
This may signal a temporary stamp of arrival for Dallas. Wade Phillips showed immense confidence and trust in his team by taking a chance on their season. The Cowboys have quite a road in front of them. Baltimore, Philadelphia, and the New York Giants pose quite a set of challenges up ahead.
Even if Dallas wins, the inevitability of injury will surely add to the uncertainty of the seasons outcome. There is also the debate as to whether or not Marion Barber will hold up, and put the team on his back like he did versus Washington. Tony Romo showed very little rust, which should be gone by next week. Felix Jones was held out against the Redskins, so his return will certainly add another weapon to the Cowboys impressive arsenal in the skilled positions.
The entire key to the season will be if the Cowboys can control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball in each game from here on out. Can the Cowboys make the playoffs? Even though Jerry Jones says they will, you'd expect that from the owner.
Take this note from a Redskins fan : Dallas can make the playoffs. Do not bet against them.