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Filtering by Tag: NFL

December surge or swoon?

The Cowboys holiday season travails are well documented and going into last Sunday's game against the Giants, they had done nothing to reverse the doomed trajectory of the last 12 Decembers.  They allowed Pittsburgh to score two touchdowns in the final minutes and thereby gave away a game that was well in hand late in the fourth quarter.  They have routinely snatched defeat from the jaws of victroy in December's past, but perhaps they have turned a corner.

After a week that saw the media sensationalizing locker room strife (that's what they do) and the Cowboys apparently more concerned with interpersonal conflicts, the team came into their penultimate game at Texas Stadium with one thought in mind, beat the Giants and shut all the naysayers up. 

A gritty offensive performance by a struggling o-line and a much battered Tony Romo was able to function effectively enough to score 3 touchdowns while the defense had their way with a very shaky looking Giant's offense led by a repeatedly sacked Eli Manning.  Demarcus Ware increased his NFL leading sack total to 19 with 3 sacks to go along with the 8 sacks by the team, a high for this season.  The Giants appeared to be the team in decline with many 3 and outs by the offense and no good answer for the Cowboys pass rush. 

The Cowboys are already essentially in playoff mode since they need to win out their last two games to ensure their position in the wild card chase.  At this point they control their own destiny and this week when their back's were against the wall they came out fighting.  Hopefully they can maintain their momentum and hunger into the post season.

Various and sundry musings…

It's a few days past Thanksgiving here. A couple of significant milestones approach, but I'll leave off mentioning them so all can savor their significance. By all, I mean me.  Anywho, over the past few weeks the Cowboys have managed to resurrect their season when it seemed they were doomed to the scrap heap for another year.  After several significant injuries to starters and their subsequent absence from important games, most of the key personnel are back and contributing to the Cowboys three game winning streak.  The final four games of the season are now all very important while also being arguably the hardest.  The Cowboys face Pittsburgh, New York (giants), Baltimore, and then close out against Philadelphia.  All of these teams have winning records and although Philly is barely over .500 they won very convincingly on Thanksgiving against a Cardinals team that was the start of all the Cowboy's early season woes. 

Aeyoung had sent me several cables and I was able to string the cable line from our satellite receiver so we can watch select games on my projector.  Unfortunately the signal strength decreases so much over the distance (about 100 feet of cable) that we can't get a picture so I'm buying a signal amplifer and will get to see whether they actually work in practice.  Hopefully we'll be able to watch select bowl and playoff games on the big screen.

On another subject entirely, there have been recent positive developments in the screen adaptions for two of my favorite fantasy book series'.  George Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series was optioned by HBO a while back but had been in "development hell" (to coin the IMDB term) since then. It looks as though they have already made plans to film the pilot and this will be the biggest hurdle before at least getting the first book made into a season long series.  Thankfully HBO is taking the approach of Peter Jackson and other filmmakers who realize that epic fantasy novels don't typically fit nicely into the two hour movie paradigm.  I'm confident HBO can do the series justice after watching many of their other series like "Rome" and "Deadwood".  I just hope that they get a good return on their investment since the book series is still being written and will most likely comprise at least seven or eight books by the time it's completed. I'd hate it if they get one or two books filmed and then abandon the rest due to financial reasons.

Right on the tail of that good news, I saw a press release from Red Eagle Entertainment that the first "Wheel of Time" novel was being made into a movie.  After George Martin's series, this is the next series I would most like to see made into film.  Unfortunately, I don't think an individual movie will be able to cover enough ground without making sacrifices to the plot, but at least it's being made.  Maybe the "Ice & Fire" series will help establish the viability of a long form television epic fantasy series. Although there are examples of this genre in the past, they haven't ever had really good source material to work with. Xena, anyone?

Cowboys Win a Nail Biter

Thankfully, NFL football is very popular in the military so we get to see most games although it's usually very late at night or early in the morning. I got up around 4am to watch Dallas play Philadelphia on Monday Night Football and what followed was 3 hours of chaos with long pass plays, kick returns, fumbles, penalties and seven lead changes before the Cowboys managed to close out the game with a sack of McNabb to win 41-37.  The Cowboys looked okay overall, although penalties and turnovers nearly did them in.  I should be able to get up early and see them play Green Bay next Monday morning as it's a Sunday night game. It promises to be another good one.

Hello, this is your Sunday evening wake up call…

… courtesy of Tom Brady and the Patriots. The Cowboys lopsided loss to the Pats wasn't indicative of the game as it was closer than the final score. That being said, the Cowboys now know how they compare to the league's best;  they're getting closer but still fall a bit short. The Cowboys were down 14 early but managed to fight back with some great defensive plays and by finally completing a few actual drives on offense. They even took the lead early in the 3rd quarter, but unfortunately allowed the Pats to score 17 unanswered points after that to eventually lose by twenty points. The good news is that they still have room to improve and both sides of the ball were competitive for most of the game. I don't see how the Pats could improve, they're clearly the elite within the league right now. The Pats/Colts game in November should be a doozy. As for the Cowboys, they still have the clear lead in the the Division and they're're tied with GB for the best in the conference. Ironically, they played better in a losing effort this week compared to the last second gasp of a victory the week before.

The Cardiac Cowboys Ride Again

Harkening back to the days of Staubach, the Dallas Cowboys tried very hard for 59 minutes to lose their Monday Night Football game against a Buffalo team that they were supposed to outclass in all aspects of the game, by scoring 9 points in the final twenty seconds to pull out the win.  Tony Romo was at his worst as a passer and field commander, throwing 5 interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) and fumbling once to give the Bills every reason to run away with the game; luckily the Bill's only significant scoring was via the defense and special teams. There were about 5 crucial events that had to occur in order for the Cowboys to win at the end and miraculously, they did. Dallas managed to move the ball down the field and score in the final two minutes to put them a two point conversion away from tying the game. After TO failed to make the catch for the two points, Dallas needed to recover an onsides kickoff and then move the ball within field goal range for the winning kickoff. This with under twenty seconds left and no time outs. Then, the rookie kicker had to make a 53 yard field goal after having a longest previous kick of 45 yards earlier in the game. Amazingly, the Cowboys recovered the onsides kickoff, completed two passes and got out of bounds to move within field goal range and stop the clock, and then convert not one but two 53 field goals when the Bills coach pulled the last second time out trick that's all the rage in the NFL these days. Not since the seventies have I felt the tumult of emotions that occur during one of these two minute comebacks. The Cowboys were supposed to dominate on paper, the Bills deserved to win on the field, but Dallas managed to literally pull a win out of the air.

God Has Forsaken the Cowboys (continuing the daily whine series)

The MNF game against the Giants was supposed to be a real indicator of where the team was currently and where it was headed. Well, if that’s true then I’ll be rooting for whatever underdog I identify as least intolerable during the post season for about the 9th out of the last 11 years (not really rooting, just trying to give myself some excuse to continue watching football once Dallas is done for the season). God knows it doesn’t look like the Cowboys will be a viable interest after the last regular season game. Actually, we’ll probably have a good idea if the season is even salvageable in the next month or so.

Right now we don’t have an offensive line that can block (against teams with winning records anyway), we don’t have a quarterback that understands that discretion is the better part of valor (in football terms, it’s better to throw it away than to throw an interception, anytime) or a secondary that can prevent the big play downfield. We have what is arguably one of the top 5 sets of offensive weapons in the NFL with TO, Terry Glenn, Julius Jones, Jason Witten, and Marion Barber. These guys are all very talented and any individual in that group could effectively carry half of the responsibility for moving the ball if needed.

The problem is that if the OL can’t block then we have no running or passing game to speak of. In the last two losses against NY and Philly, or OL looked like a college team playing against the pros. I also wonder why they don’t just accept that the OL needs help and start leaving an extra blocker or two to cover the QB. There were a couple of completely unblocked sacks last night, and that’s just unacceptable, especially after we knew it was such a problem against philly.

Romo taking Bledsoe’s place was a case of feast or famine. He started off with a play that sadly foreshadowed the game’s outcome by throwing his first pass for an interception. A feat he would repeat two more times, including a complete turkey ball that was returned 96 yards for a touchdown with less than 4 minutes left in the game. And yes, it was 96 yards which means we had been poised to score. He had a few positive moments including a couple of TD passes (I didn’t see the second one because it was WAY past my bedtime and the game was already effectively over) (give me a break, I get up at 4am) and he is much more mobile than that jerseyed statue we had start the game at QB. Romo shows some promise and you can’t fault the guy for trying his best considering he was put on the spot in the middle of MNF game with an OL that wasn’t giving him much help.

Maybe if Romo is a very quick study we might be able to turn things around, at least at this point we are only one game out of the division lead (we would lose a tiebreaker against NY or Philly though) and we still have a chance to put together a solid season. At this point Parcells hasn’t made any commitment to who will start the next game against Carolina, so if you were waiting to hear the “quarterback controversy” theme get tossed about, your wait is officially over.

After 11 very frustrating years in a row, I realize I just need to quit taking these games so seriously, because it becomes a real downer to get emotionally invested in this team anymore. I’ll still watch and root for them, but if I have learned anything about football it’s that it doesn’t matter how talented your team looks on paper. It makes you wonder if we wouldn’t have been much better off trying to recruit or pay for a talented QB instead of throwing all the money at TO, knowing what he brings to the table both on and off the field. Not that even Peyton or Tom Brady would be succesful without a good OL.