2014 Dallas Cowboys: 6-2, Mad’s Magic Runs Out

This pretty much happened in real life last night:

"Lord, don't do this to me."

“Lord, don’t do this to me.”

Sigh.

Sigh.

Tony Romo took a knee to his doubly surgically-repaired back during a sack last night and as he lay nearly motionless on the ground, I too lay frozen in my living room. On Facebook I wrote that I felt like Lance Harbor’s father in the above clip from Varsity Blues. The broadcast went to commercial and when it returned, Romo was still on the turf. I quickly scanned Twitter (because that’s how I get my news) and saw that Cousin Sal (also a Mets and Cowboys fan) had simply tweeted “8-8.” I actually laughed hysterically because I had to do something with that anxiety. It was laugh or this. I chose laughter.

At that moment, I didn’t give a crap about the game, I could only think of the remainder of the season, and that’s when the camera panned to Brandon Weeden warming up on the sidelines. Yes, that Brandon Weeden (who admittedly played well, leading two scoring drives), late of the Cleveland Browns who handed out interceptions like we’ll dole out candy on Friday night. Romo would return later in the game and lead an two unsuccessful drives – one in regulation and one in overtime – giving me hope that maybe somehow possibly God please he’ll be OK.

Overall, it was a sloppy performance by the Cowboys (coming off a long week) that featured two key fumbles by Dallas running backs. More troubling is the fact that the defense couldn’t get off the field in crucial situations last night, allowing Washington to control the ball for some 38 minutes. Dallas rarely blitzed. Considering Colt McCoy is a third-string quarterback, I would have thought that trying to pressure him into bad decisions would have been the game plan. It was not. Instead, the defense decided to predominantly rush four and sit the rest of the unit back in coverage. The Cowboys’ zone defensive scheme is predicated on one main idea and two desired outcomes: funneling most of the passing plays to the middle of the field, then gang-tackling and forcing the other team to string passes together to keep drives going. The entire system hinges on the first defensive player to arrive at the ball carrier. The player has to either make the tackle himself or stop the progress of the ball carrier until help arrives in the form of two or three other defenders trying to punch, claw, and rip the ball away from the offensive player. Last night, the defense missed too many of those initial tackles in space. The result was 7 and 8 yard gains instead of 4 and 5 yard gains. That matters.

I feel you.

I feel you.

Last week Friday, I had a serious talk with Madison:

“Come here,” I said. “I need to talk to you about something important,” I continued. “OK,” Mad said. “The Cowboys don’t play on Sunday like they usually do, they play on Monday,” I said. Madison made a perplexed face. “What do you have on Monday?” I asked. “School,” she said. “Right,” I said. I placed my hand on her shoulder. “It is my preference that you wear the shirt to school so that you’ll be in it by kickoff for sure. But, if that happens, there’s no way mom won’t make us wash the shirt. You know what happens if we wash the shirt, right?” I said. “It’s going to lose its magic,” Madison said. “Yes. So here is what I will do. I will hang your shirt on the railing at the top of the stairway. As soon as you get home, you will put on the shirt before doing anything else, OK?” I said. “Yes, dad,” she said.

She did what she could. She returned home just as Washington took a 17-10 lead and she probably incited the rally which took the score to 17-17. But I know it’s foolhardy to ask a 6-year old to carry an NFL team for an entire season, and well, our luck finally ran out. It probably had something to do with the shirt finally losing its last whiffs of new-shirt-smell. What can you do?

Start a new streak next week, that’s what.

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