Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is the eternal optimist … and Dallas 19, Washington 16 (our gamer here) gives him a mathematical reason to keep playoff hope alive. He expressed just that in his Tuesday morning visit with “Shan & RJ’’ on 105.3 The Fan:
HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN THE BALL FINALLY BOUNCED YOUR WAY AT THE END? — "The will of the players and they're willingness to step out there and play at the level they were playing. It's easy to point to the defense this morning, but the defense has had their times when they have had some disappointment this particular year. But let me tell you what was going through my mind, and that is turnovers. I'm really proud of what Darren McFadden has done. And, so, I'd hate to bring a negative. But we'd had two turnovers at the line of scrimmage there during that ballgame. Boy, we're down there near that end and I'm thinking, 'Man, get some points on the board. We're tied. So much can happen on the next play, exchange, whatever. So, get some points on the board.’
"But I really will tell you the win meant so much to the team, the fans, the franchise because the nature of the year we're having."
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF DEZ'S EFFORT DOWN THE STRETCH? -- "You could just see the really assuredness, the confidence, the way that he was running his routes, the determination that he had. Frankly, I was, in my mind, saying, 'Go to him more.' I was hollering, 'Get play-action. Get Cassel in play-action quicker.’
"Now, that's not really criticizing. I'm just saying, man, roll him out, get him outside. He's having trouble in that pocket. Get him outside and get him to look downfield and look for Dez. So, I want to go to Dez more. I wanted to keep Cassel, get him in more play-action."
HOW GRATIFYING WAS IT TO SEE SEAN LEE PLAY WELL LAST NIGHT? -- "Sean has made a habit of having games like that for the Cowboys. When we don't have him and he's worked his way up this year to be able to have a game like that and play like that, we know where his talent level is and his skill level is. … Just think of the games over the last two or three years where we had him in the last quarter, had him last year against Green Bay, big-ifs, but still. So, just proud to have him on the team, both when he's out there on the field and when he's just there at the preparation of the team to be on the field. He's just so impactful."
DOES BEING A GAME BACK FROM FIRST SOUND CRAZY? -- "No, I'm going to back to that old saying: it's an ugly baby, but it's my baby. And here we go. Step by step ... The bottom line is ‘Why not?'We can go up there (to Green Bay next Sunday) and defense put together a game like that, a little more confidence in our offense, and here we go. Why not?"
WHEN YOU HEAR "DAN BAILEY IS JUST A KICKER," WHAT COMES TO YOUR MIND? -- "He is so more than a kicker. The guys that think the kicker was somebody that stood down on the other end of the field and just when called upon he got up there and didn't have to go through what we were going through. You know, you could think the same thing about the receivers if you were a lineman. You might say, look down there on the other end of the field, and say, 'Those guys don't even play the same game I play. I'm out here butting heads all day and they're sitting there running routes.' So, there are a lot of ways to look at it.
"Switzer used to say that the only person that hollers about how tough practices aren't are the quarterbacks. Maybe if they played a little line, they'd understand maybe we're having some pretty tough practices."
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF LUCKY WHITEHEAD LAST NIGHT? -- "I was thinking, first of all, I think it's fair to say he was the difference, the kick return he made right there at the end. We all saw that and know the meaningfulness of that. When we brought him on, his coach [Charlie Partridge] and the staff there at college [Florida Atlantic] said, 'Don't put him on your roster, because he will remain there. You will not get rid of him if he gets on your roster. He is infectious. He will get better. He will make plays. He is an outstanding athlete.’
"I still don't know how they caught him when he broke free for a second there on that last kickoff. I thought it was gone because he's got that kind of speed. We haven't really had a returner, a weapon that can do the kind of things he can do since, those reverses that he was running last night, we haven't had that kind of speed doing that since I don't know when. He reminds me of Kelvin Martin and that's a name that no one will remember. Michael Irvin gives Kelvin Martin the credit for helping really develop him into a receiver. He was so smart. He had the ability to make plays. The only thing is Lucky has more speed."
WHAT DID YOU MAKE OF THE CLOCK MANAGEMENT? -- "This situation is we had actually turned the ball over twice on short yardage plays in the game. And that was going through my mind: ‘Watch your snap. Let's get a score here.' The fact that we didn't run clock off is just you have to appreciate the competitiveness once that ball is snapped. You would have loved to have had McFadden drop down on a knee right before he hit that sideline and cost them a timeout. But that didn't happen. Once you get it all neat, step back from it, get a win, there's a lot of ways to say, 'Well, if you'd done this, this, this, and this.' But factor in a fumble. Factor in a short kick just happens to miss that kick. The one thing for sure: we weren't going to win that game unless one way or the other we got some scores on the board. And, frankly, we had been stopped two or three times on third down on short yardage.
"So, I think if you factor in all of that and I cut everybody slack in that decision-making time down there. We won it."
WHAT WAS A CONTRIBUTING FACTOR TO MARINELLI BLITZING? -- "We needed plays. And we had had some early success. Rod in general is not known for blitzing. So, consequently, even he's coached with all this experience, it's not a natural thing for Rod to blitz. And, so, he does it begrudgingly, and that's not a bad thing. We did, of course, when they hit us for the touchdown. All of us said ‘Whoops,' but I don't know about you but I was wanting a blitz right there. I wanted to put pressure on the quarterback at that particular time. So, the main thing is I'm fine with Rod Marinelli. He's got a feel. He's got a sense for the guys that are out there. And I didn't like, because we started off early, trying to give them more people than they could block and it worked. So, I just can't say enough about how well we played defensively last night. … And it's encouraging about going up here and playing Green Bay next week."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT WITTEN'S 1,000 CATCH? -- "Of all the people I've met since I've been in the NFL -- commissioners, owners, coaches, GMs, players -- Jason's in the top-5 people that I've met, one hand, he's in the top-5. He's that strong as a person as well as what he brings to the field. He's special. It couldn't have happened better. He had his family there last night, and his success, statistics couldn't haven't happened to somebody that deserves it more. If we all could see his work ethic and his push through discomfort to get there. And at the end of the day, football is about that. You do what's unnatural in football, not a lot natural in football. You're supposed to get out from in front of 300 pounds, not get in front of it just as an example. And Jason epitomizes that."
Fish's 1-on-1 with Jason Witten from inside FedEx Field is here ... a great read as Witt lets down his guard a bit to concede the "amazing'' mature of it all.