Against All Odds

The time-tested and sports-honored tradition of "winning ugly" usually denotes a low-scoring, slugfest, littered with errors and mistakes. As the classic song depicts, and completely applicable to current life in Cowboys' Land, "Two Outta Three Ain't Bad." Instead of a pitcher's dual, the two wins have been high wire acts with a very large compost heap posing as the safety net. Let's review.

One thing is certain three tilts into the 2005 season: no fan is leaving their television set for disinterest or boredom.

Granted, heart patients may be struggling on the viewing front, but one is catching extra winks on the couch while the Cowboys steadily dine on three and outs. How they're getting it done should be the least of the fandom worries. The fact it's getting done is the whole point of the story.

Fans, be careful what you complain about, harp on, or continuously dwell. In today's NFL, no follower of a team is afforded the opportunity to fine-tooth comb every contest. Take your "W" and move on. It doesn't matter what it looks like when the final ledger is compiled. Win or loss? Next.

Three games in, and one quality has surfaced and been born out in the two wins. Intestinal fortitude. When was the last time the Cowboys were producing "come from behind" wins and doing it in the waning moments of contests? These are not your Grandfather's, nor your Gailey or Campo, Cowboys. Thank goodness.

This has been a team effort. A total team effort. One unit is not sufficiently talented, or strong, enough to carry the other and vice versa. In any given week, it will most likely be a WWF tag team match. One unit or the other will have to come over the ropes to rescue the fallen and beaten partner. Slap hands, trade places, and put the submission hold on the opponent. Vince McMahon would be proud of this collection of helmeted stars.

The Cowboys are defying NFL odds and football tradition. Rarely does a team forfeit a lead heading into the final stanza, and only occasionally does a club rally from a deficit in the final 15 minutes. The Cowboys have done it both ways in this young 2005 season. Sooner or later, if they want to grow and enjoy continuous success, the team must get back to traditional NFL ways. Truth be told, an NFL team always wants to control a contest from beginning whistle to final gun. Non-traditional winning is only encouraged by the makers of Pepto-Bismol and Mylanta.

Good teams will overcome their mistakes. Are the Cowboys good? They're currently overcoming both fundamental and multiple miscues. Some would argue crucial, critical errors in both decision making and execution. Again, they're bucking the NFL trends and odds, and it just can't hold up over the long haul. These glaring deficiencies, on-field and from the sidelines, need to be rectified before division ball commences. Maybe "minimized" is a more appropriate and viable suggestion.

Cowboys' fans, you have to be content knowing it's not over until it's over. It appears these Cowboys have both the talent and gumption to remain in every contest. Drew Bledsoe, barring a meltdown of epic proportions, is better than advertised. Do you think Buffalo is rethinking things these days? His vibrancy is most welcomed, and the chemistry he is mounting with his stable mates is creating the bond and trust necessary to endure contests like those played out in the first three weeks. While it certainly takes consistent QB play to advance, this season is still predicated on the success and health of the offensive line. It will dictate everything from a production standpoint.

Would you like the most reassuring 2005 indicator to date? Red zone production and conversion rates. In what could be deemed the Achilles heel of the past 10 years, there are indications this condition might be starting to heal itself. Getting to the cherished real estate is one thing, but capitalizing during visiting hours is completely another. Let's make no mistake about it, Keyshawn Johnson is money. Big money. Say what you will about past behaviors, he's only as good as today's contributions, and since being in a Cowboys' uniform, he's come to play each and every contest.

Bring on Week 4. The element of the unknown is a terrific feeling, and the 2005 Cowboys are all about the unknown. While there is certainly more unknown than known, here's what has been deciphered through three NFL weeks of on-the-edge-of-your-seat viewing:

1. There is no apparent quit in this team.

2. The sum of the parts is absolutely necessary for victory.

3. QB play is as good as it's been in 10 years.

If these trends and qualities continue, while the team matures and meshes, these dynamics will make sure the team is competitive each and every week. As a coaching staff and fan base, you can't ask for anything more. Go buy yourselves a supply of TUMS and enjoy the journey into the unknown.

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