As predicted, it sure didn't take long to get the hype machine cranked up. Shortly after Thursday's opening drive, every media outlet from Kiln, MS to Burlington, WI had the printing presses plugged in and ready to roll. It was easy to detect the Jets weren't going to provide much of an offensive attack to aptly contend with the host Cowboys. To say their performance was "offensive" would be particularly harsh, but they weren't in any shape, way or form potent. They did beat Pittsburgh the week before, did they not? Which brings up an interesting question……?
Truth be told, Leon Washington and Thomas Jones were game factors against Mike Tomlin's Steelers. The Cowboys did an excellent job bottling up both and paying closer attention to the potential game-breaking threats. The coverage units did a decent job corralling the explosive Washington. Credit Bruce Read and Keith Davis for taking the challenge personally. With all the kudos and accolades properly disseminated, a nagging question remains.
Did the Jets provide much of, if any, preparatory indicators for the Texas Stadium showdown with the Brett Favre led Packers?
It's hard to imagine they did, but thanks need to be given that the injury list was solely confined to Kelly Clarkson band personnel. The Cowboys came away virtually unscathed, and the contest provided no significant tweaks, pulls or strains. The playing surface, due to Mother Nature's limited involvement, was primed to claim a few appendages. The top shelf of the Clarkson halftime presentation, stocked full of DCC beauties, was tentative, and rightfully so. The stage was better suited for a Dallas Stars tilt. When DCC veteran Megan Fox is limited in bounce, energy and gyration, something is amiss. She and Trisha Trevino set the tone for America's Sweethearts, and like Clarkson herself (gun shy from back-up singer slippage), they were a tad off their normal "A" games.
All of which leads to the Hoedown Showdown on Thursday. The game is all about climate and home field advantage. Not for Thursday night's contest, but it will render a decision regarding January, 2008, venue locations. Does playoff venue matter? Probably more so for Green Bay than Dallas, as the Cowboys have been stout on the road. Thus, neither team can come out tentative if January preparation and positioning means anything to either club. If the current trend continues, both teams are staring down Week One playoff byes, a second week hosting of divisional playoff contests, and from there, it's pretty much up for grabs. If both teams are lucky enough to emerge as second week winners, you'd prefer the battle for an Arizona invitation take place on the home turf. Thursday night contains huge implications for what destiny might hold.
While Jets' rookie corner, Darrelle Revis, showed amicably and applied his craft well, the Cowboys will definitely "feel" the corners come Thursday evening. The press coverage applied by Packers' corners Al Harris and Charles Woodson (if the toe is a "go") is second to none in the League. Yeah, New England, second to none! It's most likely the style Wade Phillips and Brian Stewart envisioned coming to Dallas, but the injury gods quickly claimed their stake in the Cowboys' secondary. They're slowly inching back to health, but they're still a distant second to Green Bay's effectiveness. Look for Al Harris, when matched up against T.O., to try to eliminate him at the onset of the snap.
Bank this. There's going to be some heavy-duty yapping come Thursday night. You don't have to dig deep into the NFL Films' archives to find vintage yaps and slaps dating back to Owens' Forty-niner days with Al Harris roaming the secondary for Philadelphia. It has the potential to be Prime Time (Deion Sanders) vs. Show Time (Andre Rison) all over again, except the combatants will have some size and will dispense with the girly-like cat fighting. All night long, the binoculars will be firmly-affixed to this heavyweight bout. Don't tell Jerry, because he'll find a way to financially capitalize on it, but there could be an extra charge assessed for the potential boxing matches wrapped in a football game.
Different teams present different schemes and corresponding game plans, but the Packers sure provided the Detroit Lions an open invitation to the middle of the playing field, and it's not like they possess the Indianapolis Colts' safeties who are quick to close down the pasture and deliver teeth-rattling introductions. It's highly-doubtful the Packers will play it that way as the Cowboys possess a gent named Witten. The Lions' game contains no game-changing TE personnel or substantial pass-catching threats out of the backfield. Lions' offensive coordinator, Mark Martz, attempted to establish former Cowboy, Aveion Cason, in the role, and he had limited success. The Cowboys' offensive personnel will cause the Packers to shut down the middle of the field like a Buffalo airport runway in mid-February.
Let's face it, the Romo vs. Favre love fest will dominate the airwaves this week, but this contest isn't all quarterback-centered. This shakedown is about testosterone, bravado, machismo, nut cutting, mano-y-mano and flat-out beating the guy in front of you. If you like football, the essence and core of the gridiron, meaning blocking, tackling and sending a message, this is the contest for you. It'll be chest bumps, bowing up and peacock-like strutting. Sure, all the talk will be "It's just another game," but don't be fooled by the cliché rhetoric. This is for bragging rights, tone setting and post season positioning. This is for any kid who has ever "thrown down" in a backyard, local park or alley way. The right simply to claim "scoreboard."
The landscapes of Kiln and Burlington are no doubt picturesque in their own ways, but save yourselves from the sap, high cheese and the need to schedule each on next year's vacation itinerary. The concept of "feel good" is best reserved for Hollywood's big screen. Thus, a major plea is being put forth to all Cowboys' season ticket holders and fans holding passes for Thursday night's game. DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT, regardless of potential financial gain, sell your tickets on the internet. Make it a personal quest, heart-felt desire and commitment, to eliminate the quantity of hunter green and yellow gold in Texas Stadium.
There's nothing more nauseating than Packers and Steelers faithful converging on Irving as if they owned the freaking place. Say what you want Cowboys' fans, but if your wallet is a bigger factor than your team pride, run the opportunity by a neighbor, co-worker, or someone you know to be a Cowboys' fan. If you allow chunks of cheese and terrible towels to infiltrate "your house," you should be ashamed to call yourself a true Boys' fan. Do something about it Cowboys' fans!! Yeah, that's a throw down, "game on" challenge. Make a statement!
Is it in you?
Absolutely no disrespect to the soon-to-be Hall of Famer and eventual legend, but no more Lord Favre. Brett Favre's game will never be debated or chastised in this forum, but the only thing Favre-concerning at this moment is running his Texas Stadium record to a perfect 0-9. Let the good citizens of Green Bay erect the statues, throw the parades and pay homage to the throne. That's their job, not the Dallas faithful! Respect is healthy; reverence is repugnant! Don't fall into that cheese-laced trap. This rumble is about bowing up and sending a message.
Trade in the praise for passion. And not just passion, all-out, looking for the sixth Lombardi and rightful spot in NFL history strut and controlled arrogance. Consider it a personal obligation to raise the hate levels of the Dallas Cowboys to epic proportions. The Hater Nation is rather large, but it's high time to increase the population. Let's help fuel the membership drive with smug gladness. There's only one; that's right, just one, Packers' player who has first-hand knowledge of the Texas Stadium stranglehold. So is the boot coming off the throat, or will Grandpa be in his Southern rocking chair muttering, "History shows I could never conquer the crown of the field, the electricity in the stands or the Dallas Cowboys in their house."
Now, who's coming to play?
The Green Plea Cometh
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