The NFL is truly synonymous with Texas weather. Just stick around for a spell, and you'll see more changes than imaginable. A road win in Carolina started the chain of favorable, early Christmas presents for the Dallas Cowboys.
Special holiday thanks are owed to the fellas from The Windy City. In what seemed an improbable task, the Chicago Bears battled the Packers and the elements to hand Favre and company their third loss of the season. In the process, they paved the way for Dallas to secure home field advantage throughout the conference playoffs as long as they win and advance. It should be noted the Bears not only beat the Packers; they completely throttled them on a rather blustery, Chicago Sunday afternoon. Blustery enough to prompt Brett Favre to proclaim it was the worst playing conditions he'd ever encountered. Hey Brett, while possibly (hasn't he played in Green Bay for like the last 50 years?) true, the Bears had to endure the very same elements.
Fans thought the "clunker" the Cowboys produced at home against the Eagles was going to bring about the end of the world. So, imagine how the cheese heads must feel. Do you think they'll just "pack" it in, bury their collective heads in the sand, or will they get up, dust themselves off and live to play another day? Clunkers happen all the time. Bad, maybe even terrible, games can reach up and grab a good team. It's the NFL, and contrary to popular belief, it's very hard to win week in and week out. Garbage happens, and once you unconditionally accept it, you understand what the New England Patriots are on the doorstep of accomplishing. No small feat.
As the Patriots are about to hand the playoff bound, New York football Giants a regular season ending loss, the fact remains the Patriots aren't nearly as dominant as they were earlier in the season. This should provide hope and optimism for the other 11 post season participants. No one is handing Belichick's boys anything. While they may be the favorites entering the tourney, it's anyone's trophy to claim. So why isn't New England blowing teams out as they did out of the chute and during mid-season?
It's the very same reason the Cowboys have come back to earth. Ladies and gentlemen, the NFL season is literally a 16 game grind. Do you really have any idea or understanding what toll a professional football season will take on a human body? Seriously. All of us could render a guess or take a stab at the feeling, but unless you've done this for a living, you have no earthly idea what a NFL player annually endures. The Patriots, like the Cowboys and others, are torn, tattered and flat tired. Those spry legs of training camp days are starting to wear down. The laws of nature are at work, big time.
There's continued amazement at some of the articles/columns written by the local Dallas media. Some border on the insane. Of late, there has been an abundance of game recap pieces immediately followed by some sort of "style points" assessment. "Yeah, they won, but it sure wasn't pretty." You hear that dribble all the time. The margins of victory aren't the same. The level of dominance isn't the same. These aren't the same Cowboys who were delivering good, ol' fashioned butt kickings earlier in the year.
These assessments are extremely short-sided. Every team wants to be "peaking" heading into the post season, but physically, teams are depleted. The mental aspects of the game can effectively increase each week, but it's virtually impossible to get the body to follow suit. Yet, writers and fans alike are quick to dispense the performance as marginal or very average.
Victories are victories. There are no rewards or recognition for how a win or loss was acquired. It's a League where a "W" is a "W," and an "L" is a "L." Simple as that.
The Cowboys have to consider themselves very fortunate heading into the last regular season weekend. They're not in a "must win" situation. They have a chance to give needed rest to players who are currently bothered by injuries. No risks need to be taken. The Cowboys want to be as fresh as possible heading into the divisional round of the playoffs on January 12th or 13th. Coach Phillips, the coaching staff and the team of medical staff must be smart when determining available personnel for the Washington game. They will take the prudent and proper precautions.
It will be awesome to see Terry Glenn's return to the field of play. He's always known, stemming back to last year, this team had the chance to be something special. His assessments were dead on, and he's worked his tail off to garner a piece of the action. One would hope he hasn't rushed a return, trading health and safety for a shot at history, but Glenn is a professional athlete, and this is what they do. They live to play. You can't fault Terry Glenn for wanting to share the moment. His addition, if cleared to play, will be a huge emotional and impactful return. To know the Cowboys have had this success without their bone fide deep threat is absolutely amazing. How many teams actually get the opportunity to add another bullet to the chamber of a very high-powered weapon? The Owens-Glenn-Witten trio could be lethal when needed most.
Thus, Tony Romo must play a portion of Sunday's game against Washington. He and Terry Glenn need the opportunity to shake rust and iron out rhythm through repetition. Game conditions can never be simulated or duplicated. Fans should not faint when #9 lines up behind center. He's there for Terry Glenn and route coordination, and the offensive line must realize the importance of keeping him upright and barely touched. What a holiday gift this could be.
The Redskins need this game. The Cowboys will get their very best effort. There's no better way to get the back-ups needed playing time and subject them to playoff like atmosphere. The Cowboys cannot sleepwalk through this game, and they must prepare as if their season depended on the outcome of this contest. The Vikings sure expect the Cowboys to play out the string under normal circumstances. The Redskins are just the kind of team you don't want entering the post season fray. Behind Todd Collins, they're streaky hot. Momentum has swung their way, and RFK will be rocking come Sunday afternoon. Their opponent being the visiting Dallas Cowboys will elevate their game to a whole new level. The Cowboys are in for a great test, on the road, in front of pure hostility. Could there be any better playoff prep?
The greatest part of Sunday's game is knowing there is a guarantee of another date for play. While they have this guarantee, a win here could really propel the Cowboys into the post season on a tremendous high note. Think of all the things it would accomplish, not to mention a franchise best for regular season wins. It truly could be the crowning moment on an absolutely magical season.
The approach will be most interesting to watch, but Coach Phillips has already intimated "We'll play to win." This is certainly the right disposition and attitude on which to head into the playoffs. With many things at stake, this will be a contest worth watching.
Sit, Soak and Savor
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