Thursday, September 6, 2012

One Game Does Not a Season Make

But it is enough to spark at least a little bit of hope!

I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the Dallas Cowboys versus New York Giants game last night.  It was quite the change from business as normal--at least for the past several years.

See, I'm a cradle to 38 year old Cowboys fan.  Part of my family takes Cowboys football very seriously.  I can even remember some of them taking a television out to deer camp to make sure a game wasn't missed.  That might not sound like too big a deal, but the dedication shines through when you realize one cousin had to stand outside and hold onto the antenna to keep it just right in near freezing temperatures while watching the game through a window.  Did I say some of my family took the Cowboys very seriously?

I've even been a fan through the tough years.  I was there to witness the 1-15 season; a most horrendous year with the only highlight being the team beat the Redskins in Washington.  I remember Steve Pelleur as quarterback.  Landry, Staubach, Randy White, Ed "Too Tall" Jones.  Aikman, Smith, Irvin: the Triplets.  Yeah.  I've seen a lot of the Cowboys.

And I'd been witnessing a disturbing trend.  There was a willingness to go soft.  There was a willingness to quit or start playing scared.  Last year, the team lost three games in the last quarter where they led by double digits.  The previous year, they literally laid down and died, disrespecting and quitting on their head coach. 

With all the hype surrounding the Cowboys offseason and their acquisitions to upgrade the offensive line (which was still pretty offensive last night) and the defensive backfield, one had to wonder if the results would actually be different.

As the last quarter started, I knew we'd find out.

At first it looked like same old, same old.

The 'boys drove down to Giants territory and had a first and ten at the 14 yard line.  An illegal hands to the face and a holding penalty later, it was first and 30 from the 34 yard line, and the 'boys were almost out of field goal range.  Last year, you'd have probably seen a draw play or two followed by a sack and then a missed field goal. 

Surprise!  Romo audibles flashing hand signals to Miles Austin.  Double move fly route on the outside even with safety help.  The ball looked underthrown, but in reality, it was perfectly placed for what happened.  The Giants' defenders overplayed the ball.  Austin snatches it out of the air and waltzes into the end zone. 

"Wow!" I thought to myself.  "That's different."

But the proof would be in the next 5:21.  Giants' ball.  Eli Manning at quarterback.  Last year, the Cowboys wouldn't have stopped him.  Not a chance.  Both games last year saw that.  But indeed it was a different year.  Yes, the Giants ended up scoring on the drive, but it took them longer than usual to do so, and it wasn't the passing game that bit them hard.  A long run in a short yardage situation actually did them in.  The Dallas secondary was playing pretty decently and wasn't getting overly abused.

Dallas receives the kickoff after the touchdown.  What would happen next.  Two running plays followed by an incomplete pass giving the Giants one more shot?  Probably would have happened last year. 

But not this year.  There were shades, like when Demarco Murray ran for a first down on third and two, and the 'boys were penalized for holding.  Third and 12.  Sense a punt coming?  I did.  Until Romo hit Kevin Ogletree for the first down.  Game over.  Different season.  Different ending.

Made me a believer for one night.  Made me actually have some hope for the season--reserved hope, but still hope.

As I texted to one of my members who told me at half-time I needed to have faith, "I have faith in God.  With the 'boys, I have to see to believe."

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