Monday, December 31, 2007

A look back at a big year for the Dallas Cowboys.

As we all get ready to ring in the New Year in some form, whether it by ringing up a giant bar tab, busting out the box of wine, or everything else in between, it’s time to reflect on the year that it’s been for the Dallas Cowboys.

From bobbling to baffling, here are the major moments for Dallas in 2007.

January 8: Seahawks 21, Cowboys 20 - This game is remembered by most not for what happened for the first 58+ minutes, but for Tony Romo’s bobbled snap that on a chip-shot field goal attempt with a little over a minute to play that ‘cost’ the Cowboys a playoff victory.

What many who made that single play a story that shouldn’t have been don’t care to remember is that the Cowboys let the game slip away before Romo supposedly did.

After a 29-yard field goal by Martin Gramatica, Dallas led 20-13 with 10:15 to play. On the ensuing drive, the Seahawks drove all the way to the Dallas 1 before the Cowboys defense held, and Seattle turned it over on downs with less than seven minutes to play, giving Dallas the ball at the 2.

On the first play, Romo completed a pass to Terry Glenn, who couldn’t hold onto the ball, and it went out of the end zone for a safety (initial call was a touchdown for Seattle, but it was reversed after a challenge), trimming the lead to 20-15 with more than six and a half minutes left.
Seattle got the ball at the 50, and four plays later, went ahead on a touchdown pass by Matt Hasselbeck.

Then came the drive that ended with Romo’s only real mistake of the night, but one that very well could’ve turned out just a little differently, because what those same idiots failed to mention is that after bobbling the snap, Romo picked it up and ran with it, and got tackled just short of the first down marker and the end zone.

Thankfully, that play has been forgotten and been replaced by even more irrelevant talk about Romo’s personal life, which frankly doesn’t matter to me unless he’s putting himself or anyone else in danger, or unless it affects his play on the football field.

Janaury 22: Bill Parcells retires - There’d been a lot of speculation about Parcells’ future after the playoffs ended, and he put all of it to bed by stepping down as head coach a little over two weeks after the loss in Seattle.

First, thanks Bill - I‘ll expound upon that in a moment. Second, when Bill Parcells says ‘retire,’ his definition of the word must be closer to ‘hiatus’ than the actual meaning of retire, since Parcells is now busy shaking things up in south Florida, trying to mend the mess that is the Miami Dolphins.

February 8: Wade Phillips gets hired as head coach - After a search that saw no less than 10 candidates interviewed for the job, Jerry Jones got his man in former Broncos and Bills coach Wade Phillips.

It was the best hire he could have made then (along with bringing in Jason Garrett), and ten months later, that A is now an A++.

September 9: Cowboys start Phillips’ era with 45-35 win - Sure, it left something to be desired defensively, but it was a precursor to what was a regular sight in 2007 (and hopefully for many years to come), Tony Romo picking apart a defense.

October 8: Cowboys make miraculous last-minute comeback to beat Buffalo 25-24 - Thanks to six turnovers by Tony Romo and two interception returns and a kick return for scores by Buffalo, it looked like Dallas was going to drop their first game, until a wacky final four minutes and the finish of all finishes.

Down 24-16 with less than four minutes to go, Romo calmly led Dallas 80 yards down the field, completing 9 of 11 passes for 77 yards, the last of which was a 4-yard touchdown to Patrick Crayton that made it 24-22 with 20 seconds to play.

After Nick Folk's successful onside kick (which turned out to be only his second-biggest kick of the night), Romo moved the Cowboys in position for a 53-yard field goal, which the rookie drilled not once, but twice to cap off an unlikely win. Stuff of Folk-lore indeed.

October 14: Patriots hand Cowboys first loss - After their Monday night miracle, Dallas had to turn around and face the Patriots in a much-hyped battle of unbeaten teams.

There were two lessons learned that day: 1) Slowing down Randy Moss doesn’t equate to slowing down the Patriots, when you let Wes Welker and Donte’ Stallworth combined for 18 catches, 260 yards, and three touchdowns, and 2) You can’t get down 14 points to the Patriots and expect to win, unless you play error-free football, which still might not be enough.

December 9: Cowboys clinch first NFC East title since 1998 with comeback win over Lions - The little leprechaun who snuck on the sidelines during the Buffalo game made his appearance in Detroit in Week 14 to help deliver the Cowboys an unlikely win (and the NFC East title) at Ford Field.

The Cowboys survived a 13-point deficit, a fumble by Jason Witten at the 1-yard line on a potential go-ahead drive in the fourth, and a fumble that bounced the right way on what proved to be the game-winning drive, with Witten redeeming himself with the game-winning touchdown catch in the final minute.

Let’s hope that leprechaun has his tickets for the playoffs and the Super Bowl already…

December 18: League-high 11 Cowboys named to NFC Pro Bowl team - Seven were on offense, with five as starters (three on the O-line in Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis, and Flozell Adams, and T.O. and Witten as the others), and Marion Barber getting named to the team despite not being the ‘starter’ at running back. Three more were on defense, with DeMarcus Ware deservedly getting a starting nod (Ken Hamlin and Terence Newman as reserves), with Folk being #11, one of three rookies named as representatives from the NFC.

December 23: Cowboys clinch home-field advantage - Thanks to the Bears’ 35-7 demolition of the Packers, and Dallas’ 20-13 win over Carolina the previous night (and a 37-27 victory over Green Bay on Nov. 29), the Cowboys clinched home-field advantage for the first time since 1995.

The year got off to a rather conspicuous start, but it’s ended with one of the best regular seasons in team history.

After years of bumbling along offensively, the Cowboys’ offense is now one of the most exciting to watch in the league (minus yesterday, and in the last few weeks of the regular season), and even though they’ve scared the daylights out of us a number of times this season, it feels damn good for that ‘edge of your seat’ feeling to be the good kind again. And with the foundation that’s being built, it looks like it’s only going to go up from here (knock on wood).

What will 2008 bring? The Lombardi Trophy back to Dallas, I hope. That, a new contract for Marion Barber, a couple of future stars in the draft, and Jason Garrett still on the Cowboys‘ payroll come the fall.

What do you think of the year that it’s been for the Cowboys?

1 comment:

Eddie G. said...

I smartly left out a chunk when talking about the comeback against the Bills, but that's fixed now, though I imagine filling in the details in your mind wasn't too much of a pain (well, unless you're Dick Jauron, or someone who took the Cowboys to cover the spread that night).