“Luke, I am your Father!”
Okay, that might be a cheesy way to open a sports story, but let’s face it, the force was definitely with the Dallas Cowboys and their Jedi Master, quarterback Tony Romo, against the Miami Dolphins as the team ended an ugly seven-game skid with a workmanlike 24-14 victory.
And here’s the even crazier part. The Cowboys third win of the season put them two games behind the idle New York Giants in the race for the East Division crown. Yes, it has been that kind of a year.
Romo’s calming effect on the offense was felt immediately on their first drive of the game. On third and ten from their own 4-yard line, the Dolphin defense was about to collapse on the Dallas QB for a safety when he suddenly shifted the ball to his non-throwing left hand and completed a pass to running back Darren McFadden who rambled nine yards. Though the Cowboys had to punt the ball, from that moment on, the entire team came alive with an energy that had been missing for two months.
There was noticeable rust on Romo’s arm the first quarter as he adjusted to his first start in two months. There were several incomplete passes in the opening quarter that ended with the QB throwing an interception. It didn’t matter. The Dallas D was on point nearly the entire game. In fact hte Cowboys first score of the game came courtesy of linebacker Rolando McClain. He intercepted Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill and took the ball 12 yards to the end zone. Romo finally took control and drove the team 93 yards. He overcame a 2nd and 27 by connecting with receiver Terrence Williams for 17 yards then followed that up by connecting with him on a 31-yard touchdown toss to him.
An excessive celebration penalty by Dez Bryant and Williams enforced on the kickoff breathed new life into Miami just before the half ended. Starting the drive on their own 41 with 55 seconds left in the half, Tannehill connected with wide out Jarvis Landry on a beautiful 47 yard pass that put the ball on the Dallas 12. With 23 seconds left, the then connected with Jordan Cameron for the score making this an interesting 14-7 game at the half.
The third quarter started out promising with running back Darren McFadden scampering for 20 yards. Another Romo interception would end that drive. Miami would tie the score later in the quarter when Tannehill connected with Kenny Stills for a 29-yard touchdown to tie the score. It was time for Romo to make a statement.
Behind the legs of Darren McFadden, who finished the game with 129 yards on 29 carries, Dallas moved the ball down the field. The eight play 80-yard drive ended with Romo connecting with Dez Bryant for a 16-yard score. The 50th TD reception from Romo to Bryant tandem edged the duo past the previous Cowboy record holders, Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin. On the next drive, kicker Dan Bailey would seal the game with a 30-yard field goal.
Though the B-team was calling this contest for the second consecutive week on Fox, they treated it as a national contest. There was NO Greg Hardy talk from the booth. They concentrated their commentary solely on Tony Romo before, during and after the game. Whether this contest marks the beginning of something extraordinary for the Cowboys, or was merely a blip on the radar screen, judgement day will come on Thanksgiving as the team hosts the undefeated Carolina Panthers at AT&T Stadium, known locally as The Death Star. May the force be with them!
Cowboy Notes – There was nothing but positive energy coming out of the locker room before, during and after the game. An emotional speech Tony Romo gave the team the night before the contest had a lot to do with it. The team was tight-lipped on what the quarterback said, but his words certainly had an effect and it showed against the Dolphins. Tight end Jason Witten played in his 197th consecutive game passing Mr. Cowboy, tackle Bob Lilly’s, accomplishment. He also caught two passes leaving him just six catches shy of becoming only the 11th player in NFL history to have 1,000 receptions. The Cowboys running back by committee has been a total bust. So far this season, 13 backs have graced the roster. However, the search may finally be over. Earlier in the week the team signed 25-year old Robert Turbing to a contract. The former Cleveland Brown running back made significant contributions to the Dallas running game, carrying the ball 7 times for 35 yards. He had jumped ahead of backups Rod Smith and Trey Williams. Apparently on-field performance wasn’t the only reason the Cowboys cut running back Christine Michael and cornerback Corey White from the roster after the Tampa Bay game. Those two players were the only ones who did not wear a suit and tie on the Cowboys road trip. Coach Jason Garrett requires players to wear suits on away games. When you are on a ridiculously long losing streak, the last thing you want to do is rock the boat. Those two were thrown overboard. If Tony Romo looked unusually bulky, it had to do with extra padding sewn into the T-shirt he wears under his uniform to protect his collarbone.
– David Huff
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