By Eduardo Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan
Never had a contest between two 3-5 football clubs seemed to mean so much to the general public. Of course, that’s what happens when you have two of the big name clubs from the NFC East floundering in incompetency like the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles. Both sides were holding on to the slimmest of chances that they could still make the top six of the conference and make the playoffs, but the added pressure of playing against your hated divisional rival might as well be like throwing gasoline on top of a dumpster fire.
The Cowboys were good, not great on Sunday. Tony Romo threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Felix Jones totaled 93 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys receivers made a few big plays and Dez Bryant brought in a touchdown. Yet, what was great was that Dallas didn’t make any big mistakes offensively, and defensively they forced the Eagles to make a ton of turnovers in the process.
Were the Cowboys benefitted by Michael Vick going out with a concussion? Absolutely. Were the Cowboys benefitted by Nick Foles coming in and playing like a quarterback who had no business being in the game? Absolutely. It doesn’t matter though, the Cowboys made the plays that were needed and that’s something that hadn’t been happening in recent games.
Can Dallas build on a big win? If they do, what does it ultimately mean if they can string together a few more wins? ESPN’s Dan Graziano lays out the possible future if the ‘Boys can keep it up:
The opportunities will continue to present themselves. Of the Cowboys’ remaining seven games, five are home games. And yeah, you’ll say they’re only 1-2 at home and 8-11 there over the past three seasons. So what does that matter? The fact is, after they land at home Sunday night, the Cowboys begin a six-week stretch in which they are required to take exactly one round-trip flight. Not having to travel is easier on the body, easier on the mind and easier on the routine. It can help, as can the fact that only one of their remaining seven games is against a team that currently has a winning record. The combined record of the teams that have beaten the Cowboys this year is 34-12 (pending the result of the Bears’ Sunday night game). The combined record of the teams left on their schedule is 21-32.
So there’s the path that’s been laid in front of the Cowboys. There are seven games remaining, and the rest of the schedule is full of opportunity for Dallas. At 4-5, expectations are still way too high, but the possibilities are still there. The division is within reach, taking down other rivals within said division will only fuel the flame.
Maybe the flame isn’t a dumpster fire now…maybe its just a lit match. Maybe its a lighter. Who knows. What we do know is that the flame doesn’t have a stench anymore, the smoke is burning white again, with hope. That is, unless the Cowboys revert back to their old ways, and begin stinking up the joint, yet again.