Unbelievably, the Dallas Cowboys are still in control of their playoff destiny.
Only in a year this odd would a 3-7 record have the Dallas Cowboys in prime position for a playoff spot. But this is 2020, and with yesterday’s improbable 31-28 win in their back pocket, the Cowboys can make that claim.
Is the NFC East a joke? Sure. Will the eventual winner of the East cause national pundits to clutch their pearls over a team with a losing record hosting a playoff game? Of course! National pundits love to clutch their pearls over trivial things.
But like it or not, this is definitely the case. Further, as the good folks at Tankathon remind us, the Cowboys possess the second-easiest schedule in the NFL down the stretch. So for anyone hoping that they were in tank mode, I hate to tell you this, but this bunch is going to try to win as much as they can and squeak their way into the tournament.
Who can blame them? With yesterday’s effort, the Cowboys put forth their most complete game of the season with or without Dak Prescott. This is no slam on Dak, mind you. It’s just that other aspects of the team were so out-of-whack when Prescott was healthy. They couldn’t get out of their own way. To put it simply, yesterday’s victory was a continuance of their evolution from utterly laughable to plucky respectability.
Nowhere was this more apparent than during rookie wideout CeeDee Lamb’s spectacular touchdown grab in the second quarter. It was one of those catches that will be on highlight reels for years to come. The throw by quarterback Andy Dalton wasn’t particularly horrible, but it wasn’t on target. The contortions Lamb performed to simply give himself a chance for the reception were amazing. It was the prettiest catch by any Dallas receiver in eons.
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Not to be outdone, the Dallas defense did a great job of keeping a pretty explosive Viking attack mostly in check. All-world running back Dalvin Cook got his, as did wideout Adam Thielen. And while the defense took on all matter of water early in the second half, they buckled down and got some key stops down in the fourth quarter, not to mention that final fourth-down stop that sealed the deal. As hard as I’ve been on this team all year, I have to sing their praises when they deserve it. They went into enemy territory and snapped an opponent’s three-game winning streak. I don’t care who you are, that’s something to build on.
In short, the Cowboys looked like a team that was prepared. Of course, this comes down to coaching. Beleaguered defensive coordinator Nike Nolan has to feel vindicated–at least this week–due to his unit forcing two turnovers, including this vicious hit by safety Donovan Wilson that forced a fumble late in the first half. Also, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore had a counterpunch ready every time Minnesota seemed poised to take the game over.
Those are the types of games that can turn a team’s season around. I’m not saying the Cowboys are ready to challenge for a championship. What I am saying is that this team exhibited a ton of heart yesterday, and that’s what’s satisfying. They’ve got a favorable remaining schedule, so they’ve got to have an attitude of “Why not us?” when it comes to their playoff lives. After such a bleak start, this newfound swagger is a refreshing change of pace.
- Published on 11/23/2020 at 13:01 PM
- Last updated at 11/23/2020 at 12:45 PM