While everyone has given the Dallas Cowboys credit for their win Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers, they may be overlooking just how impressive of a win, Sunday’s game actually was. The Dallas Cowboy played on the road, on a Sunday night after playing in an extremely exhausting game the previous Monday. Oh and they have never won a game in Green Bay in franchise history. And all the Cowboys did under those circumstances was walk out of Lambeau with an 11 point victory against the undefeated Packers, not bad for a days work.
More importantly Sunday’s wins showed just how far the Dallas Cowboys have come and matured as a team. When looking at the stats, the Cowboys struggled in many facets of the game that had come easily to them in the previous two games. The Dallas passing attack was absent for most of the night. Tony Romo had a rating of 82.6 and his starting two receivers combined for a total of 17 yards. The only big plays came from newcomer Miles Austin. Yet despite losing their top weapon, the Cowboys were able to move the ball when needed and put up points.
The Cowboys discovered their running game on Sunday night. They had struggled throughout the preseason to come up with a formula that would work, and they may have found it on Sunday. Running to the right side of the line, Marion Barber III was able to pick up 7 to 8 yards a carry seemingly at will. Once he was done pounding away and punishing the Packers, rookie Felix Jones made light work of a tired defensive line when he broke to the outside on a 68 yard touchdown run. Sunday night the Cowboys proved they can play a slow grind game, and use their running game to absolutely pound a defense into submission.
Another positive to be taken away from Sunday’s game was the downfield blocking, mainly the efforts of Terrell Owens. Everyone knows the T.O. story by now, he showed tremendous maturity against the Packers. Owens was kept in check thanks to double and triple teams by Charles Woodson and what seemed like everyone else in the Packers secondary. Yet, even without getting his typical touches, T.O. remained focused and kept to the task at hand. He did what a good receiver should do on a team that is running the ball well. He went out found work, and began to block downfield. His downfield blocks on Woodson and company allowed for larger rushing lanes for Felix and Marion to rush through.
On defense, the Cowboys played stout, keeping the Packers passing attack in check. Even when they scored their final TD it came nearly in garbage time.
“Look, we’re not a bad defense,” said Cowboys nose tackle Tank Johnson. “We stayed tough and we got a tough team.”
There is no doubt that they Cowboys are taking on a bend don’t break philosophy. This can be seen in their efforts to keep teams out of the endzone, and forcing them to settle for field goals when they make it into the redzone. One factor people must remember is the Cowboys secondary is still gelling together. Terrence Newman is not 100%. He missed the majority of training camp with his groin injury and it will take him time to settle in and get used to game time patterns and speed. The same can be said for Adam Jones. He missed all of last season due to his suspension, and because of injuries he is playing much heavier minutes than the Cowboys anticipated on him playing this early in his comeback. It will take him time to become accustomed to the new schemes and the speed of the game.
The Cowboys showed great maturity on Sunday night. They were able to avoid the distractions of the media and the largest crowd in Lambeau history. They were able to ignore the fact that they were playing on a short week against back to back NFC contenders and undefeated teams. These are all trends and behavioral habits of a team that is on a mission, and they understand what it takes to reach their end goal.