The Dallas Cowboys rolled into Snookie Town, squared off against the Super Bowl champs in a loud and angry coliseum on national TV, and did the impossible.
The Cowboys beat a crew of referees who apparently thought they were officiating an NBA game, calling penalties on almost every play down the stretch (and almost all of them against the visiting team).
The Cowboys beat The Curse that’s dogged quarterback Tony Romo for years.
They beat naysayers.
They even beat nagging doubts among fans.
Best of all, they beat the New York Giants 24-17 and own first place and the best record in the NFL.
My excited thoughts were scattered as the game began: Man, it’s great to see the Cowboys on TV again. I sure missed pro football. Why did the channel just change? Oh, I’m sitting on the remote. Why is Phil Simms’ face bloated like a pregnant woman? Damn, Jason Witten is tough as nails. If my spleen were lacerated I’d whine about being uncomfortable in this recliner, and yet Witten is playing. I wonder how many of the 80,000 people in MetLife Stadium are named Tony? The stadium is in New Jersey, but, based on crowd shots, not many subscribe to the GTL philosophy espoused on Jersey Shore. My dog is licking my toes. Now she’s licking her butt. Is that a comment on my feet? I don’t have time to figure it out, the game is underway… .
…And damn was it looking ugly.
The Cowboys started slow, looked out of sync, and appeared poised to bend over to receive another Eli Manning spanking.
By the second quarter I was thinking about this year’s draft. As in, why didn’t the Cowboys draft a punter in the first round?
And who are these strange people on our offensive line? And why is our youngest lineman, Tyron Smith, jumping offsides every play? Tired and old players anticipate snaps to get a jump. Smith is only 21. He should be able to beat his man without jumping the snap. Hope he isn’t another Flozell Adams whose talent gets overshadowed by drive-killing penalties.
And then there’s Dez Bryant. In the first quarter he made a fool of himself by signaling a first down over and over again in the refs faces even though the football was obviously far short of the marker. That’s just hot dogging.
In the second quarter Bryant caught a pass, got tackled, and then jumped up and ran 62 yards to the end zone after the play was dead.
“Bryant thinks he wasn’t tackled, I suppose, but he was,” announcer Al Michaels said.
Bryant’s look-at-me sprint took so much time off the play clock that Romo had to hurry the next play and barely gained a yard.
As it turns out, Bryant would shake off his rough start and make several clutch catches. Third receiver Kevin Ogletree proved his training camp heroics weren’t a mirage. He became the game’s hero — well, Hero No. 2.
The spotlight belonged to Hero No. 1.
Romo played a masterful game behind a depleted line and brought out the best in his team. He was the firm but stoic leader that fans have yearned for, and he did it in the fourth quarter with a big game on the line.
Romo’s mishaps during his career — most occurring at the worst possible times — have led people to speculate that he’s cursed.
Earlier this year, sports media accused him of cursing the Boston basketball team after Romo was photographed by a fan wearing a Celtics uniform.
The curse has been passed — to Manning. His typical fourth quarter heroics fell short. That’s an omen.
The Giants might as well hand over the Lombardi Trophy to the Cowboys now.