Cowboys own NFC, Bolts' charge, McNabb and more
Posted: Sunday December 9, 2007 6:49PM; Updated: Sunday December 9, 2007 9:47PM
FOXBORO, Mass. -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as I watch the Patriots make Steelers second-year safety Anthony "I guarantee it'' Smith eat his poorly chosen and hardly prophetic words ...
This was just the start for the Cowboys. Their first NFC East title since 1998 has been secured, and while it didn't come easily against the Lions on Sunday in Detroit, that merely confirms to me that Dallas is the only thing close to a dominant team in the NFC.
The way I have it, if the Cowboys can play as badly as they did against the Lions and still win, they're obviously much, much better than their opponents in the NFC. Looking ripe for the upset all day long, Dallas executed a very New England-like escape against the Lions. Detroit could have put that game away seven different ways, but the bottom line is the Cowboys hung around long enough to make a little fourth-quarter magic, scoring 14 points in the final 15 minutes to squeak out a 28-27 win.
Dallas has owned the second half all season, and that to me is a sign of a team that occasionally toys with its opponents, before turning up the intensity when crunch time arrives. And from the looks of it, just as he did at Buffalo earlier this season, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo knows where his team's on-off switch is located.
The 12-1 Cowboys won't play a team the rest of the regular season who should give them a game. Dallas has Philly (5-8) next week at Texas Stadium, and then it travels to Carolina (5-8) and Washington (6-7) to close out the schedule. That's three losing teams between now and when the Cowboys open the playoffs at home in the divisional round -- most likely as the NFC's top seed.
I know what I expect to see in Glendale, Ariz., eight weeks from now: The greatest matchup of winning machines in Super Bowl history. That would be a New England team that enters 18-0 in its quest for perfection, against a Dallas squad that's 17-1, with its only loss in Week 6 to those very same Patriots. Two teams with a combined 35-1 record, and a .972 winning percentage.
How much fun would that be? They hype alone would be historic. Brady vs. Romo. Owens vs. Moss. Armageddon, indeed.
Geez, that was a nice little season Jason Witten turned in Sunday in Detroit. The Cowboys tight end had a career best of 15 catches and 138 yards, with his longest catch being his most critical: A 16-yard touchdown grab with 18 seconds left, giving the Cowboys their winning points.
Of Romo's 35 completions against the Lions, a whopping 27 of them went to non-wide receivers. Witten had his 15, but running back Marion Barber chipped in with 10 receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown on a nifty 8-yard swing pass in the second quarter. It was one of three scores for Barber, the hardest runner in the NFL.