Wow, the focus of the misguided Dallas fan can change in the blink of a Shawn Springs pick of Tony Romo. Wasn’t this supposed to be a sought-after, Redskins-playoff-denying gut-check warm-up for the Cowboys? Weren’t we supposed to see an NFC-dominating, Super-Bowl-bound contender squash the postseason hopes of its inferior division dweller then, maybe, “rest its starters” to prepare for the divisional round of the playoffs?
Actually, the answer was no, as much of Dallas fandom determined at about 11:58 of the fourth quarter, when the interception-less Todd Collins placed a beauty of a rainbow/dart into the streaking hands of Santana Moss to put the contest completely out of reach. At that point the game was, in the warped -possibly bandwagonly brainwashed- minds of Cowboys’ fans, completely meaningless, and always was. Key injuries! they cried. Non-playing starters! they interjected. Whatever the excuse was, it all spelled one word: n-o-n-s-e-n-s-e. Ask yourselves, Dallas fans: are these really the guys you want to lay your season upon should your beautiful starters go down? These inept backups who could not muster a touchdown against a former division doormat?
If there is anywhere that injury and key-missing-player excuses will not be accepted, it is Washington. Yes, Washington, where we’ve all had to endure the “everybody has injuries” derisions of opposing fans eager to jump on an already severely wounded team. Seriously, who’s had it this bad, ever? Don’t shop the we-were-missing-players garbage here. Besides, what if this game really foreshadows complete disaster for a non-healthy Dallas team? What if Terrell Owens’ tricky little high ankle sprain lingers well into the playoffs? What if Romo continues to remember he is completely overhyped and is supposed to stink it up in the late season/post-season (not to mention if that world-famous thumb acts up, right, Peter King?)?
Continuing the discussion of the Peter-King-beloved “Pro Bowler” Tony Romo (the “starter”, mind you): he played the entire first half and a good portion of the second half. His legacy in this game was a 27-3 deficit. He stuck around long enough to get that all-important Cowboys completion record and then headed to the bench (whether for injury prevention or utter ineffectiveness, we just don’t know). It’s really too bad he couldn’t have stuck around longer to hurl that 20th interception of the season, because it was coming; it truly, truly was coming. After that came the supposedly hell-bent-on-revenge Brad Johnson. His leading of the ‘boys to a field goal only made the final margin of victory a very telling and symbolic 21. Thanks, Brad.
Here’s the really telling part, though: one Dallas yard rushing. Yes, one yard. Grade school, high school, and college writing instruction won’t even let me express it digitally: the Cowboys’ “prolific” offense gained one yard of rushing the entire game. That’s three feet. The length of three delicious footlong Subway meatball subs. Even if we’re allegedly looking at backups the entire time, the most rudimentary NFL offense, composed of first-stringers or third-stringers, should be able to gain more than that on the ground. If this Cowboys’ offense was half as explosive as we’ve been lead to believe, surely there would have been some sort of running component to set up Mr. Underwood-Simpson and his godly golden arm.
No matter. The point is that the Redskins somehow survived this almost-20-pick thrower and his 28-yard-chip-shot blower “Pro Bowl” kicker to get into the playoffs. We’ve already discussed the easily traversable road the Redskins could travel to the…, and it all starts in the land of Starbucks and Frasier (and formerly Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez). At the beginning of that road lay the “mighty” Seattle Seahawks.
Yes, the Seahawks, champions of that downright intimidating NFC West division: home of the 5-11 49ers and 3-13 Rams. Also home of the 8-8 Cardinals, who must have been thrilled to finish 8-8 and who will probably throw a parade. It’s winnable folks, just as that playoff game in 2005 was winnable. It’s one of the most underdog-winnable games out there. When they pull this one out, we can see how blessed Tony’s 7-of-16-for-86-yards-and-one-interception performance will play out over a full game.
Boswell's column for today's paper nicely sets out all the reasons we should feel optimistic about the coming game in Seattle, especially in light of all that's happened. If his closing quotes from an unnamed "300-pound veteran" are any indication, the 'tism is catching.