Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This Game

During the 2008 season, when Tony Romo missed three games with a broken finger, it became obvious that back up quarterback Brad Johnson no longer had what it takes to lead an NFL team.   At the end of that season, he was released, and the Cowboys traded for veteran quarterback Jon Kitna.  Immediately, fans began clamoring for Romo to be benched and Kitna be named starter. 

Be careful what you wish for.

The Cowboys had been struggling all season.  But they'd been working on fixing their problems.  They were going to get them corrected.  And this was going to be the game.  The game where they turned their season around.  This Game.

They'd been struggling with kick off coverage.  This game, they held the Giants to just a 16 yard average on kick off returns.

They'd been struggling with turnovers.  This game, they won the turnover battles, with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries, while only giving up two themselves.

They'd been struggling with penalties.  This game, they committed only 5, for a season low 42 yards.  What's more, for the first time all season, they drew fewer flags than their opponent. 

They'd been struggling to score points.  This game, they put up 35, which in most games would be enough to win. 

And the kicker got touchbacks.  And Dez returned a punt 93 yards for a touchdown.  And they didn't miss a single field goal.  And they were playing a great game and they were doing everything right and the sun was shining in Dallas once again.

But the bad luck that has been plaguing these Cowboys would soon rear its ugly head again.  Midway through the second quarter, the Cowboys are up 10-7, all 10 points having come off of turnovers.  They have the ball once again, and are driving.  Tony Romo completes a pass to Miles Austin and they pick up a first down.

But when the play is over, one may lay on the ground, writhing in agony, unable to breathe. 

Cowboys stadium fell silent.  Eerily silent.  Deathly silent.

You could have heard a pin drop.

Trainers rush to the injured player's side. Helping him up.  Helping him to the sidelines.

When he tried to return to the game, they grabbed him by his horsecollar and said, "Oh, no you don't." And then, to the sound of 90,000 hearts hitting the floor,  the franchise quarterback left the field, not to return.

Suddenly, fans get their wish.  In one sickening crunch of collarbone, Jon Kitna is now the Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback.  In one sickening crunch of collarbone, Super Bowl aspirations go swirling down the drain.

Now the question remains, where do the Cowboys go from here?  To the next game, of course.  That would be this Sunday, against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  They'll rally around Kitna.

They'll keep playing.  They'll keep fighting.  They may win.  They may lose.  But they'll play.  One game at a time.

"We've got one game left. One game, that's it," Wade Phillips said. "We've got one game. That's all we are going to... You can talk about 10 games, and this game, and hard schedule and all that. We've got one game. We've got to play that game. We've got to play as hard as we can play. And try to win that ball game, and that's what we are going to do.

This week, this game, right now.

That's it. "


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