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It was an exciting season opening win against the Giants on Wednesday night. Here are a few of my immediate thoughts as I sit here with excitement at one in the morning and not even fathoming the thought of going to sleep right now.
- The Cowboys had a dozen excuses as to why they should’ve lost this game, and I was one that gave them those all week. With the Giants raising their Super Bowl banner and playing in front of their electric home crowd, the odds just didn’t seem in the Cowboys favor. And if the ‘Boys would’ve lost this one, I think most people would’ve understood (at least those on RAGE).
- Jason Garrett talks about “overcoming adversity” all the time. His team overcame injuries to starting center Phil Costa, back-up David Arkin, cornerback Mike Jenkins, running back Felix Jones and starting defensive tackle Jay Ratliff. It’s a huge part of the defensive line pass rushing game missing in Ratliff’s absence and it can be argued that the Cowboys could’ve used contributions from the other guys.
- Remember when the Cowboys traded a 7th round pick to the Dolphins for offensive lineman Ryan Cook last week? He’s already paid off and then some! The ‘Boys had to have an inkling that Costa’s back was iffy because he was done after the first drive and here came the dude who just got to Valley Ranch for the first time on Saturday. Wow. I got this text message from a fellow media member in Albuquerque Wednesday night whenever Ryan Cook (who attended the University of New Mexico) came into the game:
“Cook is one of the best players to come out of New Mexico, granted there are not a lot of them in the NFL. But Rocky Long knew how to build offensive linemen. He’s legit.”
So far, so good.
- Seriously, what the hell with Felix Jones?! Once upon a time he was this speedy and hungry back out of Arkansas that had a ton of potential. Now he’s in his fifth year and is playing for his NFL life. In the final season of his contract he sure isn’t giving the Cowboys any reason to re-sign him or any other team to add him to their roster next year. The out of shape and slow Jones looks even worse when going in after seeing the explosive, young and determined Demarco Murray. Jones went to the locker room in the second half with a reported rib injury. This could be a long final season for Jones in Dallas.
- Undrafted wide receiver Kevin Ogletree received well deserved criticism this off-season about not being able to step up when given the opportunity over his first three seasons in the NFL. With Miles Austin and Dez Bryant getting most of the Giants’ attention on Wednesday, Ogletree came through with his first two touchdown catches of his career. On the Cowboys radio network, voice of the Cowboys Brad Sham referenced Ogletree as “Laurent”, as in last year’s third receiver phenom Laurent Robinson who came on the radar after being cut by the Chargers. Time will tell if Ogletree can produce like Robinson in 2012 but any discussions or doubts of third wide receiver can finally be put to rest.
If you were wondering what Ogletree was doing with his hands after each touchdown, he was making a “C” and an “O”, a tribute to Ogletree’s older brother Calvin Ogletree. Last January, Calvin Ogletree was shot in the head while outside his luxury car business in New York. Calvin is still going through the recovery process.
There’s no doubt that his brother’s tragedy has fueled Kevin. Last spring, while going through OTA’s, Kevin told the media that, “Some bad things have turned me into a better person”. When asked about the third receiver spot, he followed, “I’ve got to go out and grab it”. In fact, it was a couple of nice grabs that Ogletree ended up having in the season opener.
- Cowboys tight end Jason Witten added to his legendary status on Wednesday night when playing against the Giants after suffering a lacerated spleen injury a few weeks earlier. I’m reading Cowboys fans bashing Witten’s two catches and 10 yard performance. Stop it. Just by being on the field and having a presence in the Cowboys huddle the Giants had to change their outlook of how to defend the silver and blue defense. As Romo’s “go-to guy” his whole career, don’t think for a minute that the G-men weren’t having to make sure one (or two) guys were keeping an eye on Witten every play.
“When he steps onto the football field, it changes the dynamic,” said Romo, post-game.
I was shocked and amazed to see Witten out there. He should be commended. Jason Garrett Wednesday night called it, “one of the most inspirational performances” that he’s ever seen.
And for the record, Jason Garrett said post-game that Witten was cleared by the doctors to play on Tuesday night. If this is the case, then the Cowboys either 1) Continued to doubt whether or not Witten should play till game-time or 2) Kept it a secret all day as a “game time decision” knowing full well he would play. If it’s #2, I love that. Smart move by leaving it as an unknown for the Giants until game time. I support that.
Via FAN Cowboys insider Mike Fisher, Witten had a piece of paper taped in his locker that read:
“I will never quit. I will persevere and thrive on adversity. My team expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than our competition. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to help my team and to accomplish our goal. I am never out of the FIGHT.”
- Richie and Greggo preached all week on RAGE that the Cowboys season opener shouldn’t be overblown and if they were to lose, they’d have 15 games to make up ground. Before Cowboys fans start tweeting about “Super Bowl bound!”, the opposite approach should be taken with this win. It’s a great start for this team. Now they have to do what they preached about all off-season: Finish. And if you think Mr. “Football / Process” will let them this team get ahead of themselves, think again.
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