Reporting Mike Fisher
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ARLINGTON (105.3 THE FAN) – For a club plagued by an “undercurrent of frustration’’ featuring the alleged “calling out’’ of Tony Romo by fellow team leader Jason Hatcher, the Dallas Cowboys certainly looked like a unified bunch in Sunday’s 31-7 home win over St. Louis.
“I didn’t call out Romo,’’ said Hatcher after the game, responding to questions about assertions made on the NFL Network’s pregame show. “Why would I get on Romo? I love Romo. He loves me. I want to hug his neck right now. He’s our leader!’’
According to the report, Hatcher “called out’’ and “criticized’’ the QB because of audibles made in games and practices. Hatcher – central to a Dallas defense that permitted the Rams just 18 first-half yards while recording six sacks in the blowout at AT&T Stadium – did indeed speak at a Wednesday team meeting to talk about urgency. Coaches and staffers were present, along with players. All accounts from those in attendance are of the speech being a “positive challenge,’’ as one said.
“Guys who have been around, you are going to listen to,’’ said Romo, acknowledging the meeting. “When (Jason Witten) talks, guys listen. When I talk, they listen. When Hatch talks, they listen. … He did a great job of getting across to some of the young guys that you have to bring it every day.’’
The Cowboys “brought it’’ Sunday, dominating the Rams behind the offensive work of DeMarco Murray, who rushed for 175 yards on 26 carries, and a defense keyed by DeMarcus Ware, who had two sacks to give him the franchise record of 115.
The domination moves Dallas to 2-1 and to first place in the NFC East. The Cowboys have more wins than rest of the teams in the division combined. The Giants and Redskins are both 0-3 at the same stage for the first time in league history. Of the 161 teams that have started the season 0-3 since 1978, only five went on to make the NFL playoffs. Meanwhile, in the last 10 years, NFL teams that start 2-1 have a 52 percent chance at the postseason.
Really, not only is there no reason for an “undercurrent of frustration’’ … there’s no time for such nonsense. And make no mistake, those involved vehemently insist the report is nonsense.
The position of Romo (17 of 24, 210 yards, 3 TDs) is that the report a lie.
Coach Jason Garrett said, “That report is inaccurate.”
Said Hatcher, summarizing one way to endure so many of the zany stories that chase around “America’s Team’’: “I don’t watch much TV. If I do I’m watching ‘Breaking Bad.’”
The Cowboys are breaking good in the standings thanks to a breaking-out performance from Murray, who provided a mirror effort of his 2011 game against St. Louis when as a rookie he rushed for a franchise-record 253 yards on 25 carries. 2011 was better. Dallas’ offensive line was marvelous in negating St. Louis pass-rushers Long and Quinn. Meanwhile, Pro Bowl defensive end Anthony Spencer (knee) was unable to play, leaving unheralded George Selvie to join the upfront domination. And rookie safety J.J. Wilcox made his first career start alongside Barry Church in place of Will Allen, and the transition in both units was seamless.
Selvie said Spencer was “coaching him up’’ every series. And Wilcox, who is mourning the recent death of his mother, went beyond that in describing the Cowboys’ bond.
“I was nervous, excited, anxious, all of the above,’’ said Wilcox, whose father attended the game. “But Barry and Will, they helped me so much. They are like Dads-away-from-home for me.’’
Does that sound like a locker room plagued by an “undercurrent of frustration’’?
Quite possibly there was something lost in the translation that morphed Hatcher’s pep talk into a “calling out’’ of the Cowboys’ highest-profile player. Again, though, that is part of the territory in Dallas – in part because owner Jerry Jones has a way of morphing his team’s solid accomplishments into hyperbolic headlines.
When was the last time Jerry’s seen his Cowboys (who won three Super Bowls in the 90’s, one might recall) play defense at this level?
“I can’t recall when I’ve seen us play better,’’ Jones said. “Ever.’’
And how ripe-for-the-taking is the NFC East, so putrid that its combined record 3-9?
“I think we better wait and see some more games played,’’ Jones said. “This division could turn out to be as strong as horseradish.’’
And there you have it:
A horseradish quote to end the day. And what the Cowboys insist is a horse crap report to begin it.
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