Folk Hero

Wow, that game was bizarre! Go ahead, talk ’til metallic-blue in the face about how the Cowboys didn’t deserve to win that game. Maybe that’s right.

What team really can claim to have earned a victory, after their quarterback has the worst night of his career, hurling five oskies and dropping a fumble into the arms of a grateful opponent? I’ll tell you what team — the Dallas Cowboys. At first, I thought they stole the victory, but after replaying a recording of the game, it’s clear to me that only the quarterback didn’t deserve to win. The rest of the team most certainly did.

This Cowboys team believes. It has character, despite the presence of some receiver wearing number 81. For the vast majority of the game, their normally dependable and play-making quarterback did everything possible to give the game away. Still, the team didn’t give up or let down, despite having six turnovers and three returns against them for touchdowns. The defense (one offensive field goal allowed) and Nick Folk (four of four field goals, not counting the first of two winning ones) bailed out Tony Romo. Romo didn’t cave in to his own earlier, Grossmanian ineptitude either, leading them to the final touchdown drive that made the onside kick and game-winning field goal possible.

Luck? Sure, there was some. B. F. D. Name a winner of a close game that doesn’t have some good bounces or benefit from questionable calls by either the refs or opposing coaches. Barfalo (yes, that was deliberate) coulda/shoulda run the ball while up 24-16 on the Dallas 10, with about six minutes to play. Instead, Trent Edwards (no relation to me, Carl or John) served a pick instead, which was returned most of the length of the field, then followed in short order by Romo’s fifth. There’s tit for tat, and yet Barfalo subsequently went three-and-out.

What about Nick Folk? How impressive is it that a rookie kicker blasts the game-winning, 53 yard field goal straight home — not once, but twice, with time expiring, on the road, in a deafening din? Dick Jauron pulled a Mike Shanahan and called time out just as the ball was snapped on the first attempt, which therefore was nullified. It “iced” the kicker, all right — cool as a glacier and just as undeterred. Folk simply lined up again and shot the ball, cannon-like, off the top of his foot and down a duplicate trajectory, as if to tell Dick Jauron where he could stick his stinking time out. Incredible. That’s 106 consecutive yards of accurately kicked footballs in two tries, clock empty, to win the game.

Less heralded, but equally impressive, was his masterfully planted onside kick — a textbook, top-spinning slap of the ball into its ricochet position, a play without which the Cowboys unquestionably lose this game. Every kicking coach teaching onside technique should use that kickoff as the example from now on. It was what so few plays truly ever can be — perfect.

Was it dumb to draft a kicker? Not anymore. That win alone was worth the pick, that pick well worth this kick. Nick Folk saved Tony Romo from himself, and gave the Cowboys one more win than otherwise would appear on their season ending record. No way does teeny-weeny Martin Gramatica make that kick — especially twice! Remember this should a divisional, wild card or home field slot come down to a one game margin.

What of Romo? Don’t call him a chump or a loser. Sure, he sucked tonight, but without him, the Cowboys wouldn’t have been in a position to remain undefeated. Don’t believe me? Just consider every escape, every improvisational sidestep, every run he has made this year, the touchdown against Miami while falling down in the linebacker’s grasp, the snap way over his head against St. Louis that he ran for a first down, all those amazing plays — then imagine what would have happened to Drew Bledsoe on the very same plays. Gruesome thought, man…

Romo is a natural born leader and winner, and as with his dropped field goal snap in Seattle, will overcome a terrible night and perform fantastic feats once again. As appalling as his inaccuracy was tonight, it was wildly uncharacteristic, each and every interception being a correctable error. These mistakes had better be fixed quickly too, because the best team in the NFL is coming to town well rested and ready.

I don’t expect the Cowboys to beat the Patriots. Randy Moss is a historic Cowboy slayer, and Tom Brady has too many weapons to corral for a whole game, especially against a lesser prepared, possibly fatigued team coming off a physically and emotionally exhausting Monday night road game. You can count on this: If the Cowboys do lose, they’ll do so with heart, guts and heavy effort, and won’t just roll over or be intimidated. If the Cowboys manage to stay with them in a shootout, and force a few turnovers, that’s the best hope. After staring into a modern day Twilight Zone episode disguised as a Dallas-Buffalo game, nothing would surprise me. The Pats had better be ready for some hard hitting and wild action, win or lose.


One Response to “Folk Hero”

  1. Mark Yoder on October 14th, 2007 3:55 am

    The entire City of Buffalo is making a sound something like “ARKKKKKKKK” Earlier in the week I was screaming about Jauron and how he needed to lose his job. The players played their hearts out…and all the dropped interceptions…Romo could have thrown two others…
    My main arguement against Jauron is how he didn’t understand to guard against the sideline routes at the end of the game…if Dallas throws down the middle, then the game is over. Instead, Romo throws two passes for something like 14 yards to put themselves in a position to win.
    I am actually glad this happened for two reasons…
    1) I didn’t want to see Dallas’ season ruined yet
    2) Buffalo is a young team and they will only get better, and I suspect that they will become much more self-sufficent knowing they cannot depend on their coaches
    At least I have the Sabres…
    My best to all of you!!!

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