Random thoughts on last night’s really weird game. Was it really great or was it really awful? Most of the following thoughts revolve around the inconsistent and contradictory messages I kept getting while watching the Packers and Cowboys.
The hype and the buildup for the past two weeks has been Super-Bowl-esque. And rightly so. It’s been years since I looked forward to a Cowboys game like I did this one. The championship history of the two franchises. Favre and Romo. Homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs. And those 1960-63 Cowboys throw back unis! Love those uniforms. It’s hard not to root for whoever’s wearing those uniforms. They just drum up such wonderful images of Don Perkins and Don Meredith and Bob Hayes and Bob Lilly. Those are my all-time favorite Cowboys uniforms.
(Side note: the most disappointed I’ve ever been with the Cowboys, aside from the signing of Terrell Owens, was in 1994 when the NFL first encouraged its teams to wear throwback uniforms as part of the league’s 75th anniversary season. The Cowboys announced that they would wear their uniforms from the early ’60s for a Monday Night Game against the Lions. A buddy and I got tickets. We drove up from Marble Falls that afternoon. I couldn’t wait to see those clean blue and white uniforms in person, the ones I had only seen in pictures in old programs and in old TV clips. And the Cowboys came out in those horrid double-star monstrosities with their same silver helmets! Never mind the hideous nature of the double-star look that is nothing like what the Cowboys had ever worn in their storied history. None of it matched! Jerry Wayne exclaimed that the throwback helmets would each cost over $300 and that was too much to spend on something they were only going to do once. I was sick. I thought it was embarrassing. It’s the same kind of thing that led to this look for assistant coach John Blake. It’s about that time, the Barry Switzer era, when things began to turn for me.)
And before I mention anything about the game itself, can I please comment a bit on the NFL Network?
Are you kidding me?!?
Jerry Wayne and the NFL Network don’t have a case against any cable company that doesn’t want to air that stuff. Who would want to put that on their system? I couldn’t tell if I was watching the NFL game of the year between two great franchises for home field advantage or the local access presentation of the junior college scrimmage. The sideline microphones were so overmodulated I couldn’t understand a word Deion Sanders was saying. Although I’m certain it had something to do with Deion Sanders. We must have missed at least three extra-points because the cameras were somewhere else or they were airing a promo. I saw an old promo for the Thanksgiving Day matchup between the Colts and Falcons run at least once. The referee’s mic kept cutting out and I’m sure the NFL Network had something to do with that, too.
And Bryant Gumbel. Have you ever heard anyone do a worse job? It was like he’d never called a football game before. He kept calling the Cowboys the Packers, several times in the first quarter. As the Cowboys came out of the tunnel before kickoff he said, “Here come the Packers!” When the Cowboys had a first and goal he said it was the Packers. He called Marion Barber the “heart beat of the Packers.” At the end of the 3rd quarter when Dallas was in the red zone again he went to break exclaiming that the Cowboys were leading and “barking at the door.” I don’t think Fox or CBS would ever use this guy, not even on their D-Team calling the Cardinals and Dolphins. Brian Baldinger does a better job. It was amazing. And then Gumbel tops it off by telling his audience at the end of the game to stay tuned for the “Wendy’s Post-Game Show, I mean the Home Depot Post-Game show” where we hope to get a few words down on the field with Cowboys quarterback “Rick Romo.”
I can’t believe the most powerful professional sports league in the history of the world, this league that does everything with excellence and class, that pays excruciating attention to the smallest of details, is being represented by this low-budget, duct-tape-and-twistie-ties network.
And then you’ve got the golden voice of NFL Films doing all the ins and outs to and from commercials. Talk about contradicting messages and conflicting signals.
How about the officials’ black winter pants? They look so much like NBA warm-up pants that I kept thinking, again, I was watching something that didn’t count. Is this practice or is this a real game in late November between two conference powers?
I was surprised by the huge and loud numbers of Packers fans at Texas Stadium. Just the noise reminded me of a regular season game against the Steelers in 2004. Down on the sidelines, I was blown away at how the Steelers fans were louder than the Cowboys fans. It was like an away game that afternoon for Dallas as they lost a heart breaker to Ben Rothlisberger in his rookie season. Seemed that way again last night. And that’s very rare at Texas Stadium. But, imagine, that’s the way it is for every team that hosts the Cowboys in their stadium. Every time.
I love Geico commercials.
Tony Romo goes for over 300 yards again. He throws for four touchdowns again. And his line would say five TDs and zero interceptions instead of the 4 scores and one pick except for Terrell Owens’ inexplicable lateral to Al Harris in the end zone. That was weird. Being stripped by Harris on that first drive and his other two drops last night look like the Owens of last year and earlier this season. Did you see in the current issue of Sports Illustrated that T.O. was voted by his peers in the NFL as the number one easiest wide receiver to intimidate? Interesting that he has that kind of game last night, huh?
Lot of weird plays and crazy bounces. Those two plays with Owens were wild. But what about Green Bay’s onside kick in the first half? Every Cowboy on the field and even those on the bench had turned tail and run to set up the wedge. Nobody stayed home. The Packers could have let it roll 20 yards and been OK. But the ball bounced up and glanced off somebody’s elbow, negating what would have been a huge momentum play.
And then Favre. Even though his play was ridiculously horrible during the 20 minutes he played, I hate it that the game was decided with him on the sidelines. His QB rating for last night is officially 8.9. But doesn’t it take some of the luster off the win for Dallas that they didn’t get a 60-minute duel with the one guy who’s made the Packers what they are this season? Doesn’t it cheapen it a little? A little? I think you have to put an asterisk by this game because of that.