A few random thoughts on the Week 15 Saturday-night special between the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints. Dallas ended the Saints’ dreams of perfection with a 24-17 road win.
*This loss doesn’t really hurt the Saints. The Cowboys were a desperate team, and Dallas got most of its offensive traction via the pass, which we already knew was the Saints’ flaw. It remains to be seen whether that flaw is fatal for New Orleans in the long run.
*For Dallas, meanwhile, this is a huge win, because it stands in stark contrast to the historical December performances the ‘Boys have had. By going from Who Dat to How ‘Bout (as in How ‘Bout Them Cowboys), Dallas proved it can win a key game in December. Doing it on the road against a 13-0 team only adds to the credit banked by this victory. Most of all, Tony Romo played well, answering many of the critics who had been assailing him. Dallas still must build on this by beating Washington next week, but for now this is a key win.
*When I was at Pro Football Weekly, I asked why we didn’t include a Most Improved Player award among the year-end awards, a la the NBA. That’s when the magazine decided to institute such an award. And if I had a vote this year, Dallas WR Miles Austin would be the runaway frontrunner for it. No other player in the NFL this season has taken such a quantum leap into stardom.
*In our post choosing the best linebackers by jersey number, we gave Anthony Spencer of Dallas the nod at No. 93, but as we did we called it a tepid choice. Well, Spencer outplayed tepid in a big way Saturday, with two sacks, a fumble recovery, and a key pressure on the final drive. Then I read on Twitter (I think it was on Peter King’s feed, but I’m not sure) that some scouts say Spencer has been playing well all year. So I’d like to revise upward my assessment of Spencer’s value.
*Despite the win, Nick Folk has to go. He’s already survived one near-release, and few kickers (especially few as young as Folk) are able to withstand two. You can’t blame Romo’s holding for the late-game miss that kept Dallas from salting the win away. The Cowboys need someone more reliable than Folk has been this year. I’m not usually one to call for someone’s job, but facts are facts in this case.
*I’m not including fantasy football thoughts in this post because there weren’t any surprising performances. At this point in the fantasy season, lessons have to be huge to make an impact on your team, and there weren’t any of those monster pointers in this game.