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Notes On The Cowboys 38-35 Overtime Win Over the Indianapolis Colts

Before we start, I want to apologize to my regular readers about the lateness of this article. I was going to have it out Monday, but finals hit me, and then yesterday, I was incredibly sick that I missed another final. I hope the quality of the article will be worth the wait for you though, so lets get down to this great win the Cowboys had over the Colts.

The first thing I want to say is that the first two drives Dallas had that resulted in ten points were the drives that we saw in 2007 and 2009. They were methodical and they varied. Multiple plays by different playmakers. Felix Jones had some runs and a catch out of the backfield, Martellus Bennett had a key catch, Roy Williams made a play, Dez Bryant had a spectacular catch, then Tashard Choice had two runs including a 20-yard touchdown.

7-0, Dallas is dominating. They stop Peyton Manning with a very good interception by Alan Ball who just took the ball away from Reggie Wayne. Dallas then drove the field again, made only one error in a bad snap to Jon Kitna, but still capped off the drive with a successful field goal.

Then, at the top of the second quarter, Peyton Manning tried to force a ball to Blair White and Orlando Scandrick picked off the pass and raced back 40 yards for the touchdown. 17-0 Dallas, and you are cheering if you are a Dallas fan.

However, nothing is safe with Peyton Manning on the other side, who fought the Colts back to a touchdown before halftime and Dallas missed the field goal attempt they had just before half. Dallas then started the second half with an angry Peyton Manning blowing them away with great passes including a 34-yard touchdown to Reggie Wayne. 17-14 Colts, and there is a game on.

Dallas struck back with a drive and a field goal, and then Peyton Manning threw a pass intended for Blair White that was intercepted by rookie linebacker Sean Lee, who took it 31 yards for a touchdown. Peyton Manning just stared down his receiver, and Lee just broke for the ball and took it in for six points. A very costly mistake by Peyton Manning, but I’ll defend him later in the article.

Manning still didn’t give up. He drove the Colts to a touchdown drive with Javarris James, the rookie tailback, getting a one-yard run on the goal line. Then the Colts forced a punt on Dallas’ next drive, and that’s where it went from bad to worse for Dallas.

Jesse Holley, the reality show “4th and Long” winner, earned a spot on Dallas’ special teams, and he had made a great play on Thanksgiving where he forced Reggie Bush to fumble the ball on a punt return. Well, this time, he made a major goof. Taj Smith managed to push past his block on the punt return, and got to McBriar before the ball got in the air, and blocked it.

The ball got a good bounce, and he managed to grab it and be tackled into the endzone for a touchdown. The last time the Colts had had a blocked punt for a touchdown was September 10, 1989. That is 20 days before my actual birthday people. I was inside my mom, God bless her soul for carrying me, when they last did that. Talk about history being made.

So Dallas is down 28-27, and this is the point where you almost expect it to be over. You expect Peyton Manning to throw another two touchdowns, and Dallas is crushed. We’ve seen the meltdowns too many time under Wade Phillips this year to actually believe we will win.

Except there is just one problem. We are in Jason Garrett’s era now. The Dallas Cowboys have never given up under Jason Garrett, and they didn’t give up last Sunday. They drove down the field to the goal line, and kicked a field goal, but Lady Luck was with us there.

The Colts Eric Foster tried to block the field goal by putting his forearm and knee onto another player to gain leverage, which is against the rule that resulted in an automatic first down for Dallas. Dallas took the second chance, and got a two-yard touchdown pass from Kitna to Witten with a Kitna to Williams two-point conversion to make the lead 35-28.

However, we are talking about Peyton Manning with 2:38 left in the fourth quarter. He drove the Colts down the field for another goal line touchdown run by Javarris James, this time a two-yard run, and the Colts and Cowboys went into overtime.

Thankfully, Peyton Manning made a mistake and threw a pass towards Blair White that was tipped by Scandrick and intercepted by Sean Lee for a second time, who took it back 13 yards and helped set up the game-winning field goal. Dallas 38 Indianapolis 35.

Sean Lee won NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his two interceptions, one touchdown, and nine tackles in the game.

However, Dallas sadly lost Dez Bryant for the year due to a broken ankle on a kick return. He has been put on injured reserve, but I think once he comes back next year, he will be even more dominant than he was this year.

Dallas defensively forced key turnovers to win the game, but were awful on pass defense. Peyton Manning threw for 365 yards and two touchdowns. It was his four interceptions that lost the Colts the game offensively.

The Colts could not run the ball at all. They haven’t run the ball all season. They had a total of 40 yards rushing on 17 attempts with one being a wide receiver reverse for 11 yards. 29 yards rushing on 16 attempts including minus a minus one-yard carry by Manning is what the Colts had. That is just pathetic.

The Colts just proved again that they are a one man team in Peyton Manning. He has some receivers in Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon, but he’s got almost no help this season from his defense or his running game. You talk about a guy backpacking his team to victories, and it is Peyton Manning. He’s won four MVPs that way, but this year, he can’t do it alone.

I’ve seen Peyton Manning when he is on. He doesn’t make the kinds of mistakes he made in that game. His interceptions were his fault, but he was playing like a gunslinger and trying to make something happen. He wouldn’t be doing that if his team were picking up the slack. He’s in a situation where he feels that the only way to win is on his arm. He’ll never say that because he is a team player, but I will. That so-called team he’s got is nothing without him.

Even when Tom Brady went down to injury, the 2008 Patriots managed to rally around Matt Cassel and go 11-5 that year, but the Colts would be 3-13 at best without Peyton Manning, and he knows it, so he forces himself to try and be the hero, and this time it didn’t work.

Peyton Manning was also telegraphing throws because he’s not in sync with his receivers. Austin Collie and Dallas Clark are both injured, so when he was throwing the pass to Blair White, he was looking for him. Timing is everything in the passing game, and if Blair White had been Marvin Harrison, his old number one receiver, he would not have been looking for him because he knows he’s there.

Moose Johnston said that you could blindfold Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin and tell Michael to run a 5 route ten times, and half the time they would complete it blindfolded. That’s how good the timing between them was, and Peyton does not have that with White like he did with Harrison or Clark. Because he had to look, Sean Lee was able to read his eyes and go for the interception that was returned for a touchdown.

Dallas also exploited the Colts lackluster run defense with Tashard Choice and Felix Jones. I wrote earlier last week that Tashard Choice would need to step up in this game, and he did. He had 19 carries for exactly 100 yards rushing and a 20-yard touchdown. He has proven again that he needs to be given the ball, because he will do something with it. Felix Jones also had 22 carries for 83 rushing yards and three catches for eight yards.

Dallas had 40 minutes of time of possession in total to the 27:05 of the Colts. That there is the key to stopping Peyton Manning. You keep him off the field. Dallas did that, and they won the game.

Miles Austin did not have the best game. He missed two balls that Kitna threw to him. One was just out of his reach, and the other one was lost in the lights from what I could interpret from his body language.

Sadly, Dallas did not have any sacks. I was hoping the Cowboys could exploit the offensive line of the Colts, but they did not get a chance to sack Peyton Manning who released the ball much too fast for them.

Jason Witten had another great game with five catches for 42 yards and a touchdown. He and DeMarcus Ware are actually worthy of the Pro Bowl this year, so I urge fans to go to NFL.com and start voting for them. Pro Bowls help in the future for Hall of Fame selection, and I believe that we may see both of them with bronze busts in another fifteen years.

Witten also suffered a high ankle sprain, but he states that he should play this next game.

Also, on a sadder note. We must say goodbye to Don Meredith, who passed away last Sunday due to a brain hemorrhage. He will be missed by Cowboys fans, and the people who loved him on Monday Night Football. He was 72.

I will put up an article later further honoring him. He was a wonderful man, and a wonderful member of the Dallas Cowboys

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