Ezekiel Elliott

USA Today

Must Win Game

Nobody entered Sunday needing a W like the Dallas Cowboys.

November 12, 2018 - 1:57 pm
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Probably, nobody entered Sunday needing a W like the Dallas Cowboys. Sitting at 3-and-5 and riding a two-game losing streak, Jerruh's guys started the week on Monday night by getting embarrassed at home by the Titans. And now they were ending it by walking into the Linc on Sunday evening for a good, old-fashioned NFC East rock fight with the Eagles. 

There are must-win games, and there are MUST-WIN GAMES. This was the latter. You aren't getting to the playoffs if you start 3-and-6. Hell, Jason Garrett might not even get to Thanksgiving if things don't get turned around quickly, considering the Boys are in the middle of a 3-games-in-12-day stretch

3-and-5 could turn into 3-and-8 in a hurry. Jerruh might love Jason like the son he always wanted, but even the most robust clapper in the state of Texas isn't saving his gig unless things get turned around STAT. And after a week where everybody killed America's Team, including Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, one dude stepped the hell up and coached like his job was on the line. 

MY MAN ROD MARINELLI. 

Did you see that defense?! Tough as hell. Their shovel was sharp. Their will was outstanding. They played like the season was on the line. Because it was.

The Cowboys pass rush got the hell after Carson Wentz. They stuffed the run, holding the Birds to just 71 yards on the ground. Young linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith were freaking everywhere, the kind of thoroughbreds that you used to see running around with a star on their helmet, back when Jimmy Johnson was using that magical draft chart of his to fleece teams into trading them an entire wing in Canton for Hershel Walker. 

You want a crew to show up and show out? Rod's D did. They bowed the hell up. They won that game for Big D. They forced punts. They intercepted passes. They made huge 4th down stops. They weathered the storm. And then, EVENTUALLY, Jason remembered that he had a dude named Ezekiel Elliott in the offensive huddle. 

You remember Zeke, right? The dude the Cowboys used a Top Five pick on? The one who rolled out his rookie year and won the rushing title? The guy Jerruh loved so much he damn near burnt the Shield to the ground defending him? 

Yeah, that dude. The one who only had SIX TOUCHES last week in the second half. Turns out he's pretty damn good at football. 

19 carries for 151 yards and a score. Six catches for 36 more yards, and another touchdown. Oh, and one freaking incredible hurdle. 

Open field, head up with a safety, and Zeke goes vertical over safety Tre Sullivan. Literally. That's was HOLY BLEEP play by Zeke. It also might have been a HOLY BLEEP moment. The Ging and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan looked at each other and said, DAMN, maybe we just give the rock to that dude? 

And they finally did. The last two drives, Zeke touched the ball 10 times. He also scored two touchdowns, touchdowns they absolutely needed after the Eagles finally figured out how to move the ball on Rod's D. 

Look, it shouldn't take being pushed to the brink to realize giving Zeke Elliott 19 carries is a good idea. I'm not running out here to praise Jason Garrett for finally feeding the football to a guy whose signature celebration is FEED ME THE FOOTBALL. That dude should be getting 19 carries every Sunday. So I'm not gonna go out and crown Jason for doing what every coach on the planet would've done like 8 weeks ago. 

But Jerruh did. Because postgame, he was talking about Garrett like he was Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson and Vince Lombardi all rolled into one:

Check this quote: "You can imagine the way Jason Garrett, his resolve before the game. I asked him before the game, ‘Are you feeling any pressure.’ He said, ‘It just makes me want to go out and do even more to turn this thing.’"

Like Jerruh couldn’t have been more proud of Garrett had he been his own son. I think he wishes he were. Fine. Adopt the guy for all I care; change his legal name to Jason Jones.  Just don’t expect Jason Jones to win anything that matters while he’s your head coach.  And stop acting like you just won the super bowl when you beat a reeling Eagles team that is one of the bigger disappointments in the league this season.

And if you really want to hype a coach, hype the guy on the other side of the ball, Rod Marinelli. And no credit for finally getting around to figuring on how to get the ball into your best playmaker’s hands. And no, that win didn’t save the Cowboys’ season. It merely kept it alive. Barely. For another week.