The Culture is Changing

By mark rogers
September 7, 2012

The most important play of the game.

It wasn't the 3rd and long conversion that kept the Giants from getting the ball back (what I will forever refer to as "The Conversion"). It wasn't Kevin Ogletree's first touchdown. It wasn't his second touchdown. It wasn't Miles Austin to the house on 1st and 30. It wasn't any one of Romo's 22 completions. It wasn't DeMarco Murray on 2nd and 3, hit in the backfield and somehow exploding for 48 yards down the sideline.

The play that changed the game for the Cowboys, that gave them the confidence they needed to win against the defending champs in New York, that could be a glimpse into a culture that finally seems to be changing for the better, wasn't talked about much in the post-game.

Why? Because it was right after a Tony Romo interception, made by a second year offensive lineman...and it was a personal foul.

Romo threw a pick before any of his three scores. And the Giants seemingly had a free route to the endzone. A huge momentum boost, in their stadium, in front of their fans. If Tyron Smith doesn't give it everything he has and lay out for an incredible tackle at the 2 yard line, I think the game ends differently. And sometimes you take a horse collar because the alternative is much, much worse.

In my opinion, a deflating play like that would have told the Cowboys that nothing had really changed. That they were still choke artists. That they couldn't beat their nemesis on the road (or anywhere for that matter). That Romo was still a big phony.

But they didn't score. They were stopped at the 2. And a relentless Cowboys rush defense pushed NY back 3 yards the next two plays and forced a field goal.

Yes - points for the Giants, but anytime you hold an opponent to a FG after 1st and Goal from inside the 3, you might as well give yourself 4 points. It's a negative play for the FG kicking team. They come off the field with their heads down. The defense that keeps their opponent out of the endzone comes off the field with a fire under them, pumped up, with all the momentum.

The next Giants possession was a 3 and out. The possession after that, Dallas took a lead it would never relinquish.

What's been wrong with the Cowboys the last two (ahem....17) years, hasn't been personnel or talent. It hasn't been scouting or injuries. It's been a culture of entitlement and complacency.

Here's an example - giving up not one, not two, not three, but four double-digit 4th quarter leads in one season. That's a culture problem.

But hopefully, what we saw last night was Coach Garrett's changes finally starting to have an impact.

Yeah, we saw Romo go for 300+ and 3 TDs. We saw Murray run for 100+. We had guys making plays on defense. But we've always had that.

What we HAVEN'T had in recent years are plays like the kind Smith made. The play that says, we don't deserve to win this game because we're the Dallas Cowboys, we will fight with everything we have to beat the stinkin' Giants in New York.

And coming in a close second to that play as the most important play was "The Conversion". There it was. 3rd and long (after a penalty offset a 1st down run). Plenty of time for the fourth quarter master Eli Manning. New York gets that ball back, and I believe they win that game.

It would have been another double digit fourth quarter loss. Another season opening heart breaker to the Giants.

It would have been the same story....on a different day.

But Garrett called an incredibly risky play in that situation putting the game in Romo's hands (where it belongs), and he came through.

I wrote an article last year about Romo not making a throw to Miles Austin that would have clinched a win against the Giants in Dallas and essentially would have gotten us into the playoffs (read it here).

But Wednesday night...Romo made the throw. We didn't choke in the 4th when everyone thought we would. We weren't just good (like we've always been), we were clutch (which is something that's been missing since 1995).

I'm not saying we're going to win the Super Bowl or that we're going 19-0. I'm saying that in order for us to have a chance to be the best, the culture HAD to change.

And after 24-17 last night in New York...it seems to have done just that.

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