My Twitter and my Facebook blew up Sunday night after the Dallas Cowboys secured a 38-27 road win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
“How ‘Bout Them Cowboys” was the reaction, one after another. It kept coming, with no end in sight. Cowboys fans after Cowboys fans celebrating with the bravado that only Cowboys fans have.
“How ‘Bout Them Cowboys” is a phrase we have Jimmy Johnson. Those are the words that came out of his mouth during a wild locker room celebration after Dallas’ 30-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers in 1992.
And we’ve been hearing those words ever since. Cowboys fans use them to celebrate. Cowboys haters use them to mock.
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The celebrators have the upper hand at the moment. After Sunday night’s win over Philly, Dallas is 10-4 and leads the NFC East. There are actually people who believe the Cowboys are a threat in the postseason.
The Cowboys are one of those love-’em-or-hate-’em propositions for most people. I’m somewhere toward the middle, probably leaning more toward loathing. I never cared for the Cowboys during their wildly successful days under Tom Landry. It didn’t break my heart when the Cowboys were beaten during their Jimmy Johnson years. And it’s hard for me to get behind owner Jerry Jones, whose larger-than-life attitude isn’t matched by his team’s success.
But – and give me a moment because these words don’t come easy for me – the NFL is a more interesting place when the Cowboys are good. And it’s mainly because of the team’s fans, re generally the most delusional people out there.
I think it’s the whole “America’s Team,” thing, which can be traced back to the Cowboys’ 1978 highlight film in which the narrator opens with this introduction.
“They appear on television so often that their faces are as familiar to the public as presidents and movie stars. They are the Dallas Cowboys, ‘America's Team’.”
Cowboys fans eat that stuff up. They believe it.
Yet the facts tell a different story.
Dallas has won two playoff games since 1995. In the 18 seasons from 1996 through 2013, the Cowboys were 146-142 and 2-7 in the playoffs.
How ‘Bout Them Cowboys?
I know better than to mess with Cowboys fans, yet here I am messing with Cowboys fans. And with a group of Cowboys fans who, for the first time in a while, are feeling boastful and optimistic.
This is a good football team.
Quarterback Tony Romo, running back Demarco Murray and wide receiver Dez Bryant remind me of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin from the last Dallas team to win a Super Bowl 20 years ago. Yes, it’s been that long.
Aikman passed for 3,304 yards and 16 touchdowns in 1995, with seven interceptions. Smith rushed for 1,773 yards and 25 touchdowns, averaging 110.8 yards per game. And Irvin caught 111 passes for 1,603 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Romo, meanwhile, has passed for 3,188 yards through 14 games, with 28 touchdowns. Murray, who will require surgery on his injured left hand this week but might not miss any action, has rushed for 1,687 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 120.5 yards per game. And Bryan has 79 receptions for 1,148 yards and 13 touchdowns.
In 1995, the Cowboys ranked third in the NFL in total offense, second in rushing, 13th in passing and third in scoring. The 2014 Cowboys rank seventh in total offense, third in rushing, 16th in passing and seventh in scoring.
The biggest difference between the two teams, and the biggest reason to still have concerns about the 2014 version, is defense.
In 1995, Dallas had the league’s No. 3 defense; this season the Cowboys rank 19th.
I like Seattle and Arizona in the NFC more than I like Dallas. I might even prefer Green Bay, despite its loss Sunday to Buffalo. And don’t count out the Eagles and Lions. The NFC is stacked.
But at least the Cowboys are in the stack this season, much to the glee of their fans and to the chagrin of the legions of Cowboys haters out there.
Dallas still has to play Indianapolis (at home) and Washington (on the road). The Cowboys could still blow this. But with four wins in five games, including a revenge victory over the Eagles, this looks, finally, like a Dallas team for which a Super Bowl case can be made.
Yes, indeed, “How ‘Bout . . . ugh . . . Them Cowboys?