Head coach Jason Garrett looks on in the first quarter Sunday.
Take a bow, Jason Garrett.
I know there were lots of heroes Sunday in New Jersey. Tony Romo was clutch. Jason Hatcher was pivotal. Miles Austin finally showed up. Orlando Scandrick was superb. And Dan Bailey was Dan Bailey. But to allow those performances, the head coach had to be a leader.
This is why Jason Garrett was hired. To be a clear, concise, calm captain navigating a ship in the eye of the NFL’s hurricane. Sunday was a storm. Garrett’s Cowboys were steady.
The Giants did all the trash-talking leading into the game. Antrelle Rolle called it a Super Bowl. Jason Pierre-Paul promised New York was going to “put it on ‘em” and that “blood will be spilled.” Tight end Brandon Myers tweeted that “It’s time to separate the MEN from the ‘Boys!” And cornerback Terrell Thomas even guaranteed a win on national radio. The Giants – riding the false bravado of a four-game winning streak against horrendous quarterbacks – even altered their pre-game warm-ups and, accompanied by dramatic, cued music, attempted to intimidate the Cowboys at midfield.
You saw it. We all did. The Giants jumping and flailing and the Cowboys barely noticing, too consumed by their preparation to be distracted by a childish game of “We’ve got spirit yes we do, we’ve got spirit how ‘bout you?”
Too focused to be rattled, the Cowboys collectively shrugged. Then they executed. They played better football. And finally, the won.
“It was just extra incentive, the way that they came out and talked in the media,” cornerback Orlando Scandrick told reporters in the post-game locker room. “They talked and they talked. I’ve never heard a team that was 4-6 talk like that. I knew that when the game started, they weren’t going to be able to talk their way into a victory.”
Sunday is why I don’t put much stock into identities or want-to or emotion when it comes to sports in general and football in specific. The best players tend to win, not the most enthusiastic ones.
In beating the Giants in an unfavorable environment laced with trash-talking and bone-biting wind, the Cowboys took a huge step toward hosting the NFC East Championship Game Dec. 29 in Arlington against the Eagles. And Jason Garrett took a Giant leap toward cementing his strategy that calm trumps chaos.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.