I’ve never been a big fan of the officials. I’ve never really made that a secret. When they called unnecessary roughness on London Fletcher, I was fit to be tied. Redskins’ fans are all too familiar with the refs determining the outcome of games, but it’s a strange feeling when the call goes our way.
A guy I work with told me he was going to root against the Redskins last week. He’s not a Cowboys fan, he just hates the Redskins. He told me about how he, and a bunch of his friends who are Cowboys fans, were going to go out to a bar just so they could talk smack to Redskins fans when they lost.
I warned him not to be too confident; I pointed out Shanahan’s record on opening day, I pointed out McNabb’s familiarity with Dallas, I pointed out the Cowboys weakness in their offensive line, and I pointed out Wade Philips as “’nuff said.”
Many people thought a Cowboys’ victory was a foregone conclusion. Tony Romo was coming into this year, after winning his first playoff game last year (and the first for the Cowboys in over 10 years) ready to establish himself as one of the league’s “elite quarterbacks” (according to ESPN). Former Patriot Rodney Harrison gave the Redskins “no chance” as he emphatically picked the Cowboys to win during NBC’s “Football Night in America” pregame show.
With a little over a minute to go, and a little more than half the field to go, Redskins’ Nation held it’s collective breaths. How many times had we seen this? One last drive; all the defense has to do is keep them out of the endzone. Was this the time where we’d have to pay for the “Monday Night Miracle” where the Redskins came back from 13-0 in the final three and a half minutes?
I was on the edge of my seat, hands folded almost like I was praying. My wife was standing, pacing back and forth between plays. My coworker reported that you could hear a pin drop in the bar where he and his friends were waiting to razz the Redskins’ fans in attendance.
Dallas is moving the ball. Six seconds left, seventeen yards away, they call their final timeout even though the clock is already stopped; might as well think it over because they only have one play left.
This is it; just like cresting the big hill on a roller coaster. Anything can happen. Just keep them out of the endzone.
Romo takes the snap and drops back. He moves left to avoid the rush and steps up into the pocket. He flings the ball to a wide open receiver in the endzone…touchdown.
I can’t type what I said here, sufficed to say it rhymed with “duck”. I jumped up from the couch yelling it.
At the bar, the four Cowboys fans in attendance were the only ones screaming.
Just as I’m about to start throwing things I look up at the TV and see an official. I can’t hear him, but I see him grab his forearm (holding) and see him point to the Cowboys and I’m frozen. Now if you picture my thoughts running through my head in a straight line from ear to ear like a train, suddenly it derails and they all jumble together. While the NTSB is in there trying to sort out the mess I’m still struggling to find out what that holding call means.
“I think that means we win…” is the first thing I can say. I know you’re probably saying “Duh, of course it does, Bob” but remember, I’ve just had a major derailment in my brain and bureaucratic government officials are still sorting through the wreckage of swear words, spilled cargo and dead bodies trying to get the line cleared so that they can open the tracks to interstate commerce again.
The worm has turned at the bar as those fans were a little quicker on the uptake. They explode into cheers and the shoe is on the other foot for the Dallas fans.
“They won.” I said, finally starting to get things moving. “The game is over, they don’t get another chance on an offensive penalty; they won!” The midnight express was finally rolling out of Manassas.
I couldn’t help but think of Sean Taylor and his blocked field goal return and the tacked on fifteen yards for the facemask penalty that gave the Redskins a free-play resulting in a game winning field goal over Dallas several years ago.
I finally saw the replay of the holding penalty and there was no doubt it was a good call by the officials. Cowboys’ fans couldn’t say anything. It wasn’t a “phantom call” it was legit.
How far the mighty had fallen; With the Super Bowl being in Dallas, it was almost a foregone conclusion that the Cowboys would be one of the participants. In the postgame and in the papers the next day it was clear that Dallas still had a lot of work to do. The star wasn’t shining so bright anymore.
The Redskins still have a lot of work to do themselves, but what a way for the new regime to establish itself. The road doesn’t get any easier for the Redskins. Next up is Houston; Kyle Shanahan’s former team. The Texans are coming into this game having toppled the Colts in a 34-24 victory. Dallas may have been a paper-tiger, but Houston appears legit.
The only hope is that Kyle has some insight into his former team that can help the Redskins exploit weaknesses that might not be apparent to the rest of the league. Sad part is; I almost don’t even care. We beat the Cowboys; that’ll carry me through a couple of weeks!