Short Shots: Divisional Round

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[“Hurt” covered by Johnny Cash can be heard in the distance]

The season ends. Usually just like this. Every team that matters walks out of the season carrying their “L”. One team emerges as the champion, the rest of us gather ourselves and then we do it all over again.

There are few things in life that consume me (us) like sports. It’s why we’ve all given our time and attention to making this site a (moderate) success.

The Cowboys and Texans both gave their fans successful seasons. They both have clear weaknesses that can be addressed in the off-season. But for now the season goes on with out them. Like Boyz II Men said, “It’s so hard to say goodbye.”

Texans –

By Alan :

To beat the Patriots, you need to do two things: 1) find a way to force (uncharacteristic) turnovers, and 2) play mistake free football. It’s a tall order for anybody, which is why Brady and Co. have been a juggernaut for 15 freakin years. But I tell ya, the Texans could’ve done it this one time. The defense forced 3 turnovers, including 2 Brady interceptions (he had only thrown 2 all year). But the mistakes, boy they mounted quickly: a kick return TD, and of course, Brock Osweiler. The much maligned QB was gifted an opportunity to redeem himself from an entire season of futility, but he failed once again. But it’s not all on Brock, his teammates didn’t do him any favors either – two dropped TDs on his best throws of the night, and none of the wide receivers, even Hopkins, could create any separation all game long.

You just can’t mask a bad quarterback forever. At the time Osweiler was signed, I don’t think anybody in the league could criticize the decision to bring him in (although you could the amount paid to do so), but nobody expected him to be this much of a liability. I don’t know what the Texans can do to fix this problem next year, because Savage ain’t the answer either.

But the defense is fantastic, and powered this squad to a division title, a playoff win, and a punchy showing against the Patriots. JD Clowney has emerged as a dominant player in this league, he flourished on the field and as a leader in JJ Watt’s absence, and it was tons o’ fun watching him knock Brady on his royal ass.

On to next season, the defense will be even more dominant, but you just can’t waste prime Watt and Clowney with a stank offense. Bill O’Brien and GM Rick Smith better get this all straightened out.

Bulls on Parade for life!

 

Cowboys –

By David :

Where to begin?  When Tony Romo was hit in the third preseason game of the season and doubled over in pain with a back injury, I assumed that the season was over.  Our backup quarterback was out for the season, leaving only our fourth round draft pick, Dak Prescott.  And then, to make matters worse, Dallas went out and signed Mark “Butt Fumble” Sanchez… *barf noise*

But then Mr. Prescott came out and lit the world on fire, with a little help from fellow rookie Ezekial Elliot.  The dynamic duo tore through the league with only a couple hiccups against the New York Giants to a NFC best 13-3 record.  After thinking that Dallas had two lost seasons in a row, watching the Boys roll through the league this year was an absolute joy.  We all looked forward to Sunday afternoons this year.

So, to say the least, this past Sunday was a let down.  Aaron Rodgers tore through the Dallas defense for most of the day, but Dak and the Boys stormed back to tie up the game in the final minutes.  Just in time for Green Bay to kick a game winning field goal as time expired.  It was a tough finale to a surprisingly amazing season, but that doesn’t take away all the fun that we had along the way.  At the end of the day, I’d much rather experience playoff heartbreak than a listless season where games don’t matter from week to week.  Only one team gets to win their final game of the season, and it will be the Cowboys again in the (hopefully) near future.  Until then, all we can do is support our team and enjoy the ride.

By Michael :

I thought having my phone die on me on Friday would be the best thing because it would insulate me from a barrage of Cowboys trash talking on Sunday. Rather, it wound up being a blessing because I could live in the moment for an another instant classic from the Cowboys and Packers with my grandma and cousins, while my wife and child slept on the couch with Italian beef induced comas.

The future is bright for the Cowboys. Dak Prescott played the best game by a rookie QB in playoff history and Ezekiel Elliott looked unstoppable when he was being used. Prescott lead an epic 18 point comeback even when the announcers were trolling Cowboys fans with a possible Romo appearance. If Packers fans still think Buck and Aikman are biased against them, they are delusional. Prescott is primed for a leap once the offense relies on him more.  He picked apart poor Ladarius Gunter like Gunter owned him money. He was very Brady-esque the way he seized upon the weakness in the Packers secondary instead of forcing plays a certain direction. As for Elliott, this would’ve been the game to give him 30 carries. “Stops” against him were still 2 and 3 yard gains. The offense did its part. It’s easy to blame a defense that gave up 34 points, but they held the Packers to one TD in the 2nd half and were only beat because of another miracle play from Rodgers and a kick that refused to hook.

I’ve been on the business end of too many of those losses to want to rub it in Cowboys fans’ faces. It’s just sports, but it’s a collective hurt that is felt by a large collection of people. As a Packers fan who’s watched two elite QB’s for a long time, I can advise Cowboy fans to hold the Joneses (Jones’s? Jonessesses? Jonas?) accountable for building a team to win now. The packers squandered too many years of Favre’s and Rodgers’s primes with overly cautious cap complacency knowing that each of them could sleepwalk into the playoffs most years. That doesn’t seem like it’s ever been a problem for Jerry, but just be on the look out. Having Elliott and especially Prescott on rookie deals means there is a 3 year window where the Cowboys can afford to overpay for defense and make a serious run at the Super Bowl. After that, much of the cap will be tied up in Elliott and Prescott and the Boys will have to relying on coaching-up rookies and castaways quickly to fill in for guys who had to get let go in order to get overpaid by the Texans.

By Bryan :

A-A-Ron. 


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