Oct 27, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) walks back to the locker room after an injury in the third quarter against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium. (Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)
(C+P) — McLintock, True Grit, El Dorado – just a few movie suggestions for Cowboy players to watch on their eight-plus hour flight to London, because, quite frankly Dallas could use a little John Wayne heroics to overcome what seems to be a never-ending string of injuries to key players.
Oh how quickly the tides can change. Two weeks ago the Cowboys were the talk of the National Football League, sitting tied atop the NFC East and holding one of the league’s best records. America’s Team is back read headlines everywhere. Then the Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals came to town – in a span of eight quarters the entire season changed.
It wasn’t the two losses that caused this abrupt shift, sure this is a definite step back but losses happen. The pain felt days later has nothing to do with the scoreboard and everything to do with the injuries that only continue to mount.
An NFL training room naturally grows more and more crowded as a season goes along, but the Cowboys’ has become increasingly more so over the past two weeks. First was Tony Romo Monday, Oct. 27, Night Football two weeks ago. For the two minutes he laid on the ground, barely able to move, you could almost hear the walls of AT&T stadium shiver. Things didn’t look any better when he feebly rose from the ground with help and walked straight to the locker room with an almost petrified look on his face.
It seemed he knew it was bad. Who would blame him? Consecutive offseason back surgeries made everyone assume the worse, even Romo himself.
“It was a spot that obviously sends a negative feeling,” explained Romo during his post-game press conference. “It was a knee or elbow or something that kind of hit me perfectly, even if I hadn’t have had back surgery I think I would have felt it.”
While he was able to return to the game, he was clearly limited and later in the week it was diagnosed that Romo had two small fractures in his back. It’s an injury that kept him out of Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals and has him listed as questionable heading into their game in London versus the Jaguars.
Unfortunately, the list does not stop there either. An already depleted defense lost their leading tackler, and captain, Justin Durant in the Redskins game as well. Watch any Cowboys’ game, and you would see number 52 flying to the ball, in fact, it was rare to not see him in the picture each and every play.
“It’s a big loss for us,” cornerback Brandon Carr told ESPN Dallas last week. “That was our guy that held down the middle for us, called all the plays, made a lot of plays for us in a short amount of time this season. We’re definitely going to miss him, but he’s going to be around. Now it comes to the next-man-up mentality.”
While rookies and practice squad players filled in admirably, Durant’s presence was missed as expected, and the Cowboys defense allowed the most points since their week one loss to the 49ers falling to the Cardinals 28-10. As if that wasn’t bad enough starting linebacker Rolando McClain, who is irreplaceable at this point after the loss of Durant, and starting defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford both left Sunday’s game with knee injuries.
Even better? The team now boards an eight-plus hour flight to London. Anyone who has ever flown understands how uncomfortable a flight of any length can be while injured. Oh and let’s not forget what is fast becoming it’s own Valley Ranch soap opera with the recent release of a video showing Joseph Randle calling out teammates Dez Bryant and Josh Brent for their past off-the-field issues, while he himself was being arrested.
All of which brings Dallas to a pivotal point in their season. They either crumble as they have in years past, or they find a way to, pardon the obvious pun, ‘Cowboy Up’ and overcome the injuries, off-the-field drama, and whatever else comes their way.
The return of Romo, broken back and all, could be the first step to righting the ship – really how much more John Wayne can you get?