Last week, trying for a palate cleanser from ‘Boys disappointment, I had the misfortune of watching 49ers-Texans The thing about that game---you heard all week about how bad Matt Schaub was—it actually featured horrific QB play on both sides. I mean horrific. Okay, Colin Kaepernick had a decent QB rating, 89, but it was the Tim Tebowiest high QB rating, as he threw for only 113 yards on 6-of-15 passing.
Folks may not remember this, but this was actually Tebow’s thing, one TD, no INT, low yardage games. And honestly, most nights he was better than Kaep’s been the last few. In 2011, the season in which Tebow was the Broncos’ starter most of the season, he had a completion percentage that bad only 3 times. He had a better QB rating 6 times. He threw for that few yards only 3 times.
And if you think Kaep’s 6/15 for 113 yards looks bad, remember that most of that was one 64 yard TD pass to Vernon Davis which traveled 15 yards in the air and, while crucial for my fantasy team, leaves him at 5/14 for 49 yards the whole rest of the game.
But there’s a reason entirely apart from Schaub’s INT problems that we’re talking about him instead of Kaep which is, of course, that the 49ers won handily. Like Tebow before him, like Vince Young before that, people believe in a kind of magical element to QB play. The wins are the QB’s fault, even when you win by a billion and the QB is god-awful.
Meanwhile, Tony Romo outdueled Peyton Manning, throwing for more yards, more TDs and just as many INTs, while averaging 5 more yards per attempt. Unlike Dallas, Denver managed a running game. But on Sunday, Romo was just as good as the greatest of all time playing in, so far, his greatest season of all time.
I’m not excusing Romo, really. That INT was bad, regardless of what happened, and I do kind of think the moment got to him. It’s not the place to throw to a backup, rookie TE whatever else is true. But, really, there’s zero reason Romo’s INT had to be more crucial than Peyton’s. If you think it’s inevitable that a last minute drive will either win or lose the game more so than one that happens in the 2nd quarter, it’s because you have Cowboys Stockholm Syndrome. The points count the same the entire game.
There are teams, many teams, where it doesn’t always come down to a 2 minute drill. Can you believe it?
The good news this week is the same as it was the last week. If the Cowboys want to make the playoffs, it starts with winning both of the next two games. If they do, they will be, at worst, tied with Philly, two up on Washington, and two up on the Giants with, for the moment, all the tiebreaks. At this point it’s seeming pretty likely that the NFC East champ is going to have, at most, 8 or 9 wins, and the ‘Boys can certainly get there.
Especially, the Cowboys can beat Washington. They should. I expect RG III to shake off the rust whenever, and the opening stages of the Monte Kiffin experiment have been Hindenburg-esque, but the Cowboys are the superior team.
The Skins are short on weapons. RGIII should keep improving, but they’re already throwing for 285 or so a game. Pierre Garcon is underrated, but Santana Moss hasn’t done all that much and Leonard Hankerson and Josh Morgan aren’t scaring anybody. Alfred Morris has been very good, but he’s banged up. They have a good pass rush (Orakpo and Kerring), but the Cowboys o-line was very solid against the Broncos and, since the center is a rookie, are likely to keep getting better.
Meanwhile, their pass defense is as bad as their run defense, which has so far been awful. The Cowboys, by contrast, keep looking better in retrospect. Nobody would have figured that two of their three losses so far would be to two 5-0 teams and one that, while 2-3, has only lost one game by more than a field goal. But that’s what it is. They have to have this one, and they should.
In the two games Romo has averaged over 8 yards a pass, the Cowboys have scored 82 points. It’s the bellwether of the offense. He should not have difficulty throwing against the Skins, or against the Eagles for that matter and that should make the difference.
As for the defense…well…we’ll see, I suppose.