Past success means nothing today
FRISCO, Texas – Enough of this Tom Brady is 7-0 against the Dallas Cowboys. Never lost to them.
Let’s not just put a stat conveniently in a box, then tie a bow to the top, as if the now 45-year-old Brady is on a crusade against the team with a blue star on his helmet. Let’s unpack the facts.
Are you aware that four of those wins occurred between 2003 and 2015. Not a soul on this Cowboys team that has gone 12-5 in back-to-back seasons and qualified for the playoffs in back-to-back- seasons for the first time since 2006-07 was that the Cowboys’ 2003 team lost 12-0 to the Brady-led Patriots. Not a soul on this team was on the 2007 Cowboys squad and lost 48-27 to Brady’s Patriots.
And only one person on this 2022 team, Tyron Smith, was on the Cowboys’ 8-8 team in 2011 that lost 20-16 to Brady’s Patriots. And consider this: In those three seasons, the Patriots won one Super Bowl (2003) and lost the other two.
In 2015, when the Cowboys lost to Brady and the Patriots, 30-6, the eventual 4-12 Cowboys were Tony Romo-less in that game. You know how many of these current Cowboys were on that team? Try three, Smith, Zack Martin and DeMarcus Lawrence.
Now, in 2019, an 8-8 Cowboys team in a cold, driving rainstorm in Foxborough, Mass., Brady and the Patriots pounded the Cowboys 13-9, the eventual 12-4 Patriots’ only touchdown scored after recovering a blocked punt at the Cowboys’ 12-yard line, Brady threw a 10-yard TD pass. There were 15 current Cowboys on that team, including the additions of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Leighton Vander Esch, Brett Maher, Tony Pollard and Luke Gifford, to name a few.
This is how Brady got to 5-0 with the Patriots against the Cowboys.
So really, Brady, with the current Buccaneers, has only faced a majority of those Cowboys on the way to Tampa, Fla., for Monday night’s Super Wild Card Weekend playoffs in the 2021 and 2022 season openers. And lo and behold, 23 of the Cowboys in the 2021 game are no longer with the team losing 31-29 when Brady led the Bucs to a game-winning field goal with two seconds left. And in that game, Dak Prescott played Brady, the only problem was driving the Cowboys 68 yards for Greg Zuerlein’s 48-yard field goal to take a 29-28 lead with 1:24 left to play, yes, a minute and 24 seconds too soon.
And in this year’s season opener, of course, the 19-3 Bucs win, the Dallas defense held Brady to just 19 points, but it was the Tampa Bay defense that suffocated this Cowboys offense to a season-low three points and to their third fewest. total yards, 244, to pick up the win.
Wonder if anyone in Tampa is worried going into this game that the Cowboys have a 2-0 postseason record against the Bucs, even though those wins came after the 1981 and 1982 seasons, 38-0 and 30-17. Pointless, right?
These are just the 1-year-old’s cowboys.
So leave it to Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse, 0-3 when playing Brady, after losing to him and New England, 24-10 while with the Vikings, to put this game into perspective when asked, “How bad do you want to beat Brady?”
“How bad do I want to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?” Kearse said rhetorically and correctively. “Very bad. Really bad.”
Well said. What does 2003 have to do with it?
- Let us see: This would be huge. Four guys who didn’t play any or all of last Sunday’s game against Washington, Tyler Biadasz, Leighton Vander Esch, Johnathan Hankins and DaRon Bland, were expected to start the Cowboys’ light practice on Wednesday and then jump into full practice on Thursday, cross Fingers crossed that everyone can go on Monday night. Especially Biadasz. The offensive line movement to compensate for the loss of the starting center (high ankle sprain) really messed up the line play against Washington. Now, as you were, Biadasz in the center, and he said, “I’m good” Wednesday, and it appeared to rehabilitate the second day while pushing a weighted sled; Connor McGovern back at left guard after playing center; and Tyler Smith back at left tackle after playing guard. And if Bland can return at cornerback and Mackensie Alexander in the slot, it will lessen the load at left corner. Then Hankins comes back and plugs the middle, and how nice for the team’s second-leading tackler, Vander Esch, to man the middle. Keep saying this: Injuries matter.
- Playing on grass: Yep, there should be good grass at Raymond James Stadium too, even this time of year. It’s Florida, right? So it has been pointed out that the Cowboys are 1-4 on turf this year, beating Tennessee but losing to the Eagles, Packers, Jaguars and Commanders, suggesting that the turf is slowing down this speedy Cowboys team. Still wondering why grass tracks slow down a fast team but not a slow team. As Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the other day, “My point is, they have to play on grass, too.”
- Lion roars: It’s hard to imagine Cowboys “lionback” Micah Parsons not getting hacked due to his exclusion from the NFLPA All-Pro team at either edge rusher or off-the-ball linebacker, not only with his 13.5 sacks, but also 69 QB pressures, five tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries, along with his 54 tackles. And if you look at him, there’s no stat of how he impacts opposing offenses, and the opponents who watch up close and personal who voted know that. But it’s OK. All he needs is a little extra fire for a playoff game, or as Kearse said of the snub, “It’s going to be one of those games for him.”
- Remove the ball: Of all the great defenses Dallas has had, this is amazing that the Cowboys have led the NFL in back-to-back seasons in takeaways, 33 this year and 34 last year, becoming the first team to lead the NFL in consecutive years since Pittsburgh from 1972-74. It wouldn’t hurt to take a few more away on Monday night, and remember they’ve intercepted Brady three times in the last two games.
- Been there: Only three players who have spent their entire careers with the Cowboys have played in more than five postseason games: Tyron Smith, DeMarcus Lawrence and Zack Martin, all three of six each over four playoff seasons. Leading the way would be TY Hilton, who appeared in nine games over five postseasons with Indianapolis. How young is this team? This will be just the second postseason game for 13 Cowboys players. Oh, if we’re counting, this Brady guy, uh, he’s appeared in 47 postseason games, winning 35 of them, with NFL records of 13,049 passing yards and 86 touchdown passes.
- Playoff Bits: The Cowboys finished the season with 54 sacks, the most since 59 in 2008 and the second most since 57 in 1983 and 1984, just after sacks became an official NFL stat in 1982 … The Cowboys had a three-game winning streak in the wild-card playoffs games, 2009, 2014 and 2018, before losing to the 49ers last year, and has a five-game losing streak in divisional-round games, from 1996 through 2018 … CeeDee Lamb solidified his No. 1 receiver status, finishing tied for fifth. with his 107 receptions, second in franchise history behind only Michael Irvin’s 111 in 1995, and Lamb’s nine receiving touchdowns also ranked fifth in the NFL.
And we turn to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones this week for our final word, Jerry waxing poetic when asked if the adversity caused by the 26-6 drubbing of the Commandeers might inspire his team to play better Monday night in the first round of the playoffs against Tampa Bay.
“I know that success is the prospect of being smart and having all the answers, and success is at least the undermining flaw that failure is. And to have had someone and to think that’s who you are is also a fraud. Both are tantamount to fraud.”
In other words, I think, none of that matters in a win or home game like Monday night will be. It’s all about the moment.
Can’t get shot like that in other places.