How many times have I harped on Mike Jenkins for not playing up to expectations in 2010?  I’ve done it a lot, although it’s been a while.  Week 13 against the Colts lent plenty in the way of working material to jump his case again, but just when he was hanging by a thread, he came back from the depths to save the day.  But more on that in a bit.

By the time this game came around, neither the Cowboys nor the Colts were living up to expectations.  After all, Dallas had hopes of becoming the first team to host a Super Bowl, while Indianapolis was riding an unbelievable streak of seven straight 12 win seasons.  Only the Colts, at 6-5, had any real playoff hopes, while the Cowboys were playing for pride after starting the year 3-8.  This turned out to be another dandy, though, as Dallas’ recent surge continued.

First the good stuff.

Tashard Choice scores a touchdown against the Colts. Courtesy Getty Images

Crazy game, huh?  And for a number of reasons, the most obvious of which was Peyton Manning’s poor play.  He threw four interceptions, and two were returned for scores in this game.  It all got started, though, with a Tashard Choice 20-yard touchdown run, and he looked pretty good on this play.  He took a pitch left, made a couple of nice cuts and got to the end zone.  A field goal and a pick six by Orlando Scandrick put the good guys ahead 17-0 early in the second quarter.  The Colts did get on the board before the half on a Pierre Garçon touchdown catch to cut the deficit to 10 points at the break.

The second half is where it got really interesting.  Just over a minute into the third quarter, Jenkins got beat down the sidelines, and despite his diving attempt to get a hand on Manning’s pass, Reggie Wayne hauled in a 34-yard touchdown to get the Colts within three points.  Dallas got another field goal and they led 20-14 when Manning made another mistake, getting intercepted by linebacker Sean Lee, who ran it back 31-yards for another defensive score.  It was back to a two score lead, but it wouldn’t last for long.

Taj Smith (right) blocks Mat McBriars punt before returning it for a touchdown. Courtesy Matt Detrich / The Star

In the waning seconds of the third quarter, it was fitting that Wayne made another big play, again at the expense of Jenkins.  This time, Wayne only got to the one-yard line off a 40-yard pass, so Javarris James capped off the drive with a touchdown run.  Just two minutes later, Dallas committed yet another in a long line of special teams gaffes this season, allowing Indy to return a blocked punt for a touchdown.  Just like that, the Colts had a one-point edge on the ‘Boys.

However, a Colts special teams boo-boo gave Dallas a second chance as well.  David Buehler successfully attempted a 24-yard field goal, but a leverage penalty against the Colts, in which a player basically attempted to climb over an offensive lineman to block the kick.  So, Dallas had first and goal, and Jon Kitna would finish the drive with a touchdown toss to Jason Witten a few plays later.  A two-point conversion on nice throw to Roy Williams in the back right corner of the end zone put Dallas back up by seven with 2:38 left.  James, though would score a second touchdown to tie it back up with under 30 seconds to play.  So, we had overtime.

Early in overtime, Manning made one final costly mistake, and Jenkins made a play.  Although he didn’t intercept the ball himself, he did deflect a third-down pass that was picked off by Lee.  A little while later, and Buehler was knocking the game winner through the uprights.  Final score 38-35.

Clearly, the good from this game was the win itself, the tremendous effort from the ground attack, gaining over 200 yards, and the opportunistic defense that forced four turnovers, while Dallas had none.  Also, Dallas dominated time of possession 40:00 to 27:05.  As for individuals, Choice had 100 yards rushing, while Felix Jones had 83 more.  Sean Lee made two interceptions to go along with five tackles and two passes defended.  This blurb talks about how he developed in his first year in Dallas.

David Buehler celebrates his game winning field goal against the Colts. Courtesy http://www.reuters.com

There was also a lot of bad in this game, like Mike Jenkins, at least most of the game.  Wayne had 14 catches for 200 yards and a score against him, and until he deflected that pass, which luckily fell into Lee’s arms, his day was entirely forgettable.  Can one good play, even if he wasn’t the one who actually caught the ball, completely erase what happened the rest of the game?  In this case I’ll say yes, since the ensuing drive led to the game winning field goal, but it doesn’t buff it out completely.  Yes, he made a play when he absolutely had to, but it doesn’t change the fact that he was a liability for much of this game, and for much of 2010.  But hey, a wins is a win, as they say.

Record to this point:  4-8

But, I’m not done yet!  Are you ready for a bonus?!  Have you ever wondered how this blog might be visually represented according to word usage tendencies?  Well wonder no more!  Just for my own amusement, I have done just that.  And here it is!

Notice it looks like a football, which is fitting.  Also notice how prominent the words “Dallas” and “Cowboys” are, meaning I use them quite a bit.  Conversely, the word “win” is pretty minuscule by comparison, which is to be expected from a team that only won six games all season.  So there you have it.  All is once again right with the world in which this blog occupies space.

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