Gil LeBreton

Maybe Cowboys really are for real

Maybe the Cowboys really are for real.

Maybe those surgeons planted magic beans in Tony Romo’s back.

Maybe all the Dallas defense needed was to get rid of those guys Ware and Hatcher.

Maybe Jerry Jones finally found that long-lost lamp, the one with the Super Bowl genie in it.

Maybe we all had better sit down. Breathe deeply. Try not to let the heady vapors of Sunday night’s 38-17 defrocking of the New Orleans Saints go to your playoff-starved heads.

But it’s tempting, of course. A reasonably similar Saints team rolled up 40 first downs and 625 yards and embarrassed the Cowboys 49-17 as recently as last November.

Darren Sproles couldn’t have made this much difference.

When the Cowboys and DeMarco Murray bulldozed Tennessee into submission two weeks ago, we tapped the brakes and said, yeah, well, it was only Jake Locker and the Titans.

And when they came from 21 points down last week in St. Louis and beat Jeff Fisher’s team, we shrugged and said that, well, the Rams were using their third-string quarterback.

But this — this was Sean Payton’s team. The great Drew Brees’ offense. The woolly Rob Ryan’s defense.

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Some even predicted that the Saints would be playing for the Vince Lombardi Trophy come February.

The Cowboys? Based upon, in no particular order, a winless preseason, Romo’s leisurely practice schedule and Owner Jerry Jones’ continuing interference, we thought they’d be most fortunate to log another 8-8.

But all bets are now off. Jones’ team is on a three-game winning streak. The defense actually seems to know what it’s doing.

The Cowboys are tied for first place atop the NFC East — first place, and climbing.

Unless, of course — and there will be national voices suggesting this very thing on Monday — the New Orleans Saints, like the Rams and Titans, just aren’t any good.

That may be, but Romo, Murray and the Cowboys’ defense added substantially to a growing pile of positive evidence Sunday night.

Though the Saints showered receiver Dez Bryant with attention, Romo and the Cowboys scored on five of their first six possessions. By halftime Murray had 87 yards on the ground, and Romo had completed passes to eight different receivers not named Bryant.

Note to Ryan, the Saints’ defensive coordinator who was fired by Jones two years ago: This 2014 Cowboys offense has weapons. And each week Romo has been regaining his confidence to use them.

Ryan’s Saints defense hasn’t been consistent all season. The Saints began the weekend ranked 27th (of 32) NFL teams in yards allowed passing and 31st in claiming turnovers.

Clearly, the draft-enhanced Cowboys offensive line was made for matchups like this. With Ryan’s game plan apparently focused on stopping Bryant, Romo was sacked only once and otherwise allowed to search for second, third and even fourth receivers.

The Saints compounded their defensive inefficiencies with frequently indifferent tackling. Safety Jairus Byrd — we’re mostly talking about you.

Murray finished with 24 carries and 149 rushing yards, dozens of them after the initial contact. Even Romo loped for a 21-yard run, the longest of his career.

Romo was outgained by Brees, 340 passing yards to 262, but the Saints’ $100-million quarterback spent much of his night under steady duress. Romo kept finding the open man; Brees kept trying to thread the ball to well-shrouded receivers.

Maybe the Cowboys really are for real.

Maybe, like Romo, everybody should take Wednesdays off.

Maybe Owner Jones has finally had that long-awaited lobotomy and switched brains with Jimmy Johnson.

Sit down.

Breathe deeply.


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