The Dallas Cowboys earned a much-needed 31-16 victory Sunday night at home against the Washington Redskins. In one of the weakest divisions in the NFL, every win is magnified, and this was the biggest win of the season for Dallas.
But it didn't come free. Nothing ever does—especially not in the NFL.
Here are the five most important takeaways from the Cowboys win in Week 6.
1. The Injury Parade Continues
My goodness. How beat up can one team be? The defensive line was already down key players in Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer. Now DeMarcus Ware will miss significant time with a strained quadriceps.
In their ESPNDallas.com report, Todd Archer and Adam Schefter were told by sources that Ware could miss three to four weeks. The same report indicates that Murray is expected to miss at least one week.
According to Archer and Schefter's report, Ware has quite a bit of confidence in his ability to bounce back quickly:
My body recovers really fast...I'm not going to be out that long...I wouldn't be 100 percent if I had to go out and play right now. There wouldn't be a point to this day. If I had to play, I wouldn't. I couldn't get off the ball.
Regardless of Ware's intentions, he will be out for a while. A ragtag Cowboys defensive line will have to survive without him. The explosive offense will have to wade through a brutal schedule without its top rusher. Carry on.
2. The State of the Defensive Line
So about that "ragtag" D-line: they just helped to limit Robert Griffin III to 19-of-39 passing for 246 yards and an interception.
Nick Hayden, Drake Nevis, David Carter and Caesar Rayford led the charge.
Ever heard of any these guys? Well get used to them, as you'll be hearing those names quite a bit.
The run defense was poor on Sunday, but this defensive line did more than its fair share to win. Perhaps being under the radar can inspire this unit for the next few weeks.
3. Dwayne Harris Is Special
It's official. He is a special teams howitzer.
He didn't make one reception on Sunday. He didn't need to.
Instead, how does two kickoff returns for 113 yards sound? Or two punt returns for 109 yards and a touchdown?
The Cowboys offense was bogged down all game. Harris provided the spark the team needed to finish off the victory. Get a load of the emotion in that picture to the right. That's part of that spark Harris brings to this team.
If he can consistently hand the Cowboys solid field position, watch out. Imagine if he also starts getting more looks from Tony Romo.
4. How Good Can This Offense Be?
The Cowboys are currently averaging 30.5 points per game. That's second in the league behind only...well, you know.
Miles Austin has been in and out of the lineup. Romo has had a stellar first six games but has surpassed 250 yards passing in only three of them. Backup running backs Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner have a combined 58 yards on 23 carries.
According to ESPN.com, the passing game is currently ranked 11th in the league. The running game is 25th. It is reasonable to expect that emerging rookie receiver Terrance Williams can boost the passing attack. The running game can really only get better.
In spite of these deficiencies, only Denver has more total points thus far.
5. The NFC East Really Is a Two-Horse Race
The New York Giants are 0-6. The Redskins are 1-4. In Week 6, Washington more than doubled Dallas' total yardage, yet still lost.
The NFC East is now down to the Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles.
This division is just uncharacteristically pathetic this season. I can't remember the last time that after six games a 3-3 team was in first place in this division. The Cowboys have a tough schedule looming. But with its divisional rivals struggling, this team could make the playoffs with an 8-8 record.
If Dallas can find a way to leave Philly with a win this Sunday, the Cowboys will be in total control of this division.
When was the last time you could say that?