In the moments following the Cowboys' heartbreaking 51-48 loss to the Broncos, in a game where quarterback Tony Romo threw for 506 yards and five touchdowns, but will be remembered for a decisive fourth-quarter interception, owner and general manager Jerry Jones didn't sound like a man who had just witnessed what the rest of us saw.
“This is a moral victory,” Jones said. “It's not a loser talking here. It's just this has a lot of the feelings of a victory with it. …
“Tony played the best game that I've ever seen him play in his career, not only from the standpoint of how he executed, not only how he created plays but his leadership, “Jones continued. “That was unfortunate that it came down to that at the end, but you can see the very best over on the other side of the ball, it can happen to them, too.
“He played the best game that he's ever played for us. If we can have that kind of play from him and others, especially on the offensive side of the ball, then we'll win most of our football games left.”
Moral victories are usually reserved for overmatched homecoming opponents not NFL teams, which explains why Jones' son and Cowboys executive vice president
"There's no moral victories in this thing," he said during a radio appearance, via the Dallas Morning News. “It was obviously a very difficult one to digest. I know we'll bounce back as a team, and we'll get to work. There's some positive things to build on, in terms of this team, but certainly no moral victories there.”
Except, maybe the Broncos game is different?
Yes, we know what we just wrote above but consider this argument (which we spent many words on in Tuesday's "The Week in Overreactions" post about -- you guessed it -- Tony Romo, choker).
Moral victories in the NFL are worthless -- with one exception: the Cowboys play in the NFC East, the league's worst division. Near-wins against the AFC's best team doescount for something, even if it's not quantifiable by any standard measure.
The Redskins, owners of one of the league's worst defenses and the Cowboys' opponent this week, will likely come out of Tuesday's film session wondering how the hell they're going to stop an offense that went toe-to-toe with the Broncos and Peyton Manning.
Of course, taking the long view, Stephen Jones is right. Real wins count in real standings and that determine whether teams get to compete in real playoffs. But for one afternoon, the we saw Romo Peyton Manning Peyton himself. And that -- along with the previous four weeks of solid play -- that make the Cowboys the favorite in he NFL's sorriest division.