Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 12/18/11
Since being named head coach in the middle of last season, Jason Garrett hasn't led Dallas to many lopsided victories. But like his first game in charge, a 33-20 win over the Giants , he delivered on Saturday night as the Cowboys grabbed a sizable early advantage and held on for a 31-15 victory over Tampa Bay. Here are my thoughts on the Cowboys' eighth win of the season. 1.) What a perfect storm for a team desperately needing a win to keep postseason hopes alive. The Cowboys badly needed to end a two-game losing streak and the struggling Buccaneers were the perfect opponent. For much of the first half, Tony Romo looked like Aaron Rodgers and Tampa Bay, who has lost its last eight, played like its season couldn't get over fast enough. There are no style points in the NFL, just wins and losses, so while a 28-0 halftime lead should probably have led to a final score in the 42-10 range, Garrett and friends will gladly fly back to Dallas tonight with a two-touchdown victory in hand. Jerry Jones' take: "I was watching one of the old highlights of our '95 season and I was reminded today by some of our players how we didn't play well in the first of December but got it together and played well at the end and ended up going to the Super Bowl. "Now, I know and you know both teams, this is no '95 team, but the whole point is that I'm proud we played well tonight. We needed this after the last two weeks we've had as disappointment." 2.) DeMarcus Ware earned his 16th sack of the season, but for the most part, the supporting cast made the big plays defensively for the Cowboys. Anthony Spencer started it by stripping Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman early, and players like Sean Lissemore, Marcus Spears and Bradie James made important plays that held the Bucs in check. Rob Ryan's defense was solid on Saturday, but it will have to be even better if they plan on winning the final two games on the schedule (at home against the Eagles and a season finale at the Giants). Also, an efficient first half offense dominated the clock, showing that the Cowboys best defense might have to come from Romo and company. Jerry Jones' take: "Our team feels really good about this win and they should. This game helped us play better. We played a lot of young guys tonight and that will help us." 3.) Don't lie, Romo's fumble early in the second half, which was returned for a TD, made you think of the meltdown against the Detroit Lions. Fortunately for the Cowboys QB, he didn't force any throws or commit any turnovers after that. Romo's first half was as good as it gets, three passing touchdowns and one rushing score, but controlling the clock and making good decisions after the fumble is what gave Romo the important December victory. Jerry Jones' take: "This time last year, we didn't have him. But with him playing at the level he's playing, it would be a real serious ... disappointment for us not to get into the playoffs as well as he's playing. We've got to get the wins. We got to get in." 4.) Maybe it wasn't just DeMarco Murray that got the run game on track. For the second consecutive weekend, Felix Jones has carried for over 100 yards and looked like the first round pick that many expected him to be. There were times where he may have danced around a little too much, but 108 yards on 22 carries impressively helped run clock. It also didn't hurt that Sammy Morris turned in a few nice runs to move the chains in the second half, showing that the running game can still exist with Murray sidelined for the remainder of the year. Jerry Jones' take: "Felix, of course, was really playing well and competing. ... I'm really proud of him. I thought under the circumstances he had about as good and complete of a game since he's been a Dallas Cowboy." 5.) Momentum is one of the most important things in sports, and the Cowboys built some Saturday night in Florida. The secondary wasn't embarrassed, the receivers and tight ends all contributed, Romo looked sharp, the running game was solid, Dan Bailey made his only field goal attempt and the rush defense was outstanding. Had the Cowboys barely hung on, or lost this one, I'd say the postseason hopes should be over. However, this performance might just be enough to ignite a little run. Oh, and it also prevented Jerry Jones from jumping off a Tampa building. Jerry Jones' take: "As far as our team is concerned on both sides of the ball, I don't know when I can remember a more complete first half than we had." -- Follow Jon Machota on Twitter: @jonmachota
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