Garrett’s 1999 Victory Over Packers Shows The Value Of Never Saying Never
There are few things more despicable than a millionaire athlete on a crying jag. Nobody needed to remind Brandon Weeden of this fact. At 32, he should know better.
But in the aftermath of a 30-6 beatdown at the hands of the New England Patriots, the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys appeared to be blaming his team’s three-game losing skid on, of all things, bad luck.
“Norv Turner told me a long time ago when we were sitting in the [Browns] quarterback meeting, and he said, ‘Brandon, I don’t know what you have done to whoever, but you’ve got the worst luck of any player I have been around.’ I have, ever since I was a little kid,” said Weeden, while addressing reporters after the game. “I don’t know what I did. But it is what it is.”
It’s not everyone that wears both the pinstripes and Cowboy blue during their playing career. It’s not everyone that is handed a starting job in the NFL straight out of college.
Quarterbacks are paid the big bucks to win games on a consistent basis. Weeden has 24 starts to his credit in football’s highest division. A 5-19 record suggests that Weeden simply doesn’t know how to make his own luck.
Weeden’s postgame talk with the media couldn’t have sat well with Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, and it surely didn’t help Weeden’s cause while breaking down film either. Not only was this a quarterback playing poorly on the field, now he was sounding even worse off of it.
Garrett did the only thing that he could on the following Tuesday, by officially benching Weeden for veteran Matt Cassel.
Garrett doesn’t want any excuses from his players. As a former big-league quarterback, Garrett knows what it’s like to be dealt a bad hand. He also knows the feeling of overcoming the odds, and making the most out of an impossible situation.
Garrett was the unlucky Dallas starter on a November day in 1999 against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. The Cowboys, without Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith & Michael Irvin, were a rare underdog at home. At 4-4 on the season, the Cowboys were in desperate need of a win. Few even gave them a chance.
By spreading the ball around to six different receivers, Garrett was able to keep the Packers defense from ganging up on a rushing attack spear-headed by Chris Warren and little-known Robert Chancey. Warren and Chancey combined for 142 yards on 33 carries.
Garrett’s 6-yard scoring toss to David LaFleur capped an 80-yard opening drive, and gave the Cowboys a 7-0 lead. But it wasn’t all sunshine and roses for Garrett after that. Dallas place-kicker Richie Cunningham missed a chip-shot field goal to open the second quarter, and Warren lost fumbles on back-to-back possessions that led to his benching.
But Garrett continued to keep the Packers off-balance, by mixing in an array of short and deep throws. In the third quarter, his persistence paid off in a big way. Just moments after connecting with Ernie Mills for a 30-yard gain, Garrett watched Raghib Ismail turn a short completion into a 37-yard touchdown and a 17-3 Dallas lead.
With twelve minutes remaining, the lead had swelled to 17 points, a number too large to overcome even for a comeback master such as Favre.
For Garrett, that one game will always serve as a lesson about the value of diligence and effort even when faced with monumental obstacles.
Eight weeks later, that 27-13 victory wound up giving Dallas the tiebreaker over Green Bay that vaulted them into the playoffs for the eighth time in nine seasons.