Finally, Jerry Jones can smile

The glow from Jerry Jones’ smile could have lit up the New
Meadowlands Stadium.

Six days after Jones fired Wade Phillips as coach, the Dallas
Cowboys showed the kind of emotion and precision that was missing
as they lost seven of their first eight games. They beat the NFC
East-leading New York Giants 33-20 Sunday in Jason Garrett’s debut
as Phillips’ replacement.

Even when the $1.6 billion stadium went dark twice with short
power outages, everything was bright for the Cowboys owner. He saw
his offense come alive with repeated big plays, and the Dallas
players were stoked from the beginning – a stark change from their
five-game losing streak that got Phillips canned.

”It’s great to see the players in here with smiles on their
faces and getting some confidence,” Jones said in a locker room
devoid of the dire tones and defeatism of earlier weeks. ”They
deserved it today.

”Don’t make this bigger than it is, but this is a little step.
I sure am happy the players and Jason have this to work off of.
It’s sure better than the alternative.”

Jones never before made a coaching in midseason, and he was
reluctant to do so this year. But the Cowboys’ rapid spiral and
their lack of competitiveness in the previous two games forced his
hand.

At some point, Jones believed Garrett would become an NFL head
coach, quite possibly for the Cowboys. That timetable went from the
future to the future is now, and Jones was impressed how the
44-year-old Garrett handled it.

”Jason is himself and he knows to be himself,” Jones said
before adding with another huge smile: ”He didn’t have but three
days to be what he could be. I’d say this is a good start.
Certainly, our team was prepared.”

Prepared to make big plays on offense and defense. That included
a team-record 101-yard interception return for a TD by rookie Bryan
McCann; a 71-yard TD jaunt with a screen pass by Felix Jones;
receptions of 46 yards by Dez Bryant, 44 by Miles Austin and 32 by
Martellus Bennett.

”Even if it’s a small consolation,” Jones said, ”I hope it’s
a good feeling for our fans. It’s not a consolation for how we
stunk it up this season, but it’s a step in the right
direction.”