Goodbye Texas Stadium, Sorry for the Last Memory

I was close to making a Cowboy’s post after their impressive win against the Giants a week ago and now I am glad that I didn’t. I would’ve likely taken everything I said in that post and then come back this week and rip it to shreds.

Watching Saturday’s game felt like watching a Notre Dame game. Flat offense, no sense of urgency, absent minded coaching, stupid penalties, horrible QB play, and a joke of an O-Line. Except this team was supposed to be the clear cut Super Bowl favorites when the season started and people were ready to put the crown back on their heads after last week as well. It is amazing how another week can give you such a different perspective.

The Cowboys said farewell to Texas Stadium by putting up an uninspired and lackluster performance in a 33-24 loss. Despite all the hoopla about the post-game closing ceremonies, Ray Lewis and Co. were able to dance around the sidelines with the last words as far as the game went. TV viewers were treated to such memorable quotes as “Turn the lights out, they done!” and my favorite “Close this bitch down!” after Jameel McCalin set a Texas Stadium record with a 82 yard rushing TD, the longest ever by a Cowboys opponent, which broke the previous record set minutes earlier by Willis McGahee’s 77 yard TD run.

If that wasn’t a big enough kick to the junk, anyone that actually remained to try and watch the historic closing ceremony was treated to the worst feed ever by The 33. The game was in high definition, but either the Cowboys or The 33 couldn’t shell out the money/time/equipment for that to happen. Although that is forgivable, the audio feed wasn’t. The 33 claimed they had no control over the piped-in stadium PA, so my ears were assaulted by constant feedback in the system, a barely audible Brad Sham, no crowd noise, a random flat-line beep in the middle of the ceremony, and also T.O.’s post game press conference for no reason. The 33 also lost the feed on several different occasions and everyone was treated to either a black screen or frozen image, accompanied sometimes with or without “sound”. We were also “treated” to the worst camera angles imaginable and also got jumbotron images filling the entire screen of the wrong player that was being introduced.

Needless to say Saturday night was painful on all accounts. Despite it all, thanks to Tampa Bay failing against the San Diego Chargers (at home no less), the Cowboys’ playoff hopes are still not only alive, but once again control of their playoff destiny is in their hands again. A win in Philly will send the Cowboys to the playoffs — no more, no less.

However, despite such wonderful news, I can’t help but be incredibly pessimistic about our playoff chances based on the Cowboys usual December Swoon. The NFL network managed to actually mention something useful last night, and that was that the Cowboys have the worst post-November record in the past few years since the Saint’s of the 70s, whom, to put it bluntly, were just God awful. That is just horrid.

Nothing went right Saturday. Sure, certain individual pieces came together at different parts of the game, but as far as being able to put it all together, the Cowboys failed on all accounts. At the start of the game, Tony Romo throws a horrible lame-duck interception that would even make Brett Farve as Romo what in the hell was he thinking. Following that though, the defense (read: Demarcus Ware) bails him out, sacking Falco and recovering a fumble right by the endzone.

Then with solid defensive play for the reaminder of the half, the offense continued to sputter. Romo threw another awful INT, T.O. couldn’t figure out where the ball was on another pass (and it ended up landing right in front of him), Romo missed a streaking and wide open Miles Austin on a pass that was easily a TD, and the O-Line couldn’t buy any time for Romo in the pocket.

To compound issues, things just started getting beyond goofy. The defense forces a fumble, recovers it, and litterally hands the ball back off to Baltimore during the recovery. Then you have Baltimore easily fake a field goal soon after because the Cowboys load up one side of the line to block the kick which lead to a TD.

In the 4th quarter, the offense finally wakes up starts a comeback. Romo finally hits a big pass to Witten (finally) and later throws a TD pass to T.O. to bring the score to 19-17 with over three minutes left. Then the defense falls apart, failing to get the 3 and out and instead gives up the aforementioned 77 yard TD run immediately (and that was after the Ravens fumbled the kickoff return and Dallas failed to recover). Witten comes up big again with a nice TD catch, but again, the defense fails to hold the Ravens and again immediately give up a 85 yard TD run.

Words don’t even do it justice, you can watch the awe-inspiring “highlights” for yourself if you missed it.

It just leads me to wonder just how a team can allow this to happen, and to do this no less with your playoff lives on the line. Our “high-powered” offense has just been horrible as of late. A line that was once called the best in the league was letting their QB get hit right and left and even, at one point, let him take a shot on a two man rush. Romo has been horribly inaccurate as well. If he connects earlier in the game, the Ravens aren’t even in this game to begin with. I can’t even begin to explain how our defense folds at literally the most important moment of the season as well, not once, but twice when all the Ravens are trying to do is get a first down.

There is no leadership on this team either. The only sliver that I saw was Roy Williams catching a simple 10 yard route for a first down and immediately getting up and trying to pump up the sidelines. When was the last time any player did that? Romo just trots to the sideline and says nothing. Witten is silent as well — which I wish he wasn’t, he is playing so banged up it boggles my mind how his teammates can’t rally around his performance. T.O. is the only one that will yell on the sidelines, but most often that is because he doesn’t feel he is getting enough passes his way.

What we have instead is a lot of individual talent just goes about their own personal business and checking their own stat sheet. There isn’t anyone rallying the team together at all. It sure isn’t coming from the head coach either, as he just stands there dumbfounded during the game and then makes every excuse in the book for his players come press conference time. Anyone that could be considered a potential leader on the team is far to silent to be the vocal kick in the ass that the team needs (people like Ware and Witten come to mind).

No instead we have a bunch of great individual talent that every now and then will go to the Pro Bowl (and we have one “Pro Bowl” center that can’t even figure out when to snap the ball at the right time). Come crunch time this team eventually folds. They didn’t rally together when Romo went down; instead, we finally had T.O. do an interview to complain that he wasn’t being used well enough even though our O-Line was allowing our statue of a backup QB get throttled. Even with Romo playing hurt, there is no urgency in the O-Line to do whatever it takes to protect him. I really wish I could find a video of that two man rush in which 3 linemen just stand there as Romo takes a hit.

There is no discipline either. Flozell Adams simply can’t go a game without having a false start penalty. We take a stupid late hit penalty. We have a delay of game during in hurry-up mode. Romo has been throwing the ball up for grabs far too often. And the list goes on and on and on.

Now you are left with a team hoping they can pull it together just one more time to sneak into the playoffs. Wade Phillips might not be worried about his job security, but I can assure you Jerry Jones will go with his “get butts in the seats” and/or “we should be winning a Super Bowl” mentality for his new stadium and fire him if he fails to get in the playoffs (and I wouldn’t be surprised if this doesn’t extend to a playoff win).

Even if the Cowboys manage to win this Sunday, just how far is this “team” going in a playoff run? Unless everyone happens to have a good game, everyone is healthy, the wind is blowing from the East, and it is a full moon, this team just can’t pull it together, especially late in the season. If they are hoping to make any kind of serious push, it is time to check the egos/superstar girlfriends/stats at the door and start playing like a team. They did it against the Giants and look what happened. If they don’t do it again, they are simply destined for mediocrity and yet another fired head coach.