Monday Night Football is a great viewing spectacle for the NFL fan. With it being played after all the current Week’s games have been played, it has the attention of the entire NFL watching population, including all of the coaches and players around the league. For the fan that likes to attend the games in person, the Monday Night game is the best one to attend. Attending this game allows the fan to watch all of Sunday’s action at home, friend’s house, sports bar, or wherever they choose while not missing anything, whereas this is not the case if one attends a Sunday game.
For the 2012 Dallas Cowboys season, I have had the fortunate luck to have been able to attend all four games so far, and this past Monday was no exception. I arrived in Arlington early and had my car parked in Lot C by 3:55 pm. By 4:20 my first beer had been drank, and the fire on the grill had been started, while kickoff was still over three hours away. At this time I sat in my chair and tried to take in all of my surroundings.
Two years ago the Chicago Bears came to play in Cowboys Stadium, and I attended that game as well. While tailgating that day, I noticed that there was good showing of Bears fans that would walk by on their respective ways to the stadium. While you always see the opposing team’s fans at the stadium, the Bears fans presence and numbers were much larger than other visiting teams I had seen (including Redskins, Giants, and Eagles). The Bears ended up winning that game 27-20, and their fans ended up taking over Cowboys Stadium in the fourth quarter of that game.
With that history set, I was hoping that the Cowboys would exact revenge for what happened in 2010. To my surprise this past Monday while tailgating, I noticed that the volume of Bears fans I seen walk by was larger than 2010. The ratio I was able to notice seemed to be almost 50/50 (Bears/Cowboys), and could have possibly favored Bears. I continued my tailgate process for the next two hours, and had everything packed up by 6:30 to start my trek to the stadium. As I walked through Lot A and Silver Lot 4 to the stadium, I was even more surprised at the presence of Bears fans in spots that are always taken by Cowboys fans at home games.
Upon my arrival and admittance into the Stadium at approximately 7:15, the same thing I had seen while tailgating, while on my trek to the stadium, was also representative inside Cowboys Stadium as well. I reached my seat by 7:25 in Section 409, and unfortunately, was surrounded by Bears Fans. I had a group of six the row below me, a family of four to my left, and a group of six directly behind me. I engaged in some light banter with the family of four for a few minutes, and then the famous “MNF” music came on. At that point I directed my attention to the big screen and the field because game time was just about upon us.
The first half was mostly a defensive struggle between the two teams, and neither team’s fans had yet made their presence felt. Towards the end of second quarter this still had rang true, and the score was 3-0 (Bears). However, this changed with about three minutes to go in the quarter. At the 3:00 mark, I heard the first “Lets go Bears” chant, and it picked up traction among the Bears fans. The ensuing play while this chant was ongoing was Tony Romo’s pick six to the Bear’s Charles Tillman. At this point the tide had shifted. The Cowboys would be fortunate to go on to score to make it 10-7 (Bears) at the half.
The third quarter was where the Bears leaned on the Cowboys, and the Cowboys could not respond. The Bears scored on the opening drive of the second half to go up 17-7 at the 11:56 mark of the third quarter. Bear fans grew more vocal and dominant in the stadium. The Cowboy fans energy level was low and their presence was not being felt. At the 6:25 mark of the third, DeMarcus Ware forced a fumble from Jay Cutler that the Cowboys recovered that seemed to renew some energy. Cowboy fans were hopeful that the Cowboys could go down the field and score. There were “positive displays” by the fans in the crowd. However, the very next play Tony Romo had another miscue, and the ball was caught by the Bear’s Lance Briggs and returned for a touchdown. At the 6:11 mark of the third quarter, Bear fans were ecstatic and what occurred in 2010 was happening again. Cowboys Stadium had officially become Soldier Field South.
Cowboy fans were in horror, and energy level and passion was non-existent. Some Cowboy fans decided it was time to leave and “beat” the traffic out after the Briggs touchdown. The third quarter ended with the score at 24-10, and another segment of Cowboy fans left at this time. The Bears proceeded to go up 27-10 at the 11:28 mark of the fourth quarter, and again another segment of Cowboy fans left. Finally, Chicago scored again at the 6:28 mark of the forth, and most of the still remaining Cowboy fans left. All of this was occurring while Bear fans owned the stadium; celebrating, talking trash, and demeaning Cowboy fans.
I admittedly thought about leaving early as well. I left early in 2010 in the middle of the fourth quarter. I decided against it this time though. I decided that if the sink was sinking, I will go down with the ship. If I’m going to cheer for them in good times, then I must take the losing as well. I continued to listen to all that was going on around me and stayed until the end. I sat in my seat for twenty minutes after the game pondering what I had just witnessed over the past three hours. Although I hope I’m wrong, and all Cowboys fans are emotional after a loss like this, I have the following thoughts:
1) This feels like the “same-old Cowboys”. The Cowboy teams of recent seasons can never seize the moment or opportunity to “break away” from the pack. They are muddled in averageness.
2) This is a “.500” ballclub. The Cowboys can’t seem to get out of their way, and we will have to wait until December to see if the Cowboys can get in to the playoffs.
3) My target goal of this team of ten wins is out the window. I just don’t see it happening. Again, I hope I’m wrong, but I’ve seen this movie before.
4) What is Jerry Jones thinking? He, as well as many Cowboy fans were thinking, “this may be the year”. Regardless of what he puts in the press, I can’t help but feel sad for Jerry. He puts his heart and soul into the team, spends top dollar on the roster and spares no expense.
5) What is the record going to be after the next stretch of four games is completed? It will be the toughest stretch of the year, and this could break their season if the Cowboys don’t perform well.
After I was done thinking of this, I left the stadium. I walked through Silver Lot 4 which was mostly empty. Lot A still had a lot of people, however, it was mostly Bear fans. Some Bear fans were trying to tell me they travel well. They may, but I’d bet my last dollar that over 70% of the Bear fans that were at Cowboys Stadium are transplants now living in Dallas I got to my car, and didn’t feel like doing any post-tailgating. I just wanted to go home, as I was depressed.
Hopefully the Cowboys can rebound from this. With this being the Cowboys bye week, they will have let this stew for two weeks before they’ll have an opportunity to get this taste out of their mouth from this ugly performance. I’m hopeful they can rebound and make this season special. I hope for a playoff game in Chicago in January, where Cowboy fans can make their presence felt in Soldier Field. I hope the Cowboys can give me something to cheer for, as I don’t want to turn my attention from them yet.
Follow Craig Cortemeglia on Twitter at @ccortemegliaTLH