In a league known for its parity it’s often the intangibles like mental fortitude, preparedness, and determination that decide the outcome of the game. These are the very intangibles in which the Cowboys fall quite short. I’ve said it many times, winners have a will to win. The Cowboy’s don’t have that “will” and therefore haven’t learned how to be winners. If things don’t go right, they will not be able or willing to overcome.
But I saw something on Sunday…
Technically, I saw a lot of things. One of which was my remote control soaring across the room shattering into a bazillion pieces upon impact of the entertainment center. The first quarter and a half was nothing short of abominable. The expedient manner in which the Cowboys were throwing the game away elicited flashbacks the Seattle game… and the Chicago game.
Everyone must admit, by the time the Cowboys committed their fourth turnover, shortly into the 2 quarter, you KNEW the game was over. “Why even watch the game?” our inner-self whispered to us. Judging by viewership ratings many people did indeed turn the channel before the first half ended. We’ve all seen this before. It was hopeless. Dallas was losing to the defending Super Bowl Champions by 23 points – and really – it should have been much worse. It felt much worse.
I won’t rehash the entire painful beginning because we are all well aware of what took place. Although it has been known for someone who experiences especially traumatic events to psychologically suppress the memories as a form of defense mechanism. In the case of subconscious suppression, please just take my word for it, it was ugly.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact moment, but somewhere in the events of the 1 quarter some key players and coaches (Ehhh Hemmm Garrett Errrrrr Romo) went dead inside. They lost the spark and replaced it with stone cold indifference. Look into their eyes and you could see right into their lifeless souls. Coincidentally that was about the same time my remote control was lost to the Direct TV gods. I’ve seen that look before. It’s the look of failure. The look of quit. The look of a loser.
And then it happened…
I can’t say “what” exactly happened but something certainly did. Something shook them awake. Like pouring a bucket of cold water over a drunks head, the Cowboys jolted back to consciousness. THIS, was new. This was something I had not seen before. Sure I’ve seen comebacks. I’ve seen some really big comebacks from these guys too. I just never saw them come back from the dead. Remember their eyes. These guys gave up and then … didn’t.
I suspect the defense had something to do with this “resuscitation” and more specifically Jay Ratliff. Rat may be on the downslope of his impressive career but he didn’t show it on Sunday. He played relentlessly. He inspired his teammates to fight on. He played like a champion. Somebody tell Jason Hatcher this is what a leader looks like (reference to Jason Hatcher’s comments in the off-season about the Cowboys lacking a leader). The defense kept the Cowboys in the game and enabled Garrett and the offense the chance. Do not underestimate the frustration the defense must have felt. Every time the defense stopped the Giants, the offense would just hand the Giants back the ball. Typically doing it with increasingly better field position too (better for the Giants that is). Rob Ryan is a lot of things but a quitter isn’t one of them. The defense never gave up. Even after seeing the same “quit” you and I saw in the offense’s eyes, the defense kept fighting. They pushed on and eventually they inspired the offense to wake up and fight on.
This was something new. I have never seen the Cowboys so obviously quit and then snap back and fight on. I’m not really sure what it means. It might not mean anything. After all, the Cowboys lost on Sunday so it was all for nothing, right? Technically, I suppose. But to me, it’s not that easy. This loss hurt pretty badly to players, coaches, and fans. It is one that will be remembered both for the good and the bad.
I’m remembering it for the good. I know – I’m the eternal pessimist why on earth would I be happy after this of all losses? Well, I’m hopeful for the future because of the lesson this painful experience taught these men. Who thinks next time the Cowboys start off poorly they won’t think about this game? Next time they consider quitting they think back to the day they came back to take the lead? I sure think they will. They fought back and gave themselves a chance. They were the tips of Dez Bryant’s fingers away from an epic victory. Can you imagine how insanely thrilled and optimistic we would be if the touchdown call stood? Just an inch away from that. The Cowboys are still losers, yes. Winning needs to be learned. Learning it takes time. The best way to do it is to keep putting yourself in position to win. The Cowboys have done that a lot lately. That’s probably why it hurts so badly. You can be 100% objective and just say a loss is a loss and it is what it is. That’s perfectly reasonable but not exactly illuminating.
Here it is…
The Cowboys showed something they haven’t shown us before. They matured and evolved as a team. What it is they choose to do with this lesson is completely up to them. These thickheaded losers have forgotten lessons before so we shouldn’t be surprised if they do it again. I for one want to see this for something positive and intangible. A defining moment in character building. This season may be lost (especially looking at their upcoming schedule) but that doesn’t mean the season should be wasted. If this team chooses to fight they can compete with anyone.
I was embarrassed to see my team, the team I follow year-round and the team who I spend my hard-earned money on, give up like pathetic cowards. Thankfully I didn’t quit on them as easily as they quit on me. Being that my remote control was scattered in pieces across the floor like a Jackson Pollock painting – I didn’t have much of a choice. If I did change that channel I would have missed their biggest statement of the 2012 season. I was proud to see them stand back up and fight like men. They showed me something. They showed themselves something. They were beaten down and seemingly dead. In the face of certain defeat they stood up and fought on. That was something I’ve never seen before. They kept fighting. They learned quitting is not the answer.
Hopefully this difficult lesson is not forgotten.