I’d like nothing better than to forget about Sunday’s night’s beat down in the Big Easy. Unfortunately, that is not an option. What’s even worse for Cowboys Nation is that after the dust has settled, the Cowboys find themselves tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East and, believe it or not, the New York Giants are also in striking distance.
Looking back on the 10 games that have led Dallas to .500 once again, the squandered opportunities to get signature wins have caught up with the Cowboys. Exhibit A has to be the most recent meltdown that occurred in Detroit when Dallas appeared to be in such good shape that the analysts were already proclaiming them the winners of the game with over three minutes left on the clock. At that point, I looked at my husband and said, “This is the Cowboys and it’s not over yet…” The rest, as they say, is sad but true. As we all know, Dallas found a way to lose that game to the Lions and, with it, the chance to put some distance between themselves and their division foes.
Likewise, when the Denver Broncos came to town back in October. Dallas was matching Denver’s offensive machine touchdown for touchdown until it counted most. Dallas also had chances to get an upset win at San Diego and were within one point of the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs on the road, only to let victories slip through their fingers. For these Cowboys, the inability to finish games is the same song, second verse that it was last year. Missed opportunities, bad running game, spotty offensive line play and a defense that seems to be totally clueless for too much of the time.
When Monte Kiffin came in to replace the blustery Rob Ryan, one of the main objectives was said to be to improve Dallas’ turnover margin. In 2013, the turnover margin is just about the only thing that has changed for the better. Sunday night’s pitiful performance against the New Orleans Saints landed them in the record book for allowing the most yards in franchise history. What’s sadder than that is the record that they eclipsed was set by this very same defense only a couple of weeks ago.
I know injuries have been a recurring factor for Dallas. However, a lack of depth at key positions has got to be addressed at some point. When a Sean Lee, DeMarcus Ware or Jason Hatcher goes down, the Cowboys seem to have a huge gap in the talent level to the guy behind them on the roster. It’s obvious that no team in the NFL has a bunch of starter worthy players riding their benches. When it is time for the backups to step in, though, they have to be prepared. At the Super Dome the Cowboys often looked confused, out of synch and unable to make the simplest of tackles. That has got to change if Dallas has a snowball’s chance of getting to the post season.
A quick look down the schedule shows a trip to the Meadowlands awaiting the ‘Boys after their much-needed bye week. Dallas also still has to travel to FedEx Field to face the Redskins, which is never easy no matter what the records may be. The last game of the season is against the Eagles at AT&T Stadium. At this point, the Cowboys seem to be faltering while Philly is showing drastic improvement…especially on the offensive side of the ball. Could another win-or-go-home finale be in the cards for the ‘Boys and the Birds? Here’s hoping Dallas can come out of the bye with a vengeance and avoid that bit of deja vu by taking care of business before the Eagles come calling at December’s end.