Dec 22, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) throws the ball as Washington Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield (96) chases in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. The Cowboys won 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
I’m not sure it’s actually accurate to compare being a Dallas Cowboys fan to riding a roller coaster, because I think any roller coaster with so many twists and turns and loops would be illegal to build.
Just a week after one of the most heartbreaking losses in franchise history, the Cowboys found themselves down 10 points early in the fourth quarter. Their only three drives in the second half had resulted in two turnovers and a three-and-out. Things looked bleak.
And then, like the Cowboys always seem to do, they gave their fans a reason to hope.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, he of the reputation as a late-game choker and a guy who can’t be counted on with the game (or the season) on the line, escaped pressure on fourth-and-goal from the 10-yard-line, pump faked to freeze a defender, and found running back DeMarco Murray for the go-ahead touchdown (after the subsequent PAT) with 1:08 remaining.
The Cowboys defense finally finished a game, forcing a turnover over on downs, and just like that, the Cowboys, who looked dead to rights just a few minutes prior, remained in control of their playoff life (they did NOT retain control of their destiny, as they never had it, since destiny, by definition, cannot be controlled. But, I digress).
Cowboys fans, many of whom needed to be talked off of the ledge after last weekend, are rejoicing, as the playoffs effectively begin next week, with the winner of the Cowboys and Eagles game claiming the NFC East crown, and a home playoff game.
And really, these past two weeks have epitomized what it means to be a Cowboys fan. The highs are high, and the lows are low. And they aren’t normally separated by much, in terms of time.
During the first half of last week’s Packers game, you saw all of the good from the Cowboys. Offense, defense and special teams, all doing their part.
Then, the second half came, and without opening old wounds too much, a collective collapse amongst the players and the coaching staff took the Cowboys from being one win away from clinching the division to one loss away from being eliminated entirely, seemingly in the blink of an eye.
With their season on the line, the Cowboys once again came out on fire against the Redskins, with the newest Cowboy Micheal Spurlock returning a punt 62 yards to the Redskins 3 on his first touch as a Cowboy. Murray powered into the endzone two plays later.
Romo added a highlight reel touchdown pass to Dez Bryant midway through the second quarter to put Dallas up 14-6, and fans were feeling good.
But of course, it couldn’t last. It never does, with this team.
It wasn’t until Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins threw a ball that sailed out of bounds on fourth down, with 40 seconds left, that Cowboys fan could finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Truth be told, many, perhaps most, fans were waiting for the inevitable defensive collapse, allowing Cousins and the Redskins to march down the field and set up the game-winning field goal, as time expired (of course I wasn’t thinking that! No way! I had total faith in the defense. You mean, you didn’t?).
That’s what the Cowboys do. They steal your heart, and then they crush it.
Even so, I personally never believed anything other than that the Cowboys season would come down to Week 17. Even if Dallas had lost, I’m convinced that Philadelphia would’ve too.
Why? Because that’s Cowboys football. Losing it all in Week 16 would’ve been too easy.
Nope. This team always drags you along, RIGHT until the end. That’s what being a Cowboys fan is all about, at least these days.
So, once again, the Cowboys are facing a division rival, for the right to advance to the playoffs.
It just can’t end any other way.