It happened again. Mike McCarthy's Dallas Cowboys lost to a good team on the road. While their performance on Christmas Eve was more inspiring than last week's defeat in Buffalo and the Week 5 loss against the 49ers, Sunday was a familiar sight for an increasingly anxious fan base.
As far as positives are concerned, the defense deserves credit for keeping the Cowboys within striking distance by holding the Dolphins' No. 1 ranked offense to field goals throughout the game. It's possible this turns into a blowout if not for the D holding strong once Miami crossed midfield and beyond.
While the defense couldn't get a stop when it mattered on the game's final drive, nobody's outright blaming the D for the loss. Most folks will point to McCarthy's offense -- more specifically McCarthy's cowardly play-calling -- and the Cowboys lack of poise as chief reasons they came up short.
When the Dolphins drilled the game-winning field goal as time expired, the Fox broadcast showed McCarthy throw up his hands in revulsion.
That's funny because McCarthy didn't play the role of a disgusted head coach while addressing the media postgame.
Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy sent worst kind of message after Dolphins loss
"These are the games that I personally really enjoy because, to think you’re ever going to win a championship, you need these games, especially on the road. Great road wins are things that we all remember throughout the years. That’s why the urgency to come in here, we put a lot into the game. But it’s definitely something we can grow from. (For the defense to) keep us in the game, to me that’s the definition of complementary football. I thought we battled back and forth. The defense stood up, and we came back. We can play better than we did today, and to me that’s exciting."- Mike McCarthy
McCarthy must be referring to his days in Green Bay because Cowboys fans certainly don't have many memories of great road wins during his tenure in Dallas. Beyond that, though, is the fact that McCarthy pointed out moral victories after yet another road defeat.
"We can play better than we did today, and to me that's exciting."
Thanks for pointing out the obvious, coach. McCarthy taking a moral victory lap because his team came out with urgency and can play better is a terrible look and sends the wrong message. Urgency should be the expectation. That's what made last week's loss in Buffalo embarrassing.
And what is McCarthy saying about complimentary football? The offense and defense need to work in tandem in order for the football to be complimentary and McCarthy's play-calling was a huge reason the offense didn't produce.
"Road warriors we will be."
When exactly will that happen? In Week 18 against a broken Commanders team? In the first round of the playoffs against the NFC South winner?
It's hard to blame McCarthy for spreading positivity following a loss. It's a coach's job to keep locker room morale high. It's also a coach's job to hold their team accountable and correct mistakes that plague their team time and time again.
That's why these quotes don't resonate. Another road loss -- however close -- doesn't build confidence for the playoffs. It sets up an anxious wait and Cowboys fans have no choice but to brace themselves for disappointment.