Monday, November 26, 2012

Be thankful that the Dallas Cowboys are showing heart

I've enjoyed a long Thanksgiving break although on the day we give thanks, the Dallas Cowboys nearly ruined my vacation with a gut-wrenching loss to a bitter rival.  The soar of boos could be heard from miles away as the Cowboys went into halftime down 28-3 after just giving up 28 points in the 2nd quarter.

As a diehard fan, I have to be honest, I never had high hopes going into this game against RG3 especially when Jay Ratliff was ruled out.  Add the fact that they needed OT just to beat the Browns just four days prior.  The Redskins were practically coasting past the Eagles while the Cowboys were in a dogfight just four days before the two teams would meet.  Frankly, the Cowboys just had too many injuries on the defensive front to generate the type of pressure needed to force RG3 into mistakes and didn't have the proper safety play or ILB play to cover the middle of the field.  And I was right once that second quarter hit.  Big play after big play, and the offense didn't do the defense any favors by failing to score TDs earlier in the ball game when they could have ceased control of the game or Romo's interception that contributed to the 2nd quarter surge.

Those injuries were just too tough to overcome.  Injuries are certainly not a good enough excuse because every team has them this time of year.  It's all about surviving and persevering at this point in the season and many teams have done that.  Teams like the Falcons, Giants, Pats, Bears, Texans, and Packers have had their share of injuries but they took care of business when they needed to.  A slow start against the Giants in Cowboys Stadium and a failure to come away with a win in Baltimore despite completely dominating that game is coming back to haunt the Cowboys at this point.  Win those two games, and they are 7-4 at this point instead of 5-6 meanwhile the Giants are a game back for the division lead while already losing twice to Dallas; so essentially a two-game lead.  Yes, the Cowboys spotted the Giants a 23-0 lead and it's hard to say the Cowboys deserved that win, but the fact of the matter is, they ceased control of the game and came all the way back.  And by all means should have won the game.  Dez Bryant just has to make sure his hand isn't out of bounds.  Inexcusable.

But it's the same ole same ole with these Cowboys.  Always good, but not good enough.  If there is a silver lining you can take from that Giants' game, it's the fact that they didn't give up.  That's been a common trend in every game since the Chicago nightmare on Monday Night Football.  You probably wouldn't believe me, but the Cowboys are among the top 5 in the NFL in points scored in the 4th quarter.  They average 9.0 points per game in the 4th quarter which is 4th in the league behind only the Pats, Broncos, and Lions.  It's evident these Cowboys just don't quit

The fact that they dug a 28-3 hole and actually came back to make it 35-28 was a feat within itself.  And there was plenty of time to make a stop and actually tie it, but they just couldn't do it, and came up short.  But don't let that get you down.  Yes these Cowboys are 5-6, yes the Giants made a mockery of one of the NFC's best last night, and yes the Cowboys would need an improbable run to make the playoffs this season, but I'm saying don't give up just yet, because they certainly haven't.

Think back all the way until the Baltimore game after the bye week.  They gave Baltimore all they could handle and came up short.  But remember the two 4th down conversions late in the game by Romo and Witten.  Remember how they refused to give up.  Remember the onside kick being successful and the Cowboys surprisingly almost having a chance to win that game only needing a 51-yard field goal from Dan Bailey.

Remember the very next week as it seemed the Carolina Panthers, coming off a bye, had the Cowboys on the ropes yet the Cowboys fought back to steal the game.  As I mentioned, remember how they battled all the way back from a 23-0 deficit against the Giants.  How about in Atlanta when they refused to give up even though it was clear Atlanta was superior?  And the next week at Philly when it seemed as if  Foles would lead the Eagles to a win after putting them up 14-10.  Romo had an amazing drive that tied the game at 17-17, and then they would proceed to score 21 points in the 4th quarter from defensive and Special Teams TDs.  How about against Cleveland, when they were completely outplayed trailing 13-0 at half and rattled off 17 points in the 4th quarter, and continued to battle back even when it looked as if Cleveland grasped full control of the game?  And of course, we can't forget the way they battled back against the Redskins on Thanksgiving.  For good measure, the Cowboys scored 18 points in the 4th quarter of that one.  So in the last three games combined, the Cowboys have scored 56 points.  For you math wizards, that's almost 19 points a game in just the 4th quarter.

You can say what you want about the Cowboys and their perceived "chokes," but the fact of the matter is, this team hasn't choked this year.  At least not compared to last season where they blew five 4th quarter leads.  If anything, they've risen to the occasion more than they've fallen flat on their faces in the 4th quarter this season.  The problem with the Cowboys this year has been starting games, not finishing them.  Maybe if the Cowboys weren't almost dead last in 1st half scoring on the season, they'd be in position to win the NFC East instead of two games back.  The Cowboys need to figure out a way to start games from here on out if they want to make a miraculous run to the playoffs.

But at the end of the day, I say the Cowboys have dug too deep of a hole to make the playoffs, ironically like they've been doing in football games.  But if there is one good thing that can come out of all this, it's the fact that the Cowboys haven't given up and are showing heart.  In past seasons, the Cowboys certainly would have lost on Thanksgiving by at least four TDs instead of making it respectable.  They certainly would have laid down and quit against the New York Football Giants after falling down 23-0.  Also don't forget they are seemingly losing a starter every single week.  This squad is as depleted as it gets and now Bruce Carter is done for the year.  They've showed a lot of heart in moments when they could have laid down and tapped out.  Even when they lost Sean Lee in Carolina they fought back and still held on to win.  This team isn't quitting any time soon despite what is up against them.  It makes you believe that maybe this team sometime in the near future can become a Super Bowl contender if cornerstone players like Murray, Lee, and Carter can stay healthy.  Heart is something all Super Bowl contenders possess.  The Cowboys have that and now all they need is the talent and depth to go with it.  That is something we as Cowboy fans can be thankful for.

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