Cowboys continue on treadmill of mediocrity

Cowboys continue on treadmill of mediocrity

Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Bryce Brown #34 of the Philadelphia Eagles scores a fourth quarter touchdown against the defense of George Selvie #99 of the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on December 29, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.

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by GEORGE RIBA

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WFAA Sports

Posted on December 30, 2013 at 12:32 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 30 at 9:29 AM

ARLINGTON — It was the third straight year that the Cowboys played for the NFC East title in the final game of the season and for the third straight year they failed.

Philadelphia beat Dallas 24-22 to win the division and advance to the playoffs. The Eagles will host New Orleans next weekend. 

"Yeah, obviously our goal is to make the playoffs," head coach Jason Garrett said. "We had a great opportunity to win the division here. I thought our team fought and battled hard and overcame a lot of obstacles to get to this point. We just came up short." 
 
Backup quarterback Kyle Orton, who started in place of Tony Romo, threw 46 times and completed 30 passes for 358 yards. Orton had two touchdowns, but he was also intercepted twice. The Cowboys ran the ball just 18 times. 
 
"I thought Kyle played really well in this ball game," Garrett said. "Obviously there are a couple of plays he would like to have back, but I think if you look at the whole body of work, I just thought he did a heck of a job. I think all in all, he handled the situation really, really well." 
 
At 11:53 of the fourth quarter, Dallas failed to convert a fourth down from the Eagles' 40-yard line after the defense made a great goal line stand. At the time, Dallas trailed 17-16. 
 
"We felt in that situation that it was going to be a good scoring opportunity," Garrett said. "We felt were just outside of field goal range. You make those calls and often times they work out and sometimes they don't." 
 
Dallas finished 8-8 for the third straight season, but Garrett insists the team's making progress.
 
"We certainly do and you just have to keep banging away," he said. "We haven't taken that next step. We'll learn from this experience and go forward." 
 
Garrett was asked about his job status based on his conversations with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
 
"Not real concerned about that," he said. "Just focused on doing my job. We all put a lot of time, effort, energy and guts into this ball game. That's where all our focus and energy was."
 
Jones re-iterated to WFAA's Joe Trahan that Garrett will remain the Cowboys' head coach. Each of Garrett's three full seasons as Cowboys head coach have been 8-8 campaigns.
  
The Cowboys had two first half turnovers by two key players that cost them 10 points. As a result, they trailed 17-10 at the half.
 
The first was a fumble by running back DeMarco Murray. The second was an interception after the ball appeared to slip through the hands of tight end Jason Witten and into the hands of linebacker Mychal Kendricks. 
 
In the end, the Cowboys needed only a field goal to win the game and got the ball at their 32 with 1:49 left in the game. But, on the first play, cornerback Brandon Boykin got his sixth interception of the season, which sealed the win for Philadelphia and sent the Cowboys packing.
 
"It looked like the ball was behind Miles (Austin)," Garrett said. "It looked from my vantage point that Miles won on the route, but the ball was just behind." 
 
"I had to get a huge stop," Boykin said. "I was kind of baiting him and luckily I was able to make a play. It’s a huge win for Philly; it’s a huge win for us. It's just a great moment." 
 
"We kept fighting; we believe in each other," Eagles quarterback Nick Foles said. "It's another great team win. That's Philadelphia Eagles football right there." 
 
The Cowboys perspective, obviously, is different.
 
"Its extremely disappointing for our fans," Jones said. "This is very disappointing. There's no feel-good in this loss. There was a lot at stake, obviously the least of which was getting to come back here next week and play. The team played well enough and our quarterback played well enough to put us in position to win the game at the end."
 
It was the third straight year that the Cowboys came up short. In 2011, the Cowboys lost to the Giants. In 2012 they lost to Washington. This year, Philadelphia completed the NFC East trifecta of Cowboys disappointment. 
 
Is there hope? Yes. Is there talent? Yes. But the vaunted "process" Garrett swears by remains flawed, and nothing about it appears primed for change. And for that reason among others, it's hard to find much optimism for this franchise's immediate chances at contention.
 
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