Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo likes to say, "Either you’re good enough or you’re not." In the first half against the Giants Sunday night, the Cowboys weren’t in the same galaxy as "good enough."
The result: a 34-14 beat down at the hands of the Giants, snatching away the NFC East championship the Cowboys had more than their share of chances to claim.
“This is one of my biggest disappointments in football, period,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, miffed because his team failed to get in the playoffs with quarterback Tony Romo playing at a high level.
Cowboys defensive coordinator Roy Ryan vowed his defense would be great. As entertaining as he is with the media, Ryan’s credibility is hovering somewhere less than zero.
Terence Newman couldn’t tackle. Alan Ball and Gerald Sensabaugh couldn’t recover fumbles there for the taking. And Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware couldn’t stay onside.
These critical mistakes put Dallas in a hole so deep they would have had to play perfect football in the second half to comeback.
And even the most optimistic Cowboy fan knows that simply wouldn’t be possible.
“I just think we have to get better,” coach Jason Garrett said. “That’s what we told our team. We have to get better. It starts with me as the head coach. Our coaching staff needs to get better. Our players need to get better. We didn’t play consistently good enough football throughout the year.”
Despite the poor showing, Jones says Garrett will be back as head coach. ““Unequivocally,” Jones said. “I feel that Jason is our coach and we can build and do some good things from here. We can take some of the things that we need to do better and address them.”
He would not give the same vote of confidence to defensive coordinator Rob Ryan when I asked if the boastful coach would be back for certain. Jones told me with no playoff run, there will be plenty of time to discuss matters like that.
Despite the awful start still hard to fathom, Romo forged a second half rally that only served as a tease to Cowboy Nation. His second touchdown pass of the game drew the Cowboys to within 7 early in the fourth quarter.
But then this Cowboys team once again revealed their true character.
On third and seven with nine-and-a-half minutes left, the Cowboys defense had a chance to get the ball back to Romo and company. Instead, Orlando Scandrick let Victor Cruz get inside of him and complete a 44-yard reception that was the final blow to an overall pathetic showing with everything on the line.
The gaffe was reminiscent of others leading to a number of close losses that will serve as the hallmark of this season. There were similar instances against the Jets, Lions, Cardinals, and the Giants at Cowboys stadium. In crunch time, the Cowboys failed to step up and make positive game-changing plays. Instead they continued to find creative and confounding ways to lose.
“We had an opportunity to step up here and win a ballgame and go into the playoffs that I thought we would win," Jerry Jones said. "I am very surprised that we didn’t win it, but I accept the fact that whatever it is that we don’t have or didn’t do, we’ve got to look to get better.”
The standard is set high when you have five Lombardi trophies at your headquarters. Is it just me or does this team make you feel like Super Bowl XXX feel like it was 30 years ago? This team nowhere near reaching that standard, and hasn’t been for quite some time.
Since 1997 the Cowboys have won and lost the exact same number of games – 120. Dead even, average at best, with just one playoff win sprinkled in over that period.
No Tony, this team is not good enough.
So, to Jones, Garrett, and company: You’re on the clock to make the right decisions to usher in change.
But with what we’ve seen this season and in the last decade-and-a-half, I’m not sure why Cowboys Nation should expect anything different.