As the New York Giants pounded yet another nail in the Dallas Cowboys coffin with an underwhelming 27-20 victory, the epitaph on this season’s tombstone will read something like “I coulda’ had class. I coulda’ been a contender!”
With apologies to the late great Marlon Brando, the 2015 season for the Cowboys is fundamentally over. Against the Giants, Dallas saw running back Darren McFadden break loose for 152 yards. The team accumulated 460 yards on offense to New York’s 302. The Cowboys held the ball for an uncanny 38 minutes to the Giants 21. It just didn’t matter.
The Cowboys are stuck in this endless losing streak because they simply get worse as the game goes along because they simply fail to show up as a team in the second half.
This damage to this team was done way before the season ever started. It all began with the lopsided overconfidence of its front office personnel named Jones. Coming off an improbable 12-4 season with an underwhelming defense and a ferocious offense, the false sense of security the Jones’ boys felt would be their undoing for the 2015 season. It all started with two particular free agent defections on the offensive side of the ball that should have never been allowed to happen.
After a heartbreaking loss to the Green Bay Packers, who somehow won the game with a hobbled Aaron Rodgers free to run the show, there was confidence around Valley Ranch the upcoming 2015 NFL season would be a special one for Dallas. With the team notching claiming the NFC East title in impressive fashion behind a young and talented offensive line, the Cowboys were ready to explode. They had their 21st Century Triplets in All-Pro quarterback Tony Romo, All-Pro receiver Dez Bryant and the NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray. And let’s not forget All-Pro tight end Jason Witten. The Cowboys were going to be a defensive coordinators worst nightmare to game plan around.
The operative word here is “were”.
The first mistake the Cowboys front office made was not taking DeMarco Murray’s tremendous accomplishment of rushing for 1,854 yards very seriously. The second was overlooking the important contributions kickoff and punt return specialist Dwayne Harris had played in the team’s success as well. Both players left the team for division rivals who valued their services more than the Jones family did. The decision to let them walk has cost the Cowboys dearly.
After a 2-0 start that saw Dez Bryant going down in the first game with a broken foot, followed by Romo breaking his clavicle the following week, the 2015 season has slowly turned into a series of weekly disasters. Management thought – correctly – that since Dallas was in a weak division, the team only needed to win two or three games to stay in contention as its star offensive players mended. Seemed like sound thinking. Reality was a different matter.
The inexcusable loss to the New York Giants, courtesy of ex-Cowboy Dwayne Harris’ 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, may be the one psychological blow this team doesn’t recover from. So what if Dez Bryant plays against Dallas’ next opponent at home, the Seattle Seahawks. Its secondary isn’t nicknamed the Legion of Boom for nothing.
After Harris ran the kickoff back for a touchdown, Dallas still had seven minutes left to tie the game. They ran the ball effectively taking off five minutes from the clock. The only problem with the strategy is Matt Cassel was the QB not Tony Romo. When it really counted with two minutes left in the game, three incomplete passes stalled the drive at the New York 30-yard line. Though the Cowboys would get a chance to get the ball back with 1:36 to play, a muffed punt by slot receiver Cole Beasley was recovered by the Giants. Game over.
Cowboy Notes – The Cowboys had the No. 1 highlight on ESPN that featured Devin Street making a brilliant touchdown catch in the end zone to give Dallas a brief lead. Matt Cassel’s effort to get the ball to Street was an amazing feat in itself. Defensive end Greg Hardy had an amusing press conference after the game. He answered every single question with a “No comment! Next question!” It’s a surprise he didn’t plead the 5th. Despite three interceptions, Matt Cassel was indeed a better QB to lead the Cowboys than the woefully inept Brandon Weeden. He had four pass completions over 25 yards in his first game. Weeden had one over 20 yards in three starts. A phantom pass interference call against receiver Devin Street negated a 31-yard catch and run score by Darren McFadden in the second quarter. It was a sign of things to come. The Cowboy defense hasn’t forced a turnover during the four-game losing streak.
– David Huff
Enigma's mobile Concert Calendar!