INDIANAPOLIS – My shoe tastes terrible.
That's the kind of "foot-in-mouth" moment you get when you say the Cowboys are going to blow out the Colts, but then they can't even score a single point.
Not even going to waste time with the predictable joke of "I had the blowout right – just the wrong team." Nope, I seriously thought the Cowboys would stay focused, come up to Indianapolis, and continue their hot streak and run over this Colts team that had been shut out by the Jaguars just two weeks ago.
Well … so much for that. The Cowboys not only looked terrible, but they were terrible. Five straight wins, including an impressive victory over the Saints, and yet the Cowboys played like a team competing for the No. 1 overall pick, not an NFC East title.
I know the NFL wanted parity, but man, we're 14 games into this season and we really don't have a clue what the Cowboys are.
I don't care where they end up in January, THAT was not a playoff team we saw on Sunday.
Sure, they might get into the playoffs, but it won't be this week, thanks to the Redskins winning at Jacksonville, coupled with the Cowboys' loss. In a way, I'm actually glad it worked out like that.
Never really thought I would prefer the Redskins to win a game, especially if it mathematically hurt the Cowboys in the standings, but this isn't the way they need to win the NFC East. I'm sure there are plenty of opinions that say, "You take the division any way you can get." Maybe if we're still talking about this in two weeks, I'll change my tune.
But this team hasn't backed into the playoff picture. They won five straight games because their backs were against the wall.
Maybe it needs to get back to that. And trust me, put another terrible game out there next week and I'm pretty sure their backs will be against the wall yet again.
Like I said from the start, I was dead wrong about this team, especially in their focus and preparation for this game.
Not to pick on a particular group, but there definitely seemed to be a lot of attention this week on the "Hot Boyz," also known as the defensive line and pass-rushers. This week, they broke out more apparel with jackets and hats, and even had some custom-made hard hats on the plane and on the bus to the game.
Don't get me wrong, the whole Hot Boyz mantra has been really good for this team. It's brought unity and purpose to a lot of players who otherwise wouldn't get any attention. For the most part, it has been a good thing. But there was nothing "hot" about the way the defense played on Sunday.
Sure, you can point fingers to the offense and we will. But this defense has been carrying the Cowboys all year and it didn't show up for this game. No pressure at all on Andrew Luck, who wasn't sacked once. They missed tackles in the open field, had missed assignments in coverage and had way too many penalties in the secondary.
Some teams might win like that, but not THIS team. The Cowboys can't overcome that kind of stuff from the defense, which is still the best part of this team.
Now, the offense? Obviously, you can't win if you don't score. But it's not like they didn't have chances and weren't moving the ball. They had opportunities but simply beat themselves. The stat sheet said nine penalties on the Cowboys, but I would've believed it had it been like 15. Every time they had any kind of positive play it was wiped out because of a penalty.
I know injuries aren't great excuses, but when you keep having them at one spot, it can take its toll. Losing Zack Martin obviously hurt, but then the other starting guard, Xavier Su'a-Filo, goes down early in the game? You had to think it would get bad if they had Adam Redmond, Connor Williams and Joe Looney playing in the middle of the line.
At least the offensive line should get better in the near future. That will most likely enhance the entire unit and allow this group to at least put some points on the board.
It was fitting the last time the Cowboys were shut out in a game was the 2003 season, when it happened twice that year – at Tampa Bay and at New England. Oddly enough, that was a 10-6 team that made the playoffs. But honestly, it really wasn't a great team overall.
I guess we'll find out if this Cowboys team is the same. But they certainly were the opposite of great on this day.