ARLINGTON, Texas – I knew better, I really did.
All of the signs were on the table – and have been there for three years – but I chose to ignore them. I let my gut convince me the Cowboys would find a way to flip the script and get into the playoffs. But all along, my mind knew better.
All year long, I thought this team was average and would end up 8-8 … uhh-ginn! And that's exactly what they've done.
Welcome to Averageville and the Cowboys are the mayor.
It's like that movie you've seen over and over and over. You know exactly how it ends, but still find a way to get surprised.
I'll admit, I've seen Rocky IV about 87 times and every time a part of me hopes Apollo Creed doesn't take that beating from Ivan Drago.
I've seen Goose ejected out of that plane in Top Gun over and over and I always cringe when Maverick gets told that his best friend has passed.
I've seen Joe Montana fire that pass up to Dwight Clark more times than I care to see, and I'm just waiting for it to sail over his head just once. Never does.
That last one, the Cowboys had to deal with for a decade, but eventually avenged that loss and went on a nice championship run of their own. The first two are simply Hollywood flicks and those occasions happened in the middle of the movie – giving time for the heroes to overcome their tragedies and ride off into the sunset.
But this is reality. Or is it? Seriously, Hollywood couldn't do much better at writing these scripts. But you'd think at some point, this director would have a heart and spread the love to the Cowboys. Maybe throw them a bone once or twice and let them get some glory.
Maybe it'll come but just not this year.
Nope, the Cowboys again just weren't good enough. And yeah, they gave it a run. They fought until the end and left all on the field …. all that good stuff. It's all true but no one wants to heart that anymore.
Cowboys fans don't want to hear that and they shouldn't have to. When it is going to be their turn again? It's my job to have more answers than questions but I'm all out, too.
Something inside of me thought the Cowboys would win this game. I really thought they would find a way to turn around this crazy, unpredictable season and figure out a way to beat the Eagles even without Tony Romo and Sean Lee – the quarterbacks on both sides of the ball. The way the Cowboys kept fighting back in this one, I just thought they would eventually get over the hump.
Down 10-0, the Cowboys scrapped back in it and were driving before the half to tie or take the lead. Then Kyle Orton throws a pick and the Eagles pounce on that gift for a 17-7 advantage. But don't worry, the Cowboys battled back to get a field goal before the half.
Two more field goals as the Cowboys chip away, but the Eagles then go up eight late in the game and it looked like all hope was lost.
No, Orton and the offense claws back. A touchdown on fourth-down to Dez Bryant brought back the hope … until a failed two-point conversion pass by Orton. (And don't get me started on that play. You've got a receiver who makes just about every play in the air, but yet throw it on the ground and force him to become an earthworm to try and snag it.)
Even after that, the Cowboys mounted a three-and-out on defense and here we were. The Cowboys with a chance to go win this game, needing about 30-35 yards with two minutes and a timeout.
Maybe it was meant to be. Yeah, we've seen the Cowboys fail in the clutch too many times, but could it be different this time? Could it be the Cowboys' year? Could Kyle Orton be the guy to win the game Tony Romo hasn't been able to win?
All he's got to do is get them close because if we've seen anything this year, we know Dan Bailey is going to make it. Bailey would've made that kick.
But we'll never know. One throw by Orton and the Cowboys' drive, game and season went down the toilet.
Orton played a pretty good game considering the circumstances. But his last two throws cost them. He threw way too low to Dez on the two-point conversion and then behind Miles Austin on a slant. Austin was open for a second, but you better get him the ball right then because he's not going to fight for it, we've seen that. I know that pass was behind him, but it's a timing route with two guys that haven't been in there that often this year.
Going into that final drive, Witten had 12 catches and 16 targets. Bryant had been targeted 13 times and caught eight of them for 99 yards. Obviously, those two had been wrecking the Eagles defense. Yet, once again the Cowboys try to overthink things. [embedded_ad]
I get the concept of "taking what the defense gives you," but at some point, you have to realize why the defense is actually giving you that. Why do they give you the open flat on fourth-and-1 early in the fourth? Well, because they think the chances that Orton's pass could be deflected at the line of scrimmage are pretty high. Or at the end, they're hoping Orton might revert back into backup-mode and throw it behind Miles.
With the season on the line, and the backup quarterback in the game, let the star receivers go to work.
But they never had a chance.
The Giants knocked them out in 2011, the Redskins did the same last year, and the Eagles completed the hat trick this season.
For those of you who are mad, pissed off … you should be. You probably want a new coach. A new offensive coordinator. A new defensive coordinator. Maybe even a new quarterback and perhaps a new backup. I know you want a new GM.
More than anything, you'll simply settle for a new ending.