ARLINGTON, Texas – Any time a season around here is referenced to the 1989 season, it's bad.
And without a doubt, this is a bad situation for the Cowboys, who have now lost six straight games for the first time since that dismal 1989 campaign when they lost eight games to start the year and then seven to finish it for a laughable 1-15 season in Jerry Jones' first year with the team.
Is this really where we are? The Cowboys, a trendy Super Bowl pick to start the year, are now getting mentioned in the same sentence as the 1989 season?
Hey, I remember that year vividly. And this is certainly not that type of team. The Cowboys had no talent on that squad and those games were pretty much over before they ever got started.
And that's what makes this season so head-scratching. The NFL is supposed to be this way.
It's a league that is designed for parity. And that's typically the way it works, from season to season, and definitely from week to week. Usually, it's even from quarter to quarter.
Just look at the scores each week. You'll see a team down by two touchdowns in the first quarter and you're thinking blowout. Next thing you know it's a tie game.
This NFL is supposed to be equal. And that's why it really doesn't make sense to see what we're seeing here.
Other than a poor second half against the Patriots, who are arguably the best team in the NFL, this six-game losing streak has seen the Cowboys stay with every team until the end.
We've had two overtime games – both have ended with big plays against the defense before the offense ever stepped on the field. Another time, a game in the fourth quarter was decided by a kickoff return for a touchdown. Another needed a Seattle team to drive the length of the field for a go-ahead field goal.
The Cowboys are right there each week, and yet they can't get over the hump – every time. Seriously, every time?
This is starting to go against my own personal theory when it comes to happenstance. I think two, three, maybe even four times can be coincidental.
If something happens six times in a row? It's not just a trend anymore.
The tricky part about it is that these games are being lost in different ways each week. This isn't like the 2000 season that finished 5-11 and the Cowboys couldn't stop anyone from running the ball.
Or it's not like that 1989 team that couldn't keep Troy Aikman and/or Steve Walsh upright long enough to complete a pass.
This six-game losing streak has variety.
One week, the defense comes to play and attacks Tom Brady for five sacks – in the first half. A few weeks later against Seattle, they can't sack Russell Wilson once, and he entered the game as the NFL's most-sacked quarterback.
One week, the offense can't find the receivers, and the next week, they get everyone involved.
One week, the offensive line is dominant and can keep a Giants team at bay and away from the quarterback. Two weeks later, Cassel is running for his life and sacked four times.
One week, they lose on a special teams touchdown. Another week, it's a running back out of the backfield for 80 yards.
Seriously, what's next?
There are really only two common themes here. One is the lack of turnovers. They've only got one takeaway since the first Eagles game in Week 2. That was an interception by Greg Hardy against Seattle, and the offense only got a field goal out of the play. No turnovers, is giving the offense no easy trips to score.
The other common theme is simply the final score.
And that's really it.
It's hard to point fingers at anything or anyone. The same players who are making plays throughout the game are coming up short in the end.
If you're a frustrated fan, you should be. You have every right to be. I think back to this crowd here Sunday night at AT&T Stadium. And it wasn't a 2-6 crowd. This had a playoff game atmosphere from start to finish.
The fans haven't quit, not they we expected them to. But at some point, enough is going to be enough.
Jason Garrett and all the players will continue to sell us the "keep fighting" mantra, but after a while, it's going to get old and stale.
We know this team is going to fight. But after six straight losses, how can you believe it will be good enough?
So far it hasn't been. And if we think Tony Romo is going to come in and save the season. It's starting to look like it will be way too late.
Nick Eatman is the author of the recently published ****If These Walls Could Talk: Dallas Cowboys***, a collection of stories from the Cowboys' locker room, sideline and press box, with a foreword written by Darren Woodson.*