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Eatman: Winning Big Never Looked So Bad


ARLINGTON, Texas – Trust me, I've never been one to call a victory an "ugly win." I actually hate the term because I feel like fans and media sometimes overlook how difficult it is to actually win games in any league.

But this one, I'll give it to you. This was an ugly win. Usually, those kind of games are the ones where you barely beat a bad team and turn the ball over several times but get a few breaks here and there to get the win.

This wasn't that at all. The Cowboys were clearly the better team and over the course of four quarters, it showed.

Man, the Cowboys scored 47 points? That's the most points scored in a win since the 2000 season. And to think the Cowboys had just six points early in the second quarter but found a way to turn it on and pull away from the hapless Redskins, who finished 3-13.

Truth be told, the Redskins gained more by losing than the Cowboys gained by winning. Washington secured the No. 2 overall pick and will probably get Chase Young from Ohio State. The Cowboys, albeit victorious by 31 points, still lost because they not only missed the playoffs with the Eagles winning, but now they probably have to block the aforementioned Young for about a decade.

Yep, ugly win.

But there's another reason why this game was so disappointing. Just like the win over the Rams a couple of weeks ago, this was a prime example of what the Cowboys could do in 2019.

Yes, I know the Redskins were bad all year and banged up for this game, but let's not act like the Cowboys were poster boys for health. Dak Prescott's shoulder was clearly hurting. No Tyron Smith. No Byron Jones. No Antwaun Woods in the middle and no Leighton Vander Esch for over a month.

Still, we saw what this team can do, especially on offense. It's frustrating to see them put 40-spots on the Rams and Redskins here in the final month of the season, and yet it's not good enough.

This team makes us say the two words no one really likes to hear following a compliment: "Yeah, but."

Seriously, who likes to hear that at all? Nobody likes the "Yeah, but."

Was the movie good? Yeah, but it was over three hours long and the ending was predictable.

How about that restaurant? Yeah, but there was a hair in my food.

How about that Cowboys game on Sunday? They destroyed the Redskins. Yeah, but it didn't matter because they messed around all season long and still missed the playoffs anyway.

Even after the game when Jason Garrett was talking about the spirit of this team and how they had a practice on Christmas Day this past Wednesday that was later in the day and the sun was going down, resembling a time when we were kids playing in the street and hoping to get a few more plays in before it was too dark to play.

"We had one of those practices on Christmas afternoon. It was one of the best practices in my life as a player or coach" Garrett recalled. "It was getting dark and just the spirit and the energy and the determination, it was off the charts, and it set the tone for us all week long. That was our preparation on how we played, and I am so damn proud of these guys and how we played today."

Honestly, it was a great quote. I can visualize what he's talking about and as a coach who is trying to get his team to be motivated on Christmas after such a bad loss to the Eagles a few days earlier. So for them to come out and have a great practice like that seemed like a pleasant surprise to him.

But to me, that's another one of those "yeah, but" moments.

And I had to ask Garrett about it in the postgame press conference, wondering if it's disappointing that it took until Christmas Day to have one of those spirited practices. Certainly seemed like more spirit and exuberance than we saw on Thanksgiving Day, or any other holiday.

And the way Garrett is, he's always going to worry about what's ahead of him. He's not a reflective person, especially when it doesn't matter anymore.

So I get the point he was making. But it's just frustrating that it took that long for the Cowboys to have one like that.

And that's why it goes back to Sunday's win over the Redskins. You just wonder why we didn't see more of that throughout the year.

The real head-scratching part of this team is that it wasn't very equal. Go back to the 8-8 teams that Garrett had early in his career. Those teams would lose close games, but win some close ones as well. For every nail-biting loss, there was a win they pulled out in the final seconds.

But this year, there was none of that. All eight wins were by at least eight points or more. Of the eight losses, all of them were by 11 points or less, including four by four points or less.

That's what makes it worse. All of the wins were expected. Half of the losses could've gone either way.

But they didn't go either way. They went against this team because they simply weren't good enough.

If I've said it once, I'll say it for the 50th time … this team wasn't clutch enough. They won games they were supposed to win and pulled away from those bad teams that weren't good enough to compete.

When the game was really on the line and they had to dig deep to come back, this 2019 Cowboys team couldn't do it.

To me, there's never been a better example of an 8-8 team. It's kind of like a good JV team in high school. Pretty much dominated the freshman team every time out, but couldn't win against the varsity.

And with that, that's a wrap for this season, for this decade and probably for this Jason Garrett era.

If this is the end for Garrett, at least he went out with a win … as ugly as it might have been.