Having To Watch Made Bad Loss Worse

the 1984 season finale in Miami, when the last-minute touchdown beat the Cowboys, 28-21, ending their season in the South Florida drizzle with a playoff bid on the line, and really, the same thing happening in the rain of Atlanta in 1990, although the club finishing 7-9. And if you remember, the second-round loss to Carolina in 1996 was precipitated by Michael Irvin going down on their first possession of the game.

But at least the Cowboys were somewhat competitive in those games. At least you didn't leave thoroughly embarrassed. They scratched and clawed those two years against the Packers, and were in those Super Bowls to the end. The NFC title games, with the exception of 1980, they went down fighting. And while they were in over their heads in 1990, they at least prolonged the agony to the bitter ends in 1984 and even in 1998.

But this? The pits.

The 38-point loss was the largest to the Eagles, and the 44 points matched the second-most points Philadelphia has ever - ever - scored against the Cowboys, only 2004's 49 scored by the Eagles being more, in case you've forgotten. (Fat chance of that.) And this in a game of such importance . . . from a team perceived to be so good . . . and at that time of year.

Sorry, not sure what you were thinking about come early Sunday evening. But all this stuff started whipping through my mind - again - as if we all didn't realize just how bad that season-ending loss to the Eagles really was while it was taking place.

No matter how they lost the previous six games this season, there always seemed to be this injury or this play or this weather element to provide a reasonable excuse, plus winning this one would have put sufficient salve on those wounds.

But this one was beyond excusing. Too important. Too devastating. Too bad.

Maybe by Sunday night this too shall finally pass.

Then again, at least one team the Cowboys know they can play with will be in the NFC title game, Giants or Eagles. Who knows? Maybe two if the Cardinals win, meaning they would have won three playoff games in that span the Cowboys have won none. And there are two AFC teams the Cowboys did play with until the final quarter with a chance to meet in that conference championship, Steelers and Ravens.

Maddening, isn't it.

So close, yet way so far.

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