ARLINGTON, Texas – The staff writers of DallasCowboys.com shared their initial feelings of the Cowboys' season-ending loss to the Eagles at AT&T Stadium.
David Helman:Hats off to the Dallas defense, they put up a much better effort than I could have imagined. Of course, that counts for basically nothing as the Cowboys are left to contemplate another 8-8 season that left them just short of their goal. I went into this game thinking one turnover would probably be too many for the Cowboys to deal with, and they committed three. They were woeful in the red zone, settling for three field goals – most notably, a one-yard drive that resulted in a field goal after Philadelphia coughed up the ball deep in Eagles territory. What else is new? The Cowboys lost eight games in 2013, and about six of those eight losses left them with a litany of "What If?" questions. It was a fitting end to an up-and-down season. The Cowboys were good enough to make it interesting, but not good enough to come through in the end.
Rowan Kavner:Well this is a familiar spot. It seemed the silent, but not stunned, crowd felt the same. A couple boos could be heard, but it wasn't long after the clock hit zero and the Cowboys lost their third straight win-or-go-home Week 17 game that it was straight silence. Kyle Orton played well, throwing for more than 350 yards, but with a chance to win and trailing by fewer than three points, the Cowboys' fate was sealed on an interception that would make Dallas fall short for the third consecutive year. I thought Orton would look to Witten a lot, and he certainly did, as Witten finished with season highs in catches (12) and yards (135). DeMarco Murray didn't have the day on the ground that many expected, averaging three yards per carry, but many still clamored for him to touch the ball late on a missed fourth down and a failed two-point conversion. All anyone can do is look back on the missed opportunities and wonder, 'What if?' on a few plays throughout the course of another tight game in a late loss resulting in another 8-8 finish.
Nick Eatman: We should've known this gut was off when I said Friday morning I thought Romo might play and come to find out he had just undergone season-ending surgery. But even right before kickoff I thought the Cowboys would win. That went away a few minutes later but when they had the ball that last time and only needing a field goal from one of the NFL's best, I thought this was going to happen. Not to meant to be. Shouldn't have fallen into the trap like I did. I guess, the Jason Witten part was right, but that's really all I got correct. Kyle Orton had it working with Witten. He had it working with Dez. So the fact he went to Austin in the clutch really makes no sense. Orton had a good game but his last two throws lost the game. I credit for the defense for giving this team a chance to win. But in the end, it was the offense's turn to fail them. That's what average teams do. Sometimes it's this, other times it's that. Add it all up and this team isn't good enough to win. And they haven't been for four years now.
Here we're the gut feelings for staff writers Nick Eatman, David Helman and Rowan Kavner, posted Saturday.
The one thing I've learned about the Cowboys this season is to expect the unexpected. I've seen too many crazy things to write this game off just because Tony Romo is missing. In fact, I think the Dallas offense is going to be just fine with Kyle Orton in charge. Orton's going to throw three touchdowns and an interception, and if the Cowboys are smart they'll lean on DeMarco Murray – who certainly has another 90-yard game in him. Unfortunately, it's going to be the defense that sinks the upset bid. The Cowboys might slow down LeSean McCoy, or they might make life difficult for Nick Foles, but I don't think they can do both without Sean Lee. Philadelphia is going to have 500 yards before it's over, and they'll clinch the division in a 42-28 win.
Rowan Kavner: There's never been more question marks about this team, and it just so happens that it's in Week 17 of a third straight win-or-go-home season finale to decide the NFC East. For that reason, it's difficult to pick the Cowboys in this one with any confidence. It's a shame Tony Romo doesn't even have the chance to reverse his legacy after getting the Cowboys in with a game-winning drive, but this will be Kyle Orton's ship to sail the rest of the way. There are worse options around the league that a team would have to turn to. The loss of Sean Lee, who was instrumental in the teams' first matchup, can't be stressed enough. I don't believe anyone saying the Cowboys just have no shot, but they'll need to find a pass rush if they're to survive. I think Orton looks to Jason Witten a ton, DeMarco Murray goes over the 100-yard mark for the third time in four games and a Dallas safety gets a pick, but the Cowboys fall by a touchdown late.
Glad the Romo news came out when it did, because my gut would've said something about Romo finding a way to play. All week I had a hunch he would at least try to play. So right there, I've already admitted my gut is a little off. Or, maybe I'm due to even it out. So Romo is out, Sean Lee is out. Those are your offensive and defensive quarterbacks. Ware didn't practice, Dez has a back issue, too. Kyle Orton hasn't started in two years and the Eagles just scored over 50 points on a team that whipped the Cowboys two weeks ago. So … give me Dallas in a wild, crazy game that makes no sense. I don't have great logic here. But personally, come Monday morning, I don't think the season will be over. I think there is still stuff for this team to do. I think the defense gets turnovers and finds a way to slow down the train. Jason Witten will be Kyle Orton's best friend and catch 10 passes and DeMarco Murray, who didn't play the first game with the Eagles, has another big-time performance. The Cowboys will win this game 38-34 and will face ………….. San Francisco in the playoffs next week.