consecutive plays in the final 3:42 after the offense finally woke up. Go figure.
"Today wasn't our day," a thoroughly disappointed owner Jerry Jones said, seeing not only his 20th home season at Texas Stadium close on the sourest of notes, but the stadium, too.
But the Cowboys find themselves in these dire straits this late in a season which began with such promise because of one thing, and one thing only: This offense is not what it used to be.
Oh, I know the Cowboys scored 24 points, but seven of those were set up by the defense recovering a Baltimore fumble at the four-yard line. So on its own, the Cowboys offense scored but 17 points, and darn it, that's just not enough for a team known for its offense.
And this is not a one-time deal. No, it's been ongoing. Oh yeah, I know the Cowboys scored 35 and 34 against San Francisco and Seattle, but that's the Niners and Seahawks, dude. In five of the previous eight games, the Cowboys failed to score more than 14 points - three of those with quarterback Tony Romo nursing that fractured little finger.
But look, they scored just 20 against the Giants this past Sunday, and didn't get to 20 until there was just more than two minutes left in the 20-8 victory. And check this out: In the seven games they've played against teams with winning records - they now are 3-4 - four times the Cowboys failed to score more than 20 points and then were gifted seven of the 24 they scored Saturday night.
Much of the blame will fall on Romo's shoulders, and that's fine. That's what happens when you're the quarterback. People will read his line - 24 of 45 for 252 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, two sacks and a QB rating of 66.2.
But really, until those two late fourth-quarter touchdown drives, this offense is what caused the Cowboys to lose this game. Imagine this, with all the so-called stars on this team, the brunt of the offense fell into the lap of Tashard Choice, the fourth-round draft choice who finished with 90 yards rushing and a rushing touchdown - just the fourth given up by the Ravens (10-5) and first in four games.
Come on, the Cowboys had gained just 141 total yards in three quarters and scored just seven points. For the Cowboys, and I don't care that these were the Ravens, the league's No. 2-ranked defense this past week, this was embarrassing.
Romo, bad back and all, was running for his life - literally since he started the game with a bad back that must have become even more sore. Geesh, you'd think you'd be able to read a blitz, and not just the guys blocking, but the receivers, too, who didn't seem to run proper cutoff routes to make life easier on Romo. "The defense was giving us fits - there was a lot of confusion on blocking assignments," Jones said.
Romo would be the first to agree. He talked of mental mistakes. He gave the Ravens credit, knowing they were able to play coverage yet get pressure on him with a front four and also disguise where the pressure was coming from.
"They are rushing four or five guys and still almost doubling on all the guys, but you still got to make plays and block some of the techniques that they threw at us," Romo said. "And today we didn't communicate as well as we should as an offensive unit."
And there will be three plays that come back to haunt them. The one where Romo overthrew Miles Austin, breaking open on a deep post, although Austin never did leave his feet in an attempt to catch the ball. Then there was the one Romo threw deep for Owens, and he never could pick up the flight of the ball, and the other one he tried to throw deep near the end of the half that ended up short, unbeknownst to Owens who just kept running while Ed Reed was picking off the second of the easiest two interceptions he's probably had all season.
And because of that, and one glaring special teams error - again - that fourth quarter was too little too late, especially since the defense totally collapsed on what will be - unfortunately - two of the most memorable plays in Texas Stadium's now completely written history.
"It was supposed to be a big night for the City of Dallas