their collective skills at that point. I mean, did you really think you were watching the greatest team in Cowboys history since 13-3 of the 1992 Super Bowl champs?
The Cowboys were riding a seven-game winning streak before the Eagles beat them, 10-6, one of those real clunkers where nothing went right. But again, the odds were against the Cowboys winning them all the rest of the way. They were due. OK, so they lost, then went on the road to beat Carolina, which clinched the NFC East title, a first-round bye and best record in the NFC.
They had nothing to gain beating the Redskins in the finale, so they pulled starters left and right. Didn't even play some of the injured ones, and yep, got beat 27-6. Attribute that to December scorn or indifference?
And for those who want to lump the playoff loss to the Giants in there, too, let's not forget Terrell Owens' high ankle sprain suffered against Carolina probably should have sidelined him in that game, too. He had nothing. Thus, the Cowboys' offense, which ran, ran, ran with Barber starting ahead of Julius Jones but never threatening the Giants defense, had nothing. They got beat, 21-7, after a 13-3 season.
Funny thing occurred as the Giants streaked to the Super Bowl title thanks to an improbable catch during the game-winning drive on New England. Up rose this perception the Giants streaked into the playoffs. Truth be known, the Giants finished the regular season with a 2-2 record in December, losing two of their final three, although they insist that season-ending 38-35 loss to the Patriots is what kick-started their run.
Oh, and this just in: Those 9-7 Arizona Cardinals who caught fire in the playoffs last year, losing the Super Bowl on the final drive of the game to Pittsburgh? They were 2-2 in the month of December, losing two of their final three games before starting their playoff run.
I'm just saying.
Furthermore, I was fairly amused how former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson was quoted as some sort of authority on winning in December. Kidding me? He was 2-6 his first two Decembers with atrocious Cowboys teams and then went 10-1 the next three years when he had two Super Bowl championship teams. Makes sense, right?
By the way, when Jimmy switched addresses three seasons later to Miami, apparently his Dolphins teams that went 8-8, 9-7, 10-6 and 9-7 were not injected with the same December elixir he handed the Cowboys. His December record with the Dolphins was 6-10. Old-age forgetfulness setting in or lack of talent?
Come, on get serious.
And then there is last season. Yes, the Cowboys were 8-4 after Thanksgiving before embarking on their Burma Road - at Pittsburgh, the Giants, the Ravens, at Philadelphia. All four teams had winning records. The Giants and Pittsburgh won their divisions. The Ravens earned a wild-card berth, as did the Eagles by defeating the Cowboys in the final game of the season.
Wonder how many clubs played four straight playoff teams to finish the season?
Look, was their shame in losing to the Steelers, in Pittsburgh with the temperatures around 10, your quarterback trying to play without a splint on his fractured finger, all against the eventual Super Bowl champs? They beat the Giants and then needed two of the most improbable missed tackles on back-to-back touchdown runs to lose to the Ravens, who ended up losing the AFC title game to the Steelers, by the way.
Now I got no answer for the loss in Philly with the playoff berth on the line. Blame it on no-showing, blame it on choking, blame it on not being good enough - heck, blame it on the Bossa Nova. But it's all too easy to conclude the Cowboys simply fold worse than my old accordion in December.
So they should give no never-mind to this being the December of this season. Instead, they must respect what's in front of them: Four of the final five opponents owning winning records, two of them division leaders, three of them on the road and one of them heading into Monday night's Game 11 undefeated.
That all adds up to the final five opponents owning a combined 34-20 record. There is no other such stretch over the first 11 games, and about the best I can find is 24-20 over the four-game stretch with Atlanta,