Two to Forget Mark '08 Struggles

will always be in my top three most nauseating games. Coming off consecutive 5-11 seasons, the Cowboys opened the year on a Sunday night at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

It was the first game ever played by the Houston Texans franchise. Ever.

Let me repeat. The Houston Texans had no history, no tradition. No record book. Expansion franchise. First time ever assembled. And they beat the Dallas Cowboys on a prime time Sunday night broadcast 19-10. That was unbelievable.

Everyone has his (least) favorite. The 1985 team, Landry's last division winner, lost at home to the eventual champion Bears two Sundays before Thanksgiving, 44-0. That was pretty special. That home playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Chan Gailey's first year, the 1998 season, was one of those sucker-punches that leaves you on the deck.

But for most of the second half of this season, I have been convinced that somewhere near the top of the list belonged October 19, 2008 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. When the Cowboys lost to the St. Louis Rams that day, they lost to a team that won only twice all year. They lost from ahead, 7-0. I know they played the game without their starting quarterback. It was Tony Romo's first missed game with a fractured pinkie. Sorry. Doesn't matter. That was a truly rotten Rams team. The Dallas team it mugged that afternoon played with an absence of excitement or emotion, nor with much apparent interest. If there was a chance that a team with enough talent to reach the postseason would miss out because it lost that game, that to me would have to rank as one of the most inexcusable, disgusting losses in team history. Not THIS roster. Not to THAT team.

And, of course, that's exactly what happened. Had the Cowboys played mediocre that day, they'd have snaked out a narrow, ugly win and they would not have had to beat the Eagles in Philadelphia last Sunday. That is such a revolting notion to anyone who cheers for Dallas, it makes one talk to one's self.

Of course, that game was outdone last Sunday. It is not inconceivable that you could lose a game in Philadelphia. It is beyond comprehension that with everything this team went through this year, including the St. Louis loss, and with an opportunity to render it all moot by winning one admittedly difficult game, that a team would not play its very best game, whether it won or lost.

Instead, it may have played its very worst. Ever. You decide.

Happy New Year.

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