Cowboys Turn Over Same Old Leaf In OT Loss To Eagles
An indifferent sense of relief echoed throughout the vast confines of AT&T Stadium at 10:57 PM Central-Standard-Time on Sunday night. Finally, after just over 64 minutes of play and more than one moment of doubt, the home team revealed themselves to be all we suspected they were. Heartless. Gutless. And virtually hopeless.
Jordan Mathews’ 41-yard touchdown reception on the ninth play of overtime officially ended any chance that the Dallas Cowboys had of pulling off an inter-divisional upset, and sent them trudging back down the tunnel to a reality too severe for franchise executives to ignore. The Cowboys need to be better, both next week and next year.
At 2-6 there is no reason for head coach Jason Garrett to waste time talking about a second-half playoff push, even if the standings indicate that such an event is still a possibility. Nor is there time for Jerry Jones to moan over what might have been. The Cowboys lost their second consecutive overtime affair of the season, and sixth overall, because they are a team that knows no endings to reading, and investing in, their own summer-time press-clippings. The players, much like their outspoken owner, are, too often, fans unto themselves. The players, much like their owner, find themselves falling headlong into a gully of incompetence.
And the coaching staff… Well, they’re not getting off the hook either. Credit Cowboy coaches for keeping their players’ spirits out of the gutter through this long losing streak. It’s not every staff that could have done as much.
But let’s not forget to give Garrett & Co. their fair share of the credit for what can only be viewed as a needless slide into oblivion. They have what is arguably the best offensive line in football to work with and a veteran quarterback who has more than thirty career victories to his credit. It’s time to stop saying the Cowboys are completely short-handed. The 49ers won with Blaine Gabbert playing quarterback yesterday. There’s no reason why the Cowboys shouldn’t be expected to do the same with Matt Cassel at quarterback.
Cassel, for his part Sunday night, posted a season-high 299 passing yards and three touchdowns while spreading the ball around to six different targets. Cassel’s one mistake proved costly, though. His fourth-quarter pass in the right flat toward Darren McFadden instead found the mitts of Philadelphia linebacker Jordan Hicks, who returned the interception 67 yards to give the Eagles a 21-14 lead.
And in just his second game back from a broken foot, Dez Byrant notched his first 100-yard receiving game of the season, tallying 104 yards on five catches. But not even his performance could be said to be unblemished. His inability to locate a pass down the left sideline in the first-half helped thwart a promising drive, and prevented Dallas from breaking a tie score.
Fellow wide receiver Terrance Williams was guilty of a similar offense in the first-half as well, when he flat dropped a pass that would have resulted in a gain of nearly forty yards. As with Bryant’s episode, the Cowboys went from a scoring situation to a punting situation.
These three stooges would likely have been hung in effigy this week if not for a disgraceful second-half performance from the Dallas defense. The same unit that only a week before allowed Seattle to march 79 yards for the game-winning field goal, and the same unit that was on the field for just over 21 minutes in regulation on Sunday night, played the role of breathless onlooker in the second-half as the Eagles put together four scoring drives over their last five possessions to break open a 7-7 ballgame.
A defense that was expected to carry this team with Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain in the lineup has done anything but. The Cowboys don’t consistently rush the passer, having notched just one or fewer sacks in five games, and can’t stop a doodlebug in the fourth quarter.
That they failed to record a takeaway for the sixth time in eight games only served to further spotlight this unit’s latest uninspiring effort. A league-worst turnover ratio (-9) has forced the Cowboy offense, which controls the ball for a league-leading 34 minutes, to play a mistake-free game, something which has eluded them thus far in 2015.
The end result, which delivered the Cowboys to their longest single-season losing streak in 26 years, is anything but a shocker. The Cowboys, try as they might, don’t have a clue as to how to piece a victory together without Tony Romo.
Surprises were few and far between on Sunday in Arlington. The Cowboys did what they have been doing the entire season, all of which was wild, entertaining, and, predictably, not good enough.