Cowboys Hang Tough but no Post-Season
The Cowboys had a small chance of hanging with the Eagles until Thursday of last week. When the decision was made for Tony Romo to have surgery on his back, all realistic hope went out the window. Or so everyone thought. Not that Kyle Orton is chopped liver or chicken salad, but with only 3 days to take first team snaps, Joe Montana in his prime would be hard pressed to be effective. Still the Cowboys came out inspired, not willing to just lie down and take a beating…but everyone expected a blow-out. The point spread grew to 14.5 by kickoff.
On top of that, the Eagles were as hot a team as anyone in the NFL and the Cowboys, with or without Romo, have been agonizingly inconsistent. But Orton and the offense weren’t the problem in the early going of this game. As a matter of fact, DeMarco Murray was pretty good in the first half 11 carries for 43 yards and 3 catches for another 38 yards. No, the problem was again, the Cowboys world class-level bad defense. Nick Foles had people in his face but the Cowboys secondary looked like they couldn’t cover high school receivers. They were seriously horrible. Even though Murray, Orton and the offense did a pretty good job of moving the ball, before you knew it Phily led 10-0.
If Monte Kiffin is still with the Cowboys next season I will do a header off of the Margaret Hill Bridge. Before every play, the Cowboys defense has more moving parts than a twerking Miley Cyrus. No one seems to know where to go.
Orton’s touchdown pass to Gavin Escobar halfway thru the second quarter, pulled Dallas within a field goal at 10-7, but an Orton interception late in the first half quickly led to another Foles TD pass. Thankfully the Cowboys got a 44 yard field goal at the end of the half and trailed by just a touchdown, 17-10. Foles remained red-hot, his QB rating in the first half was an amazing 155. Somehow, some way the Cowboys defense had to slow him.
And they actually did. The defense stepped up in the second half and held Foles and the Eagles to just one touchdown which came with just over 6 minutes left in the game. Anyone would have taken that before the game, so the “D” deserves credit.
Orton hit Dez Bryant with a touchdown pass with just under 4 minutes to play to make it a 2 point game. Who would have thought the Cowboys would hang this tough? The missed 2 point conversion pass and the final throw of the game for Orton–intercepted by Brandon Boykin–will be debated all week. A more patient Orton might have found a wide open Jason Witten for the tying 2 point conversion, and with 1:49 to play…plenty of time…and the Cowboys just needing a field goal, Orton threw a terrible pass that was behind Miles Austin and allowed Boykin to make the pick to end the game and the Cowboys season. Would Romo have made a difference? Hard to say. Orton wasn’t bad at all for the most part, 30-46 for 358 yards but the last throw was a killer.
People will also question, once again, the lack of Murray after the intermission. Just 6 carries for 9 yards. This has been a season of “woulda-coulda-shoulda” for Dallas and the long off-season will be filled with lots of questions and too few answers as to what could have been. And the pain for Cowboys fans is right there again. Four straight seasons without a playoff.