Monday, December 16, 2013

Anatomy of a Cowboys Loss

As an Eagles fan, this current run of Cowboys mediocrity has been particularly enjoyable for me, with yesterday's loss to the Packers perhaps being the most enjoyable (especially coming on the heels of the Eagles' performance in Minnesota), with the possible exception of the 2008 season-ending 44-6 blowout.

I've noticed these losses seem to follow a pattern.

  1. The build-up.  These days, a Cowboys meltdown is all but an inevitability, so there's typically some pregame chatter about how the Cowboys need to recover from what happened last week, or the previous years, this is an opportunity for redemption, a chance to silence the critics, etc.
  2. The fast start.  The Cowboys will typically come out an march down the field for a touchdown on their first drive.  This will usually lead Troy Aikman or Chris Collinsworth to say something like, "There were some questions about Tony Romo this week, and he's answered them!" or "You can tell Jason Garrett has his team ready to play today!"
  3. Brain Fart (minor) The Cowboys will commit some seemingly minor error in the second quarter that will come to bite them in the ass later.  Maybe they'll commit a red zone penalty that will force them to settle for a field goal.  Maybe it will be a turnover in the 2 minute drill.  Maybe they'll let the other team get a cheap half-ending field goal.    In any case, they'll head into the half ahead, but on a sour note.
  4. Halftime  Talk up the Cowboys' first half performance, question whether they can sustain it for the second half.
  5. The Deluge  A series of turnovers, poor defense, and odd coaching decisions lead to the first half lead evaporating.  Typically punctuated by an especially grievous turnover or coaching decisions, at which Aikman or Collinsworth express amazement, perhaps even leading to Al Michaels or Joe Buck joining the pile-on.  Example:

    Buck:  You have to wonder why the Cowboys would call a double-reverse pass on 1st and 5 up 14 with 2 minutes to go on their opponents' 5 yard line.
    Aikman: That's exactly right, Joe.  And this is why the questions around Jason Garrett will continue to swirl.
  6. The Sideline Shots  My personal favorites.  Receivers bitching at coaches and QBs (Terrel Owens was always good for this).  Tony Romo staring blankly at the field in his backward baseball cap.  Jerry Jones with his arms folded on the sidelines.  The Cowboys coaches looking confused (though Wade Phillips also was better at this role than Jason Garrett -- Garrett looks more like he can't believe that his carefully laid out plan collapsed like this).
  7. Dashed Final Hope In spite of blowing the lead, the Cowboys will have a final chance to win the game, only to blow it with another turnover or blown field goal or some other miscue.
  8. The Postgame Jones will express full confidence in his coaching staff and Romo, and they'll prepare for next week.
This has been one of the few joys of being an Eagles fan over the years.

The thing is, I don't know that Garrett or Romo are that bad, or if they're unlucky.  It is fun to watch, though.
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