There was a point in this game where it seemed like the Cowboys would handle business.
Did I? (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
There was also a point where all hope was lost. At that point, anyone who has paid attention to this team this year knew what would happen next. Moving with urgency, Tony Romo would orchestrate a comeback because this offense has the tools to put up points when it isn’t thinking too hard. But again, anyone who has paid close attention to this team knew that, once again, this team had allowed itself to fall into a hole that would make the margin for error razor thin and a victory unlikely.
Even after forcing overtime and winning the coin toss to get possession first against a defense that had to be gassed following the relentless comeback at the end of regulation, Dallas couldn’t seal the deal at home – this with Dez Bryant emerging as a reliable beast, posting his first career 200-yard receiving game.
That says a lot about what the 2012 Cowboys are. They’re a pretty good team that can kick it into gear when they’re desperate, but often times they come up short.
Despite everything, it’s win and get in. Beating the Redskins means the 2012 Cowboys will be NFC East champs. How insane is that?
No matter what happens, one thing that we’ve learned this season, however, is that Tony Romo is by no means the problem. In a season in which he surpassed Troy Aikman in TDs thrown as a Cowboy and set the franchise record for passing yardage in a single season, Romo has been the one thing consistently keeping this team in games. Maybe Romo still has another gear we haven’t seen yet that can lead this team of misfits into the playoffs and beyond.
For the longest time I’ve tried to come up with an explanation for some of the crazy disaster seasons the Cowboys have endured since the days of Troy, Emmitt and Michael. Today, I think I have a more clear idea of one of the reasons thanks to Washington Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss.
In an interview about the upcoming Monday night game between the NFC East rivals, Moss said something interesting about how teams view the Cowboys.
"We know what Dallas means to everybody else in the world. Because without that star, it’s almost like it ain’t football, but Dallas has been one of those teams I watched as a kid. I’ve always been a fan of them, so when it’s time to play them and share that stage with them, something a little more extra comes out of you. You don’t really know what it is, but it is."
Not excusing our own failings over the years, what if some of the more freakish losses in close games could be attributed to every team we play against playing up to us as a result of our renown since the dynasty years? What if it’s that “don’t really know what it is” that always gives the other team an edge in those 50/50 situations, or results in freakish late game miscues?
Again, the team has only an obligation to itself and can’t worry about things out of its control, but there are always outside factors influencing the game of football, some apparent and some not. Every team has haters. Some teams have developed targets on their backs through success in recent years, like: New England, Pittsburgh and New Orleans. But no team seems to attract the sort of attention Dallas does, even when the team is not successful.
As long as the Cowboys remain the second most valuable sports franchise in the world, and offer one of the biggest attractions in American professional sports, the team will always play with a target on its back in addition to normal NFL adversities.