Cowboys Stadium was half filled with terrible towels. Many in attendance described it as a bowl game atmosphere and the game certainly had major playoff implications for not just the two competing teams, but for about six other teams as well. Still, neither team seemed to want it.
Shit! (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
When the game dragged into an overtime period, sudden death seemed like nothing more than a foregone conclusion for two teams that have performed just above mediocrity all season. It became more about which teams was going to be the one to make the big mistake than which team would ascend to lay claim to being a playoff contender. But that assessment takes away from the big play that was Brandon Carr’s near-pick 6 at the start of the overtime period. Carr may have made the biggest play of the season when he read a lazy out route and nearly took it to the house, setting up Dan Bailey for yet another game-winning kick.
Other than Carr’s big play, there’s not much more to say about this team right now, as week after week they find themselves in games determined by the thinnest of margins. It’s a three-way tie for first in the NFC East, but there’s nothing to indicate that just as hard as this team has fought to stay in the hunt over the last couple weeks, they could just as easily drop the next two games against New Orleans and Washington.
We’ll only find out what the 2012 Cowboys are about when it’s win or go home.
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.