As a fan of any sports team you have to learn to deal with defeat. Your team is going to lose sooner or later and it's accepted as just one of those facts of life. People even come up with cute sayings to make losing not feel as bad, like "It's not how you fall but how you pick yourself up that matters." Unfortunately, there isn't any mantras or quips that can quite sum up just how it feels to be a Cowboys fan these days. What hurts the most is how everyone else is so ecstatic the Cowboys are in disarray right now. Just ignore all of the amazing storylines in the NFL right now, how the Titans are undefeated with Kerry Collins at quarterback or how the Atlanta Falcons might be the real deal behind Matt Ryan. No, let's all pile on the Cowboys and see just how far we can bury them under the mess of a media onslaught and let's see if they have any dignity left after that. It always seems to be a better storyline if a team headed for greatness falls mightily to earth, and it plays right into the public's fascination with doom and gloom.
Right now it just feels like a big bully kicking a kid once he's on the ground and curled up in the fetal position.
Not to say the Cowboys didn't bring this on themselves to a certain extent. Jerry Jones was on the warpath this offseason doing all he could to make sure the Cowboys were in the spotlight and it culminated in the HBO miniseries Hard Knocks. If you thrust yourself into the public view saying how great the team can be and setting your eyes on the Super Bowl as a reachable destination, of course folks will revel when you falter along the way. It just hurts that this is happening to my beloved Dallas Cowboys. The good news is that all is not lost, but it is certainly an uphill climb from here.
Here are some of my thoughts from the travesty embarrassment game last night.
- Losing I can take, in fact I had resigned myself to a loss before the game even started. The Giants were just too confident, too healthy and had too much momentum too fall to an undermanned team missing it's key player on offense. What I wanted to see was a team that still put forth a respectable effort even in the face of inevitable defeat. That certainly didn't happen. I can't stand losing but even more I can't stand seeing my team just lay down and give up.
- Here's what is frustrating about the loss last night: the defense actually made some great plays and forced some turnovers. While the Cowboys did have 14 points come from two of those turnovers, Terrell Owens fumbled away their chance to really grab momentum for the offense to grab some momentum in the first half. That's just indicative of how it went last night; we get a turnover, Owens fumbles for the first time in four years.
- I don't care who you have in at quarterback, no team can overcome this: the Giants had 21 points on touchdown drives of 27, 48 and 17 yards. While you would like your defense to dig down and hold them, you can only ask them to do it so much before they crack. The past month has seen the opposing team with numerous drives starting in the Cowboys territory and that is something that has to stop immediately to even have a chance at turning this thing around.
- Of course, the Cowboys had a slight chance of getting back into the game, and all they needed was a defensive stop. Bollinger had gotten some confidence and who knows, maybe the Cowboys score again if the Giants punt right after giving up a touchdown. Instead, they slam the ball down the defense's throat and put the game completely out of reach. Another disturbing trend.
- Can't put it all on the quarterback, but Brad Johnson didn't help things much. After giving up an opening drive touchdown, it seemed like the Cowboys' defense got their aggressiveness back and showed signs of being able to keep the team in the game. Those interceptions just hurt and it put the defense in a really bad spot.
- Who knows what would have happened if Brooks Bollinger had started, but I'm not convinced things would have been much better. However, once he got his feet under him a bit he did show some ability and willingness to get the ball downfield and a few times made some nice throws. I would have been a bit more confident with him in instead of BJ for a full game, watching both play. Anyone else think he looked like a high school quarterback thrown into a pro game? That guy is small.
- Officiating has reached a near comical level of incompetence. Blown calls and poor penalties for each side, but nothing was worse than the phantom "roughing the passer" penalty on Justin Tuck. Apparently defenders aren't allowed to actually tackle quarterbacks anymore, because doing so with your entire body is a penalty. Absolutely rediculous.
- Apparently the only player in our defensive secondary capable of tackling is Orlando Scandrick. Stew on that for a while.
- Anthony Spencer made some really good plays and the faster he gets on the field more than Greg Ellis the better. We need to have Ellis rested and healthy because I believe he can still be a force rushing the passer, but not having someone who could spell him throughout the game has hurt us.
- Finally: If one more random person comes up to me to give me their "condolences" about the Cowboys, I'm going to just flip out and possible have a Jerry Maguire moment. Don't gloat to me about a win unless you can more than three starting players for the Giants.