When is the last time the Cowboys won a playoff game?
We all know the answer: 12 YEARS AGO
The Date: December 28, 1996
The Opponent: The Minnesota Vikings
The Score: DAL 40 - MIN 15
The Stars: Emmitt Smith (116 rushing) Michael Irvin (103 receiving)
Oh, how I long for those GOOD OLE’ DAYS again!
When is the last time the Cowboys had a WINNING RECORD IN GAMES PLAYED IN DECEMBER?
Are you ready for this? 12 YEARS AGO
That’s right! The last time we had a winning record in December is also the last time we won a playoff game.
Perhaps this disclaimer is needed: FOUR times since 1996 the regular season stretched into JAN of the following year; 1999, 2001, 2004, and 2005. In 2001 we won 3 games and lost 2 games in DEC, but the last game of the year, in early JAN, we lost. So the “after NOV” record was still 3-3 and in my opinion doesn’t qualify as closing the year with a WINNING STREAK.
So for the last TWELVE YEARS we have not closed out the year with a WINNING RECORD of the games played after NOV.
Some of those years our win-loss record was so bad, that EVEN IF we had won the DEC games, we would have missed the playoffs (2000, 2001, 2002, and 2004)
A few other years, we were AT LEAST in the playoff picture entering into DEC (1997, 1999.)
However, FIVE different years (1998, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2008) if we had won the DEC games, we would have definitely been in the playoffs. In other words, we controlled our own destiny and failed.
1998 – we entered DEC at 8-4.
2003 – we entered DEC at 8-4.
2005 – we entered DEC at 7-4.
2006 - we entered DEC at 7-4.
2008 – we entered DEC at 8-4.
Our DEC record from 1997 through 2008 is 19 wins (36%) and 34 losses (64%).
Our DEC NEMESIS from 1997 through 2008:
We’ve lost to –
PHI 6 times in DEC
NYG 5 times
NO 5 times
From 1997 through 2008 we played 53 games “after November” in the regular season:
Away Games 29 – won only 15%
Home Games 24 – won only 20%
From 1997 through 2008 we’ve had a variety of coaches:
Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo, Bill Parcells, and Wade Phillips
During the same time we’ve had a variety of Coaching styles, different Offensive and Defensive systems, different QBs, different key leaders, etc.
I struggle to find “the common denominator” to our 12 year DEC DEBACLE.
Maybe some people blame the coaches, while others blame key players.
I’ll need to do some more research to verify my inclinations. But my thoughts, at least as of right now, is that by the time we get to DEC, we’ve encountered injuries to key players that have accumulated throughout the year, leaving us with lesser talented backup players late in the year.
If this inclination is true, perhaps the answer to our DEC woes can be solved by upgrading our backups, especially at key positions, so that the drop-off in talent is minimized barring injury.
Again, if this is true, then those mid-to-late-round draft picks, which often serve AS BACKUPS the first few years, are much more vital than some of us realize.
What do you think is the cause of our DECEMBER WOES ?