We didn't think it could get any worse. After a 1-4 start, there was no way that this season could spiral anymore out of control. Turns out we were wrong. While the Cowboys certainly made things interesting late in the game, in reality it was over much, much earlier than the final whistle in regulation.
The Dallas Cowboys were leading 13-7 in the second quarter and were in -- what appeared to be -- control of this game. The defense had forced a few turnovers and the offense had capitalized on them. Yet one blown play in pass coverage effectively ended this season, as Chris Gronkowski missed a blitz pickup and Michael Boley planted Tony Romo into the Cowboys Stadium turf.
Tony Romo, with a broken left clavicle, is effectively out for at least six weeks and is likely out closer to two months. That in and of itself would be enough cause for alarm as the chances of winning future games against a brutal schedule were effectively diminished. Yet the Cowboys had not lost the game at that point, and in fact took a 20-7 lead minutes later when Dez Bryant returned a punt for an 88-yard touchdown.
That's when the Cowboys completely fell apart.
The defense, suddenly unable to stop the Giants offense, allowed 17 points in the final five minutes of the second half and then quickly allowed 14 more points in the second quarter. At one point it appeared as if the Cowboys had just completely given up, allowing the Giants to march up and down the field in embarrassingly easy fashion. On the ground and through the air, the Cowboys had no answer for the Giants.
Add the fact that Jon Kitna didn't lead the Cowboys offense to a first down until midway through the fourth quarter and you have the recipe for ultimate failure. It's obvious that the problems on the team start at the very top, from Jerry Jones on down and nothing short of monumental changes will work. Without Romo, however, the Cowboys have absolutely zero chance in turning things around.
Don't let the final score fool you. The Cowboys were completely outclassed in this game and as soon as Tony Romo left the game the heart of this team left with him. The Cowboys defense failed to step up and make a play when this team needed a big play the most and as the game progressed it became increasingly worse; injuries, lack of defensive coverage in the secondary and a complete lack of offensive ability was gone with Kitna in the game. The Cowboys were able to muster a couple of later turnovers and some late offensive momentum to make the final score look much better than it had any right to be.
The Cowboys allowed 508 yards on defense and had just 5 first downs until late in the fourth quarter. That's the story of the game.
In 2008, the Dallas Cowboys lost Tony Romo for a month and we suffered through three games of a team that played with zero heart. Kitna did show some semblance of ability to lead the offense later in the game and you hope that with a week he'll do better; he's at least better than Brad Johnson.
The Cowboys also have Dez Bryant, who is proving to be the superstar player we all hoped he would be. So that's something. This is a player who refuses to quit, who refuses to give up and who right now might be the only player on the Dallas Cowboys who is giving his 110% effort play after play. Bryant had two late receiving touchdowns and an electric punt return for a touchdown and it was obvious that for the Cowboys to have any chance at offensive success he had to get the ball.
Perhaps the Cowboys have some chance with Kitna comfortable after a week of practice and Dez Bryant rising to incredible heights game after game. Perhaps. Yet that doesn't take away from perhaps the worst defensive performance I've seen by the Cowboys since the Dave Campo era. What's frustrating is that despite that the horrible play, the Cowboys still forced five turnovers. Five turnovers, and a defensive meltdown in the second and third quarter.
Yet there are injuries at several crucial positions and the Cowboys tonight showed that there absolutely no coaching to provide this team with the leadership it needs. The players are to blame as well, but right now it's painfully obvious that a change from the top down needs to happen. It won't happen during the season, most likely, so now we're left with a team that is 1-5 and has just lost their starting quarterback for the next six to eight games. It's also important to note that any coaching change that is made is extremely dicey, considering the labor situation that exists right now in the NFL.
Perhaps the most enlightening moment of the night came when midway through the third quarter, a "Let's Go Rangers" chant could clearly be heard throughout the stadium. If that isn't a sign of the sports landscape in Dallas, then I don't know what is.
We'll have much more on this game tomorrow, but in the meantime -- please keep it civil. Frustrations are at an all time high, but do no resort to turning on each other. Vent your anger about the team, but do not make personal attacks at each other.