Cowboys, And Their Fans, Face An Important Game. Again.

Stephen Dunn

If it seems like Dallas is always playing a game that is crucial to the season, well, the Cowboys pretty much are, every single week. After a while, it starts to wear you down.

Are you tired yet? Has the emotional toll of being a fan of the Dallas Cowboys set in?

Once again, the Cowboys face a game they really cannot afford to lose. As Adam Schefter said on ESPN radio today, a loss by Dallas against the Minnesota Vikings would be the biggest possible loss of this weekend. It would damage hope for the Cowboys going on to win their division. Not only do they need a win against a team that is clearly struggling this year, Dallas wants a win to stay in front in the NFC East. It needs to regain some momentum. This is almost a must win game, even if there will still be seven more to go.

In other words, it is the same as every other game for, oh, forever.

It's not really the 47th make or break game for the Cowboys this season. It just feels that way.

It comes from following this team through the past two and a half years, with each season coming down to the last game, and then they fall short. No one else in the division has faced this for so long, because the other teams have been up and down. They have at least had a few weeks when they knew they were not in the race for the division.

But for two and a half years, it seems like every single game is crucial to the outcome of the season for the Cowboys. They never drop too far behind, and they never pull far enough ahead, it seems like. They just hang in there, in the lead or just out of it. And after a while, it just becomes draining.

It is confusing as well. Do you give up on the team? Cheer harder because they are hanging in there? Heck, you can go through both emotions multiple times in the space of a single game with this team, so how are you supposed to sort it out over an entire season?

Obviously, the bizarre, implausible ways Dallas manages to lose some games does not help. When a game gets down to the last few minutes, and it is close, Cowboys fans find themselves going through the very lengthy but always growing list of ways the team can find to blow it. In the past two and half years, we have seen the team set records for passing performances given up, for most yards in a losing cause, for biggest lead surrendered . . . the list just goes on and on, each way of messing things up more excruciating than the last.

This is a team against which opposing quarterbacks seem to have the best game of their season. Receivers have career days. Players that have not done anything right for months suddenly look like All Pros.

After a while, it just wears you out. You keep wanting to just walk away from it all, but you keep getting sucked back in. They will follow up a gut-wrenching loss with a gutty performance to pull a game out, or a laughably easy victory over a clearly outmatched team. And you decide to come back again, because in the end you can no more turn away from this team than you can drive past an accident without craning your neck to see if there is any blood.

One more this week. A game that the team needs to win because the second place Philadelphia Eagles have an even chance of beating the Oakland Raiders. But no matter what, the Cowboys will still at least be tied for first place, yet again. And the season will go on, and we will become more wrung out.

Don't ask me to explain why it is this way, because I no longer have any idea. I just know it keeps happening. I don't want to attribute it to Jason Garrett and his tenure, but I am no longer absolutely sure about that. I just hope the cycle will be broken soon.

One day, in some way, it will finally end. But not this week. We just have to be strong, and gut it out. We are Cowboys fans.

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