The Cowboys started off the game already in good spirits, thanks to the Minnesota Vikings complete dismantling of the Philadelphia Eagles in the early games. They went to work early on their own NFC North foe, eviscerating the Green Bay Packers with the best first-half in franchise history, building a 26-3 before the break. Then all hell broke loose on the back of a pass-happy offense and a depleted defense that just kept suffering more and more injuries.
What should have been a dominating performance turned into Dallas getting toasted by another backup quarterback and a refusal to run the ball when it was working with uncanny returns. Dallas turned that should-have-been insurmountable lead into allowing Green Bay to score five straight touchdowns. The final came with under two minutes to go, and once Dallas got the ball, a second Tony Romo interception in two drives sealed the deal.
Leading 36-31 and trying to end the game, Tony Romo escaped a Clay Matthews sack and then threw behind Miles Austin and was intercepted. The Cowboys ran for 134 yards on just 18 carries, yet on 2nd and 6 when trying to bring the clock down, they continued to pass.
After the game, head coach Jason Garrett basically threw Tony Romo under the bus by admitting that Romo checked out of the run play to call the slant for Austin. On replay, you can clearly see Romo's head nod in Austin's direction. The play would have been a huge gain if Romo could have led Austin, but throwing behind him doomed the team.
Green Bay quickly marched half the field and converted their fifth touchdown in five second half drives, on an Eddie Lacy two-yard run.
Dallas would have another opportunity, just needing to get in Dan Bailey range for an attempt at his sixth field goal of the game, but a miscommunication between Romo and Cole Beasley led to a game-clinching interception and put the Cowboys at 7-7.
The Cowboys were completely dominant in the first half, and probably should have added about 10 points to their 23 point halftime margin. They settled for four field goals despite driving up and down the field on the overmatched Packers. Despite Demarco Murray running all over Green Bay to the tune of 93 rush yards, Dallas once again showed they feel they must pass, and pass often.
In passing 48 times, with 3 sacks allowed, against just 18 rushes Dallas passed on an opportunity to control the East. They still control their own playoff destiny, as if they win their final two games they still win the East. However, they blew the chance to win the division next week with this loss.
Speaking of loss, the defensive tide turned on the final play of the half, when the Cowboys suffered the final injury they couldn't sustain. Ernie Sims, playing a pivotal role with Sean Lee, Bruce Carter out for the entire game and Justin Durant lost earlier, was knocked out on the final play of the half with a hip injury.
The linebacker lineup of Cam Lawrence, Kyle Wiber and Devonte Holloman wasn't up to the task and the Matt Flynn-led Pack dominated the Cowboys defense in the second have. Three drives went for 80 yards for Green Bay.
So on the Dallas 2013 resume are two embarrassing road blowouts, and two I-can't-believe-they-lost-from-that-far-ahead defeats.
The nuclear option might be getting closer to fruition for this franchise, and it might include the entire coaching staff.
We'll be back with much more, but for now, try to keep things civil in the comments.