I've noticed an odd meme working its way through the national football media. On ESPN's pre-game show yesterday, a package on the San Diego Chargers lamented their last minute letdowns. It showed the Chargers failure to score against Dallas, the loss of late leads to Pittsburgh and Denver and the awful loss to Philadelphia on a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown in the final two minutes.
The comclusion was that "San Diego might be the best 3-4 team ever." After the Chargers win, I've seen it amended to "they may be the best 4-4 team ever." Peter King of Sports Illustrated today ranks them in his top five.
Five minutes after San Diego's woes were aired, ESPN ran a piece on Dallas, detailing the Cowboys' late failures against Washington, Seattle and Oakland. No "best 4-3 team" labels for them. No young-team-going-through-growing pains explanations. No. This was a disease that threatened to kill the '05 Cowboys.
Granted, the Chargers have faced a brutal schedule. They have not had any San Franciscos or Arizonas on their slate. And I'm not trying to downplay Dallas' failures to close. It seems odd that two nearly identical situations can be shown almost back to back and assessed in such different ways.
The best explantion I can think of is that expectations are higher for Dallas, among its fans and the press.