That loss to Baltimore was hard to watch. Like a television that only gets the Lifetime Movie Network. I'm still wondering how the Dallas Cowboys went out and blew their chance to control their own destiny and to become a team ready for the post-season. Sure, they can still get in with a little help and I'll hold on to that one saving grace, because if I didn't have that things could get ugly. But I do need to vent so here goes.
Venting coming on after the jump.
Let's start at the top with Wade Phillips. He's put together an impressive run with the defense over the last six weeks, but he's the head coach, too. The captain of the ship. When the ship hits a reef and rips a hole in the bottom, you can blame the navigator, the chart-maker, the second-in-command, even the lookout, but you're still the captain of the ship. And you're responsible for what happens with this football team. You need to deal with it or it could end up costing you your job.
Rex Ryan and the Baltimore defense was getting the better of Jason Garret most of the night. On the podcast earlier in the week, I noted how the Ravens move their guys around on defense and you never know who is coming. That was my biggest fear. They stunt, they fake, they delay blitzes, they zone blitz, they do it all and the Cowboys have had problems picking up free rushers from defenses like that all year. Tonight was a textbook example of how not to block a defense like that. It was abysmal. The play-calling was suspect and the offense just didn't look ready to compete. It could cost Garrett his assumed future as head coach.
The two interceptions Tony Romo threw were ridiculous. He floated wounded ducks right into Ed Reed's hand. One was a second down, so it wasn't the same as a punt, and only a great play from DeMarcus Ware immediately afterward kept it from being worse. The second one Romo gave to Reed near the end of the half set up the Ravens for a FG to take the lead. That was a horrible decision. Last week, when Romo got in trouble he did the smart thing and ate the ball and protected it. This week, he went back to the idea of winning the game on his own and gunslinging-it. Just because a play is called doesn't mean you have to throw it there if it's covered. There are other receivers in the pattern or you can throw it away. And missing a wide-open Miles Austin for a TD really hurt. Romo, I do commend your efforts in the fourth quarter. And yes, you're hurt and beat up and show tremendous courage in the pocket. You were under heavy rush in the pressure from the defense, and you made some great escapes. Injuries may have robbed you of some of your accuracy but you have to protect the football in a game like this and make the smart decisions. It didn't happen and it wasn't your finest hour.
The defense played brilliantly for most of the game, then came up with two of the worst plays in recorded history. They kept the team in the game and were a terror for 3 ½ quarters, then folded. Get a stop late and Dallas is still in the game even though the odds were getting long. But they couldn't get it done. It's hard to complain too bitterly about the defense but the ending of the game was some serious gallows' humor - only we weren't laughing. And Ken Hamlin? I can't even talk about that, it's too bleak.
The offensive line didn't do their job and Hudson Houck (combined with Jason Garrett) did not have them prepared at all to deal with Baltimore's defense. It was a brutal display of blocking. They could have gotten Romo killed.
The penalties? Just ridiculous.
I will say that Jason Witten at the end, and Tashard Choice for the whole game, played with heart and determination. If only the rest of the team could have followed suit.
The only thing I can do now is hope we still make the playoffs. Hanging on by a fingernail is better than not hanging on at all. It's never say die for me, until the body is actually dead. It's the only way to deal with this calamity.