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Cowboys @ Steelers: Dealing with the grief

I've worked out my plan for dealing with this disaster of the Dallas Cowboy losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-13.

Accept the brutality - Not even Chuck Norris in all his Internet-legend glory could deliver a roundhouse kick to the solar plexus like that game did. Halfway into the fourth quarter we were on our way to a beautiful victory. It was all there for us. Going on the road, playing the #1 defense, facing one of the AFC's best, battling the elements and walking away with a physical smack-down win that would cement our status. We were going to be the toast of the NFL. The bandwagon was going to beak down under the weight of ESPN and Chris Berman slobbering our praises. For one shining moment, it was all there for us. Then wham, we got pummeled by the Football Gods (and the Steelers). So accept the fact that this team barfed up a 10 point lead in the blink of an eye and wasted a golden opportunity to create a little distance in the playoff race and dumped a super-sized helping of confidence right down the drain. Now, forget about it, because there's nothing that can be done about it.

You live by Romo, you die by Romo - Here's where Cowboys Nation gets all in a twist. To criticize Romo or not to criticize Romo, that is the question. Tony Romo is one of the main reasons we have a team that has been playoff-worthy over the last few years. He's pulled off some miraculous comebacks as well as some straight-up beat-downs of opposing team. His skills are on the elite level and he has a little magic in his game that most other QB's don't possess. But alas, he is mortal, and on some days he just doesn't play well. This was one of those days. His passes weren't sharp for a lot of the game and he turned the ball over way too much, including the backbreaker at the end. Sure, some of his receivers didn't help him out, but it was plain that he wasn't having a good game however you slice it. But I'll live with the bad and hope it's few and far between, because I've seen the good, and if he can harness that down the stretch, this team can play with anybody in this league - and beat them. So I'll live and die with Romo, but I'm still going to call him out for bad play.

Don't get defensive about the loss - Scratch that, get defensive about the loss. The Cowboys defense has come alive over the last month and is looking like a unit that will be a positive in our quest to save the season. They weren't able to close out this game, but the Cowboys offense should have put it away sooner. Yeah, they got a little sloppy at the end and had some annoying penalties but after that game I don't think you can call them soft anymore. Unless, of course, they get blown-out next week. But I don't think that will happen, this defense looks more than ready to help this team win. So thinking about the potential of this defense helps me momentarily forget this brutal loss.

Back to the grind - Nothing is coming easy for us this year, we've had a lot of typical Cowboys craziness going on and we've got a MASH unit worth of injuries. So jump on the "one game at a time playoff-push" bandwagon. I mean what else can you do? Give up and start thinking about the offseason? Free agency and the draft? No way! The season is still alive and by some strange miracle, even though we lost, we still managed to jump into sixth place in the playoff standings. Win out for the next three games and we look pretty good to make the post season. And as crushing as this loss was a month from now, if we win the next three, the bitter loss we currently feel will be no more than an obstacle overcome. Maybe even a teaching experience. Go for the rationalization when you have a defeat like this, pretend it will only make us stronger in the end.

It was a painful loss, and I'm not looking forward to seeing the injury reports this week. Still, it didn't mortally wound us in the big picture. We also got a look at a defense on the rise. We saw Romo play one of his poorest games so maybe that's out of the way for a while and he will be highly motivated to finish the season with some stellar play.

So that's my plan to get rid of this smelly carcass of a game. Next week, the New York Giants feel the brunt of our anger and frustration. You got to have a little faith to survive this season.

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