The 2010 NFL season will continue. It will just do so without the Dallas Cowboys playing any meaningful role.
Zero. That's the sole and definitive answer to the following questions: What are the Cowboys' chances of making the playoffs? What are the chances of Wade Phillips coaching the Cowboys in 2011? How many capable NFL quarterbacks do the 'Boys now have on their active roster? What is this team's collective football IQ?
How could a night that started so perfectly end in a pile of smoking ash? Eli Manning throws two early picks which Dallas converts into 10 quick points. (Yes, 10, not 14, and that was significant.) A third takeaway, a fumble recovered by Bradie James, yields a second Buehler field goal and a 13-7 Cowboy lead. From there, goodbye sweet dream, hello nightmare.
Chris Gronkowski probably won't have a particularly long or particularly distinguished Cowboy career. But he is now forever the answer to a trivia question. Miles Austin dropped two passes. Jason Witten put the ball on the rug. Mike Jenkins successfully got his fifth pass interference penalty in three games. Orlando Scandrick was again quick-fried to a crackly crunch. Igor Olshansky embarrassed himself--and us--with a selfish celebratory dance while his team was getting flogged. Wade Phillips' vaunted defense quit, yielding 38 unanswered points, and 497 yards, 200 of them on the ground. Phillips quit coaching. He passed up a field goal opportunity at 38-20. At 38-23 it's still a two-score game, and the Cowboys still have a chance. It's a head coach's primary job to extend the game. Phillips ended it. And now he's through. Wade has ingested a fatal dose. Only his expiration date remains in question.
Dallas collected five takeaways Monday night, one more than the team's total through its first five games. The Cowboys got three touchdowns from rookie Dez Bryant, including the second longest punt return TD in franchise history. Who could turn that into a 41-35 loss? Only the 2010 Dallas Cowboys.
Stop it with the, "Well, you know the Cincinnati Bengals came back from a 1-5 start to make the playoffs in 1970." Stop it. 3-13 is now way more likely than even 9-7. Romo-bashers, you just got your wish. And you are now going to discover how very wrong you were and are. And stop it with the "Let's see what Stephen McGee can do." I know what Stephen McGee can do, at least at this time at this level. It's way less than even Jon Kitna can do.
Players who won't play. Some players who, despite their inflated reputations, can't play. Coaches who stop coaching. And an NFL season that will continue. Just without the Dallas Cowboys.