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These Are Your 2011 Cowboys


Last night, the Cowboys held a 34-22 lead against the New York Giants with a little over five minutes to go. They ended up losing 37-34.

In the season opener, the Cowboys managed to squander a 24-10 fourth quarter lead against Jets and lost 27-24.

In week four, the Cowboys were leading the then unbeaten Lions 27-3 in the third quarter and found a way to lose 34-30.

With yesterday's loss, the Cowboys are now 12-9 under Coach Jason Garrett. 14 of the 21 games under Garrett (or two thirds) were decided by four points or less, with the Cowboys winning seven and losing seven.

Worst of all, outside of the blowout loss to the Eagles this year, the Cowboys have held a fourth quarter lead in every single one of their nine losses under Garrett.

These are Garrett's Cowboys. They have been in a position to win 20 out of 21 games. But they have found ways to lose almost half of them.

Call it what you want to call it, Closer Mentality, the Will To Win, Swagger, Killer Instinct, Finishing, whatever.

The Cowboys don't have it.

And here's the thing. I'm not talking about about a guy like Frank Walker drawing a flag, Alan Ball whiffing on a tackle, Phil Costa missing a blocking assignment or Dan Bailey having a kick blocked. Those are role players, you expect them to make the occasional bad play, that's just how things work in the salary cap era.

But where are the superstars on this team when it counts?

The Cowboys had six former first-round picks playing at some point in the game on defense yesterday (Ware, Spencer, Spears, Newman, Jenkins, Brooking). Their combined tally: two passes defensed, one tackle for loss, no QB hits, no sacks, no interceptions.

The defense as a whole allowed 510 yards, the most in Garrett's tenure as the head coach, and only the second time a team has gained more than 400 yards against the Cowboys this year - you guessed it, the other team were the Eagles, who notched 495 yards.

"When it comes down to late-game situations you've got to make plays," Sean Lee said after the game. "Players have got to make plays. Starts with me. Starts with my teammates. When it comes down to the last second, two minute drives, somebody has got to make a big play. We didn't do it today."

The offense, led by Tony Romo, who recorded just the sixth game of his career with a passer rating of more than 140 (141.3), had a lot of big plays and recorded its sixth 400+ yard game of the season. But that offense also allowed a safety and a fumble. And where were Jason Witten (only three catches for a paltry 12 yards) and Dez Bryant (one catch, albeit for a TD)?

This was a tough loss for the Cowboys, but the season isn't over. In 20 of 21 games under Garrett the Cowboys have shown that they can compete with any NFL team. But to win, they'll have to find ways to finish. And they'll need to be able to lean on their star players for that.

"Somebody has got to make a play."

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