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Dallas' Roller Coaster Reaches Finish Line, Cowboys Lose To Giants 31-14

The 2011 season has come to an end.

In a do-or-die, winner moves on, loser goes home contest, the Cowboys we hoped to see didn't arrive until they had already dug themselves a 21-0 first half hole. Amidst a slew of bad effort, bad play and bad bounces, Dallas wasn't able to perform the necessary epic comeback.They fought valiantly to open the second half, stonewalling the Giants offense and finally getting their own on track to close within 21-14. The Cowboys, however, didn't have enough left in the tank and ended up losing, 31-14.

The Cowboys barely pressured Giants quarterback Eli Manning, barely protected Tony Romo and made mistakes everywhere in between.

Follow the jump for more recap, and remember to stay civil in the comments section.

The storylines coming into the contest were numerous, but exiting the game and the season it boils down to the glaring fact that the Cowboys didn't have the talent when it mattered most. If one was to look for a scapegoat, someone to blame this Week 16 debacle on, the first finger would probably need to be pointed at Terence Newman. The amount of times that he was unable to make a needed tackle, or properly cover a receiver were too many to count. After allowing unathletic blocking tight end Bear Pascoe to leapfrog him on 3rd and 9 deep in Giants territory, he then allowed emerging superstar Victor Cruz a clean out pattern on the next third down. Cruz wasn't satisfied with just the first down though, and raced up the left sideline for a 74 yard touchdown and 7-0 lead. The Giants would target Newman over and over again.

When they weren't focusing on the 41 bulls-eye, missed tackles and poor coverage by the rest of the secondary finished the Cowboys season with a whimper. When Dallas closed to within seven with 10 minutes to go, Eli Manning spun away from pressure and found Victor Cruz in front of Orlando Scandrick to essentially ice the game. The Giants would score a field goal, hold Dallas to a three and out and then add another gut-wrenching touchdown drive to reach the final score.

There were so many issues on defense, it can't be all placed on Newman however. The Cowboys again were burned on a handful of plays where the team was lined up incorrectly.

The offense had their share of problems as well. 14 points rarely wins a football game. Protection was an issue like it has been in several games over the season. Romo had a decent game stat-wise, but threw an interception in the midst of the comeback attempt that stunted what little momentum the Cowboys had generated. They overcame that to still close to within seven when Romo found Laurent Robinson for his second touchdown of the game. It just wasn't to be however, as the numerous holes in this team were exposed over and over.

For those inclined to look at the coaches for game preparation and in-game decision making, this contest offered for logs for the winter fire. If the entire team deserves credit for each win, it undoubtedly deserves to share blame for this effort with everything on the line. That extends from the GM down to the 53rd man on the roster.

Now, the off-season is here and Dallas has many questions to answer. Will all of the coaches be retained? Which players will be shown the door, which ones will be brought in to replace them? The loss was the Cowboys fourth in five games, all occurring after Dallas had worked their way up to first place and control of the NFC East. The season ends with the Cowboys in third place, behind both New York and the Eagles.

A year after drafting ninth, the Cowboys have the #14 pick in this April's draft. The team has a little wiggle room under the cap, but not much, pending the possible release of some veterans such as Terence Newman and Jon Kitna. Several other Cowboys such as Bradie James may have played their last game in a Cowboys uniform. Time will tell, and heal most wounds.

We'll have much more in the coming days and months of the off-season. For now, we just ask that you respect each other and the rules of the blog in the comment section.

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