The Dallas Cowboys have two more contests before their 'Knight in Shining Armor' shows back up, watching him throwing to his receivers in pre-game warmups brought nothing but positive thoughts. Each week since his loss, it has been a different story, different circumstances, but the end result remains the same. Dallas is now 0-5 without Tony Romo. So, with two games left, and the hope of a season that is dangling in the balance and wearing thinner by the day, I'm here to say - don't give in just yet Cowboys' faithful. The Cowboys have nine games left and have two wins in their division. If they can hang on and stop finding creative ways to lose, they can still be a major factor at the end of this. Trust me, it's been done before.
In 2002, the New York Jets started the season with an overtime win only to drop the next three games and be outscored a whopping 102-13 in those contests. They would fall to a similar fate as our beloved cowboys at 2-5 before head coach Herm Edwards would create the memorable "You play to win the game" speech prior to traveling to Qualcomm to take on the 6-1 Chargers. The Jets would end up blanking San Diego on their way to a 7-2 finish which included knocking out the defending champions in Foxboro. Now these Jets still needed some help from those same Patriots to get in the postseason. The only way in would be for New England to beat the Miami Dolphins in the early afternoon game and the Jets to follow-up with taking care of the Packers. The Patriots would boot a game-winning field goal during the first quarter of Jets-Packers and the fans in New York erupted. Led by Chad Pennington, the Jets would easily wrap up the Packers in a 44-17 thumping that vaulted them into the playoffs. The very next week, New York would follow that up by dismantling the Peyton Manning led Colts 41-0 in the Wildcard Round before finally losing to the eventual Super Bowl appearing Oakland Raiders.
The 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars could take the cake in this column as they started their inaugural season at 3-6. After losing the next game to become 4-7 at the hands of a 28-3 thrashing by the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Jags were on life support. The very next week, they trailed 25-10 against the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth quarter. They rallied around Mark Brunell and won that game in overtime as well as the next three games after to improve to 8-7. Jacksonville had the opportunity to make the playoffs but it would take one more win to do. After a low scoring affair all afternoon with the Atlanta Falcons, the Jags sat with the lead at 19-17 with one minute left in the fourth quarter. Their season looked to be on the ropes as the Falcons drove down the field setting up a game winning field goal for legendary kicker Morten Andersen. However, Andersen would push a 30-yard attempt wide left and it vaulted the Jaguars to the playoffs. What was more impressive is that under Tom Coughlin, those same Jaguar knocked off both the Bills and Broncos on their way to an AFC Championship appearance. They lost that game 20-6 against the New England Patriots, but they remain the only team in NFL history to fall three or more games under .500 and win multiple playoff games.
However, the most unlikeliest of all were the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals who fell five games below .500 at 1-6 after blowing multiple fourth quarter leads. Just the year prior, the Bengals had optimism oozing out of their young team that had only been in the league since 1968. Led by rookie quarterback Greg Cook, the Bengals had improved to a 4-6-1 record. 1970 started as a very promising year before their hopes were dashed when Cook was found to have a torn rotator cuff ending his career prematurely and the Bengals hopes at building their team. Assistant Coach Bill Walsh then was faced with the task of tailor-making a passing game that was more precise and horizontal to go with the style of their very accurate but weak-armed backup in Virgil Carter, The style has since been re-named the West Coast Offense and has been around ever since. Carter only averaging 3.7 yards per attempt in the first six losses improved to seven yards per attempt the rest of the journey as the Bengals finished the year on a seven-game winning streak. The Bengals would make the playoffs but lose to the Baltimore Colts in the divisional round. Carter though led the league the next season in completion percentage but would be remembered mainly as the signal-caller on the most unlikely playoff team in NFL history.
More recently, we can remember a 2011 New York Giants squad that started the year 6-2 before dropping five out of the next six games to be at 7-7. They rallied behind Eli Manning to win their final two games and get to 9-7. They would go on to beat three NFC heavyweights in Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith on their way to yet another Super Bowl victory against the New England Patriots. That Giants team behind an electrifying pass rush became the first team with less than 10 wins in the regular season to win the big one. They also completed this feat as the 25th ranked team in opponent scoring allowing 25 points per game with also a -6 differential at 394-400, worst of an Super Bowl championship team. Also of note, the G-Men were dead last in rushing offense averaging only 89.2 yards per game. Yet, when the lights shined on it's biggest stage, they found a way to dig deep within themselves and pull out a victory in it's highest form and become the most unlikely champions of all time.
The point is that it's all been done before and the Cowboys have a lot to look forward to in the next few weeks. Though, it's certainly an uphill climb nothing is impossible in the NFL. The NFC East is far from over with the way these teams have been playing. Dallas remains within striking distance and when Troy Aikman said no matter the outcome of yesterday's game, he felt the Cowboys would still be in it, he was not just speaking as a homer. Dallas looks like a team who is missing their leader and it effects the entire organization. In essence, here we are back at the same spot as the last few weeks with some winnable games ahead. Dez Bryant is only going to get better and more comfortable, the defense is playing their hearts out and have hopefully snapped the turnover bug. Tony Romo is the man from which all of their hopes are hinged on. If this team can find a way of desperation, a crease in the sky or dig deep within themselves and win these next two games; Romo can be the difference.
So, I'm saying there's a chance.