The Dallas Cowboys 13-3 regular season record, along with their number one seed in the NFC conference, met with disaster at AT&T Stadium on Sunday night. The Cowboys dug themselves out of a deep hole but were unable to force overtime against the Green Bay Packers, losing 34-31 on a last-second field goal. The Cowboys made it a contest, but Aaron Rodgers was just a little too good for the Dallas defense.
There is no sugarcoating the fact that this is a huge disappointment for the Cowboys and their fans. When you play as well as they had in the regular season and do everything you can to set yourself up for a run at the Super Bowl, coming up short is crushing, no matter the circumstances. The Cowboys looked like a rusty, shaky team at the start of the game, and even though they settled down and looked like themselves about halfway through the second quarter, the damage was done. Aaron Rodgers had just enough of magic in his arm to torpedo the Cowboys' hopes for a Super Bowl.
So we can all agree that it was a crushing loss, and a disappointing way to end the year. Go ahead and feel the pain. But once you are done with that, remember what the Cowboys have built this season, and how it is sustainable for a while to come. They have found a quarterback for the next decade. Dak Prescott went for 302 yards with three touchdowns against one interception. That's a quality game in the playoffs from a rookie. He's only going to get better.
They have Ezekiel Elliott. They have a young offensive line that only needs to work on a replacement at right tackle sometime soon. The organization has changed its culture, and its coaching staff is solid. There is also Dez Bryant and the ageless Jason Witten. They have some issues on defense, but this season has revealed that they do have some players to build on over on that side of the ball. This organization has shown over the last few years that they know what they are doing in the draft and they have been smart about free agency.
In the present, the loss to Green Bay stings. There is no getting around that this is a blown opportunity for the Cowboys. A poor start to the game doomed them in the end, issues around penalties, blown assignments and bad tackling plagued them as they fell behind 21-3. They get much credit for storming back and almost forcing an overtime, but it wasn't enough and it's a failure.
Still, don't feel too disheartened, the Cowboys are poised to be very good for a while. You would expect them to get back to the playoffs again, although nothing is certain, and maybe next time they will go further.
Grieve today, but remember that there are brighter days still to come.
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