There is an old saying that sometimes you laugh because it hurts too much to cry. If that is correct, many Dallas Cowboys fans must be laughing their collective butts right off after the 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers. It is pretty clear that there is a LOT of pain out there right now.
I've seen the word "heartbreaking" in the title of 80% of postgame articles about the Cowboys tonight.— K.D. Drummond (@KDDrummondNFL) October 9, 2017
After two very good offensive performances where the Cowboys built up big, normally safe, leads, but could not hold on to win, Dallas sits at 2-3 as the streaking Philadelphia Eagles enjoy a two game lead in the division after they put up a truly overwhelming offensive performance against the Arizona Cardinals. And let’s face it, there is nothing in the football world that causes as much pain and suffering as a bunch of Eagles fans crowing about the success of their team. It is an affront to man and nature. At least we can always laugh at the hapless New York Giants, now mired at 0-5. But even that is losing its appeal and starting to feel like kicking a sickly puppy.
Odell Beckham Jr, Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris all injured and done for the day. Horrific day for the #Giants.— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) October 8, 2017
It is expected that Beckham, at least, will miss the rest of the season.
The recent play of the Giants and Cardinals is now starting to make the wins the Cowboys had over those two teams look just a teensy bit hollow. That may be one more reason to get out the worry beads about Dallas. They seem to be beating poor teams but losing to good ones. Those of who have been following the game of football for some time have a technical term to describe that: Bad.
But the loss to the Packers and Dallas nemesis Aaron Rodgers (who is also known by a more formal appellation, “Aaron Freaking Rodgers”) was especially galling.
First, it was by far the most complete and effective offensive performance of the season for the Cowboys. Dallas out-gained the Packers and outscored their offense. Dak Prescott had an excellent game both throwing and running, marred only by a pick six that was really on Terrance Williams, who had his hands on the ball before it caromed right to Damarious Randall who scooted untouched into the end zone. (Where’s a good body catch when you need one?) The running game finally got on track, with Ezekiel Elliott having his first 100 yard game of the season and looking like the ball control weapon he was all last year, at least in the fourth quarter when he gained 82 of his yards. But it was all wasted. And once again, some highly questionable play-calling and clock management was involved. The Cowboys, after falling behind on the interception score, mounted a masterful drive that burned up all but 1:13 of the 9:56 remaining on the clock when they took over after the ensuing kickoff. They were oh so close to the objective of scoring their touchdown with so little time remaining that even Aaron Freaking Rodgers would be hard pressed to come back and tie it, much less win the game.
But, noooooo. With second and two at the eleven yard line, 1:24 of game time remaining, and Elliott starting to look like he was only going down when he wanted to go down, the coaches apparently called a pass. Instead of running the ball and forcing the Packers to burn their final timeout, they stopped the clock on an incompletion, saving precious time for Rodgers. We don’t know at this point (if we ever will) if that was more on Scott Linehan or Jason Garrett, but at that point, no passes should have been called at all. Prescott should have been instructed that he was not to throw the ball in any situation but a last-ditch fourth down try. Whoever made the call to throw the ball at that point should be immediately remanded to Ramsay Bolton for some Theon Greyjoy level of behavior modification.
(I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for the totally gratuitous and unnecessary Game of Thrones reference. I can only surmise it is a product of my own distress over the outcome of the game. Or being an unrepentant geek. The court of appeals hasn’t ruled on that, either.)
Of course, it would all have been moot if the pick six had not happened. Or if the defense could have mustered just one stop or takeaway. But, see Aaron Freaking Rodgers. Some of the passes he threw tonight were absolutely perfect, and he seems to find that magic at least once a year against Dallas.
The worst thing is that Dallas seems to be getting so very close to getting it all together. In addition to having the offense finally clicking (to repeat, they did both outscore and outgain the Packers’ offense - I refrain from making a really nasty, insulting comment about Williams here because I am sure he is not going to sleep at all well tonight), the defense continued to show it has found a pass rush. The team was credited with four sacks, including two by David Irving, who should only get better, and one by Demarcus Lawrence, who has now exceeded his previous season high in only five games. And Jourdan Lewis is playing extremely well for a rookie. But the lack of turnovers is disheartening. It is said that there is an element of chance there that teams really cannot control. I don’t know of any data that might support that.
Carr, Church, Claiborne, and Wilcox combined INTs— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) October 8, 2017
4 and a half weeks into 2017? They've combined for 5. https://t.co/azIMvcnsVN
Look, if you are still considering setting all your (overpriced) Cowboys gear on fire, that is of course your privilege. But this team does look like it is getting better, if too slowly for our tastes. My partner in sometimes overly abundant optimism here at BTB, Michael Sisemore, had these thoughts I would like to share with you.
Maybe my math is off but I saw something like 11 guys who played defense today with less than four years of experience. 27 gave up that last TD but he also made a play before that play. Lee has been missed and 54 could use a little less exposure. They're going to have some struggles but the youth movement is underway. 95 was far better than I expected in debut which helps 90, 98, 96, 55 et al. 97 has to keep playing and so do all these rookies. The defense is not getting turnovers and that's a drag but they got beat today by one of the truest definitions of MVPs in Aaron Rodgers. It won't happen overnight but it's crazy how much impatience that is out there for the defense.
On offense, they finally came to life and looked similar to what we thought they could be. Dallas won the first down battle in pass and run, won 3rd down pct at 58%, won total yards at 408 to GB's 342, had more rush yards and pass yards but less in avg. run per carry. They finally went 100% in the red zone and dominated TOP. Stupid to pass on 2nd and goal but GB was saving that timeout and who knows if they keep A-rod from scoring. His experience and savvy still may have killed them. They have to learn how to close games after being outscored 43-16 in the second-halves of these past two games.
And one of our other compatriots added this.
Both the Rams and Packers entered games at AT&T Stadium off long rest from TNF the previous week.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) October 9, 2017
Both dominated offensively. Both won.
That may have been more significant than we realize.
Then there’s this little statistical tidbit.
Cowboys: Scored 30+ points and gained 400+ yards in each of last 2 games, both losses— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) October 9, 2017
Rest of NFL combined has 2 such losses this season
Again, if you will pardon a bit of highly technical football jargon, that ain’t good.
Football is, after all, a game of inches, to coin a phrase (I’m good at that). And there were truly some very odd things about this two game losing streak. Like Michael, we all should wait just a bit to give up on the season. There are still eleven games to play. Yes, it is harder now that it should be. Yes, this is going to be a real test of just what kind of character this team has. But maybe the Cowboys can flip the script this year, and follow up a regular season loss to the blasted Packers with an elimination of them in the playoffs.
There is a lot of work to be done to even get a chance at that, of course. For now, let’s see if they can keep improving. And if some of the more humorous parts of this made you crack a little grin, then that was my intent.
We really shouldn’t cry over football games. And quit hitting the wall with your head.