It's amazing how quickly a sky-is-falling mentality can set in when following sports. This is especially true in football, when a team's merits are judged one week at a time. Baseball, basketball, hockey can all look at a loss as one game out of an 82 or 162 game schedule. What is one game? (Thus when baseball comes down to having to play a 163 game to break a tie, it's truly a feat worth enjoying) But football, one game is 6% of your season as opposed to basketball/hockey (1.2%) or especially baseball (0.6%). If an NFL team loses one game, it's the equivalent of an MLB team dropping 10.
So after an unsettling week of football (Redskins d. Cowboys), it's amazing to see the city of Dallas is not in ruins. That's the impression I've gotten. Watching the national media, browsing the local papers, etc - it's almost as if panic has set in at Valley Ranch. The only ones who aren't all up in a frenzy are probably the Cowboys themselves. No, it's never good to lose at home to your rival, however it's not something that is going to derail a championship-caliber team. I think it's far more significant to see how a team reacts the game following a loss as opposed to judging the loss itself.
And with that, the Cowboys get there chance for redemption as the 0-4 Bengals make a trip to Texas Stadium. Look for the Cowboys to bounce back despite what has turned into a week of second-guessing, overblown-complaining, and simple overreaction. Now if Dallas loses to Cinci, that's another story.
As for another team that is in a similar situation following a game they should have won...
It's time for USC to prove that last Thursday's debacle in Corvallis, Oregon, was simply an annual hiccup as opposed to the fall of Troy. It was the "Upset of the Year" so far in college football. The Beavers had a chance to prove they are once again a legit team a la 2006, but the Beavers loss to Utah now makes the Trojans loss somewhat hollow. Had Oregon State beaten the No. 15 Utes, they could have possibly cracked the Top 25. Instead, the Trojans lost to a team that remains unranked.
A win against the Oregon Ducks - who are much tougher to play at the that crammed duck pond of a stadium - would provide the Trojans with nothing more than the expected pat-on-the-back from the national media and sports pundits who all project the Trojans to win their record-extending seventh straight Pacific-10 title. USC lost to at Oregon last season, so this match up will be looked at as a revenge game.
USC and Dallas must both block out all of the "end of the world" talk surround each team. For the Cowboys, they've given up ground in a tightly-contested NFC East, currently ranking third (technically, they're tied for 2nd with the 'Skins, but Washington now has a win in the head-to-head). The Trojans started off conference play with a loss for the first time in who knows how long. Shouldn't be an issue. Last season, they allowed a few loses to cost them the inside track to the Pac-10 title. Loses by Cal and Oregon here and there ended up putting the Trojans right back atop the conference and back into a BCS bowl.
So whichever team you are following this season, don't get too caught up in the Armageddon-talk you might be hearing. Give it a few weeks, and then we can send out the space ship in a last-ditch attempt.