This team isn't finding new ways to lose. They are losing the same way each and every time: bogged down in penalties and missing out on a win by just one possession. This week, the Cowboys fell 24-21 in Minnesota, the site of last year's playoff exit and this season's essential elimination from any meaningful contention.
Dallas is now 2.5 games behind third-place Washington (3-3) with both New York and Philadelphia leading the NFC East at 4-2. It's no longer a case of Dallas fading fast. They have pretty much faded out, and barring one of the most meteoric rises in a second half of an NFL season, Dallas can look ahead to 2011 (if in fact there will be a 2011 NFL season).
It's not unheard of for a team to rattle off a string of victories to finish the season strong (last season the San Diego Charger started 2-3 before winning 11 straight to finish 13-3, win the division and secure a first-round bye in the playoffs), but this year's Dallas Cowboys doesn't seem to have what it takes to put together two wins in a row, let alone 11. Granted, if any team in the NFL has the raw talent to do it, Dallas might be that team, but what they have in ability, they lack in intelligence.
Yet again, the Cowboys commit double-digit penalties which directly cost them a game. Just getting the 68-yard touchdown from Tony Romo to Miles Austin to stand would have made the difference in this contest.
Here's the week-by-week look at the Cowboys and the penalties they have incurred:
Here's a look at the 11 different Dallas penalties from Sunday's loss in Minnesota:
|1||1||DAL, 3rd & 6|
on MIN 6-yd line
|Miles Austin||15 yards assessed|
|2||2||DAL, 1st & 10|
on DAL 32-yd line
|Miles Austin||68-yard TD|
nullified; 1st & 20
|3||2||DAL, 3rd & 12|
on DAL 30-yd line
|Felix Jones||5-yard penalty|
|4||2||DAL, 4th & 3|
on DAL 39-yd line
|Delay of Game||Mat McBriar||5-yard penalty|
|5||2||MIN, 1st & 10|
on MIN 22-yd line
|Offsides||DeMarcus Ware||Penalty Declined|
|6||2||MIN, 2nd & 3|
on MIN 44-yd line
|Mike Jenkins||23-yard penalty|
|7||2||DAL, 1st & 10|
on DAL 30-yd line
|False Start||Jason Witten||5-yard penalty|
|8||3||DAL, 2nd & 11|
on DAL 3-yd line
|Holding||Andre Gurode||Half the distance|
|9||4||MIN, 4th & 5|
on MIN 23-yd line
|Alan Ball||34-yd Dez Bryant|
punt ret. nullified
|10||4||MIN, 3rd & 6|
on MIN 29-yd line
|Mike Jenkins||11-yard penalty;|
first down MIN
|11||4||DAL, 1st & 10|
on DAL 26-yd line
|Tony Romo||End of Game|
So many mistakes, and yet it happens every week.
Unsportsmanlike Conduct - Mikes Austin
Miles Austin's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for leap-frogging Roy Williams on the Cowboys' first touchdown is unforgivable if - sadly - we hadn't just seen this just one week ago! If some is dumb, more must be stupider. While the 15-yard penalty didn't lead to any points for Minnesota, it's still a glaring reminder of a lack of discipline that permeates the Cowboys locker room.
Offensive Pass Interference - Miles Austin
Austin definitely provided a hand-check to the defensive back, but even if there was a little acting that worked against the Cowboys, it didn't seem like a play that Austin needed to push off. It might not have gone for a touchdown without the DB falling down, but it would have at least moved the ball down field. Instead, Dallas was pushed back to 1st & 20 and eventually forced to punt. Instead of retaking a touchdown lead, Dallas remained tied with Minnesota, 7-7.
Mistake after mistake after mistake.
The Cowboys continued to play football despite systematically shooting off their toes one at a time until they tried a desperation lateral play as time expired, running around on only the stumps that used to be their feet.