Monday, December 20, 2010

Revenge, but barely: Dal 33, Was 30

The Dallas Cowboys continue to play encouraging and distressing football. At a point in the season where - as Bill Parcells would say - you are what your record says you are. The Jason Garrett Cowboys had a chance to take on what appeared to be a dysfunctional Washington Redskins team that was coming off the awkward announcement that head coach Mike Shanahan was rolling out Rex Grossman over Donovan McNabb at quarterback. The Redskins started off the season hot thanks in large part to the last time Alex Barron saw the field wins over the Cowboys and Eagles. It looked like the McNabb/Shanahan duo would be a force to be reckoned with within the always grueling NFC East.

Yeah... not so much these days.

Washington fell to 5-9 after the Cowboys edged them out, 33-30, on Sunday at Cowboys Stadium. And sadly for the Cowboys, there is no excuse for the game being that close.

Dallas was in a no-win situation really. Beat down the hapless 'Skins and it's simply an easy victory over a distressed football team. Lose to them and the once-encouraging Garrett-Cowboys are back to the laughing stock that got Wade Phillips fired, and any talk of Garrett as the next head coach comes to a screeching halt. The Cowboys had their blowout in hand, leading by 20 points in the second half, but somehow allowed Rex Grossman -- he of "Rex is our quarterback" fame -- to throw for more than 300 yards and bring Washington back from the brink to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Are. You. Kidding?

Perhaps we're at the point where "a win is a win" for a Cowboys team rolling out an interim head coach, a backup quarterback, missing two of its top three receivers, and the worst mascot in all of professional sports (sorry, not the time). Or maybe even with all those ailments on the offensive side of the football, a virtually injury-proof defense should still be able to step up and make a stop. Or two.

Terence Newman picked off Rex Grossman to end the game and preserve a 3-point win for Dallas over Washington in a rivalry match up that has had about as much hype over the last decade as a Rangers-Royals midweek July day game over the same time period. My how the mighty have fallen.

Never mind the fact that these were once upon a time two of the premier football organizations in the nation. Now they are laughing stocks, deadlocked at the bottom of their division looking up at New York and Philly.

The Cowboys led 27-7 over Washington in the third quarter before Grossman (seriously, how did this guy light it up against Dallas in the second half? I can't get over this.) led a game-tying rally that could have made this another "Classic Cowboys/Redskins matchup" if not for the complete lack of playoff implications heading into the game. He threw four touchdown passes and helped the 'Skin convert on a pair of 2-point conversions in the fourth quarter to tie the game up.

The disturbing part of giving up 30 points to Washington is not the fact that the Cowboys defense gave up 30 points. In fact, that's been this team's MO for really the entire year. Since their bye (week 4), the Cowboys have given up an average of 31.2 points per game, including at least 30 points to each of their last four opponents. Clearly giving up a lot of points isn't anything new for the Cowboys. But the fact that Washington put up 30 is not just cause for self-reflection. It's cause to break out the half-gallon tub of ice cream, curl up under your blue and silver snuggies, and weep softly until you fall asleep, hoping to wake up with it all having been just a dream.

How bad is Washington offensively? This is a team that doesn't score. Their 30 points against Dallas was a season-high, albeit in a losing effort. They had broken the 20-point barrier only four times in their first 13 games, one of those games a 59-28 blowout against the Eagles that wasn't even that close.

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