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There is no such thing as luck. There is no such thing as a curse. There is no such thing as fate. However, when you watch the Cowboys squander another opportunity to succeed late in the season or in the postseason it is hard not to feel that there is something else preventing them from winning.
The Cowboys showed up flat for their prime time Sunday Night Football game that would determine if they would make it into the playoffs or watch them from home. In the first half the Cowboys defense couldn’t put pressure on Eli Manning and he carved them up.
The Cowboys offense couldn’t move the ball against the Giants defense and they couldn’t protect Tony Romo and his injured hand. It seemed like Romo took shots from every Giants defensive lineman throughout the game, and then the Giants finished the game with a Justin Tuck sack fumble.
There is no simple answer for Cowboy fans. Certainly injuries have hurt them and the prospect of having DeMarco Murray healthy for next season would help take a lot of the pressure off of Romo. However, the offensive line has to step up and do a better job, and that is one of the hardest things to fix on an NFL team.
The offensive line needs to be a cohesive unit and typically can’t be fixed with a single free agent acquisition or high draft pick. But what is even harder to fix may be the mentality of the entire team. Commentators always talk about teams that know how to win, and it seems like that is a lesson that the Cowboys have forgotten since their heyday in the mid 90’s.
There is no doubt that the Cowboys have talent. Romo can sling the ball around as well as most quarterbacks not named Brady, Brees or Rodgers. The trio of Austin, Bryant and Robinson is a dynamic group that has the added benefit of having the steadying play of Jason Witten. Murray looked like a superstar in the making in his brief appearance this season.
Yet, somehow every time they get into a situation that they have to be clutch they come up small. There is no reason on the field that they can’t win, but they don’t and until they do no one will believe that they can.
The defense has issues in the secondary but their front seven could be enough to make up for that. DeMarcus Ware is one of, if not the best edge pass rusher and Jay Ratliff has been one of the best nose tackles in the game but neither of them was able to step up their game against the Giants. Sean Lee, who has had a breakout season, was all but invisible throughout the game.
Losing Wade Phillips as a defensive coordinator has definitely hurt the team, which has been evidenced by the turn around the Texans defense has experienced. Without his schemes the defense has taken a noticeable step backward.
However, the biggest problem that the Cowboys may be facing is a lack of leadership. The quarterback is typically the leader of the team but Romo doesn’t instill that type of confidence in anyone and no one else on the team stands out as a leader. Without a clear leader on the team all of that responsibility falls onto the coach and there is now good reason to doubt whether Jason Garrett is the guy that can pull it all together.
Despite any questions that may exist, Garret has been assured that the job is his for next season regardless of the poor performance that the team has displayed this season. Cowboy fans might not have a lot to hope for next year unless they do believe in luck, good luck.