Arizona 27, Dallas 26: Every Stupid Mistake, Revisited
Our dumb-as-manure Dallas Cowboys put up a fight against the 4-10 Arizona Cardinals, who were playing with their third-string quarterback and who were coming off an ugly 19-12 loss to Carolina. Commentators suggested that the Cowboys had been healed from their early-season woes and would win this game easily.
So, did you think that the Cowboys’ receivers had quit letting balls bounce off their hands and into the hands of defenders?
Did you think that the Cowboys’ secondary would stop making heroes of otherwise nobody quarterbacks?
Did you think that surely, no member of the Cowboys would be called for unsportsmanlike conduct after scoring a touchdown?
Did you think that David Buehler would actually make all of the important kicks for the rest of his year?
Did you think that when the defense could win the game with one more stop that the Doomed Defense would make that stop?
Did you think the Cowboys wouldn’t ruin two of our holidays with last-second losses this year?
If you answered yes to all of the above, you would be wrong. One by one, let’s take a look:
(1) The Cowboys were down 14-0 after seven minutes had elapsed thanks to two interception returns for touchdowns by the Cardinals. On the first, Miles Austin slipped, allowing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to snag the pick and return it 32 yards for a touchdown. On the second, Jon Kitna threw behind Roy Williams, who tipped the ball in the air and into the hands of Greg Toler, who returned it 66 yards for a score.
(2) Rookie QB John Skelton didn’t look great all night, but he extended the Cardinal lead to 21-3 when he hit Andre Roberts, who had run past Mike Jenkins (who interfered with Roberts on the play). Roberts ran 74 yards for a score. Skelton also made the plays at the end of the game to set up the game-winner.
(3) Marion Barber had a couple of great runs, including a 24-yard touchdown in the third quarter. However, he surely drew the ire of every person who even mildly likes the Cowboys by tearing off his helmet on the field, drawing a 15-yard penalty. Jason Garrett says that Barber knows better and that “it’s not going to happen again.” Really, Jason? Really?
(4) Kitna was injured late in the first half, and he did not play at all in the second half. Stephen McGee played a decent game, though Dallas played very conservatively for much of the time. McGee’s biggest play was a 37-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin with less than two minutes left.
David Buehler clanked the extra point off the left crossbar. Of course, that extra point was the difference in the game.
(5) The Doomed Defense could have effectively won games against the Bears, Titans, Vikings, Saints, and Eagles. In each game, the opponent found a way to put together drives to win each of the games.
Arizona got the ball at its own 24 with 1:41 left, and the Cardinals had to get into field goal range with their rookie QB. At one point, the Cardinals faced a 4th-and-15. Dallas rushed three and dropped eight. Skelton at that point hit Larry Fitzgerald, who was camped out between linebacker Keith Brooking and in front of strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh. Fitzgerald gained 26 yards on the game.
Needless to say, the game slipped away from there. Dallas decided to blitz on 2nd-and-10 from the Dallas 44, and Skelton hit Max Komar for a 19-yard gain to set up the game-winning field goal.
(6) The Thanksgiving loss to New Orleans was sad. This one was just funny.
Anyway, here’s some “good” news: The Cowboys are on a good position now to have a pick in the top eight. In fact, when the Cowboys are absolutely destroyed by the Eagles in Philadelphia next week, the Cowboys will finish with a 5-11 overall record and a conference record of 3-9.