Despite win, Cowboys paying for the sins of their past

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 30: Dak Prescott /

To their credit, the Dallas Cowboys held up their end of the bargain yesterday. Even then, two early season stumbles continue to haunt them.

First off, full marks to the Dallas Cowboys for finally pulling away from an inferior Giants’ squad. They let New York hang around longer than necessary, but at the end of the day, a win is a win. Dallas improved to 7-6 and still remain in the hunt for the wild card. Granted, they have to win out and get some help just to make the tournament, but beggars can’t be choosers at this point.

Also, they are currently blessed with some winnable games. Sure, you can question the quality of victories against the Redskins and the Giants, but the team still has to go out and win. We’ve all seen the way this iteration of Cowboys’ football handles adversity at times. So while everyone expected to win these last two, I don’t think anyone would’ve been surprised if they’d burped one up.

Even though a chance for the postseason still exists, a little good fortune is necessary. Unfortunately, Green Bay, Carolina, Atlanta, and Detroit all won. The only team that complied was Seattle by virtue of their loss to Jacksonville. This is the peril of late-season football when you don’t take care of business early on. You watch the scoreboard, hoping against hope that someone above you in the standings stumbles and comes back to the pack a little.

Truth of the matter is, the Cowboys could’ve saved themselves a lot of headaches. Specifically, I’m pointing to the first two weeks in October. In consecutive weeks, they found a way to lose to the Rams and Packers. Worse yet, they lost both games, even though they scored thirty or more points each time.

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Adding further insult to injury is the fact that each defeat was wrought with tiebreaker implications. The Rams, after losing yesterday, are holding on for dear life in the NFC West. The Packers somehow wriggled off the hook against the Browns in OT, and are set to get Aaron Rodgers back as early as next week. With each passing week, the sting of losing those two games becomes more and more acute. Win them, and a 9-4 record looks orders of magnitude better than the current 7-6 mark. The Cowboys have to be kicking themselves for losing two eminently winnable games.

Such is life for long time Dallas fans, though. Now more than ever, we are accustomed to this franchise’s inability to handle any modicum of success. Great seasons inevitably devolve into playoff crashes and the promise of “next year”. The only problem is that “next year” suffocates under the overbearing weight of injuries or the inexorable arm of NFL disciplinary sanctions. We’re always a day late and a dollar short.

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Sadly, that seems the case for this year as well. Even if the Cowboys find a way to win out, ten wins may not be enough for a ticket to the tournament. It’s maddening and stultifying. I should feel good after a win. I should feel encouraged when my team pulls clear in the fourth quarter of a must-win game. It’s telling that I pretty much feel nothing.