Do moral victories count for these Dallas Cowboys?

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 08: Garrett Gilbert #3 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 08: Garrett Gilbert #3 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

A semi-cohesive team effort almost produced a win for the Dallas Cowboys.

The bottom line on Sunday afternoon was that the Dallas Cowboys lost–again. The loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers dropped the Cowboy record to 2-7. At the end of the year, when we’re all sifting through the embers and delivering the postmortem, we might forget that something kind of important happened during the course of this game.

Sure, the end result was more of the same. That’s irrefutable. But what we saw on Sunday was a Cowboys’ team that showed up looking entirely different from the bunch we’ve seen for the vast majority of this season. To be sure, they looked entirely poised to improbably sock the Steelers right in the mouth.

They came up short, of course, but let’s give a little credit where it’s due. The Steelers are a top-flight championship contender. And sure, they might have been looking passed the Cowboys because, let’s face it, Dallas has been a joke all season. But it’s not like Pittsburgh has anything pressing on their schedule in the next couple of games. They’re playing 2-5-1 Cincinnati at home next week, after all. This didn’t fall into the “trap game” category for the visitors.

The Cowboys finally looked like a team that wasn’t feeling sorry for themselves. Up and down the roster, they appeared to be fighting–and mostly winning–a game in which they were initially thought to have no shot at competing in. So even in a loss, this was fun to watch. The defense continued to show signs of life. That fourth down stop early in the second quarter was gutty.

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For their part, the offense was able to find grooves even with journeyman Garrett Gilbert helming the attack. I hadn’t really kept up with him since his college days at Texas, so I’d completely forgotten that has a bit of an arm. His passes didn’t flutter to receivers, and his decision-making was mostly fine. Look, my tepid praise is the loser’s lament. I get that. But the football landscape around here has been so bereft of simple effort that, even in defeat, there were redeeming qualities. At this point, it’s better to accentuate the positive. What we didn’t see is a team out there going through the motions and looking like they couldn’t wait to hit the postgame spread. This was progress.

Even still, the Cowboys took the game to the last second. Gilbert made a few pretty passes to get the offense in position for a semi-legitimate shot at winning the game on the final play. Ultimately, though, Gilbert’s last shot fell incomplete and the Steelers lived to tell the tale and remain undefeated.

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So is this something to build on? No one can really know at this juncture. With the bye week coming up next week, it’s hard to gauge whether or not they’ll be able to carry any momentum to their next game against Minnesota. But if and when the Cowboys continue to struggle, then maybe we’ll keep seeing a team that’s at least giving max effort. I’ll take that versus the alternative any time, win or lose.

  • Published on 11/09/2020 at 17:01 PM
  • Last updated at 11/09/2020 at 15:27 PM