PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 28: Martellus Bennett #80 of the Dallas Cowboys is stopped by Brian Dawkins #20 of the Philadelphia Eagles on December 28, 2008 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
You aren’t going to get through next Sunday Night without NBC reminding you about what happened the last time the Cowboys came into The Linc to face the Eagles. So let’s go back and purge those demons for you NOW, so that you don’t have to fret over it.
Yes, it was less than a year ago that your Cowboys strolled into Philly with a 9-6 record and a playoff spot on the line against the Eagles, and summarily laid down and died on the field. DIED LIKE A BUNCH OF DOGS SUFFERING FROM PNEUMONIA. It was one of the absolute crummiest losses in team history, and the fact that Wade Phillips survived it is either a tribute to his perseverance or an indictment of the Double J’s stupidity.
The Cowboys fumbled the ball FOUR times that day (Tony Romo twice), and gave up 24 points in the second quarter alone, including a ridiculous field goal to the Eagles after botching the last kickoff of the first half. The Eagles crushed the Cowboys 44-6 that day. What was most discouraging about the loss was that A) It solidified every notion that the Cowboys under Phillips and Romo are doomed to collapse every year, and B) The Cowboys didn’t even bother to compete in a game that was essentially a playoff contest. They were listless, sloppy, and looked like a 5-10 team playing out the string when they had everything in the world to play for.
In fact, just thinking about the loss right now probably makes you nervous about the recent run of good play the Cowboys have had. Sure, they’ve turned things around and righted the ship. But it’s not December yet now, IS IT? Will this team, again, take your hopes and smash them against a large outcropping of sea boulders? GAHHHH!
For their part, the Cowboys have responded to questions about the loss this week by accepting blame for it and trying to move on. "Why did we fall apart?" Patrick Crayton told the /Dallas Morning News. "We just flat out got our tails whupped, man. No excuses or anything else." Indeed, I think most players on the team will be hard-pressed to give you an explanation for why they played so poorly that day. That's what remains so disconcerting about it: The idea that a team can regress fall apart so completely without prompting.
This week marks the first real opportunity for the Cowboys to atone for that dreadful showing. You can bet they're determined not to let history repeat itself. Maybe this team is different. Maybe this team really does have its act together. There’s only one way to find out.