10. Just when you thought this was a wacky Cowboys’ season, automatic Dan Bailey missed a field and awful Jeff Heath made two interceptions to stamp it totally surreal. Of course, Heath finally restored order with a defensive holding penalty that set up Tampa Bay’s game-winning touchdown. Heath: from G.O.A.T to goat.
9. This seems unfathomable after watching the Tony Romo-less Cowboys, but just a year ago this offense averaged 30 points a game and in its last four regular-season tilts put up 41, 38, 42 and 44. In seven games without their starting quarterback these Cowboys average only 17 points and have been, amazingly, held without a touchdown in three of the last five games.
8. With horrible passes and an unforced goal-line fumble, Jameis Winston and the bumbling Buccaneers did everything in their pathetic power to lose this game. Sadly, the Cowboys were too bad to let them. At one point in this dismal game the Cowboys’ three best plays were a missed Tampa Bay field goal, a third-down drop by a Bucs’ receiver and a botched interception by a Tampa linebacker.
7. Two Cowboys having good seasons had grotesque games. Darren McFadden was simply McSluggish. He didn’t burst through holes or finish runs as he has all season, resulting in only 32 yards on 17 carries. And Morris Claiborne took a significant step back in what had been a decent season. After getting torched by receiver Mike Evans and committing two interference penalties, he went to the bench with a pulled hamstring … and perhaps a bruised ego. Claiborne did snare a referee’s flag out of mid-air, so at least he caught something this season.
6. I mean, seriously, if Romo didn’t come back you think these Cowboys would find 14 consecutive creative ways to lose a football game? Hard to bet against it. Fortunately – fingers crossed – we’ll never know. After all our hand-wringing over who should replace Romo, Brandon Weeden went 0-3 and Matt Cassel 0-4. Ultimately Romo was spilled milk, and we all got tricked into crying over it.
5. Jason Witten has a lot of records. Most false starts by a tight end has to be one of ‘em. And, by the way, you know the best way to stagnate an offense. Repeatedly face 3rd-and-7 and throw 4-yard passes to Witten. No offense to the future Hall of Famer, but “turned short passes into long gains via nifty moves” won’t be on his bust in Canton.
4. How ugly was Sunday’s game? I’d rather watch Ronda Rousey lose. And I’m no fan of Rousey. Or losing.
3. I know the defense – aided by Heath’s goal-line gaffe – allowed the late touchdown. But that group played well enough to win. Again. Against the Giants, Seahawks and Buccaneers, Dallas’ defense surrendered only one touchdown. That’s winning football. Unless you’re handicapped by the Cowboys’ offense. The defense created its second turnover of the day and gave the ball to the offense with a chance to milk the clock and break the losing streak. That ensuing offensive series? A 7-yard loss on a run by McFadden on 1st down, and Dez Bryant’s inexcusable drop on 3rd down.
2. Dez had a terrible game after a bad week amidst a forgettable season. If you’re going to bring monkeys into the locker room, yell at teammates on the sideline and launch profanity-laced tirades at the media, you better damn sure produce like a $70 million receiver on Sunday. Instead? He had two huge drops, including one that would’ve given the Cowboys a 1st down around their own 40 while nursing a 6-3 lead with under four minutes to play. Then, with Dallas needing a miracle touchdown in the final minute, he got a subtle shove and didn’t even make an attempt for a long throw into the end zone on Tampa’s game-sealing interception. Hell, Mary! And damn, Dez. To his credit, Bryant didn’t slink away from blame in the post-game locker room saying, “I’m not going to make excuses.” Good. Now, even better, start making catches.
1. I want to be excited about Romo’s return next week but, let’s face it, the season is kaput. Romo could go 7-0 down the stretch and Dallas – even though it’s only 2 games out of 1st in the NFC East – would still need help to make the playoffs. Truth is, bringing Romo back at this bleak point is akin to the Rangers calling for Nolan Ryan to pitch the 9th inning of a game they trail 7-2.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.