Despite their shocking success this season, the Cowboys proved last night that they’re not good enough to be dumb.
There are times when they won’t physically be at their best, but head coach Jason Garrett and his team should always be on top of their game mentally. No excuses for the decisions that were made Monday night.
It was the perfect example of how you lose at home to a double-digit underdog: By playing dumb.
DeMarco Murray’s fumble was a mental mistake. After taking a pass from Tony Romo he bolted inside Washington’s 10. There’s good, and then there’s greedy. Murray got greedy, and that’s dumb.
Fighting for an extra inch at the end of a 36-yard gain, Murray was stripped and fumbled. It cost the Cowboys points. It breathed life into the Redskins.
But that was just the start of it.
The Cowboys’ success can be directly traced to their commitment to run the ball. Behind an offensive line anchored by three first-round draft picks, Murray is setting records and leading the NFL in rushing. The run has set up the pass, and the Cowboys shot out of the gate 6-1 because of it.
But last night, at the worst times, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and head coach Jason Garrett misplaced that identity and suddenly – inexplicably – betrayed this team’s DNA.
Trailing only 10-7 but with quarterback Tony Romo in the locker room with a back injury, Murray ran 51 yards to the Redskins’ 6 and then another three yards to the 3. But on 2nd- and 3rd-and-goal, the Cowboys called plays for backup quarterback Brandon Weeden to pass. No way around it, that’s nonsensical. How do you know they were bad play calls? Because what do you think the Redskins were hoping? Please don’t keep running Murray because we can’t stop him. Played right into the enemy’s hands.
Both passes to Dez Bryant fell incomplete, and the Cowboys were forced to settle for a field goal.
Again, points left on the field. And more belief instilled into the Redskins.
Same unforced errors on the Cowboys’ final drive in overtime. Murray – who amassed 141 yards and 7.4 yards per carry on the night – gained eight yards on first down. But on 2nd, 3rd and 4th down Romo threw incomplete passes to secure the loss and reserve the dunce caps.
“We’ve done a good job of having balance in our plays all season,” Garrett attempted to reason after the game.
The Cowboys have grown into a better team. But last night was a stark reminder that they haven’t yet matured into a smarter one.
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 currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.