The ratings are in and the evidence is crystal clear: Americans really, really enjoy watching the Cowboys lose football games. From the New York Times:
Preliminary overnight Nielsen estimates suggest that the game — won by the Giants, 31-14 — was not only the highest-rated “Sunday Night Football” game since the program moved to NBC in 2006, but that it also had the best overnight rating of any Sunday prime-time N.F.L. broadcast in 13 years.
Another game that came close to matching the ratings for Sunday night's blockbuster? The Cowboys season opening fiasco against the Jets. The Cowboys have now lost seven straight Sunday Night games, but they're an established ratings draw, which means that you can count on them being handed two or three plum SNF spots next season. Say it with me now: GUHHHHHHH.
It's always fun to see your favorite team get a showcase on national television, but the Cowboys' status as a Sunday Night mainstay is hurting the team for two reasons. One: they can't win on Sunday Night. Two: keeping the team in the limelight is hurting this team's progress. I'm serious. The Cowboys suffer from Knicks Syndrome, a condition in which the management of a pro team cannot dedicate themselves to a full rebuilding effort because they need, at the very least, an adequate product to push out for viewers. Jerry Jones, for all his billions, is a sensitive soul. He'll be damned if he lets his precious Cowboys founder before millions watching at home, so he's established a continuous run of mediocrity with the same essential core of players he's had for the past four years or so.
Sunday night's game exposed the Cowboys for being deficient in many, many areas. Tony Romo's occasional excellence and DeMarcus Ware's gaudy sack numbers have served as a kind of coverall for the team's many glaring shortcomings. By the time the Cowboys have plugged every leak, it's likely that Ware and Romo won't be effective enough to build around. And so it will go on, year after year of halfway-finished rosters that make for a team just good enough to lose in prime time. Steel yourselves, Cowboys fans. Sunday Night isn't finished with you.