GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 15: Head coach Wade Phillips of the Dallas Cowboys reacts as his offense comes off the field during a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on November 15, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Cowboys 17-7. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Is it Roy Williams, who fumbled and dropped a crucial pass? Is it the offensive line who surrendered five sacks? Is it Orlando Scandrick, who fell flat in replacing Mike Jenkins? Or is it Tony Romo's dastardly enjoyment of golf?
Well, according to former Cowboys' head coach Jimmy Johnson, the loss came down to a pervasive sense of self-satisfaction on the part of the Cowboys. In his postgame remarks, brought forth by the Dallas Morning News' sports-media liaison Barry Horn, the ballcoach turned Fox analyst said that complacency led to a step back for the team.
"The thing about this Dallas team is they can't ever get too comfortable," Johnson said. "In the last month they haven't lost a game. They are feeling all full of themselves. And whenever they get feeling pretty full of themselves the same old problems come up - three turnovers, five sacks, ten penalties. That's the problems they had early on in the season. Like I said, you can't let 'em get comfortable."
Interesting is that this seemed to be a fairly obvious pitfall going into a game against the slumping Packers. So much so, in fact, that few seemed to pay the idea much mind as the streaking Cowboys headed north. Jerry Jones said on 105.3 The Fan last week, "No one's going to get a big head."
Is it possible, though, that they did?
To be fair, the penalties weren't exactly as absent as some revisionists might like to believe during Dallas's four game winning streak; in fact, the Cowboys committed 11 penalties in the win against Philadelphia, one more than they committed yesterday.
Dallas has always had trouble with Dom Capers' 3-4, with Capers' record against Dallas now at 7-3; and whether the three turnovers had more to do with (a) Romo being nailed on a corner blitz from the blindside, (b) Roy Williams treating the ball like a hot cup of coffee and (c) Champ Bailey making a great play on a poor throw, as opposed to the team being full of themselves, I don't know.
It's certainly arguable that, rather than a result of some change in Dallas's mindset, Sunday was the revelation of some underlying faults of this team that went unnoticed, veiled by wins, over the past month. In either case, it's likely that, after an embarrassing performance in Green Bay, the Cowboys are anything but "comfortable." And this, for Cowboys fans, as Johnson would tell you, is a good thing.