LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 12: Team owner Daniel Snyder of the Washington Redskins walks around the field before the game against the St. Louis Rams at FedEx Field on October 12, 2008 in Landover, Maryland. The Rams won 19-17. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Two weeks ago, the Cowboys were 0-2 in December and causing you, Mr. Cowboy Fan, to want to eat a shotgun barrel to make all the misery go away. They faced arguably the most difficult final three game stretch of any team in football (@NO, @WAS, PHI), and were all but certain to blow it all again. That Washington game, in particular, seemed like a booby trap waiting to happen. The Skins were horrendous, but they had already reached rock bottom, and were finishing out the year playing hard for coach Jim Zorn. That last home game against Dallas represented their bowl game for the year, the game that would redeem at least a small portion of the disaster.
But that outlook changed the day Skins owner Dan Snyder brought in Bruce Allen as the team’s general manager two weeks ago. With Allen now on board, it became clear that the Skins were going to fire Zorn and go with a new coach (reportedly Mike Shanahan). Sure, Zorn was likely to go regardless of how the season played out. But Allen’s arrival essentially gave the Skins players permission to terminate their season three weeks early.
And that’s what you saw last night. The Cowboys have improved and belong in these NFC playoffs. But they also caught a break in playing a Skins team that was now free to drop all pretenses and play half-assed the rest of the way. Gone was the supposed offensive rejuvenation. Gone was the team trying to “save” Zorn’s job. What you saw last nightwere the Skins as they really are: an uninspired, injury-ravaged lump of a team.
This isn’t an indictment of the Cowboys win yesterday. It’s more of a good omen. After years and years of seeing every December break fail to go their way, and in the midst of yet another punishing late season schedule, the Cowboys finally saw fortune smile upon them. It was an open layup for a team that hasn’t seen many of them in the recent past. And it may be a sign that more surprises are in store. Someone send Dan Snyder a box of chocolates. There’s no better gift in the world than a dead duck.