As the Dallas Cowboys temperately (hopefully) celebrate a playoff berth, after beating the Washington Redskins 17-0 in Landover, Maryland, two of their hated division rivals experience two distinctive brands of equally loathsome grief.
For the New York Giants, the grief comes with a side order of incredulity--the bewilderment of a talented team missing the playoffs altogether. The Cowboys, to be sure, know this brand of late-season pain well, as they experienced it last season.
For the Washington Redskins, it's a bitter almost-end to a bitter season, with few highs and countless lows, including six losses in as many tries against division opponents. Jim Zorn, who, at this point, we just feel sorry for, had this to offer after his team's 11th loss of the season:
“The hardest thing for me is to watch our team lose to that team because of the division rivalry and seeing too many blue jerseys having a good time in our stadium,” Zorn said after the game. “It’s devastating to not win a division game. It’s awful.”
Up the coast, the New York Giants are equally bummed.
The Dallas Cowboys' win tonight means no playoffs for the Giants, who started off 5-0. The G-Men, as they are incessantly called by Chris Berman, were widely favored for, if not a division crown, a wild card spot. But to no avail.
They were roughed up in the last game at Giants Stadium today, 41-9, by the Carolina Panthers. Afterward, defensive end Osi Umenyiora had a curious and woeful statement for the media, one that will undoubtedly be deconstructed ad nauseum in the coming week.
"What did I play, five snaps today?" Umenyiora asked rhetorically. "I don't know, I don't know what happened. I thought I was the problem...It's an unbelievable situation, man. Last game at Giants Stadium, probably as a Giant, just the way everything has unfolded has been unbelievable."
Probably as a Giant? Wow.
Zorn's fate, barring some sort of zero-hour miracle, has been sealed. Just what Umenyiora meant by his comments, and what his comments will mean for the team, only time will tell. But one thing is certain: two teams in the NFC East are visibly feeling the sting of December, and neither is called the Cowboys.