Cowboys' Close Calls Continue; Rinse and Repeat

Like the Dos Equis guy, your Dallas Cowboys remain the most interesting men in the NFL.

I don’t always lose, but when I do … I prefer heart-breaking defeats. Stay frustrated my friends.

When you think about it, the 17-16 loss to the Chiefs Sunday in Kansas City was a microcosm of the Cowboys under Jason Garrett. Good, but not good enough. Entertaining. Dramatic. Yet, more times than not, just a mediocre team whose marginal results are about as definitive as a coin flip.

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Since Garrett took over for Wade Phillips as head coach at the halfway point of 2010, the Cowboys have played 42 games. Their record is 22-20. And of those 42, 29 have been decided by a touchdown or less. Their record? 15-14.

This year there’s no reason to believe the Cowboys are headed anywhere but along another thrill ride with ups, downs and heart-stopping finishes. A five-point win over the Giants. A one-point loss to the Chiefs. The beat goes on.

Despite Morris Claiborne’s killer penalty in the final two minutes, the defense played well enough to win in Kansas City. But on offense, Tony Romo was wild and Bill Callahan forgot the run and Jason Witten was muted and Dez Bryant had a spirit-deflating drop. Moral to the story: Get accustomed to it. The Cowboys aren’t good enough to blow teams out, yet they are too good to not be competitive with any team in the league.

And it’s been that way since the dawn of the Garrett Era. It’s certainly the case in this period of mega-parity in the NFL.

With one game remaining in Week 2, a record 22 games have been decided by a touchdown or less this season. The Cowboys have played in two of those.

The Cowboys under Garrett have played 17 games decided by a field goal or less, going 10-7. I guess that’s what makes this team so maddening. When they lose, it’s with flair and controversy and second-guessing. Of Garrett’s 20 losses only five have been double-digit blowouts. And 14 of the 20 are by a touchdown or less.

Average margin of defeat: 7.7 points.

One play. One decision. One drop. One penalty. One oops.

The Cowboys’ margin for error is minuscule. They can’t drop interceptions. They can’t settle for field goals in the Red Zone. They can’t misuse their timeouts.

But they do. And here we are.

A look at the close calls in the Garrett Era:


Saints 30, Cowboys 27 – At the end of a long, game-clinching catch on Thanksgiving, Roy Williams fumbles.

Cowboys 38, Colts 35 – Sean Lee’s second pick of Peyton Manning sets up David Buehler’s OT field goal

Eagles 30, Cowboys 27 – Michael Vick’s 91-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson in fourth quarter is back-breaker.

Cowboys 33, Redskins 30 – Cough up a 30-14 lead in 4th before surviving on Buehler’s late FG.

Cardinals 27, Cowboys 26 – Late missed extra point caps another disaster in desert.

Cowboys 14, Eagles 13 – Stephen McGee hits Jason Witten with winning TD late in meaningless finale.


Jets 27, Cowboys 24 – Lead 24-10 in 4th but lose on a Tony Romo fumble, interception.

Cowboys 27, 49ers 24 – Romo hits Jesse Holley with a bomb to set up Dan Bailey’s game-winning FG in OT.

Cowboys 18, Redskins 16 – Bailey kicks six FGs and Anthony Spencer forces a fumble in final minute.

Lions 34, Cowboys 30 – Epic meltdown from 27-3 lead capped by Romo’s third 2nd-half interception.

Patriots 20, Cowboys 16 – Tom Brady to Aaron Hernandez breaks Dallas’ heart in final 30 seconds.

Cowboys 27, Redskins 24 – Romo’s third-down pass to Dez Bryant sets up Bailey’s 39-yarder in OT.

Cowboys 20, Dolphins 19 – DeMarco Murray helps eat up game’s final four minutes and set up Bailey’s chip-shot winner.

Cardinals 19, Cowboys 13 – Bailey misses from 49 at end of regulation; LaRod Stephens-Howling scores OT TD on screen.

Giants 37, Cowboys 34 – Jason Pierre-Paul blocks Bailey’s game-tying FG after Dallas squanders 12-point lead in 4th.


Ravens 31, Cowboys 29 – Dallas’ final, frenetic, failed possession ends in Bailey’s missed 51-yard field goal.

Cowboys 19, Panthers 14 – Morris Claiborne knocks down a late fourth-down pass as Dallas hangs on in Charlotte.

Giants 29, Cowboys 24 – Bryant’s game-winning TD catch is overturned when his right pinky lands out of bounds.

Cowboys 23, Browns 20 – Bailey hits a 38-yarder in OT to cap a lackluster survival against pathetic opponent.

Cowboys 20, Bengals 19 – Bailey’s 40-yard FG on game’s final play caps emotional week after teammate’s death.

Cowboys 27, Steelers 24 – Brandon Carr’s interception in OT seals the deal.

Saints 34, Cowboys 31 – Murray’s late fumble at his own 5-yard line allows OT.


Cowboys 36, Giants 31 – Six takeaways barely enough as Lee recovers onside kick in final :30 to finally lock it down.

Chiefs 17, Cowboys 16 – Bryant drops big pass and Claiborne called for interference to fuel fourth- quarter frustration.

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 writes a sports/guy stuff blog at and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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