It’s a hard-knock life in the NFL. Whether tasked with obstructing an otherworldly Doug Martin or caught on the wrong end of a J. J. Watt sack, NFL players earn their money with hard work and grit. But last Sunday, the most battered residents of Roger Goodell’s gridiron realm never strapped on pads. Game after game, they follow their team expecting a return to the golden years of the ‘90s, and week after week their beloved boys in blue repay them with a kick in the gut.
The Dallas Cowboys’ defeat Sunday night in Atlanta at the talons of the Falcons was not a surprising outcome. The Falcons are the NFL’s only undefeated team. They’re the only team featuring two receivers in the top 15 in receiving yards, and in Matt Ryan they have a quarterback that knows how to connect with them. But the six-point defeat pains Cowboys fans as much as any other.
Three of the Cowboys’ five losses this season have been by single possession deficits, and in all three the Cowboys have held the ball in the final minute with a chance to win. A field goal wide left, a dropped two-point conversion, and a Hail Mary touchdown grab ruled out-of-bounds by Dez Bryant’s enormous fingertips have all contributed to the anguish of Cowboys fans, who can’t seem to pinpoint the cause of their cyclical misfortune.
Tony Romo had a solid showing, completing 25 of 35 passes for 321 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions. Dwayne Harris gave the Cowboys an added spark, scampering 39 yards on the first punt return. Kevin Ogletree reeled in a 60-yard toss in response to big grabs by the Falcons’ Julio Jones and Roddy White. Most impressive was the Cowboys’ zero turnovers on the game. Despite their positive performance, however, the Cowboys showed that where they are most consistent is in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
For the first time since his promotion in 2010, Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett does not boast a winning record. Sunday’s loss puts Garret at 16-16, and the pressure is certainly on the Princeton graduate to tip the scale back toward the win column next week in Philadelphia.