Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saturday Night's Allright for Cowboy Death

Tonight, I endured hours of NFL Network's online coverage -- and no, it's not something you want to put up with -- to see perhaps the most fun game in the history of Texas Stadium. It'll also be the last.

For the first three quarters, the game was a defensive struggle, and that included watching it... or the bits that NFLN chose to show online, as part of their intermittent "Contractual obligations that we, um, wrote, prevent us from showing you the entire game" live cuts into the action. But when it came down to crunch time, we were riding on most of the live action, and what was shown was chuckle-tastic.

On back to back Had To Have It Plays with their offense finally making plays, and just needing the ball back for the late Houdini score and win, the Cowboy defense gave up kitten-soft long touchdowns to Willis McGahee and LaRon McClain. And just like that, a lock-low under bet went out the door, along with the likely Cowboy playoff hopes.

On the first to McGahee, he went up the gut and was more or less untouched. On the second, McClain arm-raped (because, well, stiff-armed just doesn't do justice for it) Ken Hamlin. The Ravens had 265 yards rushing -- 160 on the last two carries. As Don Meredith wound sing, turn out the lights, the party's over...

The Cowboys are now on the outside looking in in the NFC. Hell, for good measure, the Patriots also got boned, since the Ravens are ahead of them in the wild-card race, and are only a home win against the Giving Up Jags from being a six seed that will likely end the season of whoever survives the AFC East.

In the late going, Tony Romo picked up enough fantasy points to give me a shot in my head to head league, and justified my last-minute move of benching the Ravens defense in my points league. We've even got the goodness of two quick wins in the picks column, and the mild happiness of avoiding a Marion Barber start that would have completely boned me in the head to head match.

Special ups for this game go to Derrick Mason, who shook off a nagging shoulder injury to haul in the first and most important Ravens touchdown with his left arm dangling like a dead thing. If there's a tougher wideout in the league, I haven't seen him. And the balls of brass go to head coach John Harbaugh, who dialed up a perfect fake field goal call in the third quarter to set up the Mason touch.

For the Cowboys, where to start? Despite getting yards from backup Tashard Choice (17 for 90 yards and a touchdown) for most of the night, they showed no confidence in the running game, choosing to run draws from shotgun on 3rd and inches or scramble outs on 3rd and 1. They might have the worst #2 WR in the NFL in Roy Williams, who still brings the big celebration moments for every play he makes -- and considering he had three catches for 12 yards tonight, that kind of thing is noticeable. He also had the final offensive play in the stadium's history for the home team, as he was tackled for a loss on a 4th and 1 pass (and yes, yet again, throwing in short yardage situations).

Romo was fairly horrible in the first half especially, with two picks to Ed Reed in deep heave forced balls to Terrible Owens; he was also out of sync with any receiver not named Jason Witten. Owens did get a touchdown in the late going, but he also quit on several balls and lost another one in the lights. And just when they thought they had something to hold on -- a run defense that had made McClain look like just another back -- they fell apart. They now need the Falcons and Bucs to stumble tomorrow (because, well, neither of those teams is losing in Week 17), and a win on the road in Philadelphia next week. (Sorry, Birds Fans, but since they'd win the head-to-head tie-breaker, the Eagles need wins in their last two games no matter what.)

Given that they couldn't get it done tonight in their house with all of their alumni present, it's a little hard to see how they do it next week, on the road. But that won't stop Eagle Fan from thinking I'm jinxing things if I stay down this path, so I'll just be on my merry little way. My very merry little way...

Updated: Share in the merry!

1 comment:

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