"I think we're close," Witten said. "We definitely took some steps in the right direction this season. It's disappointing that we lost like we did to end it again like last season, but it doesn't totally take away from the season we've had."

Said Brooking, "I'm not satisfied one bit. I didn't come here to win one playoff game and go home. We need to come back next season and be a better football team. This is unacceptable."

Even though the Cowboys ultimately didn't overachieve, Phillips did enough—by most fans' standards, anyway—to keep his job. He was a little tougher disciplinarian, with players' fines jumping from $100 to one game check. He was a little more demanding as far as accountability, with Patrick Crayton losing his starting job to Austin, and Folk—better late than never—finally getting cut.

A 34-3 thumping by the Vikings wasn’t enough to cost Wade Phillips his job.
A 34-3 thumping by the Vikings wasn’t enough to cost Wade Phillips his job.

I can't call Phillips Stumbledoofus anymore—not with a playoff win on his otherwise impressive résumé. But it's easy to be reminded why I tagged him that in the first place. It wasn't merely the fact that he didn't go for 4th-and-1 at Minnesota's 30-yard line on Dallas' second drive. It's the fact that after the game when he attempted to explain his lack of gonads he had no idea it was 4th-and-1.

"Well, it wasn't fourth and one," Phillips said. Yes, it was. Inexcusable.

My dollar says Bill Cowher would not only go for it there, but he'd damn sure know why he went for it. But, alas, we'll never know.

Still, the question begs to be asked: Considering the evidence of three seasons, are you convinced Wade Phillips can take—can lead—the Dallas Cowboys to the next level, and the next, and the next, to a Super Bowl victory?

Sorry, I'm not.

But I've been wrong before.

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