The most disappointing season in Cowboys' history ends with THE most embarrassing loss in Cowboys' history.
Favored to make it to the Super Bowl, the Cowboys finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs.
In a do-or-don't game, the Cowboys absolutely pussed out and were peed on in a 44-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. A Stink at the Linc.
Sloppy execution. No composure. Lack of emotion. Mind-boggling turnovers. Half-assed effort. Leadership void.
Bottom line: The Cowboys weren't ready to play.
Aside from kicker Nick Folk (I'll excuse his opening kickoff out of bounds because of his season-long consistency), everyone is accountable. And I mean everyone - from head coach Wade Phillips to quarterback Tony Romo to cornerback Pacman Jones - gets blame.
Like you, I can't even begin to make sense of what just happened. All I can do is go on a rant.
*No way owner Jerry Jones avoids firing Phillips is there? Jerry's "the coaching staff is in place!" bullshit from last week aside, Phillips didn't have his team prepared to play today or, really, all season. When Romo insubordinately commandeered the team - waving off Phillips' cries of "punt" and "what happun?" to instead run a fourth-down quarterback sneak on the first possession of the third quarter - it should have sealed Phillips' demise.
*Said Phillips, "It was a disaster. Utter disappointment."
*So, Wade, do you feel like you're still the right man for this job? "Well," says Hank Hill, er, Phillips after the game, "sure." Sorry, but Wade is officially a dufus that no one in Dallas' locker room respects. If Jones, with a straight face, comes out and reiterates that this coaching staff deserves to remain in place, fans should run and torch his new $1 billion castle.
*Update: Follow me to Arlington! Just heard Jerry stubbornly standing behind Wade: "This is obviously very disappointing right now, but we won't have a head coaching change." You kidding me? Raise your hand if you're convinced Wade is the right guy to lead the Cowboys into the playoffs? Into the new stadium? Into the Super Bowl? Anyone?
*The 38-point loss is the 5th-worst in franchise history and the worst ever in December. Only Folk's field goal in the fourth quarter - why?! - kept the margin from being the second-biggest in team history.
*Props to Cowboys' radio voice Brad Sham, who refused to sugar-coat this disaster. Said Sham, "This is a ridiculous embarrassment ... There's not enough Maker's Mark in the world to take the sting out of this one."
*Romo absolutely, undeniably regressed this season. His off-the-back-foot lob interception late in the second quarter calls his growth and maturity into question. If he can't improve his careless ball security, he might not be the man after all.
*Funny, in hindsight, that HBO's Hard Knocks hand-picked a non-playoff team.
*Other than Terrell Owens and Tank Johnson, anybody else on that sideline look the least bit bothered by the loss?
*Flozell Adams has a false start ... Owens drops a pass ... Terence Newman fails to turn and find the ball ... Pacman fumbles on a kickoff return just before the half ... Romo and receivers aren't on the same page ... Seriously, it looked like a scrimmage before Labor Day, not a playoff game before New Year's.
*Where was DeMarcus Ware?
*Anybody else have a problem with Anthony Henry surrendering a touchdown catch to Correll Buckhalter, then patting him on the head?
*The Cowboys have lost their last nine regular-season finales. They went 1-3 in December, continuing their annoying late-season implosions.
*If you were listening to the post-game radio show, you heard Zach Thomas basically saying he's played his last game for the Cowboys. He wants to return to playing middle linebacker in a 4-3 defense. It won't be the last hole Dallas has to fill this off-season, but it's a big one.
*Romo was crappy. Jason Garrett deserves criticism. But Roy Williams has been a complete flop. His route-running was horrible. And his bang for the buck: 1st- and 3rd-round draft choices and a five-year, $45 million contract for 19 catches and one touchdown.
*It was 12 years ago today - Dec. 28, 1996 - that the Cowboys won their last playoff game. Ouch.
*Unfortunately, I hearken to the lead from my July 24th Dallas Observer column:
If the Dallas Cowboys don't win the NFL championship February 1 in Tampa, it will be a devastating disappointment impossible to ignore. If they don't at least make it to the title game, it will be an unmitigated disaster improbable to restore.
Anything less and Wade Phillips will be fired, Tony Romo will be dethroned and Jerry Jones will next year be forced to sheepishly slink into his team's new Arlington coliseum amidst unprecedented failure.