Dallas Cowboys

Nevermores 33, Never Agains 24

Lowlights from the final night at Texas Stadium:

*I know the Buccaneers and Eagles lost yesterday and there's still hope for the Cowboys making the playoffs. But what happened Saturday night was inexcusable.

*Safety Ken Hamlin, who played in the Pro Bowl last January, was unblocked and had both hands on both Ravens' runners on the final, fatal touchdown runs of 77 and 82 yards. Hamlin went low on Willis McGahee and his left forearm just caromed off the running back's knee. Hamlin then went high on Le'Ron McClain but fell harmlessly to the ground via a stiffarm. There was/is plenty of blame to pass around for Ravens 33, Cowboys 24, but to me it starts with Hamlin's missed tackles. Down 19-17 with three minutes remaining - not to mention momentum - the Cowboys were headed for a stop, a drive, a field goal and a feel-good, playoff-clinching, 20-19 victory. Hamlin's whiffs never gave them a chance.

*This just in: Dallas' special teams suck. To get snookered by a fake field goal this late in the season is almost as bad as ...

*Center Andre Gurode making the Pro Bowl despite never knowing how to snap the ball. Wade Phillips should be fired just for the fact that Gurode and quarterback Tony Romo can't get in sync on something as elementary as a shotgun snap. In the preseason, maybe. In Week 15, laughable.

*Somebody named Crooked X was the stadium's final halftime performance. Something tells me Bob Lilly was unimpressed.

*Didn't catch a lot of NFL Network's broadcast, but enough to hear these three gems: 1. As a lone trumpeter began the national anthem, he was introduced as "Trace Adkins." 2. Reporter Adam Schefter had breaking news just before kickoff: "Marion Barber will be in the starting lineup." He, of course, wasn't. 3. A fit of hyperbole from the ridiculous Sterling Sharpe. When discussing that only Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith and Marcus Allen had more NFL touchdowns than Terrell Owens, Sharpe injected that "Tashard Choice is the type of guy who could wind up on that list." Really?

*I'll miss Texas Stadium. But not its piles of trash and puddles of standing water.

*Okay, we've had a dictator (Bill Parcells) and a dufus (Wade Phillips). Can we please find a coach somewhere in the middle?

*Standing on the field during the waning seconds, it was surreal to hear the Cowboys literally booed off the field in their final Texas Stadium game. But I don't blame the fans. The final offensive possession included a delay of game, a false start, a mis-timed snap and a 1-yard pass on 4th-and-2.

*The performance was a total Debbie Downer, turning the sellout crowd into premature-evacuation Scrooges. The stadium was only about half-full for the post-game tribute honoring past Cowboys who starred at Texas Stadium. Hard to embrace the past when you're busy kicking the present to the curb.

*By the way, Christmas = Cancelled.

*If everything doesn't fall right next week - and who really thinks Dallas has the cajones to win in Philly? - it'll be the doomsday scenario I painted in my column way back on July 24. "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." Ring a bell? We're 60 minutes from the most disappointing season in Cowboys' history. - Richie Whitt

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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt