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'Skins 28, 'Boys 18: If Purgatory Sponsored a Football Team, It'd Be These Cowboys

Man.

How could it have ended any other way? It was such a familiar outcome that looking back on it seems disgustingly routine. Just when you put your tiny heart into hoping for this team to do well, it gets crushed as it has so many, many times before.

One playoff victory isn't nearly accurate enough to gauge the agony of the past 16 years of watching this franchise. Every year, there's been hope of a breakthrough, to the "glory hole" days as a not-so-wise man would say. And every year there's imminent disappointment.

While this year didn't feel like the most talented iteration of Cowboys, they seemed to have a fight about them that gave you faith. Ultimately it's now that fight that sees them on the couch again, looking at a mediocre first-round pick ... again.

It feels like it's going to be a long time until the Cowboys feel the glory of postseason success, especially considering who's at the wheel of the franchise. Dallas seems to have the talent to win the division in 2013, but if they keep shooting at their own feet they may not get the chance. Let's make a few observations and hand out some awards in the most somber of manners.

Injuries Mount, Team Continues To Fight The finest trait of this 2012 squad has been its ability to battle through injuries. Over half of the defensive starters and several key offensive pieces going down could have been an easy alibi for a 4-12 outcome. Instead, the Cowboys plucked guys from deep on the roster and off the street and cobbled together a team that nearly made the playoffs.

It would be fitting, then, for the injuries to reach a horribly ironic level by the end of this game. First, Miles Austin sprains his ankle. Then Anthony Spencer sprains his ankle. Then Dez Bryant hurts his back just before the big rally. After the game it was revealed that Tony Romo suffered a cracked rib following a blind side blitzer's shot to his midsection in the second quarter. After all of that, the Cowboys were still down by 3 points with the ball with 3 minutes to go.

Romo Opera Hits Another Sour Note In a career that has been defined by elite levels of both great and terrible, Romo had yet another of his inopportune stinkers. It's going to be a sad day when Romo doesn't put on the Cowboys jersey anymore, and if moments like this are all we have to remember him by, then that's a shame. Without him there'd be no playoff berth on the line in Week 17, but then there's the Seattle game ... and Chicago ... and the second game with the Giants ... and ...

His three-interception performance last night will surely stoke the fires of the anti-Romo faction out there, but he's really the best option for the way this team is built.

Cowboys Defense, Bleh Going up against Robert Griffin III wasn't going to be easy. Even with a gimpy knee, the turkey-sub shiller eviscerated the Cowboys defense. Announcers Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth squealed with delight as they rolled through a montage of Griffin torching Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer on the zone read. Time after time Griffin would fake the handoff and dash past a lurching Ware to the tune of 10.5 yards per carry.

When Griffin wasn't running free in the Cowboys' secondary, he was pitching it to his buddy Alfred Morris, who raked up 200 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries. Toss play after toss play saw Morris scissor his way through blockers, eating up acreage along the way. It was made all the more sickening as it seemed the Cowboys defense didn't give up, they just couldn't keep up.

And now for a few painfully bitter awards.

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Justin Bitner
Contact: Justin Bitner

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