On Sunday, when the Cowboys took on the Bengals, quarterback Andy Dalton returned to the city where he played for the previous nine years, leading his new club against his former one in what would normally be an impressive 30-7 win. But within the context of this disastrous lost season, in my mind, it barely deserves mention. I’m sure it was a much-needed boost for the players on the field — there’s been so little for them to take pride in. But I felt no joy. I was as emotionless watching that game as I would be a YouTube instructional video on how to replace the load basket sensor in a washing machine. It’s taken three-quarters of the season, but I’ve finally given up.
I’ve consistently been of the opinion that the Dallas Cowboys exist for one sole purpose. Their function, distilled to its simplest fundament, apparently, is to make me look as foolish as possible. My weekly modus operandi in “covering” (that term used in the absolute loosest sense) this football team is to try and assemble my largely incoherent and ever-changing thoughts into a passably comprehensible rant with the intention of painting some facile portrait of the current state of things. Yet — as the handful of unsuspecting persons out there who have happened to stumble upon this column and have accidentally left their eyes in place long enough to absorb some of its content can attest — after patting myself on the back for my clever and humorous dissection of any given game one week, this damn confounded organization will invariably completely contradict any modicum of a point I was attempting to make the next. Far from the enthralling realism of a Rembrandt, capturing every nuance, my images appear infinitely more Jackson Pollock, detached colors simply slung randomly at the wall. (And somehow, I’m still afforded this forum, if only to continue to make myself look like an idiot.)
The most recent demonstration of the full asininity of my analysis was when the Cowboys were coming off their surprise upset win over the Minnesota Vikings. The general crux of the column was basically, “Eff the Team Tankers! Let’s win the division!” As the Cowboys were riding a series of impressive games and the rest of the NFC East were falling flat on their faces, it maybe wasn’t such a stupid take at the time. But by nature of the fact that my thoughts were put into indelible print and subsequently distributed conspicuously with my byline attached, Dallas would follow up that win with two of their worst games in a season full of franchise-worst games.
As has become a Thanksgiving tradition as integral as bone dry turkey and loud inquiries of “Who the hell is that?!” in reference to the game presentation’s halftime performer, the Cowboys offered the largest football-watching audience of the year an absolutely pathetic effort with a stench worse than an uncle’s deviled egg flatus. They rolled over and offered their belly to the Washington Football Team 41-16.
Then the NFL made every effort to accommodate a COVID-riddled Baltimore Ravens team by rescheduling their Thursday Night Football game against the Cowboys three separate times to ultimately fall to last Tuesday (there is no end to 2020’s insanity), a tilt in which Lamar Jackson led the Ravens to a 34-17 victory with a grand total of 107 yards passing. They gained their yards on the ground to the tune of hanging 294 on Dallas. Two of the three highest rushing totals allowed in Cowboys franchise history have happened this year. I’m not sure if I’m an opposing OC I would ever call a passing play against this defense. The Cowboys performance was so terrible, it inspired Fox’s Troy Aikman to directly question the team’s effort on national television.
So there you go. So much for winning the division. In the same span, the Giants upset the Seahawks, and the Football Team has gone on a five-game run, handing the Steelers their first loss of the year and following it up with a road win against the 49ers. Hell, even the Eagles, finally accepting the fact that they’re on the losing end of the great Dak v. Wentz debate, benched the No. 2 overall pick from four years ago in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts and stole one from the 10-2 Saints, knocking them out of first place overall in the NFC.
I obviously fell for the fool’s gold of the Pittsburgh and Minnesota games. I’m not falling for Sunday’s 30-7 win over the lowly Cincinnati Bengals. Saving your best effort for a meaningless game against a feeble opponent doesn’t show me anything. When a team apparently needs a Hall of Famer to publicly call them out to inspire their head coach to finally call them out privately and motivate them to play better, that tells you all you need to know. This team’s proverbial goose, or turkey, as it were, was cooked back on Thanksgiving. Now watch, just to spite me, they’ll win out, Football Team will lose one, and the silver and blue will make the playoffs just to continue the trend of making me look like a fool.