The Dallas Cowboys still claim to be America's Team despite them not winning a Super Bowl this millennium, despite Tony Romo only ever winning one playoff game. The Cowboys have been an exciting team this season in a sub-par division, well they have been involved in two exciting regular season games. Two of the most exciting games in recent memory, and they have lost both of them.
They scored 48 points in a game, and lost to the Denver Broncos on a time expiring Matt Prater field goal at JerryWorld thanks to a Tony Romo interception that negated his entire 500 yards he threw for previously to the one costly reception to a Bronco.
On Sunday, they succumb on the road to the Detroit Lions as they allowed a Matthew Stafford one yard rushing touchdown when Stafford jumped over his offensive line to break the plain and give tie the game before an added on point gave them the 31-30 scoreline with 12 seconds remaining.
Stafford's touchdown led to a very volatile shouting and shoving match between Cowboys wide receiver, Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten as they jawed about how the team has somehow lost from a winning position of 30-24 whilst in possession of the ball with 84 seconds remaining. This was Bryant's second spat of the game as he earlier was seen being volatile towards Tony Romo on the sideline following another unsuccessful drive.
Bryant's comments and behaviour is thought to stem from some professional jealousy as Bryant was on the sideline watching Megatron Calvin Johnson gain 329 receiving yards from Stafford off of 14 receptions and 16 targets. Stafford-Johnson cemented their reputation as the best QB-WR combo in the NFL currently, as Stafford's ability to get the ball to Johnson and Johnson's sheer skill in grabbing the ball out of the air sometimes in triple coverage.
Bryant shares an element of that faith and belief with Tony Romo, yet Bryant's ability is sometimes blown aside by his downbeat demeanour which makes people question his skill level but not his talent. Bryant has all the ability in the world, yet his head is sometimes not there.
On Sunday in Detroit, Bryant had 3 receptions for 72 yards for 2 TDs off of 6 targets. On the opposite side, Terrance Williams had 2 receptions for 64 yards for 1 TD off of 10 targets. In comparison to Johnson's record setting day these numbers are pitiful and in the shoot-out that this game became you would expect Bryant to break three figures. Yet this is indicative of the Cowboys unwillingness to take a game by the scruff of the neck and conspire to mess up from a winning position.
Whereas in the Broncos game they were always playing catch-up against the Manning machine, here they were ahead for most of the game until the last 12 seconds. They were sitting on the threshold of a 5-3 record a two game lead over the others in the division, instead they sit at .500 (4-4) and a one game lead over the Eagles whom they embarrassed last week on the road.
The Cowboys defence gave up too many points to the Broncos and in spite of the sterling effort of Sean Lee who picked off Stafford twice on Sunday, they could not shutdown Johnson when he was the only person Stafford was aiming at. Whilst Johnson had 329 the next best receiver Kris Durham had 64 yards only.
You cannot begrudge Bryant's behaviour, he could tell something was going wrong and that the Cowboys were not taking advantage of the situation they were in. Whilst teams like Denver and San Francisco (against Washington and Jacksonville) went for the jugular on Sunday, the Cowboys showed a lack of a killer instinct.
Against poor teams they are very good, wins versus Rams, Redskins and Eagles attest to that but they have lost to four playoff bound teams in Kansas, Denver, San Diego and now the Lions.
Their defence now ranks last in passing yards, allowing 315.4 and they still have to face Drew Brees, Jay Cutler (if back from his groin injury), Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning on the run-in. If they get to 8 wins they should win the NFC East and have a home playoff game but that might be against the 49ers or Seahawks which they will be no match for.
Bryant made have made a lot of noise on Sunday, but maybe he was saying the right things, unfortunately for him no-one in Dallas is choosing to listen.