By Will Martin
Oh, the vultures.
You just could not wait to apply each and every thought or joke and somehow apply it in an injured quarterbacks acumen while your leader is convalescing after what we hear is successful back surgery. Some of you still dared to blame Tony Romo.
Petty, petty, petty.
For starters yes I do know and understand the frustration of long time Cowboys fans who simply cannot tolerate the fact that a rookie coach like Chip Kelly can come into North Texas and swoop away an NFC title before 91,000 fans inside AT&T Stadium.
Allow me to be the first. On a day where there were some missed calls (sorry Steelers Nation) and a day where two teams had a chance to just win and get in, they didn’t. Miami and Baltimore, take a seat. I was all set to watch Philadelphia put a whipping on the Dallas Cowboys as decimated by injuries as they were.
Kyle Orton, you sir came to play. I know that there are many fans who will place the blame on your shoulders for that 24-22 defeat Sunday night and make remarks unfounded about the ghost of Tony Romo entering your routine since it was late in the 4th quarter.
Balderdash! Cowboys Nation should be proud of the fact that as beaten down as you were even broadcaster Brad Sham alluded to this matchup resembling the Silver and Blue bringing a knife to a gunfight.
That was one sharp persistent knife!
Can we talk about DeMarco Murray? First Cowboy back to surpass 1,000 yards in seven years and the most yards since 2000 for Dallas. Did I not see a fumble from the hands of the guy who was supposed to be injury prone and not available come December? That miscue led to an Eagle touchdown.
An early 10-0 lead for the Eagles before Dallas bounced back and mounted a nice drive which culminated in a 17-yard touchdown pass to rookie Gavin Escobar and a 10-7 deficit. A six play 66 yard drive for the Cowboys.
Philadelphia would answer back with a two play 49 yard drive highlighted by a 14-yard toss from Nick Fole to Brent Celek for another score. Dan Bailey added a field goal before the half and Philadelphia had a 17-10 lead.
We all know the definition of insanity. Cowboys fans can tell you verbatim what the last two years can feel like losing on the final week of the season to division opponents on the road. Now faced with the possibility of going 5-1 against the NFC East and NOT getting in?
The Cowboys would scratch and claw to the very end. Even with all the roster names unfamiliar to the fans it was kind of surprising that no less a veteran Jason Witten would also commit a turnover and cost Dallas a score. If you’re keeping score turnovers led directly to 14 points.
LeSean McCoy was the Eagle spark plug on the ground with 131 yards and a touchdown pass by air from Nick Foles.
Kyle Orton in his first start since a 7-3 win as a Chief against his old team (Denver Broncos) and Tim Tebow in Week 17 2011was more than good. He was unflappable and effective. 30 for 46 passing for 358 yards and two picks-one courtesy of Witten’s cough up-only unable to get into the end zone in the 3rd period. Two Dan Bailey field goals from 43 and 36 yards made for a one point game 17-16.
These were the injury riddled Dallas Cowboys? This was the Eagle team that put up a 54 spot on the Bears one week ago in the cold? My focus stayed on this game. Win or lose the Dallas Cowboys of 2013 were anything but boring.
Cowboys fans don’t want to hear this but its true. Have fun with this: FIVE losses by a combined total of EIGHT points! One score and two point conversion away from a 13-3 record…as beat up as they were.
Period four was a battle of field position as Dallas and Devonte Holloman were instrumental in making stops until the midway mark when Nick Foles (17 of 26 for 283 yards and two touchdowns) mounted an 11 play 60 yard drive after both teams stopped the other on a 4th down that ended with a Bryce Brown six yard scamper for a touchdown and a 24-16 lead with 5:37 left.
Back came Kyle Orton and the Cowboys with a few nice completions to Witten, Terrence Williams, and a 32-yard strike to Dez Bryant who stumbled his way into the end zone for a touchdown as AT&T Stadium got amped at the thought of a score.
Dallas tried for a two point conversion and the throw to Dez was incomplete. Immediate flashback to the game in Baltimore, October 14th 2012 when the same thing happened and Dallas fell 31-29.
Philadelphia tried to run the clock out but was unsuccessful as Dallas had one more chance to drive the ball about 35 yards and get a Dan Bailey field goal and a 25-24 win with a visit from New Orleans.
Then incredibly it happened. Kyle Orton looks to throw with under 90 seconds to Miles Austin. The throw went a little behind and into the arms of Brandon Boykin. There went your ballgame and your season.
Don’t blame Tony Romo. Don’t use Romo-isms. Don’t deny yourself that despite finishing 8-8 for a third consecutive year you were in it until the final week. I can name quite a few teams who wish that they had the problem Dallas has with average. 136-136 since the 1997 season.
Kudos to LeSean McCoy for amassing 1,607 yards and surpassing Steve Van Buren and his amazing season in 1949. Keep in mind that if it weren’t for a spectacular play by a Bronco defender, the guy who didn’t play Sunday would be your new yards in a game passer.
The second half running game became non-existent. The defense kept you in the game.
While your friends further south are on the clock for the 1st pick of the NFL Draft, Dallas gets to ponder who will be the guy to go after at #16. Jason Garrett stays, Kiffin is probably gone, Marinelli gets promoted, and Jerry Jones remains your GM.
That all said it’s time to get off Tony Romo’s back. Until he’s healthy again and then he’ll be fair game. I applaud the Dallas Cowboys for the effort and the desire Sunday night.