"From the standpoint of making this game be an indictment of the progress we made this year, I'm not going to do that," said Jones, sweating dripping down his face from the hot camera lights and cramped quarters. "We know that the Vikings are a good team. We know that we came into a hostile environment. We know that we played a quarterback that's been at a Superman level, and we played a defense that played better than even I could have hoped they wouldn't play."
With all that said, the Cowboys have no one to blame for the loss but themselves. Yes,
• Phillips: During warmups the Cowboys determined that kicker
Suisham, who had missed a field goal in two of his previous three games, was wide left. Vikings players said afterward the miss was a huge play, because they sensed that it took something out of the Cowboys, who have had issues with their kickers all season. Four plays later Favre threw a 47-yard strike to
• Romo: Strange as it may seem for a team that surrendered six sacks, Dallas' offensive line actually controlled the game for much of the first quarter. The Cowboys gained 118 yards on 22 plays and were averaging 3.9 yards a rush. Still, Romo acted at times as if he were facing unrelenting pressure when he wasn't.
On one play, he stepped up to avoid looping rushes on the edge and had a pocket from which to throw. But rather than go through his reads, he took off for the line of scrimmage. There was an opening to the right for a big gain, but he inexplicably tried an ugly dumpoff that fell incomplete. It was as if he had no interest in sitting in the pocket and looking into the secondary for a big play.
Things just got worse from there, and understandably so. Once the Vikings got up -- and left tackle
By the third quarter, it was apparent Romo was a beaten man. His body language reflected as much after he threw an ugly interception to linebacker
• Garrett: As talented a playcaller as he is purported to be, Garrett does some really strange things. Like asking tight end
None of this is to say that Jones should make major changes in the offseason. He said he'll meet with Phillips soon and stressed that "this game will not have any bearing" on whether the coach is brought back. Phillips has a one-year option remaining on his contract for 2010.
But it is disturbing that the Cowboys, who were so impressive their previous four games, could revert to the things that made them so maddeningly inconsistent the last few years. Blame the defense if you will for surrendering 34 points, 234 yards passing and 109 rushing. But this game was a reflection of the shortcomings of three men: Phillips, Romo and Garrett -- even if Jones would not say so.