And what happens when you fall on Cactus. You get stuck in the *** and it hurts like hell! The only place where this is a possibility is traveling to play the Arizona Cardinals in The University of Phoenix stadium. They've changed the stadium over the years but the results are predictably the same. And that result means a far tougher game then expected and/or a loss. In this case it was the third straight loss in this stadium and the second straight overtime defeat. This one turned out 19-13. While there may be no logical explanation to occurrences like this I do know that sometimes basketball players like some arenas more, some baseball players like to hit in some ballparks more than others and the Dallas Cowboys do not like going to Arizona.
There are many things to analyze after a gut wrenching defeat like this. But I focus on three aspects that drove me up a wall. First: In the first quarter on their second possession the Cowboys had 3rd and 1 on the Arizona 36 yard line. Romo threw a pass incomplete on third down and then lined up to go for it on 4th but called time out and attempted a 53-yard field goal. 3rd and 1 on the 36 is a two down to make 1-yard situation. You don't punt and you don't try a 53-yard field goal. The percentage of making 53-yard field goals is extremely small. The Cardinals then went down for a field goal. You can't make 1 yard on two runs? You're kidding me. Second: In the latter part of the game the defense stopped Arizona on three and out and forced a punt to Bryant which resulted in a 35-yard return. Game over; kill time for a short field goal. Nope! A penalty on Scandrick negated the play. It was a foolish, unnecessary penalty that had nothing to do with the play. Third: The whole sequence at the end of regulation. 3rd and 11 and Romo threw a 15-yard first down pass to Bryant. They waste 24 seconds before spiking the ball. They had two time outs and could have used one and moved the ball closer than a 49-yard field goal. Then, why do you have to call your own time out because the field goal unit supposedly wasn't set? Why weren't they set? That amazes me and shows how just a few plays in a game like this makes all the difference in the world.
There were positives on both sides of the ball. Five sacks. Bryant probably playing his best overall game…the controlling of Patrick Petersen as a punt returner. Now some may credit the kicking game as the reason for eliminating Petersen but I don't. Other than one very good punt by McBriar pinning Petersen to the sideline, to me the credit goes to the offense, as they constantly moved the ball to at least mid-field for a punt which negates a punt return by the very fact of field position.
The Cowboys didn't eliminate any of their goals that are out there. They just made it harder. All other aspects of the playoff run fell into place yesterday as Chicago, Detroit, NY Giants and the Falcons all lost. Those are the primary opponents for Division or Wild Card considerations for the playoffs. Now the NY "football" Giants are coming to town. The Cowboy offense better come to play and be productive. The Giants have weapons on offense and will be hard to limit. The game very likely could be a higher scoring game than the Cowboys have been in recently. The Giants have been playing much tougher opponents and the Cowboys have been winning small against lesser opponents. The Cowboys have just made it harder on themselves. It's a good thing this game isn't being played in Arizona!
Joe Avezzano can be heard Tuesday nights at 7pm on 95.3FM and on all Cowboy postgame shows on 105.3 The Fan. He can be seen on Channel 21 on Wednesday nights at 7:30pm. Join him for great food, sports, music and his TV show on Wednesday nights.