Cowboys lose golden opportunity against Cardinals
The Sports Xchange
NFL Team Report - Dallas Cowboys - INSIDE SLANT
The Cowboys seemingly had everything set up right for them. The Eagles lost on Thursday. The Giants lost on Sunday.
All they had to do was beat the lowly Cardinals for a two-game lead in the NFC East and a chance to possibly clinch the division title with a victory next Sunday in a showdown against the Giants at home.
Riding a four-game winning streak, it appeared to be a foregone conclusion that it would work out right for the Cowboys. But again these Cowboys can never do things easy or simple especially when the calendar turns to December.
How else do you explain Sunday's 19-13 overtime loss to the Cardinals?
The Cowboys controlled the ball for much of the afternoon but could never put the game away.
After missing a field goal in the waning moments of regulation, which included coach Jason Garrett calling a timeout to ice his own kicker, the Cardinals won it on a 52-yard touchdown pass in overtime.
The Cowboys (7-5) still control their own destiny in the NFC East as they remain one game ahead of the Giants (6-6), but they understand they missed a golden opportunity to take a two-game lead into next week's showdown.
"Certainly we can still control our destiny," owner Jerry Jones said. "I think we do look at it that way (with the Giants' showdown next week). The team has got to be able to do that. We know this thing is about getting setbacks. This definitely can be a setback. But we've got to come back out here and play. So we've got a lot of work cut out for us."
The Cowboys most definitely have their work cut out for them now -- even if the schedule remains favorable. They are a team and a quarterback in Tony Romo who have historically not played their best football in the final month of the season.
A loss to the Giants would give them a two-game losing streak and only add more pressure going down the stretch.
Romo believes this team has learned from its past failures and is mentally stronger than in past years. But he knows they must play better than they did Sunday.
"There were a lot of mistakes out there," Romo said. "You can be very disappointed in the things we did as a football team. Any time you lose it's a setback. We just need to get better and be ready next week."
NFL Team Report - Dallas Cowboys - NOTES, QUOTES
TRENDING: The Cowboys have now lost their last three games at the Arizona Cardinals on the final play of the game. It happened in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
BY THE NUMBERS: Romo now has a 7-11 record in the month of December. He is 0-1 in 2011 after Sunday's loss to the Cardinals, which came after Romo led the Cowboys to a 4-0 record in November, upping his career record in that month to 19-2.
NFL Team Report - Dallas Cowboys - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--WR Laurent Robinson left the game with a sprained AC joint in his shoulder in the first half. He returned to the game, finishing with four catches for 72 yards. He said he should be fine for next Sunday's game against the Giants. Robinson had his streak of five straight games with a touchdown snapped.
--LB DeMarcus Ware had one of the Cowboys' sacks against the Cardinals. He now has 15 for the season and leads the league in sacks.
--WR Dez Bryant had eight catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. He now has seven touchdowns on the season, a career high. He had six as a rookie last year. Bryant's biggest play against the Cardinals was a 35-yard punt return in the fourth quarter but it was called back because of a block in the back.
--RB DeMarco Murray had 12 carries for 38 yards against the Cardinals. It was his lowest output since taking over as the starter six games ago.
--TE Jason Witten had five catches for 47 yards against the Cardinals. He has 61 catches for the season. It's his eighth straight season with 60 or more catches.
--K Dan Bailey missed two field goals against the Cardinals. His miss from 53 yards out snapped a streak of 26 straight kicks without a miss, one short of the team record of 27 set by kickers coach Chris Boniol. He missed a 49-yarder that would have won the game in the fourth quarter.
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