Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC East [Print without images]

Sunday, December 15, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Dallas Cowboys

By Todd Archer


ARLINGTON, Texas -- A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys' 37-36 loss against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

What it means for the Cowboys: Mathematically the Cowboys (7-7) have everything in front of them still, which just sounds so hollow after an outcome like this.

The Cowboys had a 23-point lead against a backup quarterback and could not close the deal as they continued to find inventive ways to lose in 2013 as well as continue their December woes.

Tony Romo threw two fourth-quarter interceptions. The first led to Green Bay's game-winning touchdown and the second killed any chance the Cowboys had of coming back for the win.

With a chance to take over first place in the NFC East in their sights thanks to the Minnesota Vikings beating the Philadelphia Eagles (8-6), the Cowboys are left with another staggering loss, like the earlier ones they suffered against the Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions.

This one was the toughest to take because Aaron Rodgers was a spectator. Matt Flynn became the second backup quarterback in as many games to throw four touchdown passes against the Cowboys, joining the Chicago Bears' Josh McCown.

Romo's final pass was picked off by Tramon Williams with 1:22 to play and it sent the Cowboys fans rushing to the exits and the large number of Packers fans into hysteria after Walt Coleman overturned what had been called an incomplete pass.

Stock watch: Bill Callahan, Jason Garrett, Romo, falling. Since the Cowboys' offensive play calling is a team effort we'll go with all three as falling. The Packers could not stop DeMarco Murray and the Cowboys decided to pass, pass and pass some more when they needed to kill the clock by running, running and running. Romo's late interception to Sam Shields was a poor decision by the quarterback, but a poor call by the coaches.

Welcome back: Six days ago Dez Bryant had two catches for 12 yards against the Bears. It was his lowest output since his rookie season when he had 8 yards against Detroit on three catches.

Bryant had season highs in catches and yards and had a gigantic third-down catch in the fourth quarter on third-and-12. Bryant finished with 11 catches for 153 yards and his toe-tapping touchdown on a 5-yard catch gave the Cowboys their final lead.

Bryant had gone six games without reaching 100 yards and did not have more than nine catches in a game this season. And it could have been so much better. Romo underthrew two deep balls to Bryant, one in each half, and was off on another potential scoring throw in the first half.

But when it mattered most the Cowboys went to Cole Beasley on back-to-back plays and not Bryant.

Depleted at LB: Already without linebackers Sean Lee (neck) and Bruce Carter (hamstring) because of injuries, the Cowboys lost Justin Durant and Ernie Sims in the first half, leaving them not only thin but inexperienced.

Durant re-injured his hamstring in the first quarter and Sims suffered a hip injury on the final play of the half. That moved rookie DeVonte Holloman in at middle linebacker, and he was playing in his first game in two months due to a neck injury. And he had been an outside linebacker.

Undrafted rookie Cam Lawrence took over as the weakside linebacker and was immediately targeted by the Packers in the running game.

What's next: The Cowboys travel to FedEx Field next week to take on the Washington Redskins. It will be the fourth straight game in which the Cowboys will go against a backup quarterback with Kirk Cousins starting for Washington.