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

Sunday, December 15, 2013
Cowboys defense fails again

By Calvin Watkins

ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's not about stats, schemes or opponents.

Monte Kiffin has a good scheme, outdated as it is, but he doesn't have the players. And the highly-priced players Kiffin does have are not performing well.

The Cowboys signed Brandon Carr to a five-year $50.1 million contract. He didn't earn it Sunday.

DeMarcus Ware averages $11.1 million per season. He didn't perform like it.

Jason Hatcher enters the final year of his contract looking for a new deal from somebody. He will not get paid the way he feels he should after his performance.

With two games remaining, the Cowboys defense doesn't have the look of a unit that can stop anybody.

In the 37-36 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon, the defense allowed 34 second-half points.

It is telling that quarterback Tony Romo explained he felt pressed to change a run play to a pass late in the game when it was clear the Cowboys needed to run the ball to close out the game.

"It's third down, but it's also the other side of the ball," Romo said. "If they get the ball back and you have to punt, it's a tough situation. You might not see the ball again so you feel the need that if that's a final-type drive in some ways with the playcalling."

Romo, one of the leaders of this team, has no faith in the defense.

"I think more than anything as the game went down, you could tell we were going to have to put points on the board and maximize our opportunities," he said. "And we tried to do that throughout the football game. I tried to be aggressive throughout. It's disappointing, obviously, when it ends the way it ends."

Sad. Really sad.

"It was tough," Kiffin said. "It’s like every game seems like it’s been tough. Boy, we felt so good at halftime. It’s 26-3 [at halftime] and their quarterback is kind of reeling a little bit and we gave them some good looks and stuff like that. We just couldn’t hold on the second half. They had us reeling a little bit."

Packers quarterback Matt Flynn threw for 299 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. Flynn finished the game with a 113.1 quarterback rating and Eddie Lacy averaged 6.7 yards per carry. Flynn completed passes to seven different receivers. His only bad play was a one-yard completion to fullback John Kuhn.

"Sometimes if you don’t know what the bottom of the pile feels like you don’t know how to crawl up out of there," Ware said. "I would tell the younger guys at the end of the day, I've been at the bottom of that pile and there's no reason to give up. We don’t give up here and good players come back from adversity and this is an adverse time. But we still have a chance do you want to have that chance or not."

The Cowboys close out the season with the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles. Can the Cowboys win both games after such a disappointing effort like this?

It's the defense that's on the hook here.

"What the heck," Kiffin said. "It’s not good. It’s not good at all. There are no excuses. We should have won the game. No doubt about it. We should have won the game. We haven’t won three in a row. I just talked to one of the players in the locker room, one of our veterans, and said, ‘You know what? We’ve had a hard time winning three in a row, but we have won two in a row.’ That’s what we have to do."