LOSS TO GIANTS WAS BIGGER DISAPPOINTMENTBy Todd Archer
What was the Cowboys' worst loss of 2011?
Dec. 11 vs. the New York Giants, 37-34.
The Detroit loss was horrible because of its place in team and NFL history. Blowing a 24-point lead is almost impossible, but the Cowboys made it happen.
But the Dec. 11 loss to the Giants hurt the most because of when it happened and what it caused down the stretch. While the first goal of the season is to win the Super Bowl, the best way to get there is to win the NFC East.
That guarantees at least one home playoff game, and you don't need any wild-card help.
Losing a 12-point lead after Dez Bryant's 50-yard touchdown catch with 5:41 to play against the Giants set off the December swoon because the Cowboys lost their edge in the division.
Had they beaten the Giants that night, they would have put away the miserable overtime loss the previous week at Arizona. Instead they lost on the exact same circumstance: a made Dan Bailey field goal erased by a timeout, followed by a missed field goal try.
How did that help the team psyche?
Had they beaten the Giants that night, they would have knocked Philadelphia out of playoff contention before the Dec. 24 meeting. The Eagles could have been in shut-it-down mode. Yes, Philadelphia was bounced midway through the first quarter of that meeting after the Giants beat the Jets, but the week of preparation would have been different had they known they had no shot.
That 12-point collapse highlighted the Cowboys' inability to finish games. The defense fell apart, allowing 15 points while never sniffing Eli Manning. Tony Romo and Miles Austin could not connect on a huge third-down pass that would have gone for a touchdown. Jason Garrett was late with a timeout on the Giants' final go-ahead drive.
The Detroit loss was historic, but the Giants loss gave the Cowboys a bigger detour on the easiest way to make the playoffs.
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LOSS TO LIONS HAD MORE BITEBy Tim MacMahon
The Dallas Cowboys had too many inexplicable, inexcusable losses this season. One, however, sticks out from the rest.
Not just the rest of the Cowboys' collapses this season, but the rest of the games in NFL history.
A home team had never lost a game that it led by 24 points until the Cowboys let the Detroit Lions rally from that deficit in the second half Oct. 2.
Tony Romo rightfully took the brunt of the blame for the embarrassing loss, as he should have after throwing three picks to give the Lions life.
Romo's first interception, which his good buddy Bobby Carpenter returned for Detroit's first touchdown of the game, felt like a blip in what had been a phenomenal performance. An uh-oh feeling set in when Romo threw another pick-six, this one to cornerback Chris Houston, on the next series. And there was a you-gotta-be-kidding-me vibe on Romo's third pick, a deep ball intercepted by linebacker Stephen Tulloch to set up the Lions' game-winning drive.
It was poor decision-making by Romo and just as bad play calling by Jason Garrett, who abandoned the run when the Cowboys were protecting a lead. Romo's first and third picks came on the first plays of the series. His second interception was a third-and-2 throw.
Romo and Garrett wrapped the gift, but Rob Ryan's defense played a role in giving the game to the Lions. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford struggled most of the game but finished strong, completing 10 of 16 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Calvin Johnson scored those two touchdowns, soaring to snatch a couple of balls over the heads of helpless Dallas defensive backs, something the Lions found quite funny a couple of days after Ryan's foolish claim that the Cowboys had two receivers better than the man known as Megatron.
This loss made the Cowboys the laughingstock of the league.
- Bryan Broaddus retweeted