MINNEAPOLIS — If nothing else, at least reality finally reached out here late Sunday afternoon and smacked the Dallas Cowboys upside their confused and bruised heads.
Another opponent, in this case the equally struggling Vikings, had been dominated for most of the football action, but doing all the dumb stuff the Cowboys do, they managed to lose again, a procedure that has happened four times in five games, so losing now qualifies as a Cowboys art form.
But the latest shame, a 24-21 stinker of an L, didn’t come with the shoulder-shrugging bravado and the “we’ll bounce back” lies of previous postgame empty optimism.
Instead, this stunned locker-room scene was more along the lines of, “Guess what, boys, we’ve got big problems.”
Hello, real world. In the real world, the damn season is over. There is no recovery from 1-4.
Since linebacker Bradie James was very, very good on Sunday, probably the best of several who played their butts off on that side of the ball, he deserved the opportunity to offer perspective.
“My only explanation,” he said, “is I don’t have an explanation, because how could this have happened to this team? I hate it we are 1-4, but that’s where we are.
“My next objective, starting [today] is to try and make sure this team doesn’t totally crumble.”
Well, Bradie, sorry, man, but…
If 1-4 isn’t a confirmed crumble, and if this latest loss doesn’t qualify as the final, final crumble, then the rest of the season is really going to be a hard-to-stomach doozy.
The appropriate tag for this season’s Cowboys might be gutless pigs.
Except that’s unfair. To pigs. And also unfair to most of the team. This is the scary part:
The Cowboys played hard Sunday. There was no quit. Same as last week. But it’s a dumb team, the dumbest in the NFL, and it continues to lose on self-inflicted stupidity.
The Vikings were so bad, they had an embarrassing 188 yards of offense. And won with it, a statistical contradiction that last happened in 2005 for Minnesota.
But the winner doesn’t fret over 188 yards of total offense. That’s for the loser to lament.
Easy explanation, of course. The same explanation as against the Titans last week, and basically the same as in the four losses.
Penalties. Turnovers. And yet another special-teams coverage gaffe that totally turned the game, this being Percy Harvin’s 95-yard kickoff return to open the second half.
The Cowboys led 14-7 and had dominated the first half.
The penalties-turnovers-special teams trifecta has surfaced, of course, with maddening frequency this season.
Of course, it’s also a trifecta that describes a bad football team, and as much as the blame goes to the head coach and his staff, there is certainly no reason to exclude the players from this messy repeat.
The favorite color of the NFL this month is pink, and that’s for a good charity. Except the Cowboys have even disrupted that worthy cause.
This team’s favorite color is yellow. As in flags. And the penalties have certainly made it a charitable cause. For the other team.
On Sunday, it was 11 penalties for 91 yards, but that doesn’t even describe the cost factor. For instance, receiver Miles Austin busted loose on an inside slant early in the second quarter. He had the coverage beaten inside, and was gone for a 68-yard TD, except…
For no good reason, an excellent receiver like Austin reached out with his right hand before catching the ball and gave the corner a push, which resulted in the corner, who had blown his assignment, doing a falling-down act. Sure, the flag fell. It was a good act.
I repeat: Austin already had the man beaten to the inside. He didn’t need that right hand. Maddening.
Austin was also involved in yet another end-zone celebration flag, this time for a leapfrog over Roy Williams after the Cowboys’ first touchdown.
Again, these are the Cowboys’ best players doing this stupid stuff.
Tony Romo threw two picks, resulting in a short-field 10 points for the Vikings. The first interception wasn’t Romo’s fault. Defensive end Jared Allen roared around tackle Doug Free, who is sliding fast in performance after a strong start at the position.
Allen forced Romo into a quick release, his pass hit a helmet, bounced in the air, and the Vikings had it, then had a touchdown.
But the killer pick from Romo came late in the fourth quarter with the score tied 21-21. On a third-and-1, where Marion Barber and the offensive line had been successful all afternoon in short yardage, Romo attempted a pass.
Why? Who knows.
This was simply an awful underthrown attempt to Jason Witten. The Vikings ended up with the ball at the Cowboys’ 30 and ended up with the game-winning field goal with 4:03 to play.
A pass-interference call on Mike Jenkins allowed the Vikings to basically run out the clock two possessions later.
But the quarterback cannot make that pick of a throw in that fourth-quarter spot.
Tony is regressing. The whole team is following him down the dumper, a routine flush when a QB goes bad.
Williams, the Cowboys’ most consistent offensive player through five games (consider that my apology to Uno Uno for all the bad things I’ve said about him in the past) summed up Sunday this way after catching two touchdown passes:
“The Cowboys beat the Cowboys for the fourth time this year. We beat ourselves one more time. How many times are we going to do that?”
Then Williams started doing the math on how there could still be 10 wins on the season with 11 games remaining.
OK, consider Roy a tad slow in accepting reality.
But dead is dead. And that’s the state of the season.
Randy Galloway can be heard on Galloway & Co. weekdays 3-6 p.m. on ESPN/103.3 FM.
Randy Galloway, 817-390-7697
Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/10/17/2553702/cowboys-are-dead-and-dumb-team.html#ixzz12h3Frlzk