In Seattle, it was unfortunate an NFL game doesn't officially expire after 59:20. Against Washington, it was unfortunate an NFL game doesn't officially expire after 56:14. In Oakland, the Cowboys needed a little more time. Against the Giants, they almost needed a little less.
"I thought we'd be in here, pumping our fists, celebrating a classic Parcells football game,'' moaned Cowboys owner Jerry Jones after Sunday's come-from-ahead 13-10 to the Seahawks, adding, "I can't think of one thing I'd second-guess.''
Mind if we help? Leaving alone the 60-minute framework of an NFL game for a moment, mind of we start with the concept of a 'classic Parcells football game'?
We'll say it again: We love and support field-position football. We love and support ball-control football. But around here, the concept of "classic'' is being re-defined.
Twice in the fourth quarter, with Dallas nursing a 7-3 lead, the Cowboys possessed the ball inside the Seattle 10. The Cowboys came away with three points. "Classic''? Early in the fourth, seemingly playing for the field goal, Parcells ordered rookie Marion Barber plunges into the line on first and second down from the 9. On third down, a poor call denied pass interfererence against Jason Witten in the end zone, and Dallas would get its wish to kick.
Jose Cortez missed a 29-yarder that punctuated a cartoonish series featuring Parcells arguing with the refs and then spinning around to assault assistant coach Todd Haley.
Hey, a sign of offensive aggressiveness from Bully Bill?
Nah. Radio voice Babe Laufenberg said it best on the Cowboys broadcast when, once the fourth started, he repeatedly predicted that Dallas would start feeding Barber the ball, a prognostication that was as accurate as the decision was flawed.
The plan is to eat up 15 minutes of clock while leading by four? Classic.
The Cowboys did run 39 times for 164 yards. They did keep the ball for 34:08. And Barber got his grind-it-out numbers, rushing for a career-high 95 yards on 22 carries. Oh, and they got their precious field goal. The Cowboys were at the Seattle 12, and we go Back to the Future, more "classic'' crap: Barber for 4, Barber for 3, failure on third down. And we get Cortez hitting a 21-yarder with 2:06 left.
Hey, Dallas with a one-score lead with just a coupla minutes left! What's not to like!?
Well, what's not to like is that that concept did not work against Washington (13 points), did not work against Oakland (13 points), almost did not work against the Giants (13 points in regulation), and was destined to not work here (10 points).
It's a thing of beauty -- "classic,'' almost -- to watch this Dallas defense work and grow. It's tough to get first downs against 'em. It's tough to get touchdowns against 'em. But a) it's apparently not as tough in the final moments of the game, and b) it's obviously not good enough if in the four aforementioned games the Cowboys offense is going to only bother to total 49 points.
"That was the plan coming in, I guess," said QB Drew Bledsoe said of the conservative approach.
But in a blink of an eye, the score was tied 10-10. And with just seconds left, and the Cowboys attempting to score before OT, Bledsoe -- now having to shift gears from bus driver to Dale Earnhardt -- tried to fit a ball where it wouldn't fit. Interception, 50-yard Seattle FG, Dallas loss at the buzzer.
A buzzer that this year for the Cowboys has too often come 40 seconds, four minutes, eight minutes too late.
Plenty of Reasons to Second Guess
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