Finish or Finished?

If you're trying to figure out the Dallas Cowboys, DON'T! It's impossible, and this is not a new phenomena.

This team has been a mystery way before most its current players were either born or figments of their parents imaginations. Throw logic as far out of the window as you can heave it. Go ahead, give it a toss. Nothing logical or practical seems to apply to this organization. Thus, they're the perfect soap opera of professional sports. If you let them, like the starlet on your favorite day time mush fest, they'll rip your heart out. If you hang around long enough, you'll either callous to the core or you'll be driven to drink.

Case in point, Heinz Field. The only thing certain about that show and venue was the brand of ketchup they were serving at every condiment table and food stand. That, you could bank unlike the Cowboys holding a 10 point lead entering the final seven and a half minutes of Sunday's game. No one was there except my oldest Son, and he's not around to add personal testimony, so you'll have to go with me on this, or like Cowboys' logic, you can heave this one as well. Five seconds before the ball was snapped, while Tony Romo was barking out his cadence, from my media room floor I announced to the both us, "You cannot make a mistake here." About five seconds after that proclamation, Deshea Townsend was off to the house with a "pick six" with about 1:40 remaining in the final stanza.

Stunned and stymied, but not surprised. Not in the least bit surprised. Unfortunately, for all the faithful out there, this has become common place. Ugly, regrettable common place and here is another tidbit of continually-mounting common or happen-stance occurrences.

Tony Romo is reckless. Reckless to the point of most certain doubt, but now also fringing on trust. And if it gets to that level ladies and gentlemen, the Dallas Cowboys truly have a problem.

No, this will not become an indictment of Tony Romo. Not at this juncture. Yes, it most certainly deserves continued watching, but too many things have happened, mainly injury, which create a small (very) margin of benefit of the doubt. The fact remains the quarterback will always get the accolades upon victory and take a pounding with every defeat. This has been the mantra since the onset of football's creation, and it won't change anytime soon. That being said, Tony is either the luckiest or most unfortunate signal-caller in the last three NFL years. Think about it. The absurd follows this guy like Tommy Jones was to be flanking Pacman Jones. Whether it's a bobbled field goal hold in Seattle or an insane first down scramble against the St. Louis Rams, the guy always has something dramatic going on. No, we are not going down Jessica Alley either.

Raise your hands right now. Who would trade flair for consistency? Who would trade highlight reel material for safe execution? Come on, be honest. While it certainly is great theatre and may sell a ton of tickets, championships are won with discipline and fundamentals. Go ahead, yell "BORING" all you want, but do you want head-scratching drama or a sixth Lombardi Trophy? If the latter, is Tony Romo capable of delivering it? Before you rush out to immediately answer that one, let it sink in a little while and then completely rewind his body of work to date.

Yup, that's it, completely it, on the Tony Romo front. You take that where you want and ponder until the cows come home. This issue is weeks, months and possible years away from being decided. So, let's dabble in the known. Like the Cowboys' effort against the New York football Giants last January, they let the Pittsburgh game get away. It ran out of their grasp as fast as Maurice Green covers 100 meters. Yeah, that quickly. Once again, they could not close the deal. Could not take the door and slam the sucker shut. Could not keep the boot on the throat of the home tomato paste boys. Final two-minute efforts as effective as an Adam "Pacman" Jones 2008 punt return. A lot of anticipation and a ton of disappointment. Just when they had the opportunity to shed the December Collapse moniker. It was there for the taking, but somehow the Cowboys play and act like they're not worthy of winning a critical contest.

Maybe never in a December slate of games, but the beloved Cowboys will always be a Vegas favorite in a game of Hot Potato. They'll get rid of a blistering spud as quickly as Jerry retracts MBIII statements. Its highly-proclaimed this get-away game could have done wonders for the Cowboys and on so many fronts. Just think about the confidence and momentum factors alone. Two of maybe a 100 factors, but quite possibly two of the biggest elements staring down three more stellar defenses as the month progresses. OK, of all four December games, this was probably the one tabbed as being a loss before the Cowboys' charter entered Steel City airspace. Does that make it more palatable? I contest it makes it all the worse. This could have been the needed springboard as the defending World Champions prepare to embark on Texas Stadium.

Squandered is a nice word for it, but let's call it what it is/was... CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE! For all the elements that continually swirl around this organization, a little cold weather confidence would have been most welcomed. Why? How about a season-ending tilt against the Eagles and the real possibility of being on the road, in the elements, for whatever post-season aspirations the Cowboys might/might have had. Was it as important as last January's gaffe against the Giants? Probably not, but the ramifications could be the same, if not worse. When is this team going to learn how to put something, anything, away!! A sign of a true contender or champion is the ability to deliver when needed most. Not this group. Each and every critical moment is handled like a Mike Vanderjagt field goal attempt was combated. A deep breath and a ton of prayer!

The true sign this group is still a "team" is the fact there were no reports of any offensive and special teams players being tossed out of the team charter somewhere over the geography of the Southeast. If a member of the Cowboys' defense, the thought had to cross the mind no less than a thousand times. Thee defensive effort of efforts was "squandered" needlessly away. The fourth down, goal line stand alone was worth the price of admission. If a team has to go to "the well" too many times, there is a good chance the bucket could come up empty at any time. It's good to see this unit playing rather stout of late, and they'll need it to continue if there is post-season play.

While the Steelers game would have been a fantastic win, Sunday night will be a must have. If the Cowboys are to control their own destiny, which is the way it should be, then they'll need to win out and not rely on others in the conference to help them. That's no easy task by any stretch. While clinched, the Giants aren't coming to Texas to simply eat good B-B-Q. Coach Coughlin will see to that. This is a team that isn't afraid, whatsoever, to fight through adversity and still produce. Admirable, actually. Being the home team won't matter here, and the Cowboys have to bring an "A" game to the table. Anything less and they can pretty much try the Fred Flintstone approach to stopping another out-of-control month of December. Willlllllllllllllllllllllmaaaaaaaaaa!

The Cowboys must build on the fact they showed up and gave an effort in Pittsburgh. They should have walked away with a prized "W," but didn't. They can put the pieces together and string these next three together, but they have to want it; really want it. If they thought last off-season's assessment and criticism was tough to stomach, try not making it to the tournament this year and see what the airwaves and print media have to say. For their own sake and sanity, they don't want to go there. Should it happen, Lord forbid, Jerry better have Urban Meyer on speed dial.

The mantra from the start of the OTA's has been "finish." They best finish, finish strong or they, and their Head Coach, will be finished for good. Time to walk the talk. So far December has been what it has come to be known……hollow chatter. You pick the cliché, but it has to happen right here, right now. No excuses.

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