Almost as quickly as the Cowboys lost control of their postseason berth, it was handed back to them with near equal speed.
Thanks to the San Diego Chargers going into Tampa, Fla., on Sunday and becoming the first road team to win at the Buccaneers’ home this year, the Cowboys’ playoff chances look no different than before they lost to Baltimore on Saturday.
All they have to do is win.
If — and considering the Cowboys are 9-10 in coach Wade Phillips’ last 19 games, including the playoffs, that is a large if — the Cowboys defeat the Eagles on Sunday in Philadelphia, they will earn a playoff berth that before the season began was considered a given. (The early weather forecast in Philly for Sunday calls for rain and a high of 42 degrees.)
The Cowboys are 3-4 on the road, and at this point have established themselves as capable of winning any game, and losing any game, through a variety of painful methods. Sixteen weeks into the season the 2008 Cowboys have their identity — talented, yet maddeningly erratic.
Most puzzling among their traits is a celebrity offense that throughout the season has been off. The unit ranks a respectable ninth in the NFL, but the numbers don’t necessarily tell everything. Something isn’t there.
"It’s the offense as a whole. We are not in sync," receiver Terrell Owens said after the Cowboys’ 33-24 loss against the Ravens on Saturday night. "We are making a lot of mental mistakes, like delay of games. That’s communication. Things that have happened all year everybody has to focus in on."
Of the 937 total yards the Cowboys’ offense has generated this month, Tashard Choice has 424 of them, or 45 percent.
That says good things about the Cowboys’ scouting department, as well as Choice. But it’s also a stinging indictment on the proven playmakers, Owens, Romo and others.
Romo may dismiss the significance of this stat or that fast fact, but the perception that he does not play well down the stretch continues to gain merit. Romo is now 6-9 in December/January games with 16 and 19 interceptions and has been sacked 34 times.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7760