The Dallas Cowboys finally shored up the penalty yards this week, but still managed to self-destruct their way to six turnovers and ultimately fell short of rallying to beat the New York Giants, falling 29-24.
Despite the heartbreaking nature of the home loss to its division rival, Dallas will still salvage a stellar season.
QB Tony Romo recovered from three early interceptions to throw for 437 yards and what could have been the game-winning touchdown, if not for Dez Bryant putting his hand out-of-bounds in the back of the end zone.
But WFAA Emmy-winning sports reporter Joe Trahan summed up well what went wrong with the Cowboys:
The comeback was a nice distraction, but Cowboys lost b/c they weren‘t ready from the start.Coach and QB need to own that. #wfaasports
— Joe Trahan (@JoeTrahan) October 28, 2012
It was the 23-0 hole and lack of focus to start the game that was the ultimate cause of the Cowboys' demise. The offense was incapable of being balanced, and taking that into consideration, Romo played very well from the beginning of the second quarter onward.
The Giants have to be considered among the Super Bowl favorites at this point, and since moving to its new stadium, New York has had the Cowboys' number. ESPN Stats and Info pointed out the specifics of the Giants' dominance after the game:
Giants: won 4 straight road games vs Cowboys for 1st time in team history
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 28, 2012
The immediate future doesn't get much easier for the Cowboys in that regard. They face the undefeated Atlanta Falcons— another Super Bowl contender—in Week 9's version of Sunday Night Football.
But there were positive signs to take away from Sunday's game that could be translated to next week in the prime-time matchup in the Georgia Dome.
The passing game looked as explosive as ever, and Jason Witten had a monstrous game with 18 catches. Miles Austin finally looked like an elite receiver, and aside from the mistakes by Bryant, he still had over 100 yards.
Giants QB Eli Manning was only 15-of-29 passing for 192 yards and one interception, as Rob Ryan's defensive schemes confused one of the game's elite quarterbacks.
It's difficult to see amidst Dallas' struggle to a 3-4 record, but the Cowboys have one of the best defenses in the league, giving up just 292 yards per game. They are particularly strong against the pass, which matches up well with Matt Ryan and co.
Most important in the Cowboys' quest to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2009 is the rest of the schedule. It isn't all that intimidating to say the least.
The rest of their opponents are as follows: two games against the Washington Redskins and their terrible secondary, a home game with the Cleveland Browns, a road trip to Cincinnati and then New Orleans at home.
All of those teams have something in common: none of them have winning records. Neither do the Cowboys at this point, but they are easily the most-talented team of all of those on both sides of the ball.
As dire as the situation in Big D looks right now, there is still plenty of time to pull out a playoff berth and finally live up to the lofty expectations set for the recently-maligned team each year.