Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
It's becoming an annual rite of passage for the Dallas Cowboys.
The team plays well in November, then falters in December, setting the stage for a winner-take-all Week 17 game that the Cowboys have lost each of the past two seasons.
Well, the Cowboys will get a third bite at the apple next week against the Eagles by virtue of their 24-23 win over the Washington Redskins.
NFC East Lead Writer Brad Gagnon says "good luck figuring out how that game will play out" because the only thing that's predictable about the Cowboys is their unpredictability:
Week to week. Quarter to quarter. Hell, play to play. The Dallas Cowboys are as far from predictable as you can be in the NFL.
What happened Sunday in Washington cemented it. There were times against the Redskins in which Dallas looked like one of the NFL’s best teams. And at other times, the lack of competence was baffling.
Ultimately, all that matters is that the ‘Boys were at their best on their final offensive and defensive series. Tony Romo completed four of six passes for 93 yards on what was ultimately the game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter, and the defense forced the Redskins into a four-and-out to lock it up.
But before that, you had another second-half interception from Romo and two turnovers on as many possessions to start the third quarter. You had a team that finally leaned on DeMarco Murray in a close game but then nearly paid for taking the sensible road after Murray went backward on 3rd-and-goal on that final drive.
Against the ‘Skins, the Cowboys' normally awful defense was shockingly steady. Without Sean Lee and against a top-notch rushing attack, nobody expected that.
But that’s the 2013 Cowboys. Entertaining as ever but unreliable in every way. They dominated the Bears in the first quarter two weeks ago and disappeared after that. They crushed the Packers in the first half last week but went missing during the second half.
The offense looked unstoppable against Denver but couldn’t move in Philadelphia. The defense was nonexistent against the Saints but owned the Eagles.
It’s a bit odd, actually, because if Dallas once again flaunts that trademark lack of consistency by falling flat on its face next week against the Eagles, the Cowboys will finish 8-8 for the third straight year. Despite the performances themselves being dangerously unpredictable, the end result has become agonizingly predictable.