Rob Ryan's defense played as well as you can possibly play against the New England Patriots offense. For 57 minutes.
For the first 57 minutes of the game, Rob Ryan and his defense had Tom Brady under siege. They sacked him twice and hit him four times, and they forced him into two interceptions.
They had held Wes Welker to four catches for 34 yards. They had held Aaron Hernandez to six for 44 and Rob Gronkowski to six for 63.
The Cowboys were stopping the run, bringing pressure and getting the job done. The explosive Patriots offense had been held to just 13 points.
But on the Patriots' last drive of the game, the Cowboys were in their prevent defense, and Brady walked the Pats right up the field for the game winning score.
This should surprise no one, because when Brady has time to throw, it's basically a free completion.
This should surprise no one, because the Cowboys' defensive backs have not been strong in coverage at all, and it's only because Dallas was getting pressure that they looked good earlier in the game.
Brady went 8-9 for 78 yards and the game winning score on the drive. Welker and Hernandez caught two passes each, and Gronkowski caught one.
Ryan's defense was also terrible on third down, where they allowed Brady to complete eight of 10 passes for 106 yards. As a defense you have to be able to get off the field and get the ball back for your offense.
The defense had a very good game, but they let up late and couldn't secure the victory.
I've said my piece about Garrett before, and I'm actually not going to lay much of the blame for this one at his feet. That doesn't mean he's blameless, though.
Obviously, not managing more than 16 points against a Patriots defense that is among the worst in the league is less than optimal. When the defense holds Tom Brady to just 20 points, you have to be able to pick up a win.
I am once again baffled by his goal line play calling. A shovel pass on third and goal in a tie game shows no confidence in your quarterback, who is the best player on the offense.
I continue to be mystified by the allergy to giving Dez Bryant a chance in the red zone and I still don't understand the infatuation with the shotgun draw on third and more than 15.
Garrett should also be held responsible for the fact that the Cowboys had 10 penalties, which is one of the things he set out to eliminate when the took the head coaching job.
You can criticize his conservative play-calling on the last drive before the Patriots' march down the field, but I'm not sure I will. Many will say he was playing not to lose the game, but if the offensive line does its job and opens a hole for DeMarco Murray or Tashard Choice, they Cowboys win the game with just one first down.
I was all over Garrett for not running the ball late in the game with the lead against the Lions, so I'm not going to sit here and do it again just because it backfired. At this point, after Tony Romo has already cost you two games with fourth quarter turnovers, its complete reasonable to trust Rob Ryan's defense more than Romo - after all, the defense had held the Patriots in check all game.
Garrett had the team in a position to win against a better team on the road, and that's kind of all you can ask for. Obviously, it came with the usual bumps in the road that you usually get from a Jason Garrett team: penalties, turnovers, questionable play calls and a loss in a game you probably should have won.