Cowboys-Ravens: Dallas Implodes in Texas Stadium Finale

Vincent JacksonCorrespondent IDecember 21, 2008

Texas Stadium has been in existence since 1971 and has been home to many memorable moments and countless Hall of Fame players. But after last night, you could be seeing it for the very last time. 

After allowing not one but TWO 75+-yard touchdown runs in the fourth quarter to Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain, respectively, on back-to-back plays, the Dallas Cowboys' hopes for the playoffs were put on life support after falling 33-24 to the Baltimore Ravens.

The loss by Dallas automatically gives Carolina a playoff spot and they will look to clinch home-field against the Giants

The game began with a lot of fanfare as over 100 former Cowboys were in attendance to see America's Team give its beloved stadium the proper sendoff. The Ravens were not interested in participating the festivities. 

Ray Lewis and the NFL's second-ranked defense harassed Tony Romo all night long with two interceptions, and the Dallas defense's embarrassing tackling clinic dealt a crushing blow to their postseason hopes, as well as the hopes of the New England Patriots, who needed a Baltimore loss to stay alive, as winning out would give the Pats the other wild-card spot. 

The Cowboys have not had a winning December record since last winning the Super Bowl in 1996 and last night was clear evidence as to why. The lower-back injury Romo suffered against the Giants clearly bothered him. He did not have his usual zip on his passes, struggling with pretty much every throw he made. It also didn't help to have a couple of key passes dropped.  

The Ravens looked like the more prepared team, the more focused team. Let's give credit to rookie quarterback Joe Flacco, who did not throw a single interception, even after being sacked five times, for playing poised under the lights of one of the NFL's most fabled stadiums. 

Getting back to Romo's December woes, he is 5-9 in 14 career games with 24 total turnovers (combining interceptions and fumbles lost). If you are a Cowboys fan, last night was a sorry, embarrassing display and a total lack of effort for a team that was basically handed the Lombardi trophy before the season began. 

Even more embarrassing was the fact was that it was in front of multiple legends and Hall of Famers. 

This team...well, let's just call it what it is, and that's a bunch of stars. This group, while talented, has nowhere near the heart of the teams in the 1990s that won three titles in four years. There is no leadership what so ever to the Dallas Cowboys, not counting Jerry Jones. 

This season is a failure, plain and simple, regardless of whether they back into the playoffs. No one was supposed to challenge the Cowboys, no one was supposed to touch the Cowboys and after watching last night this football team has become somewhat average. They were outplayed, outhustled, and outcoached by a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback. 

After a record 13 Pro Bowlers and a 13-win season in 2007, the Cowboys have been humbled and reduced to a total mess. Did the in-fighting cost them? It's very possible to make that argument. Before moving in to a brand-new $1.1 billion football palace in Arlington, Dallas has to make a lot of coaching decisions; more specifically, regarding Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett. 

Last night, however, did not kill the Cowboys' playoff chances. They need to win next week in Philadelphia and hope that either Atlanta or Tampa Bay lose this week to keep their hopes alive. 

The final game at Texas Stadium left a huge black eye on the faces and legacy of the Dallas Cowboys. Let's just hope a change of scenery will turn things around.