Heading into the game I believed the Cowboys held the advantage in most of the key matchups. One that I took for granted was the ability of the offensive line to protect Tony Romo. I guess I overestimated the quality of the offensive line. On nearly every play Tony Romo was under duress.
Some people who either didn't watch the same game I watched or don't understand football want to put the blame on Romo. It was pretty obvious that the passing game had no chance against the Vikings. Receivers were able to get open but Tony Romo was constantly ducking and dodging pass rushers. He was sacked a career high six times and probably avoided 10 more with Houdini-like escapes. The one interception that Romo did throw was horrible but that was the one bad play I thought was on him (and Columbo completely whiffed on his man on that play too).
The biggest culprit was Marc Columbo. And, unfortunately, just when I was thinking they might want to put Doug Free in for Columbo, Flozell Adams went down with a calf injury. The line play was a disaster nearly all game long. The Cowboys were able to move the ball when they ran it and when Romo managed to get a few passes off but then the problem at kicker reared its ugly head.
Dallas had a chance at an early lead. Then they had another chance to pull closer in the second half but Sean Suisham missed two nearly identical kicks. If those two kicks had been made it would have been a very different game. Kicker is going to be a major need this offseason.
I know a lot of people are excusing the Vikings and Brett Favre for the late touchdown pass but I believe it was extremely poor sportsmanship. I don't know if Brad Childress made the call or if Favre changed the play but it was unneccessary and classless. I'm glad Keith Brooking said something because I know I was feeling just like he was.
I said before the game and I still believe now that the Cowboys had a good season. They exceeded the expectations of nearly every preseason prediction from the so-called experts. And they won their first playoff game in 13 years. There was progress made and there is hope for the future. Now the Cowboys will have to set their sights higher next season because the Super Bowl talk will start cranking up this summer.
No matter how bad you feel right now, and trust me I feel it too, try to remember to appreciate the progress the team made this season. The loss leaves a bad taste in my mouth and it is going to take some time to get over. But I also appreciate that I can expect the Cowboys to be just as good if not better next season. I'm really not looking forward to waiting 8 months for the next game. One of these days the Cowboys are going to win the Super Bowl again and make us all happy. I guess I have to resign myself to another offseason of frustration. This offseason will be a little less painful knowing that there is real hope for next season.