The saddest development on Sunday night is not that Jason Garrett's coach of the year candidacy is now the equivalent of Ron Paul's presidential run.
The saddest development on Sunday night is not even that the Cowboys were dealt another giant blow to their playoff chances.
The saddest part is that none of us is surprised at Sunday night's outcome. Change players, change coaches, change stadiums; it does not matter. This once proud and intimidating franchise continues to re-cement its reputation as a team we now fully expect to lose.
There is no confidence in the star any more. To win is to surprise.
The Dallas Cowboys have completely and fully built an entirely different culture than what they spent the first 40 years of their existence establishing; their culture is one not of losing, or mediocrity, but merely disappointment.
What happened on Sunday night at JerryWorld should not come as a stunning surprise; considering the past decade it is now very much the norm. In fact, it may have been more surprising had the Cowboys closed out that 12-point, fourth-quarter lead.
Three games remain in this season, which is plenty of time for Jason Garrett, Tony Romo & friends to undo the previous two weeks' worth of damage. This team is just good enough to do this and reach the playoffs.
But given the culture this group has helped not only nurture but also expand how should we expect from this team anything other than to get close and stomp on our hearts?
I fully expect the Cowboys to make that day in New York against the Giants on New Year's Day relevant to their playoff chances in a winner-take-all game.
I will not even be totally surprised if the Cowboys win. I will be shocked if they do anything after that.
Can you envision this team as presently constructed defeating the Packers or Saints?
No lead is ever big enough, and there is always enough time on the clock for any team to come back.
On Monday, Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware tweeted, "Hard loss. Good teams find a way to forget and pull it together. #RallyTime"
Can't dispute anything D-Ware tweeted. All of the above is true.
But when the next game gets tight in the fourth quarter, how can we expect this bunch to forget the following:
Tony Romo headlining the Meadowland's Meltdown against the Jets.
Megatron catching 45 passes with 10 touchdowns in the second half for the Lions to come back (those figures are approximate).
Jason Garrett forgetting he had two timeouts in Arizona, then icing his own kicker...which actually worked.
Miles Austin losing the ball in the lights against the Giants on Sunday night.
Whatever the reason, these sorts of things do not happen to franchises that win the way the Cowboys once did. You never hear of things like this in Pittsburgh, Green Bay, New England, Baltimore and a few others.
The Cowboys used to be a team others feared and loathed because we all knew they were going to win. Now, however, an entire generation of their fans has no idea because this is all they know.
Pretty much anyone born after 1991 only knows about Barry Switzer and beyond; they only know of expectations built on the backs of Roger, Landry, Troy, Emmitt and Tony D that so many of their successors have not lived up to.
The Cowboy culture is so much different now, and it did not change after Sunday night. This has been happening for years.
The trademark of this team for more than a decade is not one of championships or even playoff appearances, but merely one of consistent and painful disappointment.
Of all the developments to happen both this season and Sunday night, that is the saddest of all.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7697