In the end, there was no storybook finish for the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night.
The pocket-sized new quarterback, who at times was playing like Mighty Mouse, turned out to be just another Munchkin.
Kellen Moore — all 5 feet, 11 or so inches of him — will get another public viewing, no doubt. But the Cowboys of 2015, their would-be return-to-Super-glory season, heaved their final playoff sigh Saturday at AT&T Stadium.
The New York Jets’ 19-16 victory officially eliminated the Tony Romo-less Cowboys from postseason eligibility. And it’s just as well.
Owner Jerry Jones sealed this team’s fate months ago when he determined that Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel would be adequate replacements at quarterback for an injured Romo.
As general manager, Jones couldn’t have been more wrong. The Cowboys have won only one of the 10 games in which Romo hasn’t started.
Cassel’s likely last fling came Saturday, and it bordered upon embarrassing. His passer rating in the 16 or so minutes he played was a token 13.0. Of particular comic note was a second-down play at midfield when Cassel’s pump fake appeared to knock him so off-balance that he was still askew when he turned and lofted the football right into the waiting belly of the Jets’ Darrelle Revis.
Minutes later, while in full retreat again, Cassel was sacked for a 19-yard loss.
Enough, already. Even with Christmas in the air, the paying customers had begun to voice their disapproval.
Moore played the rest of the game.
He had his moments, none more titillating than his first NFL touchdown pass, a 10-yarder to Dez Bryant.
But he has an unconventional style for an NFL quarterback. He’s left-handed and seems about the same size as that jockey for American Pharoah. Young Kellen also appears to always be throwing uphill.
At least, though, Moore was trying to put the ball in the right hands, namely Bryant’s and Cole Beasley’s and Terrance Williams’.
“I felt like communication was pretty good,” said the former Boise State star. “I think things went smoothly in that area.”
Alas, three pairs of hands wearing Jets uniforms also caught Moore’s passes.
Is he the Cowboys’ quarterback of the future? Heavens to Budweiser, perish that notion for now.
But if nothing else, Moore’s likely impending two-week tryout will give Cowboys fans something to watch as the season mercifully draws to an end.
“We’ll see what happens,” Moore said. “Obviously, I took this opportunity for what it was. We’ll grow from it and learn from it.”
The entire Jones family, mascot Rowdy seemingly included, have admitted that they dropped the ball on finding Romo’s injury replacement. Jerry, in particular, launched a vigorous defense in September when the team acquired the veteran Cassel from the Buffalo Bills.
It was a costly mistake in judgment. The Cowboys’ 1-9 record without Romo will be etched on this season’s tombstone.
And to think, there were magazines and national writers and commentators who predicted in August that this team would be in the Super Bowl hunt.
Was it all about Romo and his broken clavicle?
With the Cowboys’ defense performing well, and with Darren McFadden within sight of rushing for 1,000 yards, it would be easy to say yes, though Bryant’s lingering foot injury hasn’t helped.
But it’s up to Owner Jones to conduct the season’s postmortem.
He learned a costly lesson:
Big dreams need big backups, all Munchkins aside.