It’s cute to hear Cowboys’ fans complain about their football team. The team that won a playoff game as recently as 2009 and has made thirteen playoff appearances in the last 24 years.
It must be difficult.
In the time since the Detroit Lions last treated their fans to a playoff victory in 1991, the Cowboys have won three Super Bowls. The Lions plummeted into an abyss so deep that it made a black hole seem like a trip to an amusement park. Detroit fans had to suffer through the Matt Millen Era, a 24-game losing streak on the road, and an overall 19-game losing streak that included an 0-16 season in 2008.
Meanwhile in the last few years in Dallas fans have been upset that their star quarterback has only won one playoff game. Tony Romo has more love/hate than Kim Kardashian in a bikini with a microphone. One the one hand she’s easy on the eyes, but on the other you don’t want her delivering a speech.
Today in Dallas the Lions will try to win their second playoff game since 1957 when Eisenhower. Dwight Eisenhower for crap sakes. You want suffering? We’ll show you suffering. We’ve been suffering since I Love Lucy was the best show on television. Black and white television.
Something has to give during this wild card game. Either Matthew Stafford will win his first game on the road against a winning team or Romo will win a playoff game to somewhat silence his haters in Texas. You would be hard pressed to find two more talented quarterbacks who are more universally mistrusted by their fan base than Tony and Matt. This game should be called The Shame Bowl. If there was a gang sign for this game it would be to cover your eyes with your hands and tuck your head into your lap while repeating the phrase “Why did he throw that?” ten times.
Both Stafford and Romo are gifted passers with strong arms, Stafford may have one of the 2-3 best wings in the NFL. Unfortunately he flaps it in the wrong direction too often. Romo is known for trying to force his passes into coverage with the result being a pick. In his three previous playoff appearances Romo has been in some real tough spots and he’s come up short several times. In 2006 he and the Cowboys had a 20-13 lead over the Seahawks but Romo took a sack in the end zone for a safety in the 4th quarter and was unable to forge any sort of drive late as Seattle came back to win 21-20. The next season his 13-3 team lost to the Giants at home in the playoffs 21-17 with Romo throwing a costly interception. In 2009 the Cowboys beat the Eagles in the wild card round but lost 34-3 to Brett Favre and Minnesota the next week as Romo threw for only 198 yards. To be fair, he wasn’t really the reason that team lost, but he didn’t get the offense into the end zone even once.
Stafford has only one playoff game under his belt, coming in 2011 when the Lions were spanked by the Saints in New Orleans. Detroit actually led that game 7-0 and 14-7 but their defense couldn’t halt an onslaught from Drew Brees and lost 45-28. Stafford threw three TDs in that game but also tossed a pair of picks. His reckless, inconsistent play has been a problem throughout his career. When he looks good, Stafford looks really good (as he did in a comeback win over the Cowboys at Ford Field last season when he rallied the team for 24 4th quarter points). But when he looks bad he’s bad, like last week against the Packers, in what was the most important game of his career to date. Stafford missed open receivers, was jumpy, and made bad decisions as the Lions lost in Green Bay. Again.
If you told me there was a way these two teams and quarterbacks could both play a bad game, disappoint and frustrate their fans, and somehow both lose on Sunday, I’d almost believe it. It doesn’t seem right that either the Cowboys or Lions will advance to the round of four with a chance to play for a spot in the Super Bowl. But it has to happen. There are no ties in playoff football. But it could be that the winning QB will still scare the hell out of his fans after Sunday’s game. Given their history, it’s likely.