The 2009 edition of the Dallas Cowboys were supposed to be poised, focused and determined to right their past wrongs and write a different December ending this season. Instead, this year's Cowboys began another season-ending December chapter with a loss, for the second time this season to the Giants.
Leading up to the first game of their "December to remember", so much was made of the Cowboys being ticked off by the media asking all of the same questions regarding their December slides, and how this year things were going to be different.
Listen up, Dallas. You don't win games in December with lip service.
The Dallas Cowboys rode into the Meadowlands on Sunday with the division lead and a chip on their shoulder. When they left they still had a share of the division lead but were humbled along with their fans by a junkyard dog Giants team that was angry and wounded, playing with the intensity and spirit of a team with nothing to lose and everything to win.
Sadly, the Cowboys blinked a several times during crucial moments of the game. First late in the first quarter after taking a 10-0 lead, then again after fighting back to overcome a Barber fumble and another miss by kicker Nick Folk to regain the lead 17-14 in middle of the third quarter they exhaled, and inexplicably lost containment on the Jacobs 79-yd rumbling TD catch, then to top off the day and add extra insult to injury, they allowed Hixon to gallop untouched for a 79-yd punt return TD.
The final minutes of the game were made a little more interesting for true fans with a late strike from Romo (41-55, 392 yds, 3 TDs) to Austin but it was over when Dallas failed secure the ensuing on-side kick attempt.
Now after the first game in December, the Cowboys find themselves again searching for answers. Wins by Philly (8-4) and the Giants (7-5) place Dallas (8-4) in a bad position as both teams have a better division records than the Cowboys and the Giants hold the all important head-to-head tie-breaker advantage.
When Philly comes to Dallas to play in the season finale, a repeat of last season could be at hand, with a win and you're in scenario.
But, make no mistake about it, this Cowboys team, like their brethern of the recent past, are teetering on the verge of missing another golden opportunity to take their rightful place among the great SuperBowl winning Cowboys teams of the 70's and 90's.
If they are not able to right the ship and quickly, expect owner/GM Jerry Jones to make big sweeping changes on the coaching staff.
But, a team is only as strong as its head coach. In his press-conference on Monday, head coach Wade Phillips, who is in a much publicized contract year, was steadfast and resilient.
"I told the team we had to stick together, which we do," Phillips said. "It's a calamity when you lose. I mean it's crushing when you lose a ball game, but you've got to bounce back from those things.
"It's a 16-game season. The results from the 16 games determine where you are."
He's right. Dallas will get another opportunity to re-write their December destiny when they play game No. 12 of their 16 game season on Sunday.
Despite the obvious facts that this winter will rapidly become a winter of discontent for many fair-weather fans if the losing continues. Let the erstwhile among you offer a few jewels of knowledge.
There is still hope.
A very wise man once said, "Through adversity, character is formed and with character, champions are chiseled."
It will be up to the Cowboys stop "talking the talk" off the field and start "walking the walk" on the field, if they want to be champions.