It was an epic, wonderful game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. One of those National Football League games that you dare not turn away for a second. An instant classic that pitted two of the game’s most important franchises. Playing at historic Lambeau Field, the temperatures at kick off were around 25 degrees with the wind chill factor at about 17. It felt like the type of footage you see from vintage NFL Films’ features that pit these two flagship football clubs, most notably, the famous Ice Bowl from the 1967 NFL Championship game.
On one side, there was Tony Romo, the Cowboys’ quarterback, playing through various ailments he has endured on his 34-year-old broken body, most notably an achy, breaky back. On the other side, perennial MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers was playing through a tear on his calf muscle. Both quarterbacks did a great job keeping their teams in the game, though Rodgers had the more prolific line (24-of-35 passing, 316 yards, three touchdowns).
To Romo’s credit, though he fumbled the ball twice (so did Rodgers), he executed the team’s game plan to near-perfection, handing the ball off to Cowboys’ offensive bulldozer DeMarco Murray 25 times for 123 yards and a touchdown. Not to be outshined by his counterpart, Packers’ running back Eddie Lacy also had himself a great ball game (19 rushes, 101 yards).
As previously noted, I am a Cowboys’ hater, but one can’t help but appreciate the effort that both teams gave in this game. Having the feel of a heavyweight title fight, both teams threw haymakers at each other in the form of well-designed offensive plays. Both defenses, for the most part, looked like they were on skates, best personified on the Terrance Williams touchdown, where he caught a short pass from Romo and turned it into a 38-yard score for the Cowboys.
Unfortunately, for a closely-contested game like this one, it always seems to come down to one play, usually a play where the officiating of the game comes to the forefront and is highly questioned:
Oh wait, that’s last week’s controversial game between the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions. Half the NFL fandom declared that Detroit was cheated out of the game, the other half were wondering why the Lions didn’t show up in the second half of that Wildcard game.
However close that game was, the officiating definitely screwed up on the penalty that should have stood. It was so terribly handled by the officials, that the NFL actually apologized to the Lions–on the holding penalty that Lions’ defensive tackle (a.k.a. Public Enemy #1), Ndamukong Suh drew on the Cowboys’ next drive after the pass interference call that tight end Brandon Pettigrew did “not” draw on the Lions’ previous possession:
But no matter how many Cowboys’ fans you asked, they would explain that these penalties were just a product of a close game, that the Lions should not have let the game come down to the wire and in the hands of the officials. A fair argument, no matter how annoying it sounds, to say the least.
Fast forward to this week’s game against the Packers, on fourth down with two yards to go, late in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys run the perfect play as they have the perfect match-up on the outside where stud wide receiver Dez Bryant can go up and catch the ball. In any other league, in any other time period, where coaches did not have access to instant replay, there’s a good chance this stands a “good” reception.
Unfortunately for Cowboys’ nation, this is 2015 and video evidence and replay challenges are in full existence. Plus there’s a little thing called “The Calvin Johnson Rule.”
As explained by Fox’s Mike Pereira, the rule is very strict when it comes to awarding catches to NFL wide receivers. You would think a fan base as knowledgeable as Cowboys Nation say they are about football would be more understanding of these rules. Especially when considering the good fortune the team experienced in their previous game against the Lions.
The Internet never fails when it comes to Cowboys’ fans. They are everywhere! And sure enough, throughout social media, cries of “we were robbed!” were as plentiful as people complaining about the cold weather caused by the polar vortex this past week. The lack of humility is just simply ridiculous. How a fan base can pretend that a couple of non-calls never existed in the previous week is just unfathomable.
To reiterate, both the Packers and Cowboys’ players deserve a lot of respect for participating in a memorable playoff game. That respect soon disappeared when seeing the behavior of Cowboys’ fans acting as if the NFL had committed grand theft larceny on their championship destiny. To use the taglines that were utilized by a certain fan base last week, the Cowboys “should not have let the game come down to the wire and place it in the hands of the officials…one play does not determine the outcome of a game…the Cowboys might have been robbed, but where were they in the second half?”
Those lazy explanations were not good enough when the Lions were robbed of an opportunity to win their game last week and they certainly are not good enough this week as the Cowboys fall to the Packers. The faster Cowboys Nation can figure that out, the better they will be for it.