Whitney Starling: The Cowboys Biggest Flops of 2011

Everything is bigger in Texas, especially expectations for the Dallas Cowboys. Once again, the hype exceeded results and the 8-8 season was a letdown. While there was a lot of blame to go around, here are the six absolute biggest flops from the season.

1. Icing Own Kicker

With seven seconds remaining in the tied Dec. 4 game against the Arizona Cardinals and the Cowboys at the Cardinals 31-yard line, head coach Jason Garrett called a time out– effectively icing his own kicker, Dan Bailey. The Cowboys had two timeouts left and instead of trying to run one more play to give Bailey shorter field goal yardage, they chose to have him attempt a 49-yard game winner, which he successfully made. After the timeout by Garrett, Bailey missed the next kick, forcing overtime in which the Cowboys ended up losing. The worst part? No remorse on Garrett’s part.

2. Romo’s Nightmare

The Cowboys ended the first game of the season in a way indicative of what was to come – they blew a 24-17 lead over the Jets and lost in the fourth quarter. Tony Romo had a good night statistically, but in true Romolicious fashion, came up short in crunch time. The ball was at the Jets 2-yard line with nine minutes left in the fourth. While a field goal would have probably sealed the game, Romo tried to run in a touchdown himself when no one was open in the end zone. Not only did he not score, he fumbled the ball and the Jets recovered it. To add to the misery, a fourth-quarter interception put the Jets up 27-24 in a miraculous comeback.

3. All Talk, No Action

At the beginning of the 2011 season the Philadelphia Eagles were called a “Dream Team” as they had assembled a supposed all-star cast. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan called them an “all-hype” team during training camp – possibly giving the Eagles the momentum needed to get fired up, slaughter Ryan’s defense and crush the ‘Boys 34-7. There were no signs of the Eagles coming in as a 2-4 team. How about being quiet next time, Rob Ryan?

4. Making History – For All the Wrong Reasons

In Week 4 against the Lions, the Cowboys made history by breaking two records. They lost a 24 point lead in the third quarter – the largest deficit a Cowboys opponent has ever overcome – and the largest blown lead by a home team in a regular season game in NFL history. Who says the Cowboys aren’t memorable?

5. Shutout Squeeze

Lucky number seven? Hardly. The Cowboys were within seven seconds of being shutout for the first time in twenty years when third-string quarterback Stephen McGee ran for 12 yards and passed to Miles Austin for a 4-yard touchdown pass. Talk about too little too late. The Eagles won 20-7 in the first series sweep against the Cowboys since 2006.

6. Do-or-Die

In the second game against the Giants this season, a do-or-die, winner takes all showdown for the NFC East title, the Cowboys lost 31-14. During the beginning of the fourth they pulled within 21-14 but couldn’t manage to score again – continuing the dreadful December swoon.

When the Super Bowl ends and preseason predictions begin, I hope the pundits will remember these flops before anointing the Cowboys playoff-bound in 2012.