As appealing as it is to look for a quick fix and pin point one scapegoat to blame when the Cowboys lose, it takes a lot more than one person to colossally screw up in order to blow a 23 point half time lead against Matt Flynn and the Green bay Packers.
First and foremost you have to look at the defense. When the Cowboys held the Packers to three first half points I doubt there were many people praising that result. The reason for that is that it is not very impressive to keep a Matt Flynn led offense to three points in a half. Then for the Cowboys defense to come out in the second half and give up 34 points including 20 in the fourth quarter alone, is not only unacceptable, its borderline impossible. Once again the Cowboys defense made a backup quarterback look like Peyton Manning. After going 10-17 with 114 yards no touchdowns and one interception in the first half, Flynn was able to finish with 299 yards 4 touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 113.1. The Cowboys defense has again and again been a liability and cost the Cowboys games. By the end of the game the Cowboys were left with their 4th string linebacker, but that is no where near a good enough explanation as to how a defense could let Matt Flynn and the Packers score a touchdown on five straight drives in the second half. When a team establishes a 26-3 half time lead, it should no longer matter what the offense does, especially against a quarterback at the level of Matt Flynn. Even though the defense is the chief culprit in the Cowboys meltdown they still needed some help from the offense and coaches in order to blow the game.
DeMarco Murray ran 18 times for 134 yards, giving him a staggering 7.4 yards per carry. This is actually something that Murray has been doing all season long. When healthy Murray averages 5.5 yards per carry, which is the most in the league among running backs who have at least 100 carries. With a running back playing as well as Murray and a 23 point half time lead it’s probably more difficult to blow the game than to win it, and yet the seemingly impossible happened and the Packers won. The lead was not blown because the Packers defense woke up and started stopping Murray as he still maintained over 5 yards per carry in the second half. The lead was blown, because, to the amazement of literally every single person in the entire world watching the game, the Cowboys ran the ball seven times in the entire second half. That means the Cowboys ran the ball an astonishing 1.4 times per possession.
The Cowboys knew that their defense was a liability and yet the offense managed to put the defense in the worst possible position. It starts to make a little more sense as to how the Packers could have made that comeback when a defense that could not stop anything was actually hurt by their offense more than they were helped.
After the game a lot of people looked to Jason Garrett to blame for the befuddling abandonment of the run and he has to take some of the responsibility. One of the more significant off season changes by the Cowboys was Bill Callahan taking over play calling duties from Jason Garrett. Callahan must then be looked at first. It would have made more sense for the Cowboys to have literally run the ball on every single down for the entire second half, than to only run it 7 times. Even though Callahan is responsible for calling plays Jason Garrett is the head coach of this football team. A few weeks ago Garrett decided that he was going to relay plays to Tony Romo. That means Garrett was not only fully aware of but did not oppose to Callahan’s play calling. This is a situation where the head coach of the team cannot just stand by and if it is the case that Garrett simply chose to stand aside and not interfere with Callahan’s play calling then that is just as bad. Being the head coach Garrett is responsible for every aspect of the Cowboys game.
Saving what was the most painful part of the game for last was Tony Romo’s two interceptions late in the fourth quarter. No, after Romo established the 23 point lead, he should not have ever been in a position where an interception could be as detrimental as the one he threw, but that is still not an excuse to throw an interception in that situation. Where the second interception may have partially been because of Beasley holding up on his route the first interception was all on Tony Romo. He saw a stacked box and man coverage on Miles Austin, he called the audible to pass the ball and then he under threw Austin giving the packers an opportunity to intercept the ball. Tony Romo was not the biggest reason for the Cowboys blowing the lead but he cannot be absolved of any responsibility, as he made a bad throw in a crucial situation. The Cowboys offense as a whole also had many opportunities, especially in the first half to establish an even larger lead, as they had to settle for 4 first half field goals.
Offensively and defensively, from top to bottom, almost every single player and the entire coaching staff failed during this game. Defensive and offensive game plans were ineffective and, especially in the second half, the players did not execute or produce a desired result. Cowboys blowing this game was so ludicrous that it’s almost impressive that the Cowboys managed to collapse as so many different people had to screw up in so many different ways for it to happen.