ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Tony Romo is floating a new theory about what’s wrong with the Dallas Cowboys: They’re not bad, just having bad luck.
Such as five of his seven interceptions being tipped balls. Or some of the costliest of their 49 penalties being borderline calls that went against them.
Such as an opponent’s punt dying around the 2-yard line instead of tumbling into the end zone, which led to a costly chain of events. They are all little things that are supposed to even out over the course of a season but have piled up quickly, sending the Cowboys reeling to a 1-4 start.
“Snakebit,” Romo called it.
Then again, maybe he’s just grasping for something — anything — to explain what a mess Dallas has been.
The Cowboys go into their game against Eli Manning and the New York Giants on Monday night hearing how this could be their last chance of salvaging playoff hopes. While similar proclamations have been made on a weekly basis the last month, losing this one would put the Cowboys up against some dreadful history.
In the Super Bowl era, 148 teams have started 1-5 and only the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals wound up making the playoffs, according to STATS LLC.
The outlook is only marginally better for 1-4 teams. Since the league went to the current playoff format of six teams per conference in 1990, five teams have advanced.
“As a competitor and as an athlete, you’re always going forward and trying to get better and improve and trying to turn it around when you get in those situations,” Romo said. “All I know how to do is to work hard and keep your head down and go forward.”
The reason not to flush away this season just yet is that the Cowboys have been within a touchdown every game, a play away from winning at the end every time. Guys are playing hard, just not smart, making more mistakes than their talent can erase.
“Sometimes you have to create your own luck, man,” defensive end Marcus Spears said. “We haven’t done a good job of that. We’ve done a lot of shooting ourselves in the foot. And we are not overcoming it. … I’ve been part of games here where we had 12, 13 penalties and we won by two touchdowns. But we can’t do that on this team, obviously, because it’s costing us some games.”
The Giants did similar things in their second and third games, scaring fans into thinking they were headed toward a repeat of last year’s collapse from 5-0 to 8-8. Only this time they snapped out of it, winning three straight.
“We were just finding ways to lose games, having turnovers at costly times, penalties at costly times that were making it tough to win games,” Manning said. “We just had to get back to playing better football, working on certain things and being conscious of what we’re doing and trying to play smarter football.”
When Dallas coach Wade Phillips exchanges pleasantries with New York coach Tom Coughlin, maybe Phillips could get some advice on how Coughlin’s team snapped out of it.
“You’ve got to stop beating yourself and that’s where we were at that point in time,” Coughlin said. “It wasn’t difficult to point that out to our players. There was great disappointment in both losses and there was great frustration. Fortunately, we’ve kind of been able to analyze where we were and how those things came about and we’re starting to make a little bit of progress.”
The Cowboys are 0-2 at Cowboys Stadium this season, yet another humiliation for team owner Jerry Jones.
The Giants are 1-0 in the in their $1.2 billion showplace that will host the upcoming Super Bowl. Last September, New York won the first-ever game here on a last-second field goal, in front of a crowd of 105,121, the most ever to see an NFL regular-season game.
This will be New York’s first game against a division foe. Dallas has played one — losing, of course.
“I’m not worried about division (teams) or anything else,” Cowboys safety Gerald Sensabaugh said. “We’ve just got to control ourselves and play and win.”