No playoffs for error-prone Cowboys Print
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Sunday, 28 December 2008 14:39
NFL Headline News

 PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Tony Romo can book a vacation with Jessica Simpson this January and not have to worry about flying back to Dallas for a playoff game.
Romo and the rest of the mistake-prone Cowboys fumbled their shot at earning the final wild-card spot in the NFC. Make it 12 straight years without a playoff win for a team that bills itself as ``America's Team.''
All the Cowboys needed to do was beat the Philadelphia Eagles and they would at least salvage a playoff berth in a season stuffed with controversy. Romo couldn't lead them into the end zone, and was sacked, fumbled and benched in their disastrous 44-6 loss to the Eagles on Sunday.
Now it's up to owner Jerry Jones to decide if he really wants coach Wade Phillips to return.
Dallas moves into a new $1.1 billion, 100,000-seat stadium next season and there is plenty of speculation that Phillips wouldn't be around to coach that first game.
Jones had already said Phillips will be back as coach next season, and Jason Garrett will remain in charge of the offense, regardless of whether the team made the playoffs.
Jones, though, couldn't have imagined this disaster.
The Cowboys fumbled on three straight possessions in the third quarter that led to 17 points. Romo fumbled on the third possession and was left kneeling on the grass, his helmet buried in his hands and unable to fathom how hard the team crashed this season.
Dallas started 3-0 and appeared on the verge of living up to their advance billing as Super Bowl contenders. Loss by loss, controversy by controversy, the Cowboys unraveled all the way to the end of this finale flop.
Jones' gamble on Adam ``Pacman'' Jones backfired when the cornerback was suspended for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
There were reports of a rift between Romo, tight end Jason Witten and wide receiver Terrell Owens. Owens was reportedly jealous of the relationship between Romo and Witten and accused the pair of shutting him out of the playcalling.
Their play of the game came when Romo eluded a sack and lateraled to Witten, who connected with Owens for a 42-yard reception. It was the kind of play that might have saved their season had it sparked them to a comeback win.
It was merely a footnote once Romo fumbled when he was sacked by Brian Dawkins and defensive end Chris Clemons went 73 yards for a touchdown.
t drive ended almost the same way when Dawkins forced another fumble, this time on Marion Barber, and Joselio Hanson sprinted 96 yards for a score to make it 41-3. Romo seemed to quit running after Hanson around the 25.
Romo fumbled one more time and was pulled with about 5 minutes left in the game. He was 21-for-39 for 183 yards.
The Cowboys fell to 4-3 since Romo returned from his broke finger and the quarterback's career record in December is 5-8. He's 22-4 in September, October and November.
The Cowboys went 13-3 last season and earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC, only to lose a divisional playoff game to the New York Giants. Romo caught some heat jetting off on a romantic getaway with Simpson before the game instead of sticking around Dallas during the bye week.
The loss made the Cowboys the first No. 1 seed in the NFC to lose its first playoff game since the current format began in 1990 and Dallas still hasn't won a playoff game since beating Minnesota on Dec. 28, 1996.
The Cowboys had their chance at ending that drought next week at Minnesota. Instead, it's the Eagles who improbably get that shot.

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