Like so many -- too many -- Cowboys games the season, the fate of Dallas came down to one final throw.
This time by Kyle Orton, the backup to Tony Romo who tossed a fatal dart into the arms of Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin. The interception handed Philadelphia a 24-22 win and the NFC East title, while sinking Big D to an 8-8 finish for the third year in a row.
"I just threw a bad pass," Orton said after the game, per the Cowboys' official website. "Miles (Austin) ran a great route and the same play we scored on the play before. Went to Miles this time and just threw it behind him and he (Boykin) made a nice catch on the ball."
Orton's 358 passing yards were the second most by the Cowboys all season. He completed 65 percent of his throws with a pair of touchdowns that kept Dallas in contention until the end. The comparison to Romo's perceived late-game meltdowns are obvious -- and silly -- but Orton held his own Sunday night.
"Obviously there were a couple of plays in the game that he would have liked back, but if you look at the whole body of work I thought that he did a heck of a job," coach Jason Garrett told reporters. "He had a great week of practice. He was prepared, he was confident. The guys responded to him."
We unpacked the Cowboys season during Sunday night's Around The League Podcast. While an entertaining watch in these Week 17 nightcaps, the beeline of mediocrity in Dallas is disturbing. Everything about the Cowboys is so utterly average. We'll find out this week how much patience remains for Garrett and his men.