Cowboys show they aren't ready to be elite, again
Welcome back to mediocrity, Cowboys fans.
With a chance to prove they can be more than just the tallest dwarf in the NFC East, the Cowboys reverted to the team its fans have come to know all too well in recent years.
After losing to the Chargers, 30-21, the Cowboys are again a .500 team at 2-2 and are again on the W-L-W-L roller coaster. They haven't been 3-1 four games into the season since 2008.
The only thing different about deflating loss was that it wasn't decided on a fatal error by quarterback Tony Romo.
Instead, it was the highly-praised defense of Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli that got exposed on Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium.
So much for those nicknames for the Cowboys' defensive line bestowed by Marinelli. Big Daddy (Jason Hatcher) wasn't so big. Long Arms (DeMarcus Ware) came up short. The Golden Cock (Nick Hayden) was no Golden Goose. Brick Layer (George Selvie) escapes some blame because he left the game with an injury.
Going against a banged-up Chargers offensive line, the "Fearsome Four" as Hatcher dubbed it last week, didn't put a scare into Philip Rivers. The Chargers quarterback had his way with the Dallas defense in completing 35 of 42 passes for 401 yards and three touchdowns.
Rivers was sacked only once, although he did throw a pick-six – the only reason the game was even close.
It wasn't just the defensive line that struggled. It was a team effort to look so average.
The Cowboys' linebackers were caught in coverage mismatches that led to three touchdowns. Bruce Carter couldn't keep up with little Danny Woodhead for two TDs and Sean Lee was left flailing at tight end Antonio Gates for another score.
The secondary let six San Diego receivers catch at least three passes. Dallas seemed content to rush with just its four linemen, which meant Rivers should have had difficulty finding an open man. He didn't.
The offense wasn't completely without blame, but it barely had the ball. The Chargers had the ball nearly eight minutes more than the Cowboys. The Dallas defense couldn't get off the field.
After a 21-point second quarter, the Cowboys were held scoreless in the first half. The one chance the Cowboys had to score late was ruined when rookie receiver Terrance Williams fumbled while trying to stretch the ball into the end zone.
Except that Williams wasn't even close to goal line. And the Cowboys aren't even close to being a real contender in the NFC. Not yet.
Oh, they could win the NFC East, but anything beyond that is out of the question as long as the Cowboys can't win games on the road like Sunday's. Or two weeks ago in Kansas City.
The Cowboys' two wins have been at home against the Giants and Rams, teams that are now a combined 1-7.
All a frustrated Cowboys fan can do is buckle in and enjoy another roller coaster ride on the 8-8 Express.
Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire