IRVING, Texas -- Proof that we're only human was offered at Texas Stadium on Thanksgiving Day -- and not just down on the field.
During the Cowboys 24-21 OT loss to Denver, a CBS camera searched the luxury suites and pointed itself at the legendary Pat Summerall. Every time I bump into Pat, I greet him as "The Voice of Sports in America.'' He's been a celebrity athlete-turned-broadcaster for six decades. Over the years, his face has been on your television more than rabbit ears, the cable box and photos of the kids combined. If anybody should be unaffected by seeing his own TV'ed image, it should be Pat. And yet, when he realized he was on TV yesterday, this 75-year icon pointed up at his image on the suite's television, giggled like a schoolboy, and said to his companions, "Hey, there we are!''
See? We're only human.
That's not an excuse for what happened down on the field, as the Cowboys committed one critical error in each of the three phases, and lost a highly winnable game against a highly talented opponent.
Not an excuse -- but a reason.
On special teams, the Cowboys miss a 34-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that would have probably allowed Billy Cundiff to be credited with yet another game-winner. Unfortunate, because the prodigal son Cundiff is obviously the best of the gaggle of kickers Bill Parcells has run through here. But. ... he's human.
"Unacceptable,'' Cundiff said. "Hopefully I'll get another chance.''
On offense, the Cowboys proved quite capable on third-down conversions (7-of-16) and found an unstoppable pet play, Keyshawn Johnson running a quick hitch against overmatched Denver corner Darrent Williams. But on third-and-1 at midfield, with two minutes left and the score tied at 21-21 -- another potential game-winning situation -- Dallas offered a twist.
Denver crowded the line, as it had all day. Max blitz? Fake blitz? QB Drew Bledsoe audibled to a quick hitch in front of Williams. ... but the receiver was Terry Glenn, who dropped the ball against solid coverage by the Broncos rookie corner. Because. ... he's human.
"It doesn't make any sense to run when they've got everybody up on the line,'' reasoned Bledsoe.
On defense, the Cowboys demonstrated championship mettle. Really, this game had a playoff feel, with Dallas possibly as stout as any NFC team and Denver trailing only Indy as an AFC power. The Cowboys' defense was up to the task throughout, in regulation limiting the Broncos to 89 rushing yards -- nearly half their average. But in OT, the Broncos got the win after getting their numbers. Early in the fifth period, running off left tackle from his own territory, Denver reserve Ron Dayne exploded for 55 yards, setting up Denver's clinching chip-shot kick.
Nose tackle Jason Ferguson said the long gain was his fault. Safety Keith Davis said, no, he should take the blame. Shoot, had I surveyed a dozen or so more Cowboys, I probably could've collected a dozen or so more "my bads.''
"When you have games like we've had all year,'' said linebacker Ryan Fowler, referring to the Cowboys' four losses by a total of 13 points, "one play can do you in.''