Giants offer Cowboys, others hope

IRVING, Texas -- For the second time in four years the New York Giants have won a Super Bowl and the Cowboys are left wondering, ‘Why can’t that be us?’

Well, for a variety of reasons and not being good enough is at the top of the list. Too often the reasons for the Cowboys’ failures are put on hard-to-define things like chemistry, lack of heart, mental toughness and leadership. Those reasons mask the real issue: talent.

But what the Giants’ victory Sunday against New England in Super Bowl XLVI does is give the Cowboys hope. And just about every other team in the league, too.

You don’t have to be the best team through a 22-week grind to win the Super Bowl. You don’t have to roll through the regular season, like the Cowboys of the 1990s did, and roll through the playoffs. That’s not this NFL anymore.

This NFL is about getting hot at the right time and riding the wave.

That’s what Pittsburgh did in 2005. That’s what the Giants did in 2007. That’s what Arizona did in 2008 when it nearly beat Pittsburgh. That’s what Green Bay did in 2010. That’s what the Giants did in 2011.

That’s what the Cowboys have not been able to do.

The Cowboys’ December/January woes have held this team back. Wade Phillips dismissed it as happenstance. Jason Garrett doesn’t put much stock into the calendar.

In a way Phillips and Garrett were/are right. The Cowboys need more players to be successful. Not a roster-full and not necessarily superstars either. The Cowboys need to lift up the middle and bottom parts of the roster so when they lose a player they can still win games the way New York did when it lost guys in 2011.

Twice the Cowboys had chances to end the Giants’ season and didn’t. They had a 12-point lead with 5:41 to play at Cowboys Stadium on Dec. 11 and lost, 37-34. If Tony Romo and Miles Austin connect on that third-down pass, the Giants don’t make the playoffs, Eli Manning is not in the Hall of Fame discussion yet and Tom Coughlin might not have a job anymore.

So are the Cowboys close to being a Super Bowl team?

It depends on how you want to define “close.” In one sense they are not close because they have consistently not measured up when it has mattered most. In another they are close because being a flawed team is not fatal to one’s Super Bowl hopes.