The gap between Dallas and a title game return isn’t as great as it might seem.
Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy watches quarterback Dak Prescott warm up before an NFL wild card playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, in Tampa, Fla.(Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer)
Another Super Bowl has come and gone with no Cowboys presence.
Well, that’s not true. Dak Prescott took the field before the game and was presented with the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
Philadelphia fans in the stadium responded accordingly.
Rivalries change through the years. But at this moment, when you look at the competitive stakes, the Cowboys and Eagles are as contentious as it gets in the NFC.
Dallas has grown accustomed to seeing other teams from the conference advance to the Super Bowl these last 27 years. But the Eagles? That’s difficult to stomach.
Philadelphia goes into next season as the team to beat in the NFC. The Eagles did not, as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently suggested, go all in on this season. Erroneous summation aside, the gap between Dallas and a return to the Super Bowl isn’t as great as decades of baggage makes it feel.
The conference will once again be wide open. No team has established dominance the way Kansas City has in the AFC.
Attrition is already underway. The Eagles were less than 48 hours removed from their Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs before they lost their offensive and defensive coordinators. Key veterans will follow.
What did Super Bowl LVII say about where the Cowboys stand and what lies ahead? A few observations:
Few encore performances
A team has lost the Super Bowl and returned the next year only eight times. How many of those teams won?
Next year will be Super Bowl LVIII. That will mark 58 Super Bowls for the Roman Numeral impaired.
Eight return visits isn’t a good percentage. And then there’s that matter of repeat champions in the NFC East.
There have been more emperor tamarin monkeys stolen from the Dallas Zoo this month than there have been repeat champions in the NFC East over the last 18 seasons. No team has defended its title since the Eagles won the division for four consecutive seasons from 2001-04.
History is not on the Eagles’ side in ‘23.
The ghost of Amari Cooper
Trading Amari Cooper for a fifth-round pick before last season has been a sore point with many Cowboys fans.
This matchup didn’t help.
Jalen Hurts had a fabulous performance in defeat. In addition to his three touchdowns on 70 yards rushing, he completed 27 of 38 passes for 304 yards and a touchdown.
That touchdown was to veteran A.J. Brown, who caught six passes for 96 yards.
The Cowboys traded Cooper to Cleveland for a draft pick and Prescott struggled.
The Eagles traded a draft pick to Tennessee for Brown and Hurts soared.
And what about Patrick Mahomes? He lost one of the league’s most explosive receivers in Tyreek Hill and still had an MVP season. He’s that rare quarterback who can elevate the performance of those around him.
None of this is a knock on Prescott. But this Super Bowl put into context even more what he can do as a player and the level of talent he needs around him to be successful.
It’s a phrase Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy uses time and time again.
The Chiefs defined it with their performance.
Philadelphia was up 14-7 early in the second quarter and was driving again when Kansas City linebacker Nick Bolton recovered a fumble by Hurts and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown to tie the score.
Kansas City was staring at a 10-point deficit to open the second half when Mahomes came out and led a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive.
A 65-yard punt return by Kadarius Toney early in the fourth quarter put the Chiefs in position to take a 35-27 lead.
This wasn’t just about Mahomes. The Chiefs needed big plays in all three phases to win their second Super Bowl title in four years.
The blueprint is established. Can the Cowboys duplicate it?
First, they must deal with Philadelphia.
Catch David Moore and Robert Wilonsky as they co-host Intentional Grounding on The Ticket (KTCK-AM 1310 and 96.7 FM) every Wednesday night from 7-8 p.m. through the week after the Super Bowl.
Teams that lose the Super Bowl return the next season for a chance at redemption only 14 percent of the time. Here’s the history:
Back and won
|Super Bowl V||Dallas lost and won the following season|
|Super Bowl VI||Miami lost and won the following season|
|Super Bowl LII||New England lost and won the following season|
Back and lost
|Super Bowl VIII||Minnesota lost and came back the following season to lose|
|Super Bowl XXI||Denver lost and came back the following season to lose|
|Super Bowl XXV||Buffalo lost and came back the following season to lose|
|Super Bowl XXVI||Buffalo lost and came back the following season to lose|
|Super Bowl XXVII||Buffalo lost and came back the following season to lose|