For the third consecutive season the Dallas Cowboys will head into the final game in a winner take all battle for the NFC East title and the playoffs.
After seeing their season come to tragic and disappointing endings in 2011 and 2012, the big question is whether things will be different in 2013.
As of now the Cowboys are beyond happy and relieved just have a chance to change their destiny after a frantic and desperate 24-23 comeback victory against the Washington Redskins Sunday.
It was fourth and goal at the 10 yard line with 1 minute, 16 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
But it might as well have been fourth and the season for the Cowboys before a good number of Cowboys fans among the 80,411 fans at Fed Ex Field Sunday.
Courageous quarterback Tony Romo, hobbled by a back injury that will require a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Monday, worked his own special magic.
He scrambled to buy time and then connected with running back DeMarco Murray who wiggled into the end zone.
The Cowboys much-maligned defense then forced a fourth down incompletion to complete the crucial victory, which was arguably the most important since coach Jason Garrett took over the team in 2010 because of everything at stake, including possibly his job.
“It was as big of a win as we’ve had…doing it when trailing by what we were in the fourth quarter,” Romo said. “Today we felt like we were playing for everything. Next week will be the same thing so we’ll go do it again.”
The victory against the rival Redskins (3-12) ended a two-game losing streak while sending the Cowboys (8-7) into next Sunday’s final against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium in hopes making the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
The Cowboys beat the Eagles 17-3 on Oct. 20 and are 5-0 in the NFC East for the first time since 1998.
It was the 23rd time Romo has rallied the Cowboys to a victory in the fourth quarter or overtime. He is the team’s all-time leader in that category, ahead of Roger Staubach or Troy Aikman.
But the only stats critics associate with Romo is his 1-6 record in win or go home games in the playoffs or the regular season since 2006. That includes losses to the Giants and Redskins on the road in season finales the past two seasons.
This time Romo and the Cowboys will be playing the Eagles at home in hopes of avoiding a fourth-straight playoff less season and a third-straight 8-8 finish.
“I know in some ways we’ve gotten hit with the fact of losing the last couple of years in that final game,” Romo said. “But I think we’re the only team that keeps getting itself in position to win the NFC East every year. That’s a credit, that’s also a negative in the fact we didn’t do it the last couple of years. You just have to keep getting yourself there. When your team is good enough, you’ll knock down that door.”
Are you good enough?
“We played like today,” Romo said.
They certainly did at the end of the game. But can they do it again in next week’s regular season finale?