Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 12/13/11
With the Rangers, it was August. As soon as the August heat set in, NFL training camps were in full swing and kids began to go back to school, the Rangers would take an annual nosedive out of contention in the AL West. To their credit, the Rangers have blown the August jinx out of the water the past two seasons with trips to the World Series. Can't win in Arlington because of the heat? No one says that anymore. But people still say the Cowboys can't win in December. The question is, can Jason Garrett and the players do anything to change that? Sunday's fourth-quarter collapse against the Giants was the Cowboys' second bungle of this December. A week earlier, they blew a chance to pull out an ugly win over the Cardinals. Cowboys observers have seen this December dropoff before, multiple times. In the past 10 seasons, including this one, the Cowboys are a combined 68-46 (.596) in games played prior to December. In games played in December and January, they are 16-27 (.372). That doesn't include a 1-4 playoff record in that time. It doesn't matter whether the Cowboys are very good, such as 2007 when they went 11-1 prior to December. It doesn't matter when they're bad, such as 2002 when they started 5-7 and then went 0-4 in December and January. This team just doesn't do December. In the last 10 years, the only winning record the Cowboys have had post-November was last season when they went 3-2. That was after posting a 3-8 record prior to December. A lot of folks will point out that Tony Romo wasn't playing when the Cowboys finished 3-2 last season. As the quarterback, he's taken a heap of the blame for the late-season swoons. As far as this season goes, Romo has actually played well in the first two December contests. The breakdowns have been mostly on defense, special teams and game management. The records show the December dips started happening before Romo took over as the starter in 2006. It didn't matter whether Quincy Carter or Drew Bledsoe was the quarterback. The Cowboys couldn't finish strong whether Bill Parcells was coaching them, either. Even bad teams can improve in the final month of the season. They either finally figure things out, start playing for their jobs, or their opponents just don't take them seriously anymore. Whatever it is, it's not unusual for a bad team to show improvement at the end. Except for the Cowboys. And when they're good, the Cowboys are experts at showing a decline in December. In the nine seasons prior to this one, the Cowboys entered December with seven wins or more five different times. Only once, in 2009, did the Cowboys post a winning record from that point on. The most tragic example of the Cowboys going bad in December was 2008 when they collapsed against the Ravens, 33-24, in the final game at Texas Stadium. They followed that with a 44-6, season-ending debacle at Philadelphia that cost them a playoff spot at 9-7. This year, the Cowboys are off to another bad start to December. They are 0-2 and clinging to a tie with the Giants for the NFC East lead. If they want to shake their December-January reputation, they will have to win at Tampa Bay this week, at home the next week against the Eagles and then somehow pull off a win at the Giants on the final week of the season. The Rangers rid themselves of their August jinx by assembling a group of players who could fight through adversity. They also hired a skipper who refused to allow any room for such mind games to creep in. Do the Cowboys have the kind of leadership to overcome a history of December debacles? So far, the record speaks for itself. The Cowboys' December Dropoffs 2011 - Pre-December 7-4; Dec.-Jan. 0-2 2010 - Pre-December 3-8; Dec.-Jan 3-2 2009 - Pre-December 8-3; Dec.-Jan 3-2; 1-1 playoffs 2008 - Pre-December 8-4; Dec.-Jan. 1-3 2007 - Pre-December 11-1; Dec.-Jan. 2-2; 0-1 playoffs 2006 - Pre-December 7-4; Dec.-Jan. 2-3; 0-1 playoffs (Romo's first year as starter) 2005 - Pre-December 7-4; Dec.-Jan. 2-3 2004 - Pre-December 4-7; Dec.-Jan. 2-3 2003 Pre-December 8-4; Dec-Jan. 2-2; 0-1 playoffs 2002 Pre-December 5-7; Dec.-Jan 0-4 Totals Pre-December record: 68-46, .596 Dec.-Jan: 16-27, .372 Playoffs: 1-4, .200 Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire
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