Gonzo: Cowboys are back, and it's galling

The Cowboys' 34-14 victory over the Eagles was the franchise's first playoff win in the past 13 years. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

It was sort of like walking in on your woman with another man - unexpected and awful. You recoiled and got angry (and maybe cried a little), and now you can't get the image out of your head. It's there when you close your eyes at night, mocking you.

There was Jerry Jones, smiling and mugging for the camera in his box at Cowboys Stadium. There was George W. Bush with a look of similar satisfaction. And then they embraced. And then the rest of us tried not to vomit.

Everything is relative. Less than a week after the 'Boys "sting they [backside]" (hi, DJacc), the most disappointing thing about the Eagles' season is that they served as confidence boosters for an organization that hadn't won a playoff game since 1996. For years, the Cowboys left their cleats untied and tripped all over the field. They were utter buffoons, making wrong move (Tank Johnson) after wrong move (Pacman Jones) after wrong move (Terrell Owens). And now, one season after the Birds dispatched them with a 44-6 year-end drubbing at the Linc, the 'Boys are back and just as smug as ever.

"We didn't have to play our best game," Tony Romo said after Saturday's smackdown, insulting the Eagles after injuring their pride and ending their season. And here's the hard truth: He was right.

It's bad enough that the Eagles are out of the playoffs and we're once more forced to wait for next year. It's just as bad, though, that the 'Boys have become America's darlings again, trumpeted by talking heads across the land as a hot team with a real chance of going deep into the playoffs.

And the Birds? Now they're sitting around talking about what went wrong and how they can figure out a way to keep up with the Joneses. Welcome to your nightmare, Eagles fans.

"I think the Cowboys were probably sitting in the same position we are last year," Andy Reid said. "They were looking at this going, 'Doggone, the Eagles got after us pretty good.' They went back to the drawing board and they answered that question. Do I think that we can close that gap? Absolutely, and we'll do that. I'm going to make sure we do that. That's a great goal for us as players and coaches."

There are some important football games this weekend, but none carries bigger implications than the Dallas-Minnesota matchup. The Vikings are favored by three, which is Vegas' way of saying the teams are pretty evenly matched. If the Favres win, they will do the country a great favor by holding back this growing swell of Cowboys momentum and arrogance.

If the 'Boys win, brace yourself. Not only will Dallas then be just one win away from the Super Bowl, the team's miserable fair-weather fans will begin slithering out from their hiding places like filthy, front-running cockroaches. All the Raid in the world won't be able to beat them back. It's ugly enough around here right now without having to deal with all that.

Buy something purple this weekend. Wear it proudly.

After finishing above .500 on regular-season NFL picks, my opening-round playoff performance was just as bad as (or even worse than?) the Eagles': 0-4 last weekend. I blame Aaron Rodgers. (Home teams in caps.)

Cardinals +7 over SAINTS: Did you watch the way Kurt Warner ran the two-minute drill against the Packers last week? It was masterful. The Cards hurried to the line, worked the sidelines, used their time-outs properly, and would have won in regulation if not for a missed field goal. I hope Andy Reid sets his DVR.

COLTS -7 over Ravens: Now Peyton and Eli Manning are doing commercials with Donald Trump. Someone make it stop.

CHARGERS -7 over Jets: This is the game where Buddy's Boy realizes how deluded he was when he said the Jets should be favored in every postseason game they play.

Cowboys +3 over VIKINGS: I'd like to think, by virtue of picking the 'Boys, that I've jinxed them and they'll fall flat. I'm not counting on it.

Maybe there's still hope: There were whispers that Derek Jeter and Friday Night Lights vixen Minka Kelly are getting married. But the New York Daily News recently quoted a friend of the shortstop who said the couple isn't engaged after all. Complicated stuff. Minka, if you want to talk about it, Page 2 is around to take your call. . . . This man cave business is getting out of control. Seems every dude with a basement can't wait to outfit his cellar with a Kegerator, AstroTurf, and a TV you can see from orbit. Now Comcast SportsNet is in the mix. You can check out CSN's version of a man cave at the Philadelphia Home Show tomorrow at the Convention Center. . . . This is priceless: New Astros pitcher Brett Myers gave an interview saying he'll try to "stick it to [the Phillies]" this year. I wonder what that might entail. Maybe he'll have his son play catch with Dave Montgomery and hit him in the eye with a baseball. Even better: He could fall out of an Escalade and land on Ruben Amaro Jr.


Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or gonzalez@phillynews.com.