- - Monday, December 13, 2021

When the game started Sunday at Ghost Town Field, David was nowhere to be found.

The Goliaths from Dallas were there — they even brought their own logo-emblazoned benches to go with the throngs of blue-clad Philistines in the stands.     

The members of the Burgundy and Gold tribe who managed to fill the few seats remaining waited for David to appear. Instead, they got Pincus -— the forgotten brother of David, the one they left out of the Bible.

Pincus, according to the dark web version of the book, couldn’t hit the side of a barn from 10 feet away with a stone. When they got together for the big fight between David and Goliath in the Valley of Elah, they left Pincus behind with the sheep.

Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera got a lot of mileage out of the David and Goliath story and the rock-throwing ritual after each of their four consecutive wins, starting with the true David vs. Goliath victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

On Sunday, Goliath stomped Rivera and his underdog story into the ground for much of the game until Goliath seemed to get bored.

The Dallas Cowboys opened up a 24-0 lead — primarily thanks to Washington turnovers — in the first half. After that, it really didn’t matter much who was throwing stones. 

Washington managed to come back to make it appear to be a game by closing the score to 27-20 — even after their David-like quarterback, Taylor Heinicke, was sidelined and replaced by Kyle Allen, Rivera’s underdog from Charlotte.

“The good thing I did in the last four games was taking what they gave me, whether it’s a five-yard hitch or a 20-yard seven route,” said Heinicke, who struggled to complete just 11 passes out of 25 attempts with one interception. “Today there were a couple of throws before half I shouldn’t have thrown and they were almost picked off. I have to be better.”

The Dallas defense wasn’t giving him much of anything. Washington had just 224 yards of offense — only 124 yards passing — and lost in one place on the stat sheet they had dominated in the previous four games. Washington ran a total of 62 offensive plays Sunday, compared to 78 for Dallas. The Cowboys defense punished Washington with five sacks and forced and four turnovers.      

This was a mismatch. It was going to take more than stones to beat the Cowboys Sunday. It would require at least a quarterback and a running game — which Washington had neither.

“We missed some opportunities early on, but we just didn’t convert it,” Rivera said.

We may be at the stage of the season where talent is more important than Bible stories. Washington, particularly, is suffering from the damage to their limited offensive talent over the course of 13 games and may have gone as far as they’ll go on faith.

The storybook portion of the season may have run its course. The stadium full of Cowboys fans should have told you that this isn’t some sort of fable anymore. The reality is a wrecked franchise under congressional investigation with a 6-7 record hanging on to a hope of squeezing into the playoffs.

In the next four games, they will face the Philadelphia Eagles twice, who they are battling for a wild-card spot; the New York Giants once, and Jerry Jones’ have-benches-will-travel Cowboys again. For the most part, it will be a level playing field with Washington’s best and worst against their opponents.

“We control our own destiny,” Rivera said after the game. “We have an opportunity to do something. We got four game left, all four in the division. Some interesting things can happen. Somebody else can lose a game or two as well. And who knows? And I told our players that.

“We control it,” he said. “We take them one at a time. We got Philly coming up. We know that. I told the guys we’ll get through this tomorrow, and then we’ll start focusing on getting ready for Philadelphia. It’s one of those things, too, like I said, the Washington Football Team versus Dallas should be a big game like it was today. We’ve just got to play better.”

They probably aren’t too interested in Bible tales in Philly. Rocky, mixed in with a little Angelo Bruno and mob stories, is more their style.

Hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.

• Thom Loverro can be reached at tloverro@washingtontimes.com.

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