It came as no big surprise when DeMarco Murray fumbled on the Cowboys’ first offensive drive of Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams. It was the third time in three games that Murray had lost a fumble early in the game.
It was hardly a shock that Tony Romo threw an interception returned for a touchdown in the middle of the second quarter. The score gave the Rams a 21-0 lead with 6:06 remaining in the first half.
Up to that point, the Dallas defense displayed that Can’t St0p Anyone look that opposing offenses love. Dallas made second-year quarterback Austin Davis look like Norm Van Brocklin or Bob Waterfield or Pat Haden (or just help me out here by inserting an old Rams QB you might remember).
Anyway, following Murray’s fumble, Davis threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Brian Quick, who beat Morris Claiborne deep. It was neither the first nor the last time the Rams picked on poor Claiborne, who looked more like one of those just-signed-off-the-street guys than a #6 draft pick.
Only twice in franchise history have the Cowboys won games after trailing by 21 points. In both of those games (1984 vs. New Orleans and 1999 vs. Washington), Dallas won in overtime.
Fortunately, the Cowboys rebounded a bit in the second quarter. They took advantage of a pass interference call in the end zone, giving Dallas the ball at the St. Louis 1 just before the two-minute warning. Murray scored to cut the Ram lead to 21-7.
Davis fumbled a snap a few plays later, and the Cowboys drove down to kick a field goal before halftime.
It had seemed improbable that the Cowboys could erase a 21-point deficit, but Dallas trailed by just 11 points at the half.
It seemed improbable that Romo would be able to lead a comeback, given that his throwing has been off all year thus far.
But on the fourth play of the second half, Romo found a wide open Dez Bryant on a 68-yard touchdown play that cut the St. Louis lead to 21-17.
Midway through the third quarter, a 44-yard run by Murray set up a Dan Bailey field goal. St. Louis 21, Dallas 20.
The Rams kicked a field goal to increase their lead to 4, but Dallas answered with a touchdown drive, giving the Cowboys their first lead, 27-24.
Improbable, it seemed, that the shorthanded defense would make a critical play when the Rams got the ball back. But on the first play after the Dallas touchdown, linebacker Bruce Carter recorded his first career interception and returned the ball for his first career touchdown. Dallas then held a 10-point lead.
The Rams still had life, and Davis continued to pick on Claiborne. Davis’ touchdown pass to Austin Pettis ( who snuck behind Claiborne in the end zone) cut the Dallas lead to 3.
The Cowboys had a chance to put the game away, but Romo was unable to connect on a third-down pass just before the two-minute warning. The Rams got the ball back with 1:58 left to play.
Nearly all of us prayed the Rams would not pick on Claiborne, who had trouble covering anyone.
Improbable at that point for Claiborne to make a key play.
But when Davis threw a deep pass to the left sideline to Quick—the same guy who burned Claiborne earlier in the game—Claiborne made the play, reaching to grab the overthrown pass and secure the win with the interception.
Dallas is now 2-1 and alone in second place in the NFC East. The Eagles are 3-0 after beating Washington.