Jacksonville 35, Dallas 17: So Many Levels of Incompetence
Believe it or not, watching the 2010 Cowboys play live is more painful than watching it on television. I guess the option of hitting the “Off” button is tempting at home but isn’t available at Cowboys Stadium.
To make matters worse, the walk from Cowboys Stadium through the Rangers parking lot to where we parked felt like some sort of bizarre walk of shame. I’m not sure why that was the case, but the only shame is that I didn’t sink all the money I put towards the Cowboys into trying to find World Series tickets.
Enough talk about talent on this Dallas team. I bet I could count 20 instances during the pregame and postgame radio shows where someone mentioned talent. Wade Phillips even mentioned it in his postgame press conference. This defensive secondary may have a couple of talented individuals, but this is not a talented secondary. The fact is that this team does not have a talented unit, even if some players have been pretty good as recently as last year. The offensive line is in shambles and couldn’t move the Jacksonville defense a single inch at what was probably the only critical juncture of the game. Receivers gained yards but also bobbled passes, causing three interceptions. The defensive front seven seldom generated pressure and could not stop the run.
This team has the talent of a 4-12 football team, and that assumes that the Cowboys can go 3-6 in their final nine games. I’m not sure they can.
Dallas needed a strong jump out of the gate. The Cowboys took a 3-0 lead before the special teams and defense showed their stuff. Jacksonville returned the Dallas kickoff to the Jaguar 37. Five plays generated 10, 2, 23, 23, and 10 yards, with the last gain giving Jacksonville a 7-3 lead. The Jaguars would not trail again.
The Cowboys moved the ball into Jacksonville territory on the next drive thanks to a 29-yard pass from Jon Kitna to Dez Bryant. On the next play, Kitna surprised Felix Jones by hitting Jones right the numbers, and defensive lineman Terrance Knighton caught the ball on the deflection.
Jacksonville drove from the Jaguar 39 to the Dallas 15, but Victor Butler was able to get to David Garrard and caused Garrard to fumble. It was a very close play, but when it was upheld on replay, it should have given the Cowboys a spark. Dallas moved the ball to the Jacksonville 21, but rookie guard Phil Costa was called for holding, backing Dallas up to the 29. On the next play, Miles Austin saw a pass bounce off his hands, and Derek Cox caught the ball off the deflection. Goodbye momentum.
Four plays later, the score was 14-3 thanks to a 42-yard TD pass from Garrard to Marcedes Lewis, who burned Bradie James on a deep seam pattern.
The Cowboys weren’t quite out of it, but a sequence at the end of the first half ruined any chance for a comeback. Dallas moved the ball to the Jacksonville 18. On a third-and-seven, Kitna hit Bryant on the sideline, and a review later revealed the Bryant caught the ball at the 9. Kitna appeared to hit Austin for a touchdown, but Austin couldn’t get his second foot down. On second down, Kitna scrambled to his left and nearly scored, getting the ball inside the one.
The Cowboys had two plays to get less than a yard. In fact, the Cowboys needed literally a few inches to score on the second play. Dallas went to Marion Barber, who gets paid for this type of run. After failing on a third-down run, Dallas tried a run up the middle again on fourth down. Kitna turned the wrong way and ran into Barber, left tackle Doug Free was knocked on his butt, and the Cowboys didn’t gain an inch. The Cowboys thus went into halftime without scoring any more than the first three points.
Six minutes into the third quarter, the score was 28-3. Kitna saw another pass bounce off a receiver’s hands, as Roy Williams’ hands failed him and the ball fell into Cox’s hands. Meanwhile, Jacksonville easily scored on touchdown drives of 83 and 33 yards. The Dallas secondary hardly provided any resistance, and the game frankly wasn’t worth watching. In between the boos were chants of “Let’s Go Ran-gers!”
Garrard is not an efficient quarterback. Against Dallas, though, he was other-worldly, completing 17 of 21 passes for 260 yards and 4 TDs. That’s a QB rating of 157.8, which is the highest rating any quarterback has ever had against the Cowboys. Maurice Jones-Drew gained 135 yards in 27 carries. Mike Sims-Walker caught eight passes for 153 yards.
Some of the Cowboys had decent stats, but these stats were largely meaningless. Austin’s drop that led to a pick was far more costly than his 117 receiving yards were helpful. That three-headed rushing attack that needed to come to life? Felix Jones led the team with 22 yards on eight attempts. Overall, Dallas had 50 yards on the ground.
This team isn’t going to beat the Packers or the Giants in the next two weeks. And I hardly look forward to seeing the team play the Lions on November 21, though at least we won’t have to be worried about being heckled by Ranger fans.