The Cowboys had plenty of chances to quit on Sunday against the Ravens. After all, the team trailed 31-23 after Baltimore scored with 4:41 remaining.
Dallas then went on a drive that was equal parts epic and boneheaded. The Cowboys committed four penalties (even if a chop block call on Felix Jones was nonsense). At one point, Dallas faced a 3rd-and-27 play.
Yet somehow, the Cowboys found ways to convert two third downs and two fourth downs on what turned out to be an 18-play, 81-yard drive. Dez Bryant capped off a great day by catching a four-yard touchdown pass to pull Dallas to within two.
Then Dez immediately assumed the role of goat when Romo’s pass on the two-point attempt bounced right off Bryant’s hands.
But the game wasn’t over. Dan Bailey hit an onside kick up the middle instead of to the sideline, and Andre Holmes recovered.
More luck: On the first play after the recovery, Chykie Brown was called for interference on a pass attempt to Kevin Ogletree, giving Dallas the ball at the Baltimore 34. There were 26 seconds left, and Dallas still had a timeout. Plenty of time for…
One play? For one yard?
Yep. When Romo threw a slant to Bryant, the play gained a yard. The offense tried to organize to do something, but nothing happened. It looked as if neither Romo nor Garrett knew what they were supposed to do. (And I’m not the only one who thinks that.)
Instead, the Cowboys settled for a 51-yard field goal attempt. Bailey had not attempted one from that far this year.
And, of course, he missed. The audience saw a shot of Jason Garrett smiling. The pregnant Rob Ryan shouted something I won’t write on here. Romo pouted. Bryant received consolation.
Dallas is now 2-3. As the time of this writing, the Eagles had fallen to 3-3, and the Giants and Redskins were still playing. It is very possible the Cowboys could wind up in last place after today’s action.
Throughout the game, the Dallas offense rarely snapped the ball with more than three seconds left on the play clock. Few have offered solid reasons why the team has to check off so much while running the risk of delay-of-game or other penalties.
Nevertheless, the team showed heart. Felix Jones scored his first touchdown since the beginning of the 2011 season. The defense mostly shut down the Ravens offense in the second half.
But the same mistakes that have haunted the Cowboys, and it’s past time to question decision-making across the board.
Doug Free can’t go a game without a penalty. Tyron Smith doesn’t seem to understand what he is required to do to avoid holding penalties. As a team, the Cowboys committed 13 penalties for 82 yards. That gives Dallas a total of 46 penalties in five games.
The kickoff coverage team that was so bad in 2010 allowed a 108-yard kickoff return to Jacoby Jones. That occurred when Dallas had cut the Baltimore lead to 17-13 in the third quarter.
On top of that, the Cowboys were called for both pass interference and for having 12 men on the field on a play where Torrey Smith scored late in the second quarter.
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The biggest positive was the rushing attack. Even after DeMarco Murray left the game with a foot injury, Jones, Philip Tanner, and Lance Dunbar had some nice runs. As a team, the Cowboys rushed 42 times for 227 yards.
On the other hand, Kevin Ogletree is showing he isn’t close to a solid #3 receiver. He was targeted four times but did not manage a single reception. He didn’t come close to catching the pass when Brown interfered with him late in the game.
Dallas will travel to Carolina next Sunday.