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If the Cowboys appeared distracted on Sunday, it was for good reason. It would be impossible for the team to concentrate fully on the game while the death of practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown was fresh on everyone’s minds.
Even before the accident occurred, many had doubts about the Cowboys’ chances. Just before the game started, a radio commentator with ESPN said he thought the game would come down to the Cowboys needing a defensive stop. He didn’t think the Cowboys would get one and would lose the game accordingly.
Until the 6:35 mark of the fourth quarter, it was hard to argue with him. Until then, most were just hoping that Jason Garrett would stop Rob Ryan from coming onto the field after the defensive coordinator was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, extending a Cincinnati drive early in the third quarter. (More on the bone-headed move below.)
The Dallas defense indeed made that critical stop, which gave the Cowboys a chance to drive for the game-winning field goal in a 20-19 Dallas win.
Thanks to the win, the Cowboys are not dead in the playoff race. However, wins by the Giants, Seahawks, and Redskins did not help the Cowboys’ chances. At 7-6, the Cowboys are going to need help to take either a wildcard or a division title.
Back to the game.
This Dallas squad just isn’t a first-half team, whatever the reason may be. The Cowboys have trailed at some point in the first halves of 12 of 13 games. The only exception was the Atlanta game, which was a 6-6 tie at the half before the Falcons ran away with the game.
Sunday’s game against the Bengals followed a typical pattern. Dallas moved the ball a little bit early but could not punch it in.
An early 3-0 lead became a 10-3 deficit. Cincinnati led 13-10 at the half as the Dallas offense struggled.
The third quarter should have belonged to the Bengals. The Cowboys had three possessions but could only manage 42 yards with no points.
Had the Bengals not made some critical mistakes, including several drops, Cincinnati’s 19-10 lead may have been much worse.
The Cowboys trailed by nine when they took the ball at their own 32 with 9:47 remaining. Things looked bad again when referees called Doug Free for holding, setting up a 1st-and-20 at the Dallas 35.
On the next play, though, Romo hit Kevin Ogletree on a 23-yard play to give the Cowboys a first down.
Three plays later, the Cowboys faced a 3rd-and-10 from the Cincinnati 42, but Romo was able to find Miles Austin for 15 yards.
On the next play, Romo hit Dez Bryant over the middle for a 27-yard touchdown pass. Dallas suddenly had life.
Cincinnati took over with 6:35 remaining. This was the spot where the Cowboys needed a stop. After one first down, the Bengals stalled. Anthony Spencer had the best play of the day on defense by sacking Andy Dalton on a 3rd-and-4 play, forcing the Bengals to punt.
The Cowboys took over at their own 28 with 3:44 left. They managed to convert three third-down plays on the drive and moved the ball to the Cincinnati 22. Dan Bailey nailed a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give the Cowboys the win.
* * *
It may not be hard to tell that I’m not a Rob Ryan fan.
Yes, the defense helped to win the game today, but this was the same defense that could not generate a pass rush until the very end. Had several Bengal receivers not dropped some critical passes, the game may have been out of reach by the fourth quarter.
Here’s the scenario on Sunday: Cincinnati led 13-10 and had driven inside the Dallas red zone. The Bengals faced a 1st-and-15 after a penalty.
Andy Dalton faced almost no pressure but ran to his right to extend the play. As he moved to his right, Ryan (and other coaches) were already on the field screaming. Here’s the shot:
Maybe Ryan had every right to be mad. However, he continued his rant by shouting some variations of a word that starts with F at tackle Andre Smith.
I’ve now seen Ryan shout f-this and f-that into his headset. I’ve seen him yell at an opposing team’s tackle. I have yet to see Ryan yell at a member of the Cowboys’ defense.
* * *
As for the playoffs, the Cowboys needed the Seahawks, Giants, and Redskins to fall today. Instead, the Seahawks beat the Cardinals 58-0, the Giants beat the Saints 52-27, and the Redskins beat the Ravens 31-28 in overtime.
Because the Cowboys will lose tiebreakers to the Bears and Seahawks (and even the Redskins, depending on a few scenarios), the Cowboys’ best chance may be the division title and not the wildcard. It’s not looking good.
Though the Cincinnati Bengals became a franchise in 1968, the Dallas Cowboys did not face the new Cincinnati team until 1973. That was because the Bengals were part of the AFL until 1970, and the teams were in different conferences when the leagues merged in 1970.
The teams finally met on November 4, 1973 at Texas Stadium. It was Cincinnati head coach Paul Brown’s first visit to Dallas since he coached the Browns in 1962 and turned out to be his last visit to Dallas during his 25-year NFL career.
In 1962, his Browns lost in a 45-21 blowout to the Cowboys, who were two years removed from their inaugural year. In 1973, the Dallas team was two years removed from its first Super Bowl title, and the result of the game was another blowout win for the Cowboys.
The video highlights and story of the game are below. Interesting note: the loss to Dallas dropped the Bengals to 4-4. Nevertheless, the team rebounded with six consecutive wins to finish the season at 10-4. They made the playoffs but eventually lost to the Super Bowl champion Miami Dolphins.
As for the Cowboys, they also finished at 10-4 and made it to the NFC championship game before losing to the Minnesota Vikings.
By BOB ST. JOHN / The Dallas Morning News
Actually, it all started earlier in the week, though the records will show it ended very impressively for the Dallas Cowboys on a mostly gray Sunday afternoon at Texas Stadium.
“We started working with the right kind of attitude last Wednesday,” said middle linebacker Lee Roy Jordan, shortly after he’d made a tour of the Cowboys dressing room, shaking hands with every member of the team.
“Since we lost to Washington we really hadn’t had the consistent attitude and concentration. This week we made up our minds. We played well in practice. We were making interceptions and so that meant we were moving better. We felt the same thing would continue in the game.”
It did … in the game, Jordan intercepted three passes in the first period off the arm of Cincinnati quarterback Ken Anderson, ran one 31 yards for a touchdown and set up a score with anther one. These interceptions sent the Bengals reeling and they never really recovered as Dallas stormed off with an impressive 38-10 victory over a good team before a crowd of 54,944. There were 3,658 no shows.
So Dallas, perhaps, has turned the corner once again, heading for another playoff berth. Anyway, the Cowboys can do worse than remain a single game behind Washington in the NFC Eastern race and could move into a tie for the lead, should Pittsburgh top the Redskins on Monday night.
“We’ve got it started and we’re not going to do the same thing we did after beating the Giants a couple of weeks ago,” continued Jordan. “We were up for that one and then came back in practice the following week and let it get away. So the Eagles beat us. This time we’ll go back out there this week and keep it going.
“We’re not even thinking about a wild card berth. We’re going for the championship.”
The most impressive thing was the Cowboy defense, which did everything it had not been doing. What happened basically was that they had their collars loosened, Cowboy linemen were turned loose more, instead of reading so much and then rushing the passer. Thus there was more pressure than there had been since the Redskin game. And Dallas blitzed 7-3 times, very un-Cowboy like. Conservatism was thrown to the wind.
“They turned us loose, let us go and we went after them,” said cornerback Mel Renfro. “I hope we do it from now on.”
The Cowboy defense was so impressive that Dallas had such fine field positions on the Cincinnati 42, 17, 42, 44 and 7 yard lines. The Cowboy offense only had to go 42, 44, 55, and 7 yards for touchdowns.
“It wasn’t an offensive day,” said quarterback Roger Staubach, who had a fine personal day with 14 hits on 18 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns. And he threw no interceptions, the thing that had killed Anderson … killed the Bengals. “Our defense just gave us great field position all day.
“Cincinnati has a fine defense and we needed everything we could get. I’d rate the Bengals on defense right up there next to Washington.”
Jordan first struck with Dallas leading 3-0 on Toni Fritsch’s 34-yard field goal and with neither team seeming able to move. But Anderson threw for wide receiver Chip Myers on the sideline and Lee Roy, whose man was blocking and didn’t go out, ran across field and picked off the throw, following practically the entire defensive entourage to the end zone. The second interception was tipped as free safety Cliff Harris crunched into tight end Bob Trumpy, causing him to cough up a ball he never had control of in the first place. Jordan got the third one by reaching up, one-handing it, and bringing it into control and setting up Dallas in TD business at the Cincy 42.
“On the first interception we blitzed,” said Lee Roy, “I just looked up and he was throwing a down-and-out. It was so hard I didn’t think I could hold it.”
“Jordan has range, experience and is a fine player,” said Anderson. “The first interception was very impressive because he ran a long way to get there. He just seemed to get to the right place at the right time. But that’s what it takes to make a good linebacker.”
Renfro and tackle Jethro Pugh combined to set up the final Cowboy TD. Renfro jarred running back Essex Johnson loose from the ball as Anderson, in trouble, dropped the football off to his back. Pugh picked up the ball and ran 30 yards in about 30 minutes to the Cincy seven, from which Dallas scored. Pugh has never scored a touchdown and was zooming in on the end zone but just couldn’t make it. “If it had been downhill I believe I’d have scored,” said Pugh.
The defense also held the Bengals out of the end zone on four downs from the Dallas four just before the half when a TD could have put them back into the game. Tackle Bob Lilly led two of the charges and Jordan, Pugh, Cole, Rodrigo Burnes and others stopped a final play from a half yard out.
Cincinnati got 10 points in the third period, the big one being much like big ones of recent weeks. Wide receiver Isaac Curtis got behind cornerback Charlie Waters and took a perfect throw for a 50-yard touchdown. A less than perfect throw and Waters of Harrison would have knocked it down.
Anderson was also not pressured on the bomb after faking play action. This was not what he became accustomed to during this day. He was trapped five times for 45 yards in losses. End Larry Cole got him twice and assisted tackle Bill Gregory on another trap, rookie end Harvey Martin banged him down once and Cornell Green got him on a safety blitz.
Cincinnati shut down Calvin Hill which was one of their prime purposes. Hill had a season low of just 39 yards on 16 carries and Dallas wasn’t able to run that well, netting 119 yards.
Split end Bobby Hayes and tight end Billy Joe DuPree each caught five passes, each scoring a touchdown as did flanker Mike Montgomery, taking a Staubach pass over the middle and racing 32 yards for a TD.
But there was a long one to Hayes. Staubach had been blitzed a great deal on this afternoon and this time he spotted it coming with the Cowboys at the Cincy 39. Roger called an audible, which meant Hayes streaked deep. Bobby ran between the two Bengal safeties and took the throw on his finger tips for six.
The specialty teams, a great source of embarrassment for Dallas in recent weeks, perked up greatly. Montgomery’s fine 63-yard opening kickoff return set up Fritsch’s field goal, and Marv Bateman, back from never-never, averaged 53 yards on five punts, and a 57-yarder which backed up Cincy to its own four eventually put Dallas in field position for a TD. Dallas also got boost by Mike Clark, booming all his kickoffs.
But in the end this day belonged to the defense. There were traps, turnovers, interceptions, fine individual plays such as Waters twice throwing Bengals for losses on screens and Dallas was doing what it had not been doing.
“The turnovers were big plays for us today,” said Tom Landry. “We’ve been talking about these since before the Washington game and we got them back today.”
“I hope we continue to cut loose and not play so conservatively,” added Jordan. “We might get hit with a big play and give up some yardage but we’ll also be coming up with the big play.”
So at this time it appears the Dallas Cowboys are not depending on somebody beating Washington. It appears they are depending on themselves.
The Cowboys usually begin their nose dive when they reach December. Since 2008, Dallas has won its first game in December only once—an overtime win at Indianapolis in an otherwise forgettable 2010 season.
Since 2006, the Cowboys have an overall record of 13-19 during the months of December and January, including the playoffs.
Thus, when the Cowboys fell behind to the Eagles by a score of 14-3, it was easy to think this did not look good. When the Eagles took a 24-17 lead in the third quarter after the Cowboys had tied the game, things did not look good.
On the final play of the third quarter, the Cowboys faced a 4th and 1. DeMarco Murray ran up the middle, and the original spot was short of the first down.
The Dallas defense was poor for much of the night, and the Eagles were able to drive back into Dallas territory. A 43-yard Alex Henery field goal gave the Eagles another lead with less than 10 minutes to play.
The Eagles had a chance on the next drive, especially once rookie quarterback Nick Foles avoided DeMarcus Ware and completed a pass for a first down on a 3rd-and-8 play.
Combination of: (1) Bryce Brown is really good; (2) this Dallas defense is pathetic tonight.
Moments later, Josh Brent knocked the ball out of Brown’s hand. Morris Claiborne picked up the ball and ran 50 yards for the touchdown.
The game should have ended at 38-27, but the special teams unit somehow gave up a 98-yard punt return. Fortunately, the Cowboys recovered the onside kick, ending the game.
Murray had 83 yards and a touchdown in his return to the lineup. Bryant scored twice, giving him 8 on the season. His 98 receiving yards gives him 978 on the season.
Witten had 108 yards, while Austin had 46. It is possible that Bryant, Witten, and Austin could each finish the season with more than 1,000 receiving yards.
This marks the first time since 2009 that the Cowboys have swept the Eagles. In 2011, the Cowboys only managed 7 points in both losses to Philadelphia. In 2012, the Cowboys scored 38 in both wins.
The simulations do not think the game will be close. Notwithstanding the Thanksgiving performance, the sims have the Cowboys winning by about a touchdown. In some cases, the spread is more.
The story of the Madden sim:
Remember when all the Eagles talk revolved around the words “Dream Team” and “Dynasty”? Talk about a team that couldn’t walk the walk. Philadelphia loses another one this week, scoring only 13 points against the rival Cowboys, while never really being able to get on track on either side of the ball. Tony Romo stars for Dallas in the win, throwing for 283 yards and two touchdowns in the 27-13 victory.
* * *
The Saints’ loss to the Falcons helped the Cowboys’ playoff chances just a bit, but those chances are still rather poor. At 5-6, Dallas is a game out of the second wildcard position. The Cowboys also have the same record as Washington, which would win the head-to-head tiebreaker at this point. The teams involved:
Seattle (6-5): Beat Minnesota and Dallas and have a relatively easy schedule in December.
Tampa Bay (6-5): Beat Minnesota but lost to Dallas and Washington.
Minnesota (6-5): Lost to both Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Washington.
Washington (5-6): Has wins over Tampa Bay, Minnesota, and Dallas.
Dallas (5-6): Beat Tampa Bay but lost to Seattle and Washington. Any loss from this point out may all but kill the Cowboys’ chances.
New Orleans (5-7): Beat Tampa Bay but lost to Washington. Saints’ chances are nearly hopeless.
The rivalry is not especially interesting this year. Dallas entered the first game at 3-5 and came away with the 38-23 win. The Eagles were also 3-5.
On Sunday, the Eagles are 3-8. The Cowboys are 5-6.
This marks the first time since 1963 that the teams will play each other twice when each team had a losing record. In fact, in the 52-year history of the rivalry, this has occurred only two times.
Below is a summary. The numbers in the parentheses indicate each team’s record entering into the game.
Dallas (1-2-1) 41, Philadelphia (1-3) 19
Philadelphia (2-8-1) 28, Dallas (4-5-1) 14
Philadelphia (0-2-1) 28, Dallas (0-3) 14
Dallas (2-7) 27, Philadelphia (2-6-1) 20
* * *
I posted this on Facebook yesterday:
The Cowboys are 5-6 for only the third time in team history if we disregard ties. In 1962, the Cowboys were 5-6-1 but finished at 5-8-1. Trivia: in what season other than 2012 did the Cowboys start 5-6, and what was the team’s final record that season?
The answer is 1987, which was the year of the replacement players. Just as they did in 2012, the Cowboys in 1987 hosted the Thanksgiving Day game at 5-5 and needed a win to stay alive in the playoff chase. Instead, the Vikings knocked off the Cowboys in overtime, and Dallas ended up missing the playoffs with a 7-8 record.
Thursday’s loss to the Washington Redskins was certainly not the first Thanksgiving loss for the Cowboys. Dallas now holds an overall record of 28-16-1 during the annual game, which is quite good.
However, the loss to Washington was one of the worst in team history on Thanksgiving. In fact, I am going to name it as the worst. Here is a list of the contenders.
10. Miami 16, Dallas 14 (1993)
This game just has to make the list, even though the Cowboys never lost another game and eventually won Super Bowl XXVIII. Dallas and Miami played in the snow at Texas Stadium, and the Cowboys appeared to secure the win by blocking a final field-goal attempt. However, Leon Lett tried to recover the loose ball. When he failed, Miami recovered and had one more chance. Pete Stoyanovich made his next try, giving Miami the win.
9. Houston Oilers 30, Dallas 24 (1979)
A Heisman Trophy winning player from Texas visited Dallas and torched the Cowboys. Sound familiar? Playing in his second year, Earl Campbell ran all over Dallas, gaining 195 yards and scoring two touchdowns. The Cowboys had a lead for much of the game, but the Oilers came from behind to win it. The loss dropped Dallas to 8-5, but the Cowboys won their remaining regular-season games.
8. Minnesota 44, Dallas 38 (1987)
At 5-5, the Cowboys had to beat the Vikings to have any realistic chance to make the playoffs. Sound familiar? Minnesota went up by 14 points on several occasions, but the Cowboys kept battling back. Danny White’s four touchdown passes kept Dallas in the game, but his interception during overtime killed the team’s chances. Minnesota won, White never played in a significant game again, and Tom Landry never competed for a playoff spot again.
7. San Francisco 31, Dallas 10 (1972)
The 7-3 Cowboys hosted the 49ers trying to stay close to the 9-1 Redskins. Instead, it was the Skip Vanderbundt show. He scored touchdowns on fumble and interception returns in a game that was never close. Dallas ended up finishing one game behind Washington in the NFC East. Of course, Dallas managed to avenge the loss to San Francisco in the playoffs in Roger Staubach’s first miracle comeback.
6. Miami 40, Dallas 21 (2003)
The Cowboys were 8-3 when they hosted the Dolphins on Thanksgiving. Dallas had just won a big game over Carolina, and hopes were high that the Cowboys would do something in the playoffs. Instead, the Cowboys gave up 23 points in the first half in a bad loss. The Cowboys finished the season at 10-6 and lost to the Panthers in the playoffs.
5. Tennessee Oilers 27, Dallas 14 (1997)
The Cowboys entered this game at 6-6 and were still in the playoff hunt. Quarterback Steve McNair helped to end those playoff hopes by leading Tennessee to 24 first-half points. After the loss, the Cowboys quit and lost their final three games to finish at 6-10.
4. Denver 24, Dallas 21 (2005)
The 7-3 Cowboys needed a win to help their playoff chances. They trailed for much of the game but forced overtime thanks to a late touchdown from Drew Bledsoe to Jason Witten. In overtime, though, Ron Dayne ran right through the Dallas defense on a 55-yard run, setting up the game-winning field goal. The Cowboys finished at 9-7 and missed the playoffs for the second straight year.
3. Philadelphia 27, Dallas 0 (1989)
The Cowboys weren’t contending for anything when they hosted the Eagles on Thanksgiving. Nevertheless, Dallas had to play for pride during the first infamous Bounty Bowl in which Buddy Ryan, father of the Cowboys’ current defensive coordinator, put a price on the heads of several Cowboys. There was not much pride left in Dallas after the 27-0 loss.
2. Minnesota 46, Dallas 36 (1998)
A few thought the 8-3 Cowboys could contend with the 10-1 Vikings. Then rookie Randy Moss made his first visit to Texas Stadium. The Cowboys had no clue how to stop him as he caught three passes for 163 yards and 3 touchdowns. Troy Aikman threw for 455 yards, but Dallas was never really in the game. The Cowboys finished the season at 10-6 and lost to the Cardinals in the playoffs.
1. Washington 38, Dallas 31 (2012)
At 5-5, the Cowboys had hopes they could contend for the NFC East title. Instead, rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III rode into Dallas, and Rob Ryan’s defense had no clue how to stop him. It was 28-3 at halftime thanks to three RGIII touchdowns, and Tony Romo’s 441 passing yards meant nothing in the loss.
First, we knew that Dallas tends to win in November. A win would have given the Cowboys a 3-1 record during November this year.
Second, we knew that the Cowboys tend to beat the Redskins. Dallas had a 6-1 record against Washington since November 2008.
Third, we knew that Dallas tends to win on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys had gone 6-1 on Thanksgiving since 2006, and Tony Romo had never lost on Thanksgiving Day.
Even better news for the Cowboys was that Dallas previously had a 6-0 record against Washington on Thanksgiving Day.
Then Robert Griffin III returned to Texas. It looked like the Cowboys came to play in the first quarter, but RGIII exploded for three touchdown passes in a 28-point second quarter for the Redskins.
The final score of 38-31 suggested a decent game, but the Cowboys were only barely in a position to make a game of it.
One would think that Rob Ryan might have accomplished something to deserve so much air time. His current defense had absolutely no idea what to do with Griffin. After RGIII found Aldrick Robinson all by himself on a 68-yard touchdown play early in the second quarter to give the Redskins a 7-3 lead, Washington never trailed again.
Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss made some nice plays on touchdown receptions that extended the Washington lead to 28-3 by halftime.
In the past six games, the Cowboys have managed a grand total of 32 first-half points. They have been outscored during the first halves of those games by a combined score of 84-32.
Yes, Dallas has played some good football in the second halves of those games, but it is no wonder the team has gone 3-3. The team is facing a constant uphill battle.
Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Felix Jones made some decent plays when the team was fighting that battle in the second half on Thursday. When Romo bought some time out of the pocket and found Bryant crossing the field, Bryant turned the play into an 85-yard touchdown. At that point, the Cowboys trailed 28-13.
Of course, a defensive stop would have been nice, but Dallas could not do it. RGIII drove the ball into Dallas territory, and facing a 3rd and 1, he faked a handoff and found tight end Niles Paul wide open for a 29-yard touchdown.
From there, the Cowboys cut the lead to 35-28, thanks largely to an interception by reserve safety Charlie Peprah.
But when Dallas needed a stop yet again to stay in the game, Griffin drove Washington into field-goal range. The Cowboys weren’t about to overcome a 10-point deficit late in the game.
* * *
I didn’t think the Cowboys were going to make the playoffs, but I thought they would beat Washington. This team is going to have a tough time having a winning record in its last five games, let alone making some sort of playoff run.
I hope Rob Ryan accepts a head coaching job somewhere. Or just goes somewhere else. I am very close to hoping he hires Jason Garrett as his offensive coordinator.
Sure, there are some key injuries, but this team’s starters are making some of the most boneheaded mistakes. Moreover, there is simply no excuse for repeated penalties for too many men on the field, delay of game, and so forth.
The Cowboys get a rematch with the Eagles on December 2.
The Cowboys’ 23-20 win over the Cleveland Browns was the first overtime game at Cowboys Stadium. In fact, it was the first home overtime game for the Cowboys since 2005.
The NFL first adopted overtime rules in 1974. Since then, the Cowboys have played in 31 overtime games, compiling a record of 18-13 (including Sunday’s win over Cleveland).
Only nine of those game came a home, however. Until Sunday, the Cowboys had a record of 4-4 in home overtime games dating back to 1975. With the win over the Browns, the Cowboys’ record is now 5-4.
Here’s a list of those home overtime games:
Some definitions of outrageous:
a : going beyond all standards of what is right or decent
b: deficient in propriety or good taste
This brings us to the Cowboys’ 23-20 overtime win over the Cleveland Browns. The Cowboys fielded a patchwork offensive line featuring Mackenzy Bernadeau at center and Derrick Dockery at right guard. Tyron Smith suffered an ankle injury, requiring Jermey Parnell to play left tackle.
It makes sense, then, that Tony Romo spent much of the day running for his life. He was pressured 10 times and suffered 7 sacks. When the team tried to help Romo, the line and others just decided to hold. In fact, on two different plays, the referees called two different Cowboys for holding.
Right tackle Doug Free is not a backup, nor was he hurt. But he turned in one of the the worst plays of the game, allowing Jabaal Sheard to sack Romo. Dan Dierdorf’s comment: “Wow. That’s inferior play.”
And that summed up the Cowboys’ pathetic, gutless, awful performance during the first 35 minutes or so of Sunday’s game. Fortunately for Dallas, the Browns entered the game at 2-7 for a reason.
First, Dallas stopped the Browns on Cleveland’s opening drive of the first half. Second, the Cowboys scored on their next drive to cut the Cleveland lead to 13-3. Third, Dallas held Cleveland to a three-and-out.
The Cowboys had come to life and took the lead thanks to two fourth-quarter touchdowns. On the go-ahead drive midway through the fourth, fullback Lawrence Vickers made the most critical three-yard reception in recent memory when he leaped in the air to grab the catch on a 4th-and-1 play. The play extended a drive that ended with a touchdown pass from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant.
On the next drive, Almost Anthony Spencer almost had an interception. One play later, he dropped the Almost from his name and sacked Brandon Weeden, stripped the ball, and recovered the fumble.
Dallas 17. Cleveland 13. Ball on the Cleveland 18. 5:45 remaining.
Get all that? Most teams punch the ball in and put the game away.
Not Dallas. The Cowboys were called for holding, moving the ball back to the 28. One play later, Romo dropped back to pass but faced pressure.
Secure the ball?
Aw, hell no.
Romo fumbled it right back to the Browns, who promptly drove 64 yards to the Dallas 1.
Somehow, though, the Cowboys held the Browns without a touchdown. With 1:42 remaining, Dallas needed a first down or two to secure the win.
Of course, starting from the 1 was difficult. Dallas gained three yards, which barely gave Brian Moorman room to breathe. Moorman hit a 49-yard punt, but it was a line drive that Josh Cribbs fielded easily en route to a 21-yard return. Moreover, John Phillips was called for a horse-collar tackle, even though it appeared that Phillips grabbed Cribbs’ hair.
The next play was Weeden’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Benjamin Watson. The genius and pregnant defensive coordinator on the Cowboys sideline was once again late putting personnel on the field.
Now the Cowboys trailed 20-17.
Romo managed to move the ball back downfield, thanks largely to two penalties on the Cleveland defense. Dallas had the ball at the Cleveland 14 with 23 seconds remaining.
Remember those problems with time management? Such as the problems that cost the Cowboys the win over Baltimore?
Well, how about a delay-of-game penalty from the Cleveland 9 with 12 seconds left? Impressed?
Dan Bailey kicked a field goal to send the game to overtime. It marked the first time the Cowboys have had an overtime game at Cowboys Stadium.
The teams exchanged punts. Dwayne Harris showed why Dez Bryant should not return another punt this year, as Harris helped save the Cowboys for the second straight week. His 20-yard return put Dallas in good shape, and the Cowboys managed to drive the ball into field goal range. Bailey’s 38-yard field goal gave Dallas the win.
If the events that happened before win weren’t enough, Jerry Jones had to add to the excitement. His quote:
I’m really pleased with the offensive line, as it is as we sit here right now with the win.
There is no single profane word that describes my verbal reaction to this statement. I’ll stick with vanilla and just say Outrageous.