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A Potentially Depressing Playoff Picture for the Cowboys

165If yesterday’s loss to the Giants wasn’t bad enough, consider this:

The Cowboys could rather easily go from being division leaders to being a
team barely holding on to a playoff spot.

If:

(1) The Cowboys lose to the Chargers, causing the Cowboys to fall to 8-5; and

(2) The Giants beat the Eagles, making both teams 8-5; and

(3) The Packers beat the Bears, making the Packers 9-4.

Then:

The Packers will have the inside track for the first wildcard spot. Moreover,
the Packers hold the tiebreaker over the Cowboys thanks to Green Bay’s win over
Dallas.

The Giants would lead the NFC East, thanks to a 4-1 division record.

The Cowboys would still have the #6 spot in the NFC, thanks to the win
earlier this year over the Eagles. But consider this: the Cowboys have to play
the Saints in week 15, while the Eagles face San Francisco.

The bottom line is that Dallas has four must-win games coming up. A 10-6
record is probably not good enough to make the playoffs.

N.Y. Giants 31, Dallas 24: Gutless Performance Despite Lofty Statistics

On many of the message boards this year, two distinct types of fans (there
are other types, of course) have emerged.

The first gave up on the Cowboys after the team’s loss at Denver, saying that
Wade Phillips should have been fired then.

The second type weren’t ready to give up on the Cowboys, though most positive
comments were tempered with the phrase "…but let’s wait until we see what
happens in December."

There is no need to summarize the Cowboys’ December woes, given that nearly
every story about the Cowboys last week focused on those woes. But I’m going to do it anyway. What has tended
to happen in December?

(1) The Cowboys’ fundamentals fly out of the stadium. The team misses
tackles, blows assignments, misses key blocks, and you name what else.

Example: Allowing the Baltimore Ravens to score on two long runs to close out
the final game at Texas Stadium in 2008.

(2) The Cowboys’ offense makes key mistakes at the worst possible moments.
This might be an interception or a fumble, or it may just be a bad read.

Example: Tony Romo throwing a pick against the Steelers, which Pittsburgh
returned for a touchdown in a 20-13 Steeler win in 2008.

(3) When something positive happens for Dallas, the opposing team very
quickly erases any momentum that the Cowboys might have gained.

Example: The Cowboys eating up nearly all of the second quarter of their 2007
playoff game against the Giants and taking a 14-7 lead, only to watch the Giants
easily march down the field to tie the game before the half.

The Cowboys incorporated all of these miscues into their miserable, gutless
loss to a Giants team that provide it knew better than the Cowboys how to win.
The game had a feel much like the Cowboys’ 21-17 loss to New York in the 2007
playoffs; in fact, the Giants at one point led 21-17 on Sunday. The game was
likewise much like the Cowboys’ 20-13 loss at Pittsburgh in 2008, which began a
1-3 month of December that ended the Cowboys’ playoff hopes. Like the Cowboys’
loss at Pittsburgh, it was hard not to have the impression that Dallas would
find a way to lose the game.

At one point in the game Sunday, the Cowboys had outplayed the Giants and had
taken a 10-0 lead. In fact, Dallas took advantage of an Ahmad Bradshaw fumble to
score a touchdown with 3:14 remaining in the first half. The Giants had not yet
moved into Dallas territory, and it looked as if the Cowboys might start running
away with the game.

Then came three consecutive 16-yard gains by the Giants, including a pass
where Eli Manning should have been sacked but was able to flip the ball to tight
end Kevin Boss. With relative ease, the Giants scored on a 21-yard touchdown
pass when Terence Newman tried to make a play on the ball but missed, and Hakeem
Nicks pulled in the pass to score.

Dallas began what looked like a nice drive into Giant territory, but Mathias
Kiwanuka stripped Marion Barber on a screen pass, and Osi Umenyiora picked up
the ball and raced to the Dallas 28. The Giants again scored rather easily and
took a 14-10 lead.

Thus, what looked like a very promising first half falls apart thanks to all
three of the miscues noted above. The rest of the game was not pretty for Dallas
fans, even with some positive plays thrown in the mix.

The Giants opened the second half by moving the ball effectively yet again,
but from the Dallas 25, Manning lofted a pass that Mike Jenkins intercepted.

The teams then exchanged three-and-out drives before the Cowboys got rolling
again. Dallas moved the ball 56 yards in eight plays, capped off by Tony Romo’s
second touchdown pass to Roy Williams. Dallas had the momentum again, along with
a 17-14 lead.

The momentum lasted for 19 seconds on the game clock. On the Giants’ next
drive, Manning hit Brandon Jacobs in the flat, and Jacobs outran Anthony Spencer
and Bradie James and broke an attempted tackle by Gerald Sensabaugh to go 74
yards for a touchdown.

It was all but over for the Cowboys after that, even though it was only a
four-point game. Dallas managed to move to the Giant 24 with 10:50 remaining,
but on a third-and-seven play, Romo missed Tashard Choice on what might have
been a touchdown pass. Nick Folk then completely blew a 41-yard field goal
attempt.

The Giants responded with a drive down to the Dallas 5, but the Cowboys held.
With a Lawrence Tynes field goal, the Giants extended their lead to 24-17.

With the Cowboys needing some heroics, Romo managed to commit an intentional
grounding penalty, and the Cowboys had to punt. The stellar punt return team had
several shots to bring down Domenik Hixon, but Hixon broke several arm tackles
en route to a 79-yard touchdown.

The Cowboys had a chance to close the gap to seven with just over four
minutes to play, but Romo’s pass to Williams went way too high. Dallas failed to
convert a fourth down and turned the ball over.

Romo hit Miles Austin on a 22-yard touchdown pass with just under a minute
left to cut the lead to 31-24, but the Cowboys failed to recover the onside
kick.

At least

one blogger
gave the Cowboys credit for their performance today, but it’s
hard to believe that this season will turn out any better than previous years.
The Cowboys that played today are no different than the Cowboys who could not
finish out the season in previous years.

As for numbers, Tony Romo was a fine fantasy quarterback today. He completed
41 of 55 passes for 392 yards and three touchdowns. Jason Witten had a huge game
with 14 receptions for 156 yards, while Austin had 10 receptions for 104 yards
and a TD. Williams had his first multiple touchdown game since 2007.

Predictions Favor Cowboys in Final Game at Giants Stadium

A surprising number of commentators have predicted a Dallas win over the
Giants. Seven of the eight commentators at
ESPN picked Dallas, while five of the
eight commentators at the

Dallas Morning News
took Dallas.

One of those who took the Giants, though, was Todd Archer, who has the
highest prediction rate among the DMN staff. Tim Cowlishaw also took the Giants,
thinking that New York

might have an edge in this game
.



AccuScore
: Dallas 25, Giants 25

This game can’t be any closer if the AccuScore predictions are accurate. The
Giants won 50.3% of the simulations, but the average score is dead even at 24.5
to 24.5.

Eli Manning indicates his injury is not hurting his ability to play. If
he is healthy Manning is expected to have a pretty solid game with 230 yards
and an average of 1.6 TD passes and just 0.7 INTs. Tony Romo is averaging
similar stats with 240 yards, 1.7 TDs and 0.8 INTs. The key to the game is
the running game. If the Giants can re-establish their running game and
average 4.5 ypc the Giants are 53 percent favorites. If the Cowboys average
4.5 ypc they are 57 percent favorites. If both running games do well then
the game will hinge on turnovers. The team with at least a +1 turnover
margin advantage improves their chances from roughly 50 percent up to 75
percent.



WhatIfSports
: Dallas 25, Giants 23

The Cowboys did a little bit better in the WhatIfSports’ simulations, winning
62.6% of the games. The Cowboys averaged 163 rushing yards compared with 139 by
the Giants, and Eli Manning had a slightly higher interception percentage than
Tony Romo.


Madden Simulation
: Dallas 27, Giants 16

Tony Romo had a huge game in the Madden simulation.

The Dallas Cowboys look to knock their division rivals right out of the
playoff hunt, and it appears they do just that with the "Madden"-simulated,
27-16 win over the Giants.

Tony Romo gets a December win thanks to 271 yards passing, two
touchdowns, and more importantly, zero interceptions against the New York D.

With the win, the Cowboys improve to 9-3 on the season while the
once-mighty Giants fall to 6-6.

My Guess (8-3 this season based on win-loss)

On the day before Thanksgiving, I

predicted a 17-point Dallas win
over the Raiders. That turned out to be
accurate, though I had too much faith that Nick Folk would make more field
goals.

Since I am going to the game, I refuse to believe the Cowboys are going
to struggle against the Raiders, who have had problems putting together
back-to-back wins. Dallas will jump out to a 16-0 lead thanks to three Nick
Folk field goals. The Raiders will cut into the lead, but two second half
touchdowns will put the game away for Dallas.

For the season, my record in predicting wins is identical to the Cowboys’
overall record.

Key—

Week: My Prediction (Actual
Result)

Week 1: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 24
(actual: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21)

Week 2: N.Y. Giants 17, Dallas 14
(actual: N.Y. Giants 33, Dallas 31)

Week 3: Dallas 31, Carolina 21
(actual: Dallas 21, Carolina 7)

Week 4: Dallas 24, Denver 14 (actual:
Denver 17, Dallas 10)

Week 5: Dallas 31, Kansas City 14
(actual: Dallas 26, Kansas City 20)

Week 7: Atlanta 28, Dallas 17
(actual: Dallas 37, Atlanta 21)

Week 8: Dallas 31, Seattle 17 (actual
Dallas 38, Seattle 17)

Week 9: Dallas 23, Philadelphia 17
(actual: Dallas 20, Philadelphia 16)

Week 10: Dallas 31, Green Bay 20
(actual: Green Bay 17, Dallas 7)

Week 11: Dallas 20, Washington 6
(actual: Dallas 7, Washington 6)

Week 12: Dallas 30, Oakland 13
(actual: Dallas 24, Oakland 7)

 

This week, I think the Cowboys will initially have problems on offense and
will fall behind early. However, the defense will hold the Giants to field
goals, and the score will be 6-0 at the half. Early in the third quarter, Dallas
will start to run the ball more effectively and will take the lead early in the
third quarter. The Cowboys will hold on to the lead by scoring one more
touchdown while holding the Giants to more field goals. The final:

anma450c899c81a4a7e

Dallas 21, N.Y. Giants 12

Cowboys Could Finish 50 Seasons with Best All-Time Winning Percentage

For a brief time during the 2008 season, the Cowboys had the
best all-time winning percentage among NFL franchises. By the start of the 2009
season, however, the Cowboys had fallen to third. Here is a look:

Prior to the 2009 season:

1. Miami Dolphins: 380-272-4 (.583)

2. Chicago Bears: 686-499-42 (.579)

3. Dallas Cowboys: 423-309-6 (.578)

Since then, the Cowboys have gone 8-3, while the Dolphins have gone 5-6 and
the Bears have gone 4-7. The result is that the Cowboys are closing in on the #1
spot again.

Winning Percentages Through Week 12:

1. Miami Dolphins: 385-278-4 (.581)

2. Dallas Cowboys: 431-312-6 (.580)

3. Chicago Bears: 690-505-42 (.577)

It would be something else if the Cowboys could complete their 50th season as
the NFL’s winningest franchise, and there is now a good chance of that
happening. Here are the possibilities (excluding ties, because I am too
dumb/lazy/dumb to calculate those):

(a) If the Dolphins win all five of their remaining games, Miami would remain
at the #1 spot with a winning percentage of 58.3832%. The best the Cowboys can
do by winning all five of their remaining games is finish with a percentage of
58.2888%.

(b) If the Dolphins win four of their last five (58.2335%), the Cowboys have
to win all five of their games to earn the #1 spot (58.2888% with five wins).

(c) If the Dolphins win three of their last five (58.0838%), the Cowboys have
to win at least four of their five games (58.1551% with four wins).

(d) If the Dolphins win two of their last five (57.9341%), the Cowboys have
to win at least three of their five games (58.0214% with three wins).

(e) If the Dolphins win one of their last five (57.7844%), the Cowboys have
to win at least two of their five games (57.8877% with two wins).

(f) If the Dolphins fail to win another game (57.6347%), the Cowboys have to
win one of their final five games (57.7540% with one win).

It is possible for the Bears to surpass the Cowboys once again, but it would
take a huge turnaround in Chicago for that to happen.

Relative Value Rankings After Week 12

The Cowboys’ offense had a resurgence this week, but few players made huge leaps forward. On the other side of the ball, Anthony Spencer continues to impress and has moved up to #9.

Most of the complaints about these rankings have focused on my treatment of injured players. After giving it some thought, I’ve decided to remove any inactive player from the list, even if that inactive player will return later this season. Thus, Ken Hamlin does not appear on this week’s ranking, even though he should return soon.

Inactives vs. Oakland: QB Stephen McGee, S Ken Hamlin, CB Cletis Gordon, LB Jason Williams, G Montrae Holland, C Duke Preston, T Marc Colombo, LB
Curtis Johnson

45. Pat McQuistan, T

Last week: 46

Poll rating: 1.60

vs. Oakland: McQuistan has replaced Doug Free on special teams. At least he’s active.

44. Michael Hamlin, S

Last week: 47

Poll rating: 1.40

vs. Oakland: Hamlin was active for the second time this season against the Raiders. He recorded a tackle on a kickoff return following Felix Jones’
touchdown run.

43. Steve Octavien, LB

Last week: 45

Poll rating: 1.60

vs. Oakland: Octavien showed up on the television screen, but he did not show up in the stat column.

42. Jon Kitna, QB

Last week: 44

Poll rating: 1.60

vs. Oakland: Tony Romo may end up taking every snap this season, so Kitna hasn’t done anything more than Stephen McGee.

41. Cory Procter, C/G

Last week: 43

Poll rating: 2.14

vs. Oakland: Procter remains a special teams player and nothing else.

40. John Phillips, TE

Last week: 41

Poll rating: 2.00

vs. Oakland: Blocking tight end. Nothing remarkable to note.

39. Victor Butler, LB

Last week: 40

Poll rating: 2.29

vs. Oakland: Butler did not manage a tackle against the Raiders. He has done very little to note since sacking Donovan McNabb.

38. L.P. Ladouceur, LS

Last week: 39

Poll rating: 3.00

vs. Oakland: Nick Folk missed another field goal, but it had nothing to do with the snap.

37. Kevin Ogletree, WR

Last week: 37

Poll rating: 2.10

vs. Oakland: Ogletree turned heads by making some big plays on bubble screen passes in a couple of earlier games. He turned more heads in a negative sort of way when he dropped a punt against the Raiders. That’s a good way to become inactive again.

36. Sam Hurd, WR

Last week: 36

Poll rating: 2.40

vs. Oakland: Hurd managed one tackle on special teams. He hasn’t caught a pass since scoring against the Seahawks.

35. Deon Anderson, FB

Last week: 35

Poll rating: 2.56

vs. Oakland: Anderson made a solid block on Raider linebacker Kirk Morrison in the first quarter, which helped to spring Tashard Choice on a 66-yard run out of the Razorback. On the next play, though, Anderson was called for holding.

34. Jason Hatcher, DE

Last week: 42

Poll rating: 2.14

vs. Oakland: Hatcher managed a solo tackle and an assist against the Raiders. He has not made headlines, but Hatcher can make plays from time to time. He very
nearly recorded a sack, but Anthony Spencer got to Bruce Gradkowski just before Hatcher.

33. Junior Siavii, DT

Last week: 38

Poll rating: 2.56

vs. Oakland: Siavii did not manage a tackle against the Raiders.

32. David Buehler, K

Last week: 34

Poll rating: 2.80

vs. Oakland: Five kickoffs, with three in the end zone and three touchbacks. Solid.

31. Nick Folk, K

Last week: 31

Poll rating: 2.20

vs. Oakland: Folk missed yet another field goal. Though the 49-yarder hit the upright, a miss is a miss. This marked the third consecutive game that Folk has missed a field goal.

30. Pat Watkins, S

Last week: 33

Poll rating: 2.60

vs. Oakland: Watkins recorded a defensive tackle and a special teams tackle. His play on the coverage units is especially impressive when you can watch the entire field at a live game.

29. Stephen Bowen, DE

Last week: 32

Poll rating: 2.70

vs. Oakland: Bowen recorded one tackle on defense.

28. Alan Ball, S

Last week: 28

Poll rating: 2.70

vs. Oakland: Ball recorded one tackle. He nearly had an interception when he stepped in front of a Bruce Gradkowski pass early in the second quarter. The negatives: he gave up the Raiders’ lone touchdown pass, and he was called for holding on a punt return.

27. Roy Williams, WR

Last week: 30

Poll rating: 1.50

vs. Oakland: Two receptions, 15 yards. He might have been the victim of pass interference on one play, and he managed to make two very nice receptions. The second of those was for a touchdown and put the game away. That said, he appears to have trouble getting off the line.

26. Bobby Carpenter, LB

Last week: 26

Poll rating: 3.20

vs. Oakland: Surprisingly, Carpenter did not record a tackle against the Raiders.

25. Orlando Scandrick, CB

Last week: 26

Poll rating: 3.30

vs. Oakland: Scandrick recorded two tackles and one pass defense.

24. Doug Free, T

Last week: 23

Poll rating: 3.30

vs. Oakland: Trevor Scott recorded two sacks, and at least one of those was on Free. Otherwise, Free appeared to do a good job on run blocking, though he had help from Bennett and Witten.

23. Martellus Bennett, TE

Last week: 24

Poll rating: 3.89

vs. Oakland: Just as soon as you think Bennett will get more involved with the offense, Jason Witten reemerges, and Bennett goes without a reception. I moved Bennett up a spot because he helped Free on the blocking scheme.

22. Tashard Choice, RB

Last week: 22

Poll rating: 2.82

vs. Oakland: Choice made a great play when he lined up in the Razorback, found a seam, and took off for a 66-yard gain. He ran out of gas towards the end, though, and the play only set up a field goal. Earlier, Choice also made a nice tackle on a punt return.

21. Marcus Spears, DE

Last week: 21

Poll rating: 3.33

vs. Oakland: Spears make one solo tackle and one assist. His value is probably best judged by some factor other than stats, but it is tough to make figure out what this is. He does not always command a double-team, so it must be something else.

20. Flozell Adams, T

Last week: 18

Poll rating: 3.36

vs. Oakland: In the second quarter, Tony Romo found Marion Barber in the flat, and Barber raced 42 yards to the Oakland 28. Next play: False start, #76, offense. You should have heard the groans.

19. Kyle Kosier, G

Last week: 16

Poll rating: 3.40

vs. Oakland: Kosier had a role in both of the Cowboys’ long runs (Choice’s first-quarter run and Jones’ touchdown run). However, Kosier also committed two costly penalties, including one for illegal hands to the face, which moved the team out of field goal range.

18. Felix Jones, RB

Last week: 20

Poll rating: 3.00

vs. Oakland: Jones outplayed fellow Razorback Darren McFadden. Felix scored on a 46-yard touchdown run and finished the game with 68 yards on 7 carries. He’s about to lose the "Fragile Felix" nickname, though he did leave the field late in the game when he was poked in the eye.

17. Patrick Crayton, WR

Last week: 15

Poll rating: 3.53

vs. Oakland: Crayton had a very quiet game and did not manage to make a reception. He averaged nine yards per return on four punt returns.

16. Igor Olshansky, DE

Last week: 19

Poll rating: 3.62

vs. Oakland: Unlike Spears, Olshansky contributions are pretty noticeable. He managed three tackles against the Raiders.

15. Mat McBriar, P

Last week: 17

Poll rating: 3.71

vs. Oakland: Of six punts, four ended up inside the 20.

14. Bradie James, LB

Last week: 14

Poll rating: 3.73

vs. Oakland: James had two solo tackles and three assists against the Raiders. Solid day at the office.

13. Leonard Davis, G

Last week: 11

Poll rating: 3.80

vs. Oakland: The Raiders never made much of a push up the middle, and Davis did not appear to make any mistakes.

12. Andre Gurode, C

Last week: 12

Poll rating: 3.87

vs. Oakland: Gurode’s performance was just as strong as Davis’. Gurode had a slightly higher rating last week, so I moved him up a spot.

11. Jason Witten, TE

Last week: 13

Poll rating: 3.93

vs. Oakland: Witten had his first 100-yard receiving day in a year against the Raiders, which was surprising given that he was a game-time decision.

10. Gerald Sensabaugh, S

Last week: 9

Poll rating: 3.73

vs. Oakland: Sensabaugh recorded four solo tackles and two assists with one pass defense.

9. Anthony Spencer, LB

Last week: 10

Poll rating: 3.93

vs. Oakland: He’s "Almost Anthony" no more! One week after recording a game-clinching interception, Spencer recorded two sacks, six solo tackles, and two assists. Two of his tackles were for losses, and he hurried the quarterback three times.

8. Terence Newman, CB

Last week: 8

Poll rating: 3.80

vs. Oakland: The Raiders are not especially strong at the receiver position, but Newman had a solid game.

7. Mike Jenkins, CB

Last week: 7

Poll rating: 3.93

vs. Oakland: See Terence Newman’s note.

6. Marion Barber, RB

Last week: 5

Poll rating: 3.81

vs. Oakland: Barber finished with 61 yards on 14 carries. He also had a 42-yard pass reception.

5. Tony Romo, QB

Last week: 4

Poll rating: 3.00

vs. Oakland: Romo made the plays he needed to make. However, he was nearly picked off in the second quarter when he tried to drill a pass to Williams on a slant pattern. Fortunately for Romo, SS Tyvon Branch and DE/OLB Trevor Scott ran into one another before either could make the pick.

4. DeMarcus Ware, LB

Last week: 3

Poll rating: 4.40

vs. Oakland: Ware only managed one sack and one tackle. However, he hurried Gradkowski four times and was in the backfield on several other plays.

3. Miles Austin, WR

Last week: 6

Poll rating: 3.20

vs. Oakland: Seven receptions for 145 yards. Austin was the catalyst on several huge drives. In the second quarter, with the Cowboys facing a 3rd-and-11, Austin took a short pass and managed to plow his way forward for a first down. Two plays later, Austin caught a 27-yard pass that set up Jones’ touchdown run. Austin caught three passes on a drive later in the quarter, including a nine-yard score with less than 40 seconds left in the first half.

2. Jay Ratliff, NT
 
Last week: 2

Poll rating: 4.44

vs. Oakland: Ratliff recorded four solos and an assist, along with one QB hurry.

1. Keith Brooking, LB

Last week: 1

Poll rating: 4.94

vs. Oakland: Six solos and three assists, with one QB hurry. He has become the team’s vocal leader, and hopefully the team is listening more to him now that the season has reached December.

 

Poll

No Advantage to Dallas in Week After Thanksgiving

The Cowboys’ tradition of playing on Thanksgiving Day began in 1966. Including last week’s win over the Raiders, the Cowboys now have a 27-14-1 record on Thanksgiving.

For many years, though, it was not the team’s Thanksgiving performance that was the most impressive. Between 1968 and 1984, the Cowboys won 15 consecutive games during the week after Thanksgiving. The few extra days off seemed to help the Cowboys, who often blew out their opponents after a 10-day rest.

Since 1985, though, this advantage has all but vanished. The Cowboys went 0-5 during the week after Thanksgiving from 1985 to 1989. Dallas won five straight from 1990 to 1994, but since 1995, the Cowboys have only managed a 5-9 record in the game following the Thanksgiving Classic.

In sum: From 1966 to 1984, the Cowboys had a 16-1 record after Thanksgiving. Since then, Dallas has gone 10-14.

Next Sunday’s game against the Giants marks the third time in five seasons that the Cowboys have traveled to the Meadowlands after playing on Thanksgiving. Dallas lost at New York in 2005 but won on a last-second field goal in 2006.

Here’s a look at the Cowboys’ games during the weeks after Thanksgiving.

Date – W/L Score, Opponent

Dec. 4, 1966 – W 31-17, St. Louis

Dec. 3, 1967 – L 23-17, Baltimore

Dec. 8, 1968 – W 28-7, Pittsburgh

Dec. 7, 1969 – W 10-7, Pittsburgh

Dec. 6, 1970 – W 34-0, Washington

Dec. 4, 1971 – W 52-10, N.Y. Jets

Dec. 3, 1972 – W 27-6, St. Louis

Dec. 2, 1973 – W 22-10, Denver

Dec. 7, 1974 – W 41-17, Cleveland

Dec. 5, 1976 – W 26-7, Philadelphia

Dec. 3, 1978 – W 17-10, New England

Dec. 2, 1979 – W 28-7, N.Y. Giants

Dec. 7, 1980 – W 19-13, Oakland

Dec. 6, 1981 – W 37-13, Baltimore

Dec. 5, 1982 – W 24-10, Washington

Dec. 4, 1983 – W 35-10, Seattle

Dec. 2, 1984 – W 26-10, Philadelphia

Dec. 8, 1985 – L 50-24, Cincinnati

Dec. 7, 1986 – L 31-14, Seattle

Dec. 6, 1987 – L 21-10, Atlanta

Dec. 4, 1988 – L 24-21, Cleveland

Dec. 3, 1989 – L 35-31, L.A. Rams

Dec. 2, 1990 – W 17-13, New Orleans

Dec. 8, 1991 – W 23-14, New Orleans

Dec. 6, 1992 – W 31-27, Denver

Dec. 6, 1993 – W 23-17, Philadelphia

Dec. 4, 1994 – W 31-19, Philadelphia

Dec. 3, 1995 – L 24-17, Washington

Dec. 8, 1996 – W 10-6, Arizona

Dec. 8, 1997 – L 23-13, Carolina

Dec. 6, 1998 – L 20-17, Kansas City

Dec. 5, 1999 – L 13-6, New England

Dec. 3, 2000 – L 27-7, Tampa Bay

Dec. 2, 2001 – W 20-14, Washington

Dec. 8, 2002 – L 31-27, San Francisco

Dec. 7, 2003 – L 36-10, Philadelphia

Dec. 6, 2004 – W 43-39, Seattle

Dec. 4, 2005 – L 17-10, N.Y. Giants

Dec. 3, 2006 – W 23-20, N.Y. Giants

Nov. 29, 2007 – W 37-27, Green Bay

Dec. 7, 2008 – L 20-13, Pittsburgh

Smith and Haley are Semifinalists for the Hall of Fame

The Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday announced its class of 2010
semifinalists. The Cowboys are virtually guaranteed at least one player, as
Emmitt Smith is eligible for selection. Few would doubt that he will earn a spot
along with Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, and Shannon Sharpe. A few others have a more
question marks, but former Cowboy and 49er defensive end Charles Haley also has
a good shot. Here’s the complete list:

Emmitt
Smith, RB – 1990-2002 Dallas Cowboys, 2003-04 Arizona Cardinals 

Charles
Haley, DE/LB – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys

Cliff
Branch, WR – 1972-1985 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders 
Tim Brown, WR/KR – 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay
Buccaneers
Cris Carter, WR – 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002
Miami Dolphins
Don Coryell, Coach – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers

Roger Craig, RB – 1983-1990 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders,
1992-93 Minnesota Vikings
Terrell Davis, RB – 1995-2001 Denver Broncos
Dermontti Dawson, C – 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers
Richard Dent, DE – 1983-1993, 1995 Chicago Bears, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1996
Indianapolis Colts, 1997 Philadelphia Eagles
Chris Doleman, DE/LB – 1985-1993, 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-95 Atlanta
Falcons, 1996-98 San Francisco 49ers
Kevin Greene, LB/DE – 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers,
1996, 1998-99 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers
Russ Grimm, G – 1981-1991 Washington Redskins
Ray Guy, P – 1973-1986 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
Lester Hayes, CB – 1977-1986 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
Rickey Jackson, LB – 1981-1993 New Orleans Saints, 1994-95 San Francisco 49ers
Cortez Kennedy, DT – 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks
Art Modell, Owner – 1961-1995 Cleveland Browns, 1996-2003 Baltimore Ravens
John Randle, DT – 1990-2000 Minnesota Vikings, 2001-03 Seattle Seahawks
Andre Reed, WR – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
Jerry Rice, WR – 1985-2000 San Francisco 49ers, 2001-04 Oakland Raiders, 2004
Seattle Seahawks 
Shannon Sharpe, TE – 1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens
Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner – 1989-2006 National Football League
Steve Tasker, Special Teams/WR – 1985-86 Houston Oilers, 1986-1997 Buffalo Bills
Aeneas Williams, CB/S – 1991-2000 Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals, 2001-04 St. Louis
Rams

 

The modern-era Cowboy most noticeably absent from this list is safety Darren Woodson, who earned five Pro Bowl berths and was named all-pro three times. This is a pretty stout list of players, but Woodson deserves a spot.

 

As for the seniors, the two players selected were former Lion cornerback (and current Pittsburgh defensive coordinator) Dick LeBeau and former Bronco running back Floyd Little. LeBeau would not be a bad pick, given that he had 62 career interceptions. Though his coaching career should not be a factor, it’s hard to believe that it won’t be.

 

The choice of Little will probably have some heads turning. His career stats include only one 1,000-yard season (he played during the 14-game-season era), and he finished his career with 6,323 yards. That number currently ranks 61st in NFL history. He retired before the Broncos
earned their first berth in a Super Bowl in 1977.

 

A website devoted to Little’s induction argues the following:

It’s time to elect Floyd Little
to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Without Floyd’s impact, the Denver Broncos
would have been forced to relocate over 40 yrs ago. The 5-Time Pro Bowler
who retired the 7th All-Time Rusher in NFL History saved the franchise.

No offense to Little, but this justifies Little’s induction into Broncos’ Ring of Fame, but Little is not as deserving as several Cowboys. These Cowboys are the same names we’ve heard plenty of times before: Chuck Howley, Cliff Harris, and Drew Pearson.

 

But given that 2010 will be the year that the Cowboys celebrate Smith’s induction, we can save other debates for future inductions.

Dallas 24, Oakland 7: Weapons Resurface

A great win for the first Thanksgiving Day game at Cowboys Stadium.

A great win for the first Thanksgiving Day game at Cowboys Stadium.

The Cowboys seriously lacked firepower during the last two weeks in games
where they scored only seven points in consecutive games. This was nothing a
game against the Raiders couldn’t help.

Consider these performances:

Tashard Choice

Past two games: 4 att., 14 yards

vs. Oakland: 3 att., 67 yards, including a 66-yard run out of the Razorback
(Wildcat)

Felix Jones

Past two games: 13 att., 55 yards, with a long run of 9 yards.

vs. Oakland: 7 att., 68 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown run.

Jason Witten

Past two games: 10 rec., 90 yards

vs. Oakland: 5 rec., 107 yards

Miles Austin

Past two games: 8 rec., 67 yards

vs. Oakland: 7 rec., 145 yards, 1 TD

Tony Romo

Past two games: 409 passing yards, 2 TD, 74.6 QB rating

vs. Oakland: 309 passing yards, 2 TD, 121.2 QB rating

 

What has been consistent during the past three games has been the Dallas
defense. The Cowboys gave up only one touchdown against the Raiders and held an
opponent to fewer than 10 points for the third time this season.

During the week that Greg Ellis returned to Dallas, it was his replacement in
the Dallas lineup that had one of the biggest games. Anthony Spencer was a
monster on Thanksgiving, recording two sacks and eight total tackles.

The Cowboys had a few miscues against Oakland, but thanks to the defense,
those miscues became largely irrelevant.

On the second offensive play for the Cowboys, Romo hit Austin on a crossing
route that gained 49 yards to the Oakland 27. However, right tackle Doug Free
committed a penalty, followed by another penalty by Kyle Kosier. The drive
stalled, and the Cowboys were backed up so far they had to punt.

Two drives later, Tashard Choice took a snap out of the Razorback and took
off. He probably should have had a touchdown but was run down after a 66-yard
gain. Next play: Holding on Deon Anderson. Dallas had to settle for a field
goal.

In the second quarter, Romo hit Marion Barber in the right flat, and Barber
raced 42 yards up the sideline. Next play: False start on Flozell Adams.

Despite those plays, the Cowboys wrestled control of the game in the second
quarter. Leading 3-0 with 13:09 left in the second quarter, Dallas took the ball
at its own 11. Two passes to Miles Austin moved the ball to the Oakland 46. Austin’s first reception on the drive was big, as it came on a 3rd-and-11 play from the Dallas 10. He stretched at the end of the play to give Dallas a first down. Two plays later, he caught a pass on a crossing route and gained 27 yards. Felix Jones then found a hole up the middle and raced all the way for a touchdown. It was Jones’ first touchdown since the Cowboys’ week 2 loss to the New York Giants.

Late in the first half, Dallas moved the ball into Oakland territory. Romo
hit Austin over the middle, and it appeared that when the defender tackled
Austin that Austin’s knee never hit the ground. A review showed that Austin’s
ankle and lower leg did touch the ground, but the ruling did not end up
mattering. Romo hit Austin two plays later on a screen pass that Austin ran in
to give the Cowboys a 17-0 lead.

Oakland managed to cut the lead to 17-7 in the second half, but the defense
stepped up after the lone Raider touchdown. Meanwhile, the Dallas offense
effectively put the game away when Romo hit Roy Williams on a six-yard touchdown
early in the fourth.

Dallas piled up 494 total yards in offense, marking the team’s best offensive
output in terms of yardage all season. The last time the Cowboys gained more
yards was against St. Louis in 2007, when Dallas gained 502.

With the Giants’ loss to the Broncos on Thursday night, the Cowboys have a
two-game lead over New York. The Eagles can stay within a game of Dallas by
beating Washington on Sunday.

Cowboys Should Handle the Raiders on Thanksgiving Day

The simulations of the Dallas-Oakland game heavily favor the Cowboys. This is hardly a surprise. However, thanks to consecutive seven-point scoring performances, few think that the Cowboys will cover the 14-point spread. Dallas managed to win by an average margin of 14 points in only one of the three simulations noted below.

AccuScore: Dallas 27, Oakland 13

The Cowboys won 83% of AccuScore’s 10,001 simulations by an average score of 27-13. This was the most optimistic of the three simulations.

The Cowboys offense has struggled and the past 2 weeks and they barely cracked 300 yards last week. If they are held to under 300 yards the Cowboys are still heavy 75 percent favorites against the Raiders because the Cowboys defense is expected to hold the Raiders to just 13 points. If Bruce Gradkowski throws no interceptions and the Raiders trio of RBs can average over 5 yards per carry the Raiders chances improve all the way to 46 percent. If the offense is good and they also hold Dallas to under 300 yards the Raiders are actually a 5 point favorite.

WhatIfSports: Dallas 25, Oakland 15

The Cowboys were less successful in WhatIfSports’ simulations, winning 72.3% of the games by an average score of 25-15. Tony Romo threw for fewer than 200 yards on average in these simulations. The Raiders averaged 300 yards in total offense, with 140 coming on the ground.

Madden Simulation: Dallas 23, Oakland 13

ESPN’s simulation of the game using Madden was similar to the WhatIfSports simulation.

The Cowboys matched their entire scoring output from their last game in their first drive against the Raiders, and they never looked back, winning their Thanksgiving showdown, 23-13.

Tony Romo completed 26 of 41 passes for 289 yards, including one touchdown and one interception. Marion Barber added 94 bruising yards on the ground as the Cowboys get their eighth win of the season.

The Raiders, meanwhile, drop to 3-8, although they look much more competitive on offense now that JaMarcus Russell watches the game from the bench.

My Guess (7-3 this season based on win-loss)

My wild guess last week accurately predicted that the Redskins would only score six points against the Cowboys. I never once thought the Cowboys would only score seven for a second consecutive week. Here was my prediction:

As for this week, I think Dallas will control the clock by using shorter passes and the running game. Romo may have a couple of big plays to Miles Austin to help set up scores, but the real story in this game will be the defense’s role in smothering the Redskins and the offense’s role in grinding out yards and keeping the ball out of Washington’s hands.

For the season, here is the record:

Week 1: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 24 (actual: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21)

Week 2: N.Y. Giants 17, Dallas 14 (actual: N.Y. Giants 33, Dallas 31)

Week 3: Dallas 31, Carolina 21 (actual: Dallas 21, Carolina 7)

Week 4: Dallas 24, Denver 14 (actual: Denver 17, Dallas 10)

Week 5: Dallas 31, Kansas City 14 (actual: Dallas 26, Kansas City 20)

Week 7: Atlanta 28, Dallas 17 (actual: Dallas 37, Atlanta 21)

Week 8: Dallas 31, Seattle 17 (actual Dallas 38, Seattle 17)

Week 9: Dallas 23, Philadelphia 17 (actual: Dallas 20, Philadelphia 16)

Week 10: Dallas 31, Green Bay 20 (actual: Green Bay 17, Dallas 7)

Week 11: Dallas 20, Washington 6 (actual: Dallas 7, Washington 6)

Since I am going to the game, I refuse to believe the Cowboys are going to struggle against the Raiders, who have had problems putting together back-to-back wins. Dallas will jump out to a 16-0 lead thanks to three Nick Folk field goals. The Raiders will cut into the lead, but two second half touchdowns will put the game away for Dallas. The result:

personalized greetings

Dallas 30, Oakland 13

Relative Value Rankings After Week 11

Dallas has had two consecutive poor performances on offense, so the rankings
of the offensive players had to take a hit. One player taking a dive this week:
WR Roy Williams. Two others were running backs Felix Jones and Tashard Choice.
On the other hand, Martellus Bennett jumped up a few spots.

On defense, the team has shown improvement in nearly every area. Anthony
Spencer had another very solid game and rose in the rankings as a result. The
top player for the week is perhaps a bit of a surprise.

The Cowboys released kick returner Allen Rossum this week and replaced him
with cornerback Cletis Gordon. Thus, Rossum falls off the relative value ranking
list.

53. Cletis Gordon, CB

Last week: n/a

Poll rating: n/a

vs. Washington: This is Gordon’s second appearance on the Cowboys’ roster,
with him appearing in the week 5 win over Kansas City.

52. Duke Preston, C

Last week: 52

Poll rating: 1.40

vs. Washington: Inactive.

51. Montrae Holland, G

Last week: 50

Poll rating: 1.40

vs. Washington: Inactive.

50. Stephen McGee, QB

Last week: 49

Poll rating: 1.50

vs. Washington: Third quarterback.

49. Jason Williams, LB

Last week: 48

Poll rating: 1.70

vs. Washington: Inactive. He still has not played since week 5.

48. Curtis Johnson, LB

Last week: 45

Poll rating: 1.50

vs. Washington: After being active for two weeks, Johnson was inactive
against the Redskins.

47. Michael Hamlin, S

Last week: 46

Poll rating: 1.70

vs. Washington: Hamlin was active for the first time of his career against
the Redskins. He did not record a tackle.

46. Pat McQuistan, T

Last week: 51

Poll rating: 1.40

vs. Washington: McQuistan finally made the active roster. He filled in for
Doug Free on special teams.

45. Steve Octavien, LB

Last week: 47

Poll rating: 1.60

vs. Washington: Octavien picked up a special teams tackle against the
Redskins.

44. Jon Kitna, QB

Last week: 44

Poll rating: 2.00

vs. Washington: Backup quarterback. Even with Romo being banged up, Kitna
still has not stepped on the field.

43. Cory Procter, C/G

Last week: 43

Poll rating: 2.00

vs. Washington: Backup lineman who plays on special teams.

42. Jason Hatcher, DE

Last week: 41

Poll rating: 2.20

vs. Washington: Hatcher did not record a tackle against the Redskins.

41. John Phillips, TE

Last week: 40

Poll rating: 2.20

vs. Washington: Third tight end. He did not have a reception but was targeted
on one play early in the fourth quarter.

40. Victor Butler, LB

Last week: 39

Poll rating: 2.20

vs. Washington: Butler recorded a tackle and an assist against the Redskins.

39. L.P. Ladouceur, LS

Last week: 38

Poll rating: 3.00

vs. Washington: The snap on Nick Folk’s missed field goal appeared to be
fine. Ladouceur just keeps doing his job.

38. Junior Siavii, DT

Last week: 42

Poll rating: 2.00

vs. Washington: Siavii had two tackles and an assist in his most active game
on paper.

37. Kevin Ogletree, WR

Last week: 36

Poll rating: 2.50

vs. Washington: Ogletree has been good for a few WR screen passes, but he has
not proven that he can catch the ball downfield. Moreover, he does very little
on special teams, especially compared with Sam Hurd and Pat Watkins.

36. Sam Hurd, WR

Last week: 35

Poll rating: 1.90

vs. Washington: Hurd recorded one special teams tackle against the Redskins.
He was not targeted on a single pass.

35. Deon Anderson, FB

Last week: 34

Poll rating: 2.70

vs. Washington: Not to be so harsh about Anderson, but he really isn’t much
more valuable than John Phillips. Anderson has shown the ability to catch the
ball in the past, but he is never used in the passing game.

34. David Buehler, K

Last week: 31

Poll rating: 2.70

vs. Washington: Buehler’s job is to kick the ball into the end zone. He did
so on one opportunity, but his kick to open the game was a line drive that Devin
Thomas returned 38 yards.

33. Pat Watkins, S

Last week: 37

Poll rating: 2.10

vs. Washington: Watkins recorded a tackle on defense and another tackle on
special teams. He earned a game ball at

Blogging the Boys
.

32. Stephen Bowen, DE

Last week: 32

Poll rating: 3.10

vs. Washington: The unsung hero against the Redskins? That would be Stephen
Bowen, who tipped Jason Campbell’s pass that Anthony Spencer picked off to seal
the win.

31. Nick Folk, K

Last week: 27

Poll rating: 2.70

vs. Washington: A special teams player is certainly a thankless job. But when
your field goal kicker’s misses hurt the team’s momentum in two consecutive
games, the kicker’s relative value has to suffer.

30. Roy Williams, WR

Last week: 24

Poll rating: 1.90

vs. Washington: Granted, the passes to Williams haven’t been great, but the
guy just isn’t impressing anyone. Against the Redskins: 0 Rec., 0 Yds., 0.0
Ave., 0 TD.

29. Marc Colombo, T

Last week: 23

Poll rating: 3.42

vs. Washington: Colombo is going to have to fall a bit as long as he is
injured. There was not a huge dropoff between Colombo and Doug Free.

28. Alan Ball, S

Last week: 29

Poll rating: 2.30

vs. Washington: Ball filled in for Ken Hamlin at free safety. Ball did not
make any major mistakes, though he missed a couple of tackles, including a big
miss on Rock Cartwright on a big run in the second quarter. Ball finished the
game with two solos and an assist.

27. Ken Hamlin, S

Last week: 25

Poll rating: 2.30

vs. Washington: Hamlin missed the game with an ankle injury. His absence was
noticable.

26. Bobby Carpenter, LB

Last week: 28

Poll rating: 2.80

vs. Washington: Carpenter continues to make plays as a nickel linebacker. He
had three total tackles against the Redskins.

25. Orlando Scandrick, CB

Last week: 26

Poll rating: 2.10

vs. Washington: Scandrick had five tackles and an assist. He made a great
play in the second quarter to break up a pass to Malcolm Kelly on a play that
would have given Washington the ball in field goal range. On the other hand,
teams appear to pick on Scandrick on third-down plays a little bit too often. On
the same drive, Scandrick had trouble covering Santana Moss on a third down
play, and the pass to Moss set up the Redskins’ first field goal.

24. Martellus Bennett, TE

Last week: 30

Poll rating: 2.00

vs. Washington: For much of the game, Bennett appeared to be the Cowboys’
best weapon. He caught three passes for 43 yards.

23. Doug Free, T

Last week: 33

Poll rating: 2.82

vs. Washington: Free had a solid game against Washington. He missed a block
on Andre Carter late in the game, but otherwise, he appeared to do a good job.

22. Tashard Choice, RB

Last week: 18

Poll rating: 3.00

vs. Washington: Choice deserves more carries than Jones, but Choice isn’t
being used. He had one carry for one yard against the Redskins.

21. Marcus Spears, DE

Last week: 22

Poll rating: 2.67

vs. Washington: Spears had two assists against the Redskins.

20. Felix Jones, RB

Last week: 19

Poll rating: 2.58

vs. Washington: He had a pretty good opening kickoff return. After that…?

19. Igor Olshansky, DE

Last week: 21

Poll rating: 3.08

vs. Washington: Olshansky had two solos and an assist against the Redskins.
One of his tackles in the third quarter resulted in a two-yard loss.

18. Flozell Adams, T

Last week: 17

Poll rating: 3.08

vs. Washington: Adams had a pretty quiet game against the Redskins, though he
was called for holding in the second quarter.

17. Mat McBriar, P

Last week: 15

Poll rating: 3.58

vs. Washington: McBriar only averaged 37.0 yards on six punts, but three of
those punts were downed inside the 20.

16. Kyle Kosier, G

Last week: 13

Poll rating: 2.67

vs. Washington: Kosier has not done very much to set himself apart during the
past few weeks. When the team gets a good push, it is more likely to come from
Andre Gurode and Leonard Davis rather than Kosier.

15. Patrick Crayton, WR

Last week: 16

Poll rating: 2.67

vs. Washington: Crayton had only one reception, but it was huge as it won the
game for the Cowboys. Crayton had only one punt return, but he managed to gain
13 yards on it.

14. Bradie James, LB

Last week: 11

Poll rating: 3.58

vs. Washington: James had four tackles and four assists. He has taken a back
seat to Keith Brooking in terms of playmaking, but James has been solid.

13. Jason Witten, TE

Last week: 10

Poll rating: 3.58

vs. Washington: Witten had a typical game: 5 rec., 43 yards. This is the
sixth time in 10 games that Witten has had exactly five receptions.

12. Andre Gurode, C

Last week: 14

Poll rating: 3.08

vs. Washington: The Cowboys managed a few nice runs up the middle, and the
Redskins also weren’t able to get much pressure on Romo from the center or guard
position. However, the Redskins were missing Albert Haynesworth, so that had to
make Gurode’s job a bit easier.

11. Leonard Davis, G

Last week: 12

Poll rating: 3.25

vs. Washington: Davis had a false-start penalty. He also gave up a sack early in the fourth quarter when Cornelius Griffin collapsed the pocket by running right through Davis. Davis otherwise had a solid game, as the Cowboys found room to run up the middle.

10. Anthony Spencer, LB

Last week: 20

Poll rating: 3.67

vs. Washington: "Almost Anthony" didn’t have a sack, but he hurried Campbell,
made some key tackles in the run game, and then made the game-clinching
interception in the fourth quarter.

9. Gerald Sensabaugh, S

Last week: 8

Poll rating: 4.00

vs. Washington: Rather surprisingly, Sensabaugh only had one assist and no
solo tackles.

8. Terence Newman, CB

Last week: 9

Poll rating: 3.92

vs. Washington: None of the Redskins’ receivers hurt the Cowboys, and that
was thanks largely to Newman’s play. He only really bad play occurred in the
first quarter, when Devin Thomas got behind Newman after Campbell had escaped a
pass. Newman and secondary coach Dave Campo had a bit of an argument after the
series, and this was probably a result of the third-down play. Newman also
committed a costly penalty in the first quarter when he was called for illegal
contact.

7. Mike Jenkins, CB

Last week: 7

Poll rating: 4.17

vs. Washington: Jenkins was just as effective as Newman in shutting down
Santana Moss et al. That said, Jenkins’ illegal contact penalty in the fourth quarter on a third down play could have been very costly had the Redskins made their field goal attempt.

6. Miles Austin, WR

Last week: 4

Poll rating: 3.08

vs. Washington: Austin came up with some big catches late, but he had been
quiet for far too long in two consecutive games.

5. Marion Barber, RB

Last week: 5

Poll rating: 3.31

vs. Washington: Barber ran hard, picking up 99 yards on 20 carries. His
fumble in the first quarter was costly, though. He also missed a block on a fourth down play in the fourth quarter, which led to Romo’s interception.

4. Tony Romo, QB

Last week: 3

Poll rating: 3.62

vs. Washington: Romo didn’t fold in the fourth quarter, marching team down
for the game-winning score. It might not have come down to that final drive if
Romo were a little more accurate on his throws, which were too frequently off
target.

3. DeMarcus Ware, LB

Last week: 2

Poll rating: 4.62

vs. Washington: Ware had a solo tackle and three assists. He was also near
Campbell on several plays and just missed recording a sack.

2. Jay Ratliff, NT
 
Last week: 1

Poll rating: 4.69

vs. Washington: Ratliff had one assist and one quarterback hurry against the
Redskins. It was a rather quiet game for him, though he was also double-teamed
on several plays.

1. Keith Brooking, LB

Last week: 6

Poll rating: 4.08

vs. Washington: Brooking is playing out of his mind. On the first drive of
the game, he stopped Ladell Betts cold at the line of scrimmage, holding the
Redskins to a three-and-out. He finished the game with four tackles, four
assists, a sack, and three hits on Campbell. He would have had another sack, but
a penalty on Terence Newman negated the play.