2012 Season

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Baltimore 31, Dallas 28: Showing Heart, but Few Brains

Felix Jones rushed 18 times for 92 yards and a touchdown after DeMarco Murray was injured against the Ravens on Sunday.

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.

* * *

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.

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Chicago 34, Dallas 18: Staring a 6-10 Record Right in the Face

Jerry won’t sleep well with that window of opportunity slamming shut so hard.

There were points in tonight’s game against the Bears that Cowboys fans had reason to believe. All of those points occurred before the 2:46 mark of the second quarter.

It was then that Tony Romo threw a pass towards Dez Bryant, who was apparently supposed to  run a hitch route. He didn’t, and Charles Tillman picked off the pass and ran it in for a touchdown.

Sure, the Cowboys managed to cut the score to 10-7 going into halftime, but the nightmares were really about to begin.

The secondary had no answer for the Bears in the second half. The $50 million addition to the backfield, Brandon Carr, was burned badly on two different plays by Brandon Marshall. Morris Claiborne never saw Devon Hester blow right by the rookie corner on a 34-yard touchdown.

Tony Romo threw two picks that weren’t his fault. The last three picks were all his fault. The first of those three, and his third of the night, ended up in the arms of Lance Briggs, who raced 74 yards for a touchdown.

Nothing good came from the second half. Romo might have had the worst game of his career. Dez Bryant is the goat for the next week thanks to mental mistakes and dropped passes.

Jason Witten had a good game, but few of his 13 receptions came at times when they mattered. At times, it felt as if the team got Witten the ball for the sake of getting him the ball.

DeMarco Murray ran the ball 11 times for 24 yards. Felix Jones had one nice 13-yard run, but on kickoff returns he continues to insist on running the ball out of the end zone from near the back line.

Sean Lee is still a bright spot. He had 14 total tackles. Victor Butler had a decent game filling in for Anthony Spencer and even had a fumble recovery. However, Butler also did an Almost Anthony impression by failing to wrap up Cutler on what could have been a sack on third down.

Can it get worse? The next five games—

at Baltimore

at Carolina

vs. N.Y. Giants

at Atlanta

at Philadelphia

Anyone have confidence? Would you care to share that confidence with the rest of us?

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Cowboys Will Try to Improve Their Monday-Night Record

Roger Staubach may have fared well in Aurora’s Monday Night Football computerized game, but he only went 6-7 as a starter on the real MNF.

As one of the NFL’s highest profile teams, the Dallas Cowboys were often featured on Monday Night Football. The Cowboys appeared on MNF at least once each year between 1970 and 1988. After returning in 1991, the team has been featured on a Monday each year except 2002.

At 43-31, the team’s total record on Monday Night Football is respectable enough. The Cowboys have won four of their last five games on Monday night, with the only loss coming against the Giants in 2010 when Tony Romo was knocked out for the season after a hard sack in the first half.

Each of the last five games was rather memorable, including the team’s 25-24 come-from-behind win over the Bills in 2007. Here are those games:

Oct. 8, 2007: Dallas 25, Buffalo 24
Sept. 15, 2008: Dallas 41, Philadelphia 37
Sept. 28, 2008: Dallas 21, Carolina 7
Oct. 25, 2010: N.Y. Giants 41, Dallas 35
Sept. 26, 2011: Dallas 18, Washington 16

A few trivial matters:

  • Dallas has faced Chicago on Monday Night Football only once, losing at Chicago to open the 1996 season.  That marked Deion Sanders‘ first game as a starting receiver. He caught 9 passes for 87 yards.
  • The team played on Monday three times before ABC introduced Monday Night Football in 1970. Those games included a 20-13 loss to the Cardinals in1965, a 28-17 loss to the Packers in 1968, and a 25-3 win over the Giants in 1969.
  • The most successful starting Dallas quarterback on Monday Night was Troy Aikman, who had a record of 13-9. Danny White went 9-7, while Roger Staubach surprisingly went just 6-7. Tony Romo is now 4-2.
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Cowboys Lead the League in Total Defense

The Dallas Cowboys have led the NFL in total defense four times. This stat is based on total yards allowed.

Three of those four seasons were quite memorable: 1977, 1992, and 1994. The last time was 2003, when the Cowboys made it to the playoffs but fell to Carolina in the wildcard round.

Yes, I’m getting way ahead of myself, but after giving up just 166 yards to Tampa Bay on Sunday, the Cowboys rank first in yards allowed, giving up 250.0 per game. The Cowboys’ next opponent, Chicago, ranks sixth.

The offense has continued to slide and now ranks 20th in total yards. After picking up 297 yards on Sunday, the Cowboys have averaged 342 per game.  The rushing attack ranks even lower, as the Cowboys’ per-game average of 76.7 ranks 27th in the league.

As far as individuals, Tony Romo‘s passer rating of 89.3 is lower than any rating he’s had during six previous seasons as a starter. He is currently on pace to throw for more than 4,000 yards, but he has only four touchdown passes in three games.

DeMarco Murray‘s 213 rushing yards ties for 14th in the league and is just ahead of Washington’s Robert Griffin III.

Former Arkansas Razorback standout Felix Jones has two carries for zero yards. He shares identical rushing statistics with Oakland punter Shane Lechler. No, not a compliment.

Miles Austin and Kevin Ogletree are both in the top 40 among NFL receivers. Dez Bryant is not at this point, but thank goodness for his punt return on Sunday against the Buccaneers.

Lastly, Sean Lee  managed only six tackles against Tampa Bay and fell out of the league lead in tackles. His interception on Sunday, though, was crucial in the Dallas win.

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Dallas 16, Tampa Bay 10: Winning While Regressing

Sean Lee was a hero yet again, picking off a pass on a deflection the first quarter. The play set up the Cowboys’ lone touchdown.

We’re using the following to define regression2. Relapse to a less perfect or developed state.

We use that word today because of this—

  • 13 penalties for 105 yards.
  • An interception in Dallas territory in the first quarter, which led to a Tampa Bay touchdown.
  • Two fumbles, one of which was very stupid and most likely cost the Cowboys some points.
  • The Cowboys should have had the game put away with a 16-7 lead, but Tampa managed to pull to within a possession.

Nevertheless, the Cowboys are 2-1 thanks largely to a solid defensive performance/inept Tampa Bay offense. Even with a late drive that went 70 yards, the Buccaneers only managed 166 total yards. The Cowboys, on the other hand, controlled time of possession and still managed to gain 297 yards despite a bunch of mistakes.

Jason Witten has been the heart and soul of this team for some time. At this point, he is a liability. He was targeted six times yet only managed two receptions for eight yards. On the final play of the third quarter, Witten had the ball in his hands and would have wound up inside the 10. Instead, he dropped the ball. Dallas later settled for a field goal. It was Witten’s third drop of the game.

Meanwhile, the current heart and soul of this team is Sean Lee. With the Cowboys down 7-0 in the first quarter, Lee came up with an interception in Tampa territory, setting up a DeMarco Murray touchdown that tied the game.

Dallas very nearly suffered the second blocked punt in two games when Dekoda Watson ran right up the middle at Chris Jones. However, Watson missed the punt and was called for roughing the kicker. Even worse for Tampa Bay, Jordan Shipley muffed the punt, and Dallas recovered. The Cowboys managed a field goal to take a 10-7 halftime lead.

For a short time, it looked like Dallas would take control. The offense moved to the Tampa Bay 17. However, on second down, Romo pulled a Romo and tried to shovel a ball to DeMarco Murray to avoid a sack. Instead, replays showed that Romo fumbled the ball, and the Cowboys lost their scoring chance.

On a play later in the second half, Romo fumbled again when he was hit hard on a sack. Tampa took possession at the Dallas 31, but the Buccaneer offense went backwards.

The defense continued to stuff Tampa in the second half, and when the Cowboys pushed the Bucs back to their own 1, Tampa had to punt. Dez Bryant took the punt return around midfield and returned it to the Tampa Bay 6 with less than five minutes left. The play set up a field goal that gave Dallas a nine-point lead.

Tampa managed to convert a 4th-and-11 play with less than two minutes left, and the Buccaneers were able to drive into field goal range. However, their onside kick attempt failed, and the Cowboys were able to kill the clock.

The Cowboys and Giants are both 2-1, while the Redskins fell to 1-2 after a loss to Cincinnati today.

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Cowboys vs. Bucs: In-Game Tweets, 2nd Quarter

Here are some tweets for the second quarter. The Cowboys are maintaining a 1-to-1 ratio of penalty yards and total yards. Right now: Dallas 7, Tampa Bay 7.

Special teams are playing a big role. The Cowboys very nearly had another punt blocked, but on the same play, they managed to recover a fumble on the punt. That led to a 32-yard field goal by Dan Bailey.

However, Dallas then decided to go for an onside kick with 2:50 left in the half. Tampa recovered.

Cowboys vs. Bucs: In-Game Tweets, 1st Quarter

Here are a few tweets about the Dallas-Tampa Bay game.

The Cowboys just committed a turnover, leading to a Tampa Bay touchdown.

* * *

Sean Lee picked off in Tampa Bay territory. Dallas drove 23 yards, capped off by a DeMarco Murray touchdown run.

Dallas Cowboys Quotes: What’s the Deal with Martellus Bennett?

The year was 2008. The Cowboys had finished the previous season at 13-3 but lost the Giants in the playoffs. Nevertheless, many had the Cowboys pegged as a Super Bowl contender.

The team needed a receiver, though, given that Terry Glenn had played his final game. The other receivers were a 29-year-old Patrick Crayton and a 35-year-old Terrell Owens. Miles Austin wouldn’t break out for another year. Dallas took Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins in the first round and had the 61st overall pick, which was near the end of the second round.

And that was one heck of a second round: Jordy Nelson, Curtis Lofton, Matt Forte, DeSean Jackson, Ray Rice.

Dallas got Texas A&M tight end Martellus Bennett. In 9 games as a rookie, he had 4 TDs. Of course, after 48 games as a Cowboy he still had the same 4 TDs.

Over the first 9 games of the 2011 season, he had 6 receptions for 49 yards. He wasn’t close to scoring a touchdown.

It’s now 2012. Bennett plays for the Giants. After he caught 6 passes for 73 yards against the Panthers tonight, his totals for the season are now 15 receptions for 185 yards with 3 TDs.

So his performance thus far has more than a few people wondering if his failure here was more about the Cowboys failures or more about Bennett finding new life. Some quotes:

Zordon (no relation) on CowboysZone:

 This is getting ridiculous. Lets try to leave all of the off the field stuff out of this. What exactly is it that makes him have 4 touchdowns in 4 years in Dallas and 3 touchdowns in 3 games in New York? What the hell is it?! Is it the culture? Is it Romo vs Eli? Is it the coaches? I’m starting to wonder…my mind is literally blown by this. Please help me out b/c it’s depressing seeing him play like this for the enemy.

oneluv77 at DallasCowboys.com:

 Bennett has the physical tools, he young.. and we got nothing from him. Another wasted pick.

Yeah he’s dropped passes, but the Giant’s still called his number and he’s made key play’s.

It seems like he never played with confidence when he was here.

And a couple of tweets:

No, I’m certainly not asking anyone to agree with Skip.

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Some Not-So-Positive Statistics

After their opening-game win over the Giants, the Cowboys could boast about some nice offensive and defensive statistics. One week and a poor showing later, and the Cowboys’  stats are not looking so gaudy.

Dallas fell to #11 in total offense, averaging 364.5 over two games. In 2011, the Cowboys finished the season ranked #11 with an average of 375.5 yards per game. Those numbers alone aren’t horrible, but the 2011 statistics are, of course, from an 8-8 season.

Want something horrible? The Cowboys rank #29 in points scored, averaging 15.5 points per game. The only teams with fewer points are the Jaguars, Raiders, and Titans. Of course, keep in mind that Washington, Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, and San Diego averaged 30 or more points in two games, but three of those teams have the same 1-1 record as Dallas.

Thanks largely to the Giants game, the Cowboys rank #28 in penalties, having committed 18 in two games. Those high-scoring Redskins have 23, which is the most after two weeks.

Defensively, the Cowboys rank #9 in yards allowed, giving up 292.0 yards in two games. Not bad.

What’s not good is that the Cowboys are among nine teams without an interception after two games. I know it’s largely only coincidence, but the overall record of those nine teams?

Try 5-13.

Combined record of the four teams leading the league with 5 interceptions?

Try 6-2.

As far as individual statistics, few Cowboys really stand out. One big name that shows up is Sean Lee, who leads the league in tackles with 26.

Tony Romo is just outside the top 10 in several categories. He ranks #11 in ESPN’s QBR.

DeMarco Murray ranks #10 in rushing yards with 175. Former All-American kickoff returner Felix Jones has one carry for one yard.

None of the Dallas receivers are in the top 20 in terms of receptions or receiving yards.

Jason Witten’s injury has obviously affected his play, and he is off to the slowest start in several years. He has only 6 receptions for 68 yards, marking his slowest start since he had 5 receptions for 47 yards in the first two games of the 2005 season.

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Playing Cowboy Football


Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys

Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dallas Cowboys Books Blog posted a link to a story in the Fort Worth Star Telegram about Jason Witten‘s comments after the Seattle game. In relevant part:

Jason Witten said the Cowboys didn’t play Cowboy football, and they can’t go on winning one, losing one.

“You’re looking .500 right in the face,” he said. “You can’t do that.”

I commend his honesty.

On the other hand, isn’t this precisely what Cowboy football has become all about? Mediocrity? Playing .500 football?

Actually, it’s a slight step above .500 and mediocrity. I’ll just go ahead and correct myself.

Witten arrived in 2003, which was the year that Bill Parcells came into town to restore the glory that some of us still remember. The Cowboys’ record since Witten’s arrival is 81-63. That includes, of course, two seasons in which the Cowboys went 13-3 and 11-5.

Since Jerry opened his $1.1 billion stadium, the team has posted a home record of 13-11 to go with a road record of 13-13.

What’s worse is that since beating the Eagles to win the only playoff win in recent memory, the Cowboys have gone 14-19, including the playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings in 2009.

Yes, I know we should remain positive. It’s a long season. Anything can happen. Don’t get mad. Have a short memory. Don’t use four-letter words when you are about to type something sarcastic.

Anyway, here’s Shango’s response.

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