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The Dallas Cowboys had wrapped up the top seed in the NFC playoffs before taking the field on Sunday against the Eagles. The game turned into something resembling a preseason game, with the team sitting several key starters.
Dak Prescott played for about a quarter. Mark Sanchez played most of the rest of the game.
In between came the first appearance of 2015 by Tony Romo. He completed three of four passes for 29 yards and a touchdown. Most highlights of the game have focused on Romo’s short appearance.
Other coverage of the game has focused on the fact that Dallas did not win its final game, while the Falcons, Packers, Seahawks, and Giants did. A win would have given the Cowboys a franchise record 14 wins, but the team seemed more concerned with protecting its players from injury.
Winning the Final Game Is Critical?
It has only been nine years since the Cowboys started a season with a 13-2 record. Dallas traveled to Washington but did next to nothing in a 27-6 loss. Two weeks later, the Cowboys lost to the Giants. Many (including me) believe that Dallas lost momentum thanks to a late-season slide.
During each of the five times that the Cowboys have won a Super Bowl, the Cowboys have won their season finale. Moreover, the three teams that lost the Super Bowl also won their regular season finales.
Winning the season finale has not been critical to all recent Super Bowl champions, however. Of the last ten Super Bowl champions, four lost their last regular season games. These teams included the 2014 Patriots, the 2012 Ravens, the 2009 Saints, and the 2007 Giants. In fact, New Orleans lost its final three games of the 2009 season after a 13-0 start, but the Saints were able to win Super Bowl XLIV anyway.
Witten Does Not Break Irvin’s Record
Jason Witten entered Sunday’s game needing only 27 yards to surpass Michael Irvin as the team’s all-time leader in receiving yards.
Witten only managed 10 yards, though, so Irvin will remain the franchise leader until at least the early part of 2017. Witten still needs 17 yards to take over the top spot.
Elliott’s 1631 Yards Ranks Fifth
For the sixth time, a Dallas running back led the league in rushing.
Ezekiel Elliott gained 1631 yards, even after sitting out the season finale on Sunday. His total ranks fifth in team history.
The top ten are now as follows:
In 12 previous games in 2016, the Dallas Cowboys had forced two or more turnovers only twice—two against the Chicago Bears and four against the Green Bay Packers.
So if we knew that the Cowboys would force three against the New York Giants, we would probably have some confidence that the Cowboys would win pretty easily at New York on Sunday night.
Instead, the Dallas offense could not take advantage of many opportunities, while the Giants did just enough to eek out a 10-7 win.
In the first half, the game looked promising. Dallas capped off a 10-play, 67-yard drive with a great 31-yard touchdown pass from Dak Prescott to Terrance Williams after a great play fake.
Eight plays later, Dallas recovered an Eli Manning fumble, and the Dallas offense moved to near midfield.
But the offense did what did for most of the evening and self-destructed. Dez Bryant slipped on a pass play, and Janoris Jenkins stepped up to intercept the pass.
Dallas managed to recover yet another fumble by Manning in the second quarter, but the offense could do nothing with it.
Dallas moved into field goal position late in the first half, but Dan Bailey’s attempt hit the crossbar.
After the Giants kicked a field goal in the third quarter, Prescott tried to go deep to Bryant, but Leon Hall picked off the pass and returned it to the Giant 39.
Two plays later, Odell Beckham Jr. caught a slant and raced 61 yards for a touchdown.
Sadly, the game was all but over after that because the Cowboys offense looked a bit like the 2015 version.
The next three Dallas drives ended in punts. Even an interception by Anthony Brown failed to spark anything.
When Dallas had a chance to drive with less than three minutes left, Prescott went back to Bryant, who had not caught a pass all game. Bryant caught a slant on third down and promptly fumbled it.
The last chance for the Cowboys came with just over a minute left. Needing to go the length of the field, Dallas failed to make a single yard. The final offensive play was a pass attempt to Bryant. Although officials first ruled that he caught the pass for a first down, replays showed that he dropped the ball.
At 11-2, Dallas still has a two-game lead in the NFC East and a two-game lead for home-field advantage. But the team certainly cannot afford any more games like this one.
Sad news that former Dallas linebacker Dave Edwards died earlier this week.
Edwards started ten games during his first two years in Dallas before taking over the strongside linebacker position in 1965. He remained the starter through the 1975 season, missing only one game between 1965 and 1975.
He became known as a playmaker in 1967 when he picked off three passes and made several other key plays. Against the Saints on October 15, 1967, Dallas was holding on to a 14-10 lead, but New Orleans was driving with 1:01 remaining.
Edwards made the play of the game by stealing a fumble. He raced 94 yards for an apparent touchdown only to have the play called back. Dallas went on to win the game, and the Dallas Morning News ran a column entitled “Wanted: TD for Edwards.”
“I’ve never scored a touchdown,” he told the paper. “Sure, it’s becoming a big thing with me.”
Less than two months later, Dallas faced the Baltimore Colts in Baltimore. The Colts led 10-7 in the second quarter when Edwards picked off a Johnny Unitas pass and scored from 26 yards away. It turned out to be Edwards’ only career touchdown.
His final game was Super Bowl X against the Steelers. During the following offseason, the Cowboys considered placing Edwards in the expansion draft held for the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Edwards instead decided to retire.
He finished his career with 13 interceptions. Although he was never named to the Pro Bowl, he was a critical part of the teams that went to three Super Bowls and won Super Bowl VI.
Sweeps are not exactly uncommon in the series between the Cowboys and Redskins. Dallas managed to sweep Washington in both 2011 and 2013, so it has not been that long.
It just seems, however, that when one team is having an especially great season, the other will come along and wreak havoc.
Washington lost one game in a strike-shortened 1982 season and eventually won Super Bowl XVII. The team to beat the Redskins? Dallas.
The Redskins won another Super Bowl after the 1991 season, going 14-2 in the process. One of the two losses was to the….Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys, of course, had their own dynasty, winning Super Bowl titles in 1992, 1993, and 1995. During those three seasons, the Cowboys lost a total of 14 games. Four of those losses came against the Redskins.
(Of course, I did not mention the 1977 season or the strike-shortened 1987 season when one of the teams swept the other. What I am addressing doesn’t always happen.)
This isn’t to say the Cowboys are necessarily on their way to a Super Bowl appearance or Super Bowl title, but if there was one team that could derail a Dallas streak, it would be Washington.
The Cowboys took a lead on the opening drive of the game and never trailed. Washington managed to make it a game in the fourth quarter, but the Cowboys did what they have done throughout most of the season—take control of the ball at the end.
Ezekiel Elliott scored on a four-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and the Dallas defense held the Redskins to field goals. The Cowboys scored a second touchdown on a ten-yard pass from Dak Prescott to Terrance Williams, and Dallas led 17-6 at the half.
Washington twice closed the gap to five points in the fourth quarter, only to watch the Cowboys respond with touchdowns. Washington scored with less than two minutes to narrow the gap to five points for a third time, but an onside kick attempt failed, and Dallas ran out the clock.
Elliott rushed for 97 yards with two touchdowns. Prescott only threw 24 passes on the day, completing 17 for 195 yards with the one touchdown.
The defense was not bad until the fourth quarter. Kirk Cousins completed 41 of 53 passes for 449 yards and three touchdowns. The Dallas secondary completely broke down on a 67-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to DeSean Jackson.
Thankfully, the Dallas offense responded once again, driving 53 yards on the ensuing drive.
The Cowboys play again in one week when they travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings.
So ten years ago tonight, curiosity got the better of me, and this blog suddenly existed. The vague idea? Run a Cowboys blog that would post some occasional trivia questions and answers.
Occasional trivia questions resulted in more than 2,100 posts. No, this isn’t the best blog. It tends to be quirky, and I put it on life support during the offseasons, but it’s still here.
In light of this anniversary, here is a look back at blogging about the Cowboys during the past ten years.
What was available on the Internet in 2006?
It wasn’t as if the Internet was in its infancy in 2006. Blogs were nothing new, as were forums.
However, only a handful of Cowboys blogs existed. Blogging the Boys was getting much bigger, and some other larger network sites came along in the years that followed.
On the other hand, many of the blogs and forums have come and gone in ten years.
The main Cowboys site wasn’t great, but it had a large fan base. I posted quite a bit in the Classic Cowboys section then, but I’m not a huge fan of the current site and do not post much on there.
What did the site originally look like?
Pretty damn ugly. You can see it on Internet Archive.
Yeah, that is ugly. I mean, fugly.
What is fugly?
Oh, you know what fugly means. Do I need to write f’ing ugly?
Alright, I know what fugly means. Go to hell.
How many people have visited the site since 2006?
My original counter no longer functions, but the total number is about 1,500,000. I don’t pay attention to detailed stats.
Are those unique visitors? Because I don’t see too many unique visitors around here. Hell, we may be the only ones to read this.
No, they’re not unique visitors. I have just made sure I get on here 100,000 times a year to boost my stats. Idiot.
Have you made money on this site?
Just enough to pay the hosting fees.
There was a time when some companies would pay several hundred dollars for me to post links in articles and my sidebar, but with Google’s changing algorithms, that money is no longer available. The few ads I run barely cover the costs to run the site.
If you paid attention to detailed stats, don’t you think your ad revenue could increase?
What is your most popular post or series?
Probably the greatest by jersey number series in 2008. That one had a pretty good following. The other series didn’t do quite as well.
Yeah, you should have retired this thing back then.
We’re going to fight, jackass.
Highlight of the past ten years?
Covering the playoff win over the Eagles after the 2009 season. We had waited a long time for that one.
Low points of the past ten years?
Any playoff loss. And this blog post.
Below is a quote from Tex Schramm.
“I’m still not sure if we’re doing the right thing by playing this game.”
During which season did Schramm make this comment, and what was the context?
While you’re pondering that one..
Most know that the Cowboys signed Alfred Morris to a two-year contract worth $3.5 million contract.
In four seasons in Washington, Morris rushed for 4713 yards and 29 touchdowns.
He did especially well against Dallas. In eight games, Morris rushed for a total of 710 yards. This included three games where he rushed for more than 100 yards and one game where he rushed for 200.
The other player signed was defensive end Benson Mayowa, who played in Oakland in 2014 and 2015 after spending one year in Seattle. The Raiders never faced the Cowboys while Mayowa played there. He has recorded a total of two sacks during his NFL career.
Mock drafts have the Cowboys taking any of a number of players at #4. A few names:
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State (Todd McShay, ESPN, among many others)
Jalen Ramsey, DE, Florida State (Bleacher Report)
Myles Jack, LB, UCLA (Sports Illustrated)
Overused quote of the afternoon:
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Well-respected DMN columnist Rick Gosselin on Monday noted that Cowboys use of a second-round pick to take Gavon Escobar is already haunting the team. I would much rather take a week off from worrying about the Cowboys’ decision-making about anything, but this one just bugs me.
Here’s one reason: the 2006 NFL Draft.
Here’s a second: the 2008 NFL Draft.
In 2006, the Cowboys missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season. The aura surrounding Bill Parcells was much less impressive, but the Cowboys could make some strides with another solid draft.
The team needed help in its secondary, especially at the safety position. It needed a receiver, given that it had two over the age of 32 (Terry Glenn and Terrell Owens).
Let’s stress this point: Tight end was not a need.
The team’s first pick was linebacker Bobby Carpenter. Not a good start, but that’s a story for a different day.
With their second pick, the Cowboys could have had safety Bernard Pollard. Or cornerback Tim Jennings. Or a returner named Devin Hester, who helped the Bears to the Super Bowl as a rookie.
Instead, Dallas took tight end Anthony Fasano with the 53rd overall pick. He was supposed to complement Jason Witten, but the Cowboys barely used him.
Two years later, the Cowboys traded Fasano and Akin Ayodele to the Miami Dolphins for a 4th round pick. Yes, the Cowboys traded a second-rounder from 2006, along with a starting linebacker, in exchange for one 4th round pick.
The result: Fasano caught 177 passes for 2104 yards and 23 touchdowns for the Dolphins over the next five years. Ayodele wasn’t great, but he started 18 games for Miami.
Dallas took that 4th round pick in 2008 and traded it to Oakland for a 4th rounder and a 7th rounder. Oakland used the pick to take Tyvon Branch, who has started 63 games.
I honestly can’t even summarize what happened after that. The Cowboys kept trading picks for more picks and more picks in deals with Cleveland and Jacksonville. The result: the Cowboys wound up with running back Tashard Choice, who lasted just over two years in Dallas.
Before the Cowboys showed their expertise in trading picks for picks and more picks, the Cowboys had a second-round pick in 2008 that they did not trade away.
The Cowboys needs in 2008? Offensive line. Safety. Wide receiver. Perhaps even another running back.
Let’s stress this point: Tight end was not a need.
The Cowboys, however, decided to take a tight end, Martellus Bennett. Yes, there was some theory that Bennett would be more like a receiver. But as everyone probably already knows, Bennett did less and less in his four years in Dallas, winding up with 846 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns in 4 years. In less than 2 full seasons since leaving Dallas, he has caught 9 touchdown passes.
Who did the Cowboys pass up to take Bennett? Cornerback Terrell Thomas, who started 34 games in his first three seasons with the Giants. Safety Charles Godfrey, who has started 74 games with the Panthers. Running back Jamaal Charles, who is just a bit better than Felix Jones, the Cowboys’ first-round pick in 2008. Guard Jeremy Zuttah, who has started 69 games with Tampa Bay.
No, these are not big-time names, but any one of them would have been more valuable to the Cowboys than Fasano and Bennett were.
By the time Bennett left after the 2011 season, the Cowboys had wasted two second-round picks and STILL had needs in their secondary, and on their offensive line, and at the receiver position.
So we come to the 2013 NFL Draft. The Cowboys still had not resolved their problems at safety. The team still needed offensive line help. The team needed defensive line help.
Let’s stress this point: Tight end was not a need.
And so what do the Cowboys do with their second-round pick?
Take another tight end! And as Gosselin’s piece points out, the team knew Escobar could not block, so when he proved to be less effective as a receiver, the team had to know it had wasted yet another second-round pick on a tight end.
It’s perhaps a bit early to say how good the players taken after Escobar will be, but several teams found starters in the second and third rounds. And yes, the Cowboys found a gem in Terrance Williams, but that does not excuse wasting a pick on another tight end.
It is what it is (and I hate that phrase): insane.
I asked this in a post from yesterday, but here is more about the unknown fullback who scored three times against the Cowboys in 2006.
The Saints would eventually head to the NFC Championship Game in 2006 thanks to stars such as Drew Brees, Deuce McAllister, Reggie Bush, and Marques Colston. Heading into this game, both teams were 8-4 and riding hot streaks.
The Cowboys had to figure out how to slow down these skill players to have any chance to beat New Orleans.
The problem was that when the Saints got down inside the 5 on more than one occasion, the Cowboys forgot to cover the fullback. This fullback scored twice in the first half and yet another time in the third quarter. The Saints won in a blowout, 42-17.
Here’s a puzzle with the player:
provided by flash-gear.com
Can’t quite forget these facts—
His defense allowed a receiver to gain 329 yards due largely to a pathetic defensive scheme. His team still had a 99% chance to win with just over a minute to play but found yet another way to lose a game. His team is now 4-4, and his head coach has not shown that he is any better than mediocre.
So how does Jerry Jones make the news this week following the loss? By saying that a cornerback who has not played in Dallas since 1999 (Deion Sanders) would be able to stop the receiver (Calvin Johnson) who gained the 329 receiving yards.
(Oh, and he later said he was “disappointed” in the team’s 4-4 start.)
During Deion’s last season in Dallas in 1999, the Cowboys only managed to finish with an 8-8 record. The Cowboys had lost Michael Irvin, and Troy Aikman had to make due with Rocket Ismail (not really a #1 receiver) and the likes of Ernie Mills, Jason Tucker, Jeff Odgen, and Chris Brazzell.
Thanks to parity in the NFC in 1999, though, the Cowboys snuck into the playoffs as a wildcard. The Cowboys traveled to Minnesota but could not hold on to a first-half lead in a 27-10 loss.
Two days later, Jerry fired head coach Chan Gailey, who had not returned the team to prominence.
Here’s a summary of Jerry firing Gailey:
Team owner and general manager Jerry Jones spent most of Tuesday morning and early afternoon alone in his Valley Ranch office. Late in the afternoon, he went to Mr. Gailey ‘s office, where the head coach was meeting with assistants.
Mr. Jones stressed that he had no criticism of Mr. Gailey the person. He praised the coach’s integrity and diligence but pointed to the Cowboys’ offensive struggles as the reason for the move.
Mr. Gailey , 48, was the franchise’s fourth coach, hired in February 1998 to succeed Barry Switzer. Mr. Gailey ‘s record was 18-16 in two seasons, including two playoff losses.
“This decision that I had to make today was about football,” said Mr. Jones, who declined to give a timetable for naming a replacement. “It was not about egos. It was not about friendships gone awry.”
It was, in a nutshell, about a Cowboys offense that started strongly each of the last two seasons but waned in November and particularly December.
It was about a team that was the NFL’s most-penalized this season. It was about a team that started this season 3-0 but lost its final eight road games en route to an 8-9 finish, including Sunday’s 27-10 playoff loss at Minnesota.
Was it a product of an aging team wearing down, one that sorely missed injured wide receiver Michael Irvin? Or was it an offense that failed to use the talents of established stars such as quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith and offensive lineman Larry Allen?
Mr. Jones sounded like a man who clearly faulted the system more than the players.
“They tried their hearts out,” he said. “They worked at it to try to make it productive. We just aren’t as productive offensively as we need to be, and we haven’t been the last two years.”
It’s easy to say that Jason Garrett has had less to work with than Gailey did, but that is hardly the case. Troy Aikman in 1999 was near the end of his career, and Emmitt Smith was hardly a dominant runner. The offensive line still had Larry Allen and a young Flozell Adams, but Mark Stepnoski and Erik Williams where nowhere near the linemen they had been six or seven years earlier. The defense was good but not dominant as it was during the Super Bowl years.
The coach who replaced Gailey was Dave Campo, who inherited a mess. The team had to survive salary-cap hell without first-round draft picks sent to Seattle in a trade for receiver Joey Galloway.
Campo’s teams were never better than 5-11. In his final season, the team had a two-game winning streak and hosted San Francisco at home. Dallas took a 27-17 fourth-quarter lead but could not stop the 49ers, who scored their final 14 points with less than six minutes remaining. Terrell Owens’ eight-yard touchdown reception sealed the win for San Francisco.
Jerry was ticked:
A visibly angry Jerry Jones stormed out of the locker room following San Francisco’s 31-27 win over the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon before a crowd of 64,097 at Texas Stadium.
The Cowboys’ owner was in no mood to answer questions.
“That was a stupid [expletive] ballgame,” Jones said from a stairwell in the stadium’s bowels. “The players played well enough to win. We [expletive] it up.”
Then he turned and stalked off.
So was Jones talking about defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer’s scheme that left seldom-used cornerback Dwayne Goodrich covering Terrell Owens – widely considered the game’s best receiver – with 15 seconds left, even though he was supposed to have safety help?
Or was he talking about coach Dave Campo’s decision to let Billy Cundiff attempt a 47-yard field goal that would have given Dallas a 30-24 lead with 2:16 left? Cundiff is 3-of-8 beyond 40 yards this season.
Or was he fed up with yet another key breakdown by special teams coach Joe Avezzano’s unit, which allowed a 42-yard kickoff return that helped San Francisco regain momentum after Dallas grabbed a 27-17 lead?
This much is clear: The Cowboys blew a 10-point lead in the final 6:56 and wasted an opportunity to win three consecutive games for the first time since the start of the 1999 season, a span of 58 games.
The Cowboys have had only three two-game winning streaks since 2000, when Campo became coach.
Campo’s coaching future is in jeopardy again.
The loss to the Lions last Sunday was far worse than the 2002 loss to the 49ers. The Cowboys under Garrett have found several ways to lose games the team should have won.
Jerry’s reaction? Go to fantasy land and consider whether Deion could cover Megatron.