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Green Bay 17, Dallas 7: A Whole Bunch of Ugly

Several of the ugly sides of the Dallas Cowboys showed up on Sunday, while
the strengths that have carried the team through the last four wins were
noticeably absent. The result was a 17-7 loss to the Green Bay Packers that
dropped the Cowboys to 6-3.

Not many highlights in the Cowboys' 17-7 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday

Not many highlights in the Cowboys' 17-7 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday

Ugliness in bullet-point format

Ugly: After moving the ball 41 yards on the opening drive of the game, Nick
Folk missed a 38-yard field goal. Holder Mat McBriar later

took blame
for the miss.

Ugly: After the first drive, the Cowboys had a terrible time gaining yards.
The team went three-and-out on two consecutive drives in the second quarter.

Ugly: With the score tied at 0-0 in the second quarter, Roy Williams caught a
pass from Tony Romo on deep post pattern. The play would have resulted in at
least a 42-yard gain, but Green Bay defensive back Charles Woodson stripped
Williams, and the Packers recovered at the Green Bay 31.

Ugly: On a second-and-13 play from the Dallas 43 in the third quarter, Romo
found Williams on a pattern down the right sideline. The ball bounced right off
Williams’ hands.

Ugly: On the next play after the Williams’ drop, Romo hit Tashard Choice on
an apparent 22-yard gain to the Green Bay 35. The play was called back due to a
penalty on Jason Witten, though, and the team had to punt.

Ugly: On the Packers’ touchdown drive that gave Green Bay a 10-0 lead, Dallas
allowed the Packers to convert a 3rd-and-11 and and 3rd-and-13. On the same
drive, two penalties by Orlando Scandrick also gave the Packers first downs.

Ugly: After the Green Bay score, Woodson hit Romo from behind and forced Romo
to fumble the ball. Clay Matthews recovered and returned the ball down to the
Dallas 3. The Cowboys were ticked that

Felix Jones apparently recovered the ball
, but that was hardly the real problem.

Ugly: After the Cowboys moved the ball to the Green Bay 1 with about six
minutes remaining, Romo tried to hit Jason Witten on a short out pattern.
Woodson jumped the route and picked the ball off.

Ugly: The Cowboys had 14 rushing attempts for 61 yards. Marion Barber had 26
yards on only five carries.

Ugly: Time of possession for Dallas was 24:02.

Ugly: Miles Austin caught his first pass with less than 10 minutes remaining. 
Austin finished with four receptions for 20 yards.

Ugly: Marc Colombo

broke his left fibula and is likely out for at least the rest of the regular
season
, if not longer.

* * *

The biggest problem with this game is that the list of ugly moments for the
most part summarizes the entire game. Dallas put pressure on Aaron Rodgers, but
the Cowboys could not force a turnover. The game was scoreless for the entire
first half, with the Packers kicking a field goal as time expired at the end of
the first half. And the game was only 3-0 until the Packers’ drive that ended in
a one-yard score by Rodgers.

To its credit, the defense kept the team in the game, though the Cowboys
could not manage a turnover. Dallas suffered two injuries that really hurt. The
first was an injury to cornerback Mike Jenkins. With him out of the game, the
Packers picked on Scandrick, who showed that he is significant step down from
Jenkins. Ken Hamlin suffered the second key injury. With him out, the Packers
completed a pass over the middle to tight end Donald Lee, who caught the ball
right in front of Hamlin’s replacement, Pat Watkins (though, to be sure, Rodgers
made a great pass on the play).

It would be easy to blame Doug Free for the problems the Cowboys had along
the offensive line, but much of the pressure on Romo came up the middle and from
Romo’s left. Dallas did not pick up the blitz well. Credit Dom Capers with being
original with his bltiz packages, but the Cowboys did not help themselves with
mistakes.

With the loss, the Cowboys fall to 6-3. This gives Dallas a one-game lead
over the Giants and Eagles, who are both 5-4. The Eagles and Giants are both 2-1
in the division, while Dallas is 1-1.

Dallas 20, Philadelphia 16: Cowboys Get Crucial Win

Even with the Eagles targeting him all game, Miles Austin still caught the game-winning touchdown.

Even with the Eagles targeting him all game, Miles Austin still caught the game-winning touchdown.

With just over eight minutes remaining in the Cowboys’ Sunday night game
against the Eagles and the score tied 13-13, Dallas faced a 3rd-and-14. A
penalty hurt the Dallas drive earlier, as a holding call on Andre Gurode cost
the Cowboys an eight-yard run by Marion Barber. On the next play, Barber lost
four more yards, but Dallas was able to gain 10 back to set up the third down.

At that point, Miles Austin had been the target of three passes but had not
caught a pass. That changed on the third down play, when Tony Romo gave a good
pump fake and Austin streaked behind the coverage. The 49-yard touchdown gave
Dallas  a 20-13 lead with 8:04 remaining.

This put the game in the hands of the previously maligned Dallas defense,
which had faltered in close games early in the season. The Eagles moved the ball
to the Dallas 33 with 5:29 left, and it looked like the Dallas offense would
have to score again to win the game. But the defense held. Pass attempts from
Donovan McNabb to Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy went incomplete, setting up a
third down play. The Cowboys generated a pass rush, forcing McNabb to roll to
his right. It appeared that McNabb might break away for a long gain, but rookie
Victor Butler managed to trip McNabb and record the sack. The Eagles settled for
a field goal, cutting the Dallas lead to 20-16 with 4:27 left.

A year ago, the Cowboys played a huge divisional foe on the road at
Washington in November. Dallas held on to a four-point lead when the Cowboys
took possession of the ball, and Marion Barber touched the ball 11 straight
times to seal the win for Dallas. On Sunday night, it did not take 11 touches,
but Barber came through with three tough runs. With just over two minutes
remaining, Romo hit Jason Witten on a short pass to give Dallas the first down.
The play effectively sealed the game for the Cowboys, who knelt down three times
to end it.

A Gerald Sensabaugh interception early in the first quarter helped to set up
the Cowboys first score. His pick gave the Cowboys the ball at the Philadelphia
37, and on the eighth play of the drive, Romo hit rookie Kevin Ogletree on a
21-yard screen pass down to the Eagle 2. The Cowboys then ran the wildcat
formation, and Tashard Choice managed to score from two yards out.

The Eagles cut the score to 7-6 on two field goals, but the Cowboys moved
into scoring range late in the first half when Patrick Crayton ran a seam route
and split the secondary for a 64-yard gain. On a 3rd-and-goal play, Romo missed
a wide open Jason Witten, and the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal and a
10-6 halftime lead.

Philadelphia quickly took the lead in the second half. Although Ellis Hobbs’
kickoff return for an apparent touchdown was called back, the Eagles moved the
ball 77 yards on six plays and scored on a TD pass from McNabb to Celek.

Dallas moved into Philadelphia territory on the next drive, but Romo threw
his first interception in four games. The teams then exchanged possessions
before cornerback Mike Jenkins picked off a McNabb pass. The Eagles were also
called for a facemask penalty, giving Dallas the ball at the Philadelphia 42. A
22-yard pass from Romo to Roy Williams helped to move the ball deep into Eagle
territory, but the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal to tie the game at 13.

The Eagles moved the ball near midfield on the next possession. After gaining
nine yards on a first down play, the Eagles attempted to run the ball three
straight times up the middle. Dallas stopped all three, and when the spot of the
ball withstood a challenge after the fourth down play, Dallas took over. From there, the Cowboys moved into
Philadelphia territory, setting up Austin’s touchdown.

Williams was targeted on eight passes. He caught five of those passes for 75
yards. Witten caught seven passes but only gained 43 yards. Ogletree had two
receptions for 38 yards along with a six-yard rush. The Cowboys only managed 76
rushing yards, with Barber gaining 50 on 12 carries.

Dallas 38, Seattle 17: Another Confidence Builder

Keith Brooking once again led a strong defensive effort. He recorded a sack along with 11 total tackles.

Keith Brooking once again led a strong defensive effort. He recorded a sack along with 11 total tackles.

On November 2, 2008, the Cowboys traveled to the Meadowlands to face the
World Champion New York Giants. Playing with backup quarterback Brad Johnson
(followed by Brooks Bollinger), the Cowboys suffered a 35-14 rout that ended a
disastrous four-game stretch during which the Cowboys could only manage a 1-3
record. Confidence level at that point was zero as the Cowboys sank to 5-4.

One calendar year later, and the Cowboys are in just a bit better position.
Playing with a healthy and confident Tony Romo, the Cowboys faced a Seattle team
that Dallas was supposed to beat, and the Cowboys’ 38-17 win improved their record to 5-2. In this win,
the Cowboys did what a good team should do: they put away an inferior team.

The early going against Seattle looked like it might be a rough first half.
The Seahawks drove from their own 6 to the Dallas 25, facing only two third
downs on a 14-play drive. Dallas finally halted the drive, forcing an Olindo
Mare field goal.

On the next possession, Romo started to heat up. He completed passes to Jason
Witten and Miles Austin, while runs by Austin and Marion Barber put the Cowboys
into Seattle territory. On a second down play, Romo found Sam Hurd on a short
crossing route, and when Hurd broke away from the nearest defender, he was gone
for a 36-yard touchdown reception.

On the next Seattle possession, Terence Newman forced a fumble by Justin
Forsett, and Orlando Scandrick recovered and returned the ball to the Seattle
30. Romo & Co. went to work, moving the ball down to the two, thanks in part to
a pass interference call on Seattle corner Marcus Trufant, which allowed the
Cowboys to convert a 3rd-and-8. With the ball at the two, Marion Barber walked
in for a touchdown to give Dallas a 14-3 lead.

Seattle continued to move the ball pretty effectively in the first half and
was able to cut the lead to 14-10 after a nine-play, 80-yard drive. Nick Folk
missed a field goal midway through the second quarter, but Dallas was able to
hold Seattle to a three-and-out on the next drive.

Dallas took over at its own 35 and started moving the ball again. Trufant was
once again helpful to the Cowboys’ cause, committing his second pass
interference penalty on a 3rd-and-9 from the Seattle 43, giving Dallas the ball
at the 20. A 16-yard pass to Miles Austin helped to set up a seven-yard
touchdown pass from Romo to Roy Williams, who managed to grab the ball with one
hand and move it across the goalline. The score gave Dallas a 21-10 lead at the
half.

The second half was pretty much all Dallas. Midway through the third quarter,
a 30-yard pass play from Romo to Felix Jones helped to set up a three-yard
touchdown pass to Austin, increasing the lead to 28-10. After holding Seattle to
a three-and-out, the Seahawks punted to Patrick Crayton, who has suddenly become
a special teams threat. Crayton returned the ball 82 yards for his second punt
return touchdown in two games.

Dallas managed a field goal to open the fourth quarter. Seattle scored once
more when Romo fumbled deep in Dallas territory with just over nine minutes left
to play, but by that time, the game was already over.

Romo completed 21 of 36 passes for 256 yards with three touchdowns and no
interceptions. It marked his third consecutive game without a pick, though he
did have the one turnover. Austin caught five passes for 61 yards with a
touchdown. Barber led running backs with 53 yards on 14 carries.

The Cowboys now have a most difficult test as they face the 5-2 Philadelphia
Eagles, who destroyed the New York Giants today in a 40-17 rout.

Dallas 37, Atlanta 21: Enough Redemption To Go Around

Miles Austin caught six passes for 171 yards and 2 TDs vs. Atlanta

Miles Austin caught six passes for 171 yards and 2 TDs vs. Atlanta

The Cowboys did not exorcise all of their demons in Sunday’s 37-21 win over
Atlanta, but the win was a good start. Miles Austin continued to look
unstoppable, catching six passes for 171 yards and two important touchdown
receptions. On the other side of the ball, the Dallas defense forced three
turnovers, including a game-clinching pick with 2:09 remaining.

Tony Romo had his strongest game since the season opener at Tampa Bay. He
completed 21 of 29 passes for 311 yards and three touchdown with no turnovers.
His 141.6 passer rating was his best this season. He did not turn the ball over,
which was most welcomed.

Another player who sought redemption was Patrick Crayton. Since the Kansas City
game, Crayton lost both his starting receiver position and his job as the
principal punt returner. An injury to new return man Allen Rossum, though, gave
Crayton another chance to return a punt, and his 73-yard return for a touchdown
gave Dallas a 34-14 lead in the fourth quarter. This was Crayton’s second
touchdown of the game, as he caught a touchdown pass late in the first half.

DeMarcus Ware also made his presence felt, recording two sacks on Matt Ryan.
Ryan had only been sacked twice all season, but the Cowboys managed to drop him
four times on Sunday.

The opening drive of the game gave Dallas fans few reasons to have optimism.
Atlanta moved the ball 80 yards on 16 plays. Dallas missed some tackles, and
Terence Newman’s play continued to be shaky. On a third-and-goal from the 4,
Atlanta went right at Newman on a quick out to Roddy White, and Ryan had little
trouble finding White for a touchdown.

The Dallas offense also struggled early, going three-and-out on the first two
possessions. Dallas finally moved into Atlanta territory early in the second
quarter, though, allowing Dallas to kick a field goal to cut the Atlanta lead to
7-3.

The Cowboys forced a turnover on the Falcons’ next drive when CB Mike Jenkins
picked off a Ryan pass. Felix Jones gave up the ball two plays later, but the
Cowboys got the ball back when Ware stripped Ryan and the ball was recovered by
Anthony Spencer.

One play after Spencer’s recovery, Romo found Austin on a deep post route, and
Austin took it all the way for a 59-yard touchdown. Dallas then held Atlanta to
a three-and-out, and Dallas drove the ball deep again. With 15 seconds left in
the half, Atlanta nearly got to Romo, but Romo dodged three defenders and found
Crayton near the back of the end zone.

Atlanta again had a solid drive on the Falcons’ first offensive possession of
the second half. Michael Turner’s two-yard run cut the Dallas lead to 17-14.

Any thoughts that Dallas might start to fold proved false, though, thanks to the
Romo-to-Austin connection. Dallas opened the next drive with a 32-yard pass to
Austin, moving the ball into Atlanta territory. Six plays later, Romo hit Austin
again on a 22-yard touchdown pass that increased the Dallas lead to 24-14.

The lead increased to 34-14 in the fourth quarter thanks to a Nick Folk field
goal and Crayton’s punt return for a touchdown with 8:55 remaining in the game.

The Falcons managed to cut the lead to 34-21 by scoring on a fourth-and-10 play
from the Dallas 30 when Ryan hit Eric Weems on a short seam pattern out of the
backfield on a play that appeared to confuse the Dallas secondary. With five
minutes remaining, Atlanta tried an onside kick, but Martellus Bennett recovered
the onside attempt. Dallas moved deep into Atlanta territory, and Nick Folk’s
field goal gave Dallas a 37-21 lead.

On the Falcons’ first play of the next drive, Orlando Scandrick picked off a
Ryan pass, and from there, the Cowboys were able to run out the clock.

Dallas outgained Atlanta in total yards 414 to 298. The three-headed monster at
running back proved to be a little bit tame, though, as Marion Barber, Felix
Jones, and Tashard Choice combined for only 115 yards on 28 carries. The trio’s
4.1 yard-per-carry average was respectable, but not what the team saw earlier
this season.

Martellus Bennett nearly equaled his reception total from the entire season, as
he caught three passes for 32 yards. Roy Williams was a target on a few plays,
but he only managed one reception for 15 yards. Jason Witten was also relatively
quiet, though his third-down reception late in the game helped to set up Nick
Folk’s last field goal.

Update: with the Cardinals’ win over the Giants on Sunday night, Dallas is only
a half-game behind the Giants in the NFC East.

Dallas 26, Kansas City 20: One Maddening Win

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The fourth quarter of Sunday’s game says plenty about the rather pitiful state of the Dallas Cowboys, especially on defense. If not for the heroics of Miles Austin (and to some extent, Tashard Choice and Jay Ratliff), the Cowboys would be 2-3, and the heat to fire Wade Phillips would be unbearable, perhaps even for Jerry Jones.

The Cowboys began the fourth quarter trailing 13-10, but the team was gaining momentum. The Cowboys moved into Kansas City territory thanks to a 34-yard reception by Austin (his second of the drive) and a 17-yard run by Marion Barber.

Can you imagine how anyone on the Cowboys would help to stall the drive? False start, #76, offense.

With 1st-and-goal from the 14, Dallas could only move the ball to the 10 before settling for a game-tying field goal.

That’s fine, assuming the defense might hold on the next drive. Instead, Kansas City went on a 13-play, 39-yard drive that took 8:01 off the clock. The drive was “highlighted” by an unnecessary roughness call on Alan Ball, who hit Bobby Wade after Wade was unable to haul in a pass. The Dallas coaching staff was ticked off because Ball appeared to lead with his shoulder and not his helmet. This comes during a season where these types of calls have become rather common, and the play came on a 3rd-and-26 play. Wade was not close to picking up the first down even if he had caught the ball. There was simply no need to hit him.

After that, the Chiefs moved the ball all the way to the Dallas 32 before the defense held. Kansas City lined up for a field goal, but Ratliff leaped over the center to block the kick. Three plays later, Romo hit Austin on a slant, and when Austin broke a tackle, he was gone for 59 yards and a go-ahead touchdown.

2:16 left, with Dallas leading 20-13 against a winless team that had no momentum on its side. That’s when Wade’s (the coach, not Bobby) late-game defense really showed up.

Facing a 3rd-and-14 from the Kansas City 39, Matt Cassel found Wade (Bobby, not the maligned Dallas coach) over the middle for 25 yards. After the Chiefs moved to the Dallas 16, Kansas City faced a 4th-and-7. On a play that could have won the game for Dallas, Dwayne Bowe split Mike Jenkins and Pat Watkins in the end zone, and the Chiefs managed to tie the game.

Hard to imagine that Dallas would have won in overtime against too many other teams. Thankfully, this was Kansas City.

The Cowboys’ first offensive series of overtime yielded one yard and two incomplete passes. Dallas had to punt from its own 17 (reminder of last year’s loss at Arizona), and Mat McBriar did not get off a great punt. Kansas City took the ball over at its own 49.

From there, the Dallas defense made a good stop, forcing the Chiefs to go three-and-out. Dallas got the ball back at its own 21. After two runs by Choice moved the ball to midfield, the Cowboys had some momentum. And then: Holding, #76, offense.

The play after that was a bit better, as Romo hit Austin on a sideline route. Austin broke a tackle and raced the rest of the way for a 60-yard, game-winning touchdown.

As for the first three quarters, Dallas did everything it could to give the game to Kansas City.  Dallas moved the ball but managed only one field goal in the first half. Meanwhile, fumbles by Patrick Crayton and Romo led to 10 Kansas City points in the first four minutes of the second quarter. Receivers, including Austin, dropped passes. Romo missed other passes. The defense did not look terrible but also could not manage a turnover or sack.

Although DeMarcus Ware finally recorded a sack in the second half, he was also one of the culprits on one of the worst defensive drives of the season. The Cowboys were called offsides four different times on Kansas City’s second drive of the third quarter, helping the Chiefs to get into field goal range. The kick gave Kansas City a 13-3 lead.

From there, Dallas finally got a spark when Choice burst off left tackle for a 36-yard touchdown run to cut the Kansas City lead to 13-10.

Austin broke Bob Hayes’ previous record of 246 receiving yards in a game, which was set on November 13, 1966 in a 31-30 Dallas win against the Redskins. The last time a Dallas receiver had more than 200 receiving yards in a game was last year, when Terrell Owens had 213 yards against the 49ers.

Denver 17, Dallas 10: The Cowboys Show Off Their Mediocrity

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A great quarterback make big plays when the team needs him the most.

A great defense makes stops the team needs it the most.

A great coach’s team always seems to be a page ahead of the opposition.

What the Cowboys got on Sunday was an effort by a mediocre football team that wins some and loses some. A team that wins some and loses some is probably about an 8-8 or 9-7 (or 7-9) football team.

Against the Broncos, Dallas jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. The Cowboys held the Broncos on three consecutive possessions, but then Tony Romo was blindsided by Renaldo Hill, causing Romo to fumble. D.J. Williams picked up the fumble and took it to the Dallas 9. From there, Kyle Orton hit Knowshon Moreno on a touchdown pass, cutting the Dallas lead to 10-7.

The Cowboys had several opportunities in the second half to extend the lead. Moreno fumbled on Denver’s opening possession of the second half, and Bradie James recovered. The play gave Dallas the ball at the Denver 27, and the Cowboys moved inside the 20. However, on a third down play from the Denver 17, Miles Austin ran a poor route, and Champ Bailey made an acrobatic interception to kill the Cowboys’ drive.

From there, the Cowboys struggled to do anything on offense. Tony Romo missed open receivers by overthrowing ball, and one of the high passes led to Roy Williams being injured. The defense held its ground for the most part until Orton led the Broncos on a drive starting with 9:35 remaining. The Cowboys held Denver to a field goal, tying the game.

Dallas needed to put together a drive with 5:58 remaining, but after moving the ball to midfield, the drive stalled.  Denver got the ball at its own 27, and it only took three plays to score. Orton hit Brandon Marshall on a fade pass that Terence Newman could not manage to deflect. Marshall came down with the ball and was off and running. Ken Hamlin made another awful attempt at a tackle, and Marshall scored.

Credit Romo on the next drive with hitting Sam Hurd on a fourth-down play that resulted in a 53-yard gain. None of the offensive minds should take credit for what happened inside the Dallas 10 with 27 seconds left. Dallas had a first-and-goal from the 8. Romo threw underneath to Patrick Crayton, who was stopped at the Denver 2. The Cowboys were out of timeouts, and Romo was not able to spike the ball until there were only nine seconds left. Romo tried two slant plays to Sam Hurd, but Denver deflected both passes. The player defending Hurd on both passes: Champ Bailey.

Romo completed 25 of 42 passes for 255 yards and a pick. For the first time since taking over as a starter, Romo failed to throw a touchdown pass in two consecutive games. The Dallas rushing game never got on track, with Marion Barber and Tashard Choice combining for only 74 yards.

Dallas 21, Carolina 7: Newman's Pick-6 Secures Win (But Not Garrett's Reputation)


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For about seven minutes in the fourth quarter, it looked questionable whether Jason Garrett would ever serve as an offensive coordinator again, let alone as a head coach. With the Cowboys leading 10-7 early in the fourth quarter and having moved the ball from the Dallas 26 to the Carolina 1, Dallas faced a second-and-goal. Carolina could not stop the run, but Garrett decided to call a fade to Roy Williams. Granted, Williams should have caught the ball, but he didn’t, and the Cowboys faced a third-and-goal. Conventional wisdom would suggest that Dallas should run the ball, but Garrett had Romo try the same play to Martellus Bennett. Romo overthrew the ball into the corner. Dallas settled for a field goal.

Dallas 13, Carolina 7.

At that point, Carolina had already completed a 79-yard pass that would have been a touchdown, but it was called back due to a questionable offensive pass interference penalty. Steve Smith had struggled, but there was cause for great concern that Smith could make a big play at any given time.

Dallas held Carolina to a three-and-out, but the offense could not provide a cushion. Carolina got the ball back with 5:57 remaining in the game. On the second play of the drive, Jake Delhomme tried a slant pass to Smith, who stopped. Terence Newman made the pick and ran it in to extend the lead. With the two-point conversion, Dallas led 21-7. From there, the defense stepped up and held the Panthers, giving Dallas the win.

As a very general matter, the Dallas defense looked better than in previous weeks, especially in the second half. The Cowboys recorded three sacks and two interceptions. Two of those sacks came from rookie Victor Butler, who showed more quickness coming around the end than Anthony Spencer has. Mike Jenkins had the other pick, giving the Cowboys their first turnover of the season.

That said, the Cowboys missed a number of tackles yet again. Both Newman and Jenkins missed tackles in the first quarter, and Ken Hamlin completely whiffed trying to tackle Muhsin Muhammad on the play called back due to offensive pass interference.

Hard not to suggest that a training camp without tackling could be a culprit when the team tackles so poorly during the first three weeks of the season.

Marion Barber did not play, but looked as if Felix Jones might end up with more than 200 yards in total offense. He opened the game with a 20-yard reception, and his 40-yard run on the opening drive of the third quarter helped to set up the Cowboys first field goal. Jones injured his knee on the run, leaving Dallas with one back in Tashard Choice. Like he did late in 2008, Choice came through, gaining 82 yards on 19 carries.

The first half was an ugly one for Dallas. The Cowboys moved the ball to the Carolina 12 on the opening drive, but Romo was sacked on a second down play. Dallas could not get into better field goal range, and Nick Folk missed his first field goal of the season.

From that point on, it was a few good plays by Felix Jones, some passes to Jason Witten, and nothing else for the Dallas offense. With the game scoreless, Carolina drove the ball 90 yards to get into Dallas territory. Hamlin appeared to bite on an underneath route, leaving the middle of the field for tight end Dante Rosario, who caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Delhomme.

The Cowboys drove to the Carolina 1 on the first Dallas drive of the second half. Tashard Choice appeared to score on a dump-off pass from Romo, but the Panthers successfully challenged the play. The Cowboys could not push the ball in on third down. Dallas lined up for a fourth-down play, but third tight end John Phillips pushed the Cowboys back, and the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal.

After holding the Panthers to a three-and-out, the Cowboys drove the ball back to the red zone. Choice scored from five yards out, giving Dallas a lead that it did not relinquish.

The Cowboys (2-1) must now travel to Denver to take on the 3-0 Broncos on Sunday.

New York 33, Dallas 31: The Ball Doesn't Bounce in Cowboys' Favor


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The Cowboys gave up a 56-yard drive during the final 3:40, leading to a 37-yard Lawrence Tynes field goal as time expired. The kick gave the Giants a 33-31 win, ruining the opening game at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday night.

Tony Romo went from a hero in week 1 to a liability in week 2. The low point: in the third quarter, with the Cowboys leading 24-20, Dallas got the ball at its own 44. The Cowboys moved the ball into Giant territory on a short run by Marion Barber and a short pass to Sam Hurd. At that point, Romo had only managed two completions during the second half, and his throws were generally off. Moreover, he had thrown two interceptions in the first half, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Nevertheless, he decided to force a deep pass to Hurd, who was running a post. Safety Kenny Phillips stood under the ball and picked off the pass inside the 10. The Giants immediately went to work, driving 73 yards in four plays to give New York a 27-24 lead.

Apparently, Romo did not see Phillips standing back there, but the replays showed clearly that Hurd was not open. It was those types of throws that hurt Romo and the Cowboys last year, and Romo’s inability to protect the ball hurt the team against the Giants.

Dallas came back, of course. After the Giants extended the lead to 30-24, Dallas started a drive on its own 19 with 7:30 left. Of seven plays, the Cowboys ran the ball six times, including a huge 35-yard run by Marion Barber, who injured his quad at the end of the play. Dallas scored on the next play when Felix Jones ran it in from seven yards out with 3:40 left.

The Giants started their final drive with a holding penalty and faced a key third down at the two-minute warning. From that point, the Cowboys had few answers for Eli Manning, Steve Smith, or Mario Manningham. The Cowboys went without a sack for the second consecutive week, and they could barely manage a pass rush when it mattered most. On a 3rd-and-4 play from the Dallas 41, Manning threw a slant towards Manningham. Jay Ratliff tipped the ball, but Manningham still managed to grab it. The Giants picked up a few more years, leading to Tynes’ field goal.

The Cowboys did not struggle against run like they did last week. Dallas gave up only 12 yards rushing during the first half and 97 rushing yards overall. The Giant receivers, though, looked all-world. Smith and Manningham had 10 receptions each, and both went over 100 yards receiving (150 for Manningham, 134 for Smith). Manning finished with 330 passing yards, and the Giants did not turn the ball over.

The Cowboys had 251 rushing yards, and the rushing attack helped to keep the Cowboys in the game. Romo’s numbers: 13 of 29, 127 yards, 1 TD, 3 Ints.

Romos’s first interception was all on Romo, as he either overthrew Roy Williams or underthrew Patrick Crayton on a third-down play. Rookie Bruce Johnson reached up to grab the pick, then raced 34 yards for a score that gave the Giants a 10-7 lead. Felix Jones followed up with a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, leading to a New York field goal.

The Cowboys scored later in the second quarter to take a 14-13 lead, and it looked as if the team might have a chance to extend the lead late in the half. However, Flozell Adams nullifed a 36-yard reception by Patrick Crayton by tripping Justin Tuck. Three plays later, Romo threw behind Jason Witten, and the ball deflected off his hands. The ball first appeared to hit the ground, but replays showed that it hit Witten’s foot and bounced into Phillips’ arm for an interception. Manning hit Manningham on a 22-yard touchdown to give the Giants the lead.

Dallas closed the gap to 20-17 just before the half when Nick Folk hit a 47-yard field goal.

The Giants had more success on the ground in the third quarter but could not increase their lead. The Cowboys took the ball at their own 19 with 6 minutes left in the third quarter. Felix Jones broke open a 56-yard run to give Dallas the ball in Giant territory. Three Marion Barber runs set up a three-yard touchdown run by Romo, giving Dallas a 24-20 lead.

It looked like the Cowboys could start to take the game over, but Romo’s interception late in the third quarter killed any momentum.

This marks the first time that Dallas has started 1-1 since 2006. Dallas began the season at 1-1 each season between 2002 and 2006.

Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21: Big Plays Allow Cowboys to Pull Away


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The Cowboys relied on three huge touchdown passes to Miles Austin, Roy Williams, and Patrick Crayton to pull away from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a 34-21 Dallas win on Sunday. The most obvious reaction of several Cowboys fans: so much for missing T.O.

Tony Romo finished the game with 353 passing yards, marking the 17th time that he has thrown for more than 300 yards in a game. The Cowboys are 14-3 in games where Romo has passed the 300-yard mark. The 353 yards were the most in his career, surpassing his 345-yard game against the Giants in the opening week of the 2007 season.

Crayton had a huge game as well, catching four passes for 135 yards. It was Crayton’s third career 100-yard game and his first since 2007. His 80-yard score in the fourth quarter was huge, coming right after Tampa Bay had closed the gap to 20-14. Crayton later caught a 44-yard pass to set up Marion Barber’s fourth-quarter touchdown, which put the game away for good.

The Cowboys took the opening drive from their own 36 and moved to the Tampa Bay 26. However, Ronde Barber sacked Romo for a nine-yard loss, and the Cowboys had to settle for a 51-yard field goal.

Following a blocked field goal by Gerald Sensabaugh later in the first quarter, Dallas moved the ball inside the Tampa Bay 4. But on a third-down play, Romo tried to throw to behind Martellus Bennett’s shoulder and missed. A second Folk field goal made the score 6-0.

Dallas struggled to slow down the Tampa Bay running game all day. Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward combined for 159 rushing yards in the game, and early in the second quarter, the two combined for 63 of 65 yards on a Tampa Bay touchdown drive. Williams’ one-yard score gave the Buccaneers a 7-6 lead.

Two Dallas drives stalled. On the second drive, the Cowboys appeared to move the ball into Tampa Bay territory on a reverse, but Flozell Adams was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. The drive stalled. The Dallas defense stepped up and held Tampa to a three-and-out, and the Cowboys got the ball back with just over a minute to go in the half. After a pass play to Jason Witten and an offsides penalty on Tampa Bay, Romo found Austin on a streak pattern. Romo slightly underthrew the ball, and Austin turned around to grab it. Austin dodged two Tampa Bay defenders on his way to the end zone.

The Cowboys held Tampa Bay on the opening possession of the third quarter, leading to a punt. Facing a second-and-10 from the Dallas 34, Romo found Williams on a seam pattern. Romo split three defenders and hit Williams in stride. Williams, in turn, broke an ankle tackle and ran the rest of the way in. The 66-yard touchdown was Williams’ longest since scoring on a 91-yard touchdown pass with the Lions in 2007.

Both teams struggled to move the ball for the rest of the third quarter, though Tampa Bay managed a drive towards the end of the third quarter. With 13:45 remaining in the game, Ward scored on a short touchdown, cutting the Dallas lead to 20-14. Romo went to work immediately, though, taking advantage of a mix up in coverage and finding Crayton all alone on the 80-yard score.

Dallas scored again with just under four minutes remaining, effectively putting the game away.

Some notes:

* Gerald Sensabaugh had a solid game, including a blocked field goal. However, he injured his ribs in the third quarter on a vicious collision with Tampa Bay’s Michael Clayton.

* Surprisingly, the Cowboys did not record a single sack.

* In losing to Dallas 13-9 in 2008, Tampa Bay only managed 49 rushing yards. In the loss today, Tampa Bay had 174.