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N.Y. Giants 41, Dallas 35: Six Feet Under

Tony Romo may miss the rest of the 2010 season with a broken collarbone.

Here’s a trivia question: when was the last time the Dallas Cowboys started at 1-5?

Anyway, the Cowboys pretended to play like a football team with some fight in it. Terence Newman and Gerald Sensabaugh both picked of Eli Manning early in the first quarter, and the picks set up 10 Dallas points.

The real Dallas defense then showed up. Newman couldn’t bring down Hakeem Nicks, who moved the ball from the Dallas 33 to the Dallas 9. Two plays later, the Cowboys secondary became confused, and Sensabaugh was lined up on Nicks. Manning just tossed up up an easy pass to Nicks, who cut the Dallas lead to 10-7.

The Cowboys showed more life by recovering a fumble by Ahmad Bradshaw. But with 12:07 left in the second quarter, Michael Boley came in untouched on a blitz and put Tony Romo into the ground. The impact broke Romo’s clavicle and may have ended the quarterback’s season. Fortunately, Romo completed his last pass to Miles Austin, putting Dallas into field goal range. David Buehler’s kick extended the Dallas lead to 13-7.

After forcing a three-and-out, Dez Bryant took a punt return 93 yards for a touchdown to increase the lead to 20-7.

From there, Wade Phillips’ defense was virtually invisible. The Giants scored 17 points in the final 4:22 to take a 24-20 lead. Complete incompetence is the only way to describe it, as Dallas couldn’t generate a pass rush, couldn’t tackle, and couldn’t cover. Meanwhile, Kitna couldn’t complete a pass, and the Dallas rushing game could barely get back to the line of scrimmage.

Dallas cut the lead to six late in the fourth quarter, allowing Dallas to avoid complete humiliation. Of course, starting this season 1-5 is complete humiliation, so it was hard to get too excited.

Incidentally, the last time the Cowboys started at 1-5 was 1963 during a season in which the team was supposed to compete for the Eastern Conference title. The team that gave the Cowboys their fifth loss? The Giants, led by 37-year-old Y.A. Tittle, who threw for 279 yards and four touchdowns in a 37-21 New York win.

Minnesota 24, Dallas 21: Hey Cowboys, Why Not Let the Fans Shoot Your Feet?

The Cowboys are league leaders in excessive celebration penalties. Awesome.

These game summaries are getting kind of easy to write—just find the dumbass plays that the cost the Cowboys another game and start the list.

Let’s start with the dumbass celebrations. Members of this team go nuts after making a one-yard run for a first down in the team’s own territory. This team celebrates wildly when a receiver makes a catch for a first down on a seven-yard slant.

Now just imagine the celebration when someone actually scores. Roy Williams made a very nice play in the first quarter on a touchdown reception that gave the Cowboys an early 7-0 lead. The team might have remembered that the celebrations effectively lost the game against the Titans last week. Perhaps someone could stress that the players should act like they have been there before. But Miles Austin goes to celebrates and leaps over Williams, drawing a 15-yard penalty.

I don’t give a damn if the call was questionable. It was stupid that that team doesn’t know better than to avoid such a call in the first place. The penalty meant that the Cowboys had to kick from their own 15.

Remember that athlete named David Buehler who could nail the ball five yards deep or more on every kickoff? That guy has been replaced by a guy who can’t get the ball to the goalline. The same guy tried hard to kick deep from his own 15, but instead he kicked it out of bounds, giving Minnesota the ball at the 45.

Yes, the Dallas defense stopped the Vikings, but the Vikings pinned the Cowboys deep on the next drive. Almost predictably, Tony Romo threw a pick that led to the Vikings’ first touchdown.

Dallas played a good first half other than that. Of course, giving the Cowboys credit for anything almost necessarily means the team will do something that will completely ruin the momentum. Percy Harvin returned the second-half kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to tie the game.  I don’t know who blew the assignment, but Harvin had a lane up the middle of the field that looked like an entrance ramp.

Oh, and Dallas never led again.

The Cowboys went nowhere on offense. The Vikings pinned the Cowboys deep after a Minnesota drive, and the Cowboys again went nowhere. The Vikings took the lead by scoring with less than a minute left in the third quarter.

No, the Cowboys didn’t quit. Romo hit Dez Bryant on a 31-yard touchdown to tie the game. Dallas then stopped the Vikings cold, and Bryant appeared to return the ball into Minnesota territory.

Oh, but Alan Ball stupidly pulled down one of the gunners and drew the holding penalty. The call moved the ball all the way back to the Dallas 14. Romo pulled his fourth-quarter magic and threw yet another pick.

And Minnesota kicked the field goal to take the lead.

And the Cowboys went nowhere on offense.

And the Cowboys appeared to stop the Vikings with just over two minutes left, but Mike Jenkins was called for pass interference. It was Jenkins’ second pass interference call of the day and the fourth in his past two games.

I’ve said enough here without using other four-letter words. This season is over. Click here to check the longbow reviews by ShootingAuthority.com.

Tennessee 34, Dallas 27: Wanna Get Away?

This about sums up the Cowboys' 2010 season so far.

This is the second consecutive year that I’ve taken a trip to St. Louis and had to watch the Cowboys find a way to lose a game while I watched at the airport terminal. Last year, the Cowboys couldn’t hold on to a 10-0 lead and fell to the Broncos 17-10. This year, Dallas managed to make every possible mistake in a 34-27 defeat to the Tennessee Titans.

My airline? Southwest.

The slogan?

Wanna Get Away?

It’s a good theme for this season so far.

Wanna get away, Mike Jenkins?

Jenkins was called for pass interference twice on the Titans’ opening drive, giving Tennessee 48 yards. Vince Young’s touchdown pass to Nate Washington gave the Titans a 7-0 lead.

Wanna get away, Stephen Bowen?

The Titans took a 10-3 lead early in the second quarter. On a third-down play from the Dallas 47, it appeared that the Cowboys had forced a punt. However, Bowen was called for illegal hands to the face, giving the Titans a first down. Tennessee scored a touchdown on the drive to take a 17-3 lead.

Wanna get away, entire Dallas offensive line?

With Dallas trailing 17-3, the Cowboys moved the ball to the Titan 34. From there, Tony Romo was sacked for a nine-yard loss, and on the next play, Marc Columbo was called for unnecessary roughness. By the time the Cowboys punted, the team was back at its own 45. Leonard Davis was benched in the game because he could not slow down the Titans’ inside pass rush.

Wanna get away, David Buehler?

The Cowboys managed to tie the game at 17 early in the third quarter, thanks to an amazing play by Miles Austin. Dallas drove down to the Tennessee 19 before Romo was sacked yet again. Buehler attempted a 44-yard field goal but missed right.

Wanna get away, Tony Romo?

With the game still tied at 17, Romo moved the team from its own 9 to the Tennessee 21. Romo decided to fire the ball to Martellus Bennett even though there were four Titans players around. The ball was tipped and picked off in the end zone.

The teams were tied at 20 when they exchanged field goals midway through the first half. With an opportunity to take control of the game, Romo attempted a pass from his own 16. The ball was tipped at the line, and Alterraun Verner picked it off. Chris Johnson’s touchdown gave the Titans a 27-20 lead.

Wanna get away, Jason Witten and Marc Columbo?

Witten went from being a hero to a complete jackass within about five seconds. After scoring a touchdown to tie the game, he flipped the ball to Columbo to allow the lineman to spike the ball. Then the two engaged in a chest-bump that caused Columbo to fall to the ground. Columbo’s fall led to a 15-yard penalty that was enforced on the kickoff.

Wanna get away, kickoff coverage unit?

Buehler kicked the ensuing kickoff from his own 15 to the Tennessee 15. Nine members of the coverage unit wound up on the right side of the field. Mike Mariani turned to his right, where only Alan Ball and David Buehler were. Buehler managed to push Mariani out of bounds, but Buehler also grabbed Mariani’s facemask.

Romo had two chances to tie the game, but the team turned the ball over on downs on one series and Romo threw a pick during the second series.

The total yardage sure looked impressive. Romo threw for 406 yards with three TDs and three picks. Felix Jones rushed for 109 yards on 15 carries. Miles Austin caught nine passes for 166 yards and a touchdown.

None of this mattered. This is just a stupid football team that has managed to lose three games this year with dumb mistakes.

Dallas 27, Houston 13: Big D Doesn’t Mean Dead

Mike Jenkins and the Cowboys may have saved their season by winning at Houston.

The Cowboys’ 27-13 win over Houston was hardly perfect. In fact, early mistakes were enough to make one 39-year-old youngster throw a fit, turn off the television, and listen to the rest of the game on the radio. It was apparently good luck.

On that radio broadcast, Brad Sham referred repeatedly to the Cowboys drooling on themselves, meaning that every time the Cowboys did something positive, they would end up making a dumb mental error.

What the Cowboys did against Houston was to overcome those mistakes by making big plays on both sides of the ball when it mattered most.

Case in point #1: Early in the second quarter with the score tied at zero, the Texans faced a 3rd-and-19 play. Matt Schaub handed the ball off to Arian Foster on a draw, and Foster was able to cut back to his left and race 21 yards to give Houston a first down. A 26-yard catch-and-run by Andre Johnson gave Houston a first down inside the 10. From there, though, the Dallas defense stiffened and forced a field goal.

Case in point #2: Right after the touchdown, the Cowboys ran a screen pass to Felix Jones that would have gained 32 yards to near midfield. However, a penalty on Miles Austin negated the gain and moved the Cowboys back to their own 10. Tony Romo responded by hitting 9 passes on a 13-play drive to move Dallas into scoring position. Marion Barber’s touchdown gave the Cowboys a lead that they never surrendered.

Case in point #3: The Cowboys had extended their lead to 17-3 by the end of the third quarter thanks to a David Buehler field goal (yes, that David Buehler) late in the first half and a touchdown from Romo to Roy Williams (yes, that Roy Williams). Houston drove the ball down to the Dallas 1 early in the fourth, and Dallas had to be mindful that Houston had come back from a 27-10 deficit a week ago at Washington. On a crucial series, Dallas held Houston on two downs before Keith Brooking blitzed and sacked Schaub for a nine-yard loss. Houston settled for a field goal.

On the next drive, Romo found Williams on a short slant after the defender had fallen down, and Williams raced all the way to complete a 63-yard touchdown.

The Cowboys only converted 4 of 11 third-down plays, not counting penalties, but the four plays were huge. Three of the conversions came on the Cowboys’ first TD drive as Romo hit Williams, Austin, and Dez Bryant on pass plays to keep the drive alive. Sam Hurd had the other third-down reception on a TD drive in the third quarter that ended with Williams’ first touchdown. He had the biggest game as a Cowboy, catching 5 passes for 117 yards.

Barber ran well and once again got to play the role of closer. With the Cowboys leading 24-6, the team recovered its first fumble of the season. Barber carried the ball seven times on a drive that ate more than five minutes off the clock. Buehler’s second field goal extended the lead to 27-6.

Houston was able to score late, and Martellus Bennett helped to keep the Texans’ slim hopes alive by muffing an onside kick attempt. However, Danny McCray ended the game by recording his first career pick.

With losses by the Redskins and Giants, the Cowboys trail only the Eagles in the NFC East. This bye week may be bearable after all.

Chicago 27, Dallas 20: Cowboys Stumble Their Way to 0-2

Tony Romo now knows what an 0-2 record feels like.

This season may not be over, but the only use of “Dallas Cowboys” and “Super Bowl” in the same context should be reserved for the coincidence that Dallas hosts the game this year.

The Cowboy defense that looked so dominant early in the game fell apart. With the Cowboys leading 7-3 after Dez Bryant’s 62-yard punt return for a touchdown, the Bears figured out that Dallas could not stop quick passes off three-step drops. Greg Olsen caught one of those passes and outran free safety Alan Ball for a 39-yard touchdown pass.

The Cowboys regained the lead early in the second quarter on Tony Romo’s one-yard TD pass to Chris Gronkowski. However, the defense gave up a 59-yard bomb to Johnny Knox. The Bears capitalized by scoring on a touchdown pass from Jay Cutler to Devon Hester.

The Cowboys had the ball late in the first half, but a Romo pass attempt went through the hands of Jason Witten and into D.J. Moore’s hands. It was Moore’s second interception off of a tipped pass and gave the Bears the chance to increase their lead to 20-14 at the half.

Dallas started moving the ball in the second half, but the opening drive stalled. David Buehler kicked a 28-yard field goal to cut the Chicago lead to 20-17. The Cowboys had chances to tie the game or to take the lead, but the drives stalled. With just over seven minutes left, Buehler hooked a 44-yard attempt to the left. One play before the miss, Romo missed Tashard Choice on a wheel route that may have resulted in a touchdown.

The Cowboys’ only chance was to stop the Bears, but Chicago quickly drove 66 yards and increased the lead to 27-17. Dallas had a shot to cut into the lead, but Roy Williams fumbled the ball with four minutes left. Although the Cowboys kicked a late field goal, the game was all but over.

David Buehler has had a terrible season so far, and not just because of his missed field goals (which were both bad, to be sure). He has yet to  record a touchback and has had to make three tackles on special teams after long returns. Against Chicago, Buehler had to push Knox out of bounds after Knox had returned the opening kickoff 42 yards.

After Dallas had taken a 7-3 lead, the Cowboys had Buehler attempt what amounted to a pooch kick that only traveled 28 yards before being fair caught at the Chicago 42. The Bears took advantage of the good field position and scored in three plays.

Romo threw for 374 yards by completing 34 of 51 passes. Miles Austin showed up again, catching 10 passes for 142 yards. The running game disappeared yet again, as the “three-headed monster” gained a combined total of 37 yards.

Washington 13, Dallas 7: Not a Funny Comedy, Alex Barron

That's what we're asking, Wade.

Pondering what to say if Alex Barron is still employed by the Dallas Cowboys as of tomorrow morning. Perhaps hire Phil Pozderac as an offensive-line consultant?

Let’s review:

  • With 11 seconds left in the first half, the Cowboys had the ball at their own 46. It was close enough that the team could have moved into field-goal range. On a first-down play, Barron was called for holding, moving Dallas back to the 36. On the next play, the Cowboys inexplicably lined up in a pass formation. Tony Romo flipped the ball to Tashard Choice, who was stripped from the ball by DeAngelo Hall, who ran the ball in for a touchdown to give Washington a 10-0 lead at the half.
  • With the Cowboys down 10-7 in the fourth quarter, Romo appeared to hit Jason Witten on a pass to the Washington 44, which would have given Dallas a first down. Nope– holding, #71, offense.
  • With three seconds remaining, the Cowboys had one last chance from the Washington 13. Romo bought some time, rolled right, and found Roy Williams for an apparent touchdown. Then the flag came in, and the call wasn’t even close. Barron put a bear hug on Brian Orakpo in one of the most obvious holds anyone could imagine.

No touchdown. No win.

So the team could do without Flozell Adams, who was the second-most penalized player in the NFL since 2005. Instead, the team acquired and now has to start Alex Barron, the most penalized player in the NFL since 2005.

Some other decisions either haunted or could have haunted the Cowboys.

The Cowboys thought they could turn to kickoff specialist David Buehler to handle field goal duties. He went 10-for-11 in the preseason and hit the game-winner against Miami. His lone regular-season field goal attempt, and miss, looked like a Nick Folk special from 2009. Making matters worse was that Buehler’s two kickoffs were returned 34 and 42 yards, respectively.

Dez Bryant wasn’t bad tonight, catching eight passes for 56 yards. However, on the final drive of the game, Bryant didn’t realize he was the hot read and didn’t look for the ball when Romo tried to hit him. The ball bounced off LeRon Landry’s hands, fortunately, but it was the type of play where the Cowboys could have used a veteran like Patrick Crayton.

And then there’s the playcalling. The final play of the first half was the dumbest in recent memory. It may be the dumbest in distant memory. I’d rather not think about it for now.

The Dallas offense tried hard to get the WR screen set up in the first half. One might think the calls would set up something else later. Instead, the Cowboys struggled to move the ball effectively and consistently during the entire first half.

Miles Austin was huge, catching 10 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. His 30-yard reception on 4th-and-10 from the Washington 43 with less than 20 seconds left gave the Cowboys a chance to win the game.

Marion Barber and Felix Jones were less effective. Each carried the ball eight times and combined for 77 rushing yards.

The Cowboys are 0-1 to start a season for the first time since 2006. The team’s next three opponents—Chicago, Houston, and Tennessee—each won their openers. In fact, the only opponent in the first nine weeks that lost its opener was Minnesota, and that was to the New Orleans Saints.

Pondering where to find some optimism.

Dallas 27, Miami 25: McGee and Buehler Get to Play Hero Roles

The majority of the Cowboys’ starters did not play against the Dolphins on Thursday, while Miami played most starters for much of the first half.  Nevertheless, the Cowboys were able to come from behind several times in the game and won on David Buehler’s 31-yard field goal as time expired. It was Buehler’s fourth field goal for the game.

Stephen McGee played the entire game and completed 27 of 42 passes for 304 yards and a 43-yard touchdown pass to Sam Hurd. Kevin Ogletree had six receptions for 51 yards, while Manny Johnson had three catches for 50 yards, including a 33-yarder that set up Buehler’s game-winner.

On defense, Victor Butler and Sean Lee each recorded two sacks. Butler also caused a fumble by sacking Chad Henne early in the second quarter. Lee recovered the fumble and returned it 11 yards. On the ensuing drive, McGee hit Hurd on the TD, which gave Dallas a 7-3 lead.

The Cowboys finish their preseason at 3-2. The team will announce its final roster cuts by Saturday.

Houston 23, Dallas 7: How to Forfeit the Governor’s Cup

Houston wins the Governor's Cup thanks to a 23-7 drubbing of the Cowboys on Saturday night.

Forty percent of the Cowboys’ starting offensive line was out of tonight’s game against Houston. There’s one excuse for tonight’s 23-7 loss at Houston. Beyond that, forfeiting this game might have been less distressing to witness than what actually happened.

The Cowboys ran the ball 12 times for 13 yards. Meanwhile, second-year back Arian Foster ran all over the place, gaining 110 yards on 18 carries. Tony Romo completed 13 of 18 passes for 146 yards, but he was also sacked twice, with both sacks coming on third-down plays. He also threw an interception that killed another drive.

The Dallas starters played the entire first half but only managed one long drive. That drive ended with Felix Jones missing a pitch from Tony Romo. The ball ended up 20 yards in the other direction, and Houston recovered. Houston turned around and kicked a field goal to take a 13-0 lead.

The comedy continued in the third quarter. After Houston drove 74 yards on its opening drive of the second half, DeMarcus Ware appeared to strip Matt Schaub and recover the ball at the Dallas 15.  But Jason Williams was flagged for illegal contact, giving Houston a first down. On the next play, Foster scored to give Houston a 20-0 lead.

Dallas responded with a decent drive, starting at its own 27 and moving to the Houston 17. On a 3rd-and-14 play, though, Romo’s pass attempt to Jason Witten ended up in the hands of  Kareem Jackson, who returned the ball 64 yards. Houston kicked a field goal on the next drive, ending the Texans’ scoring.

The Cowboys’ lone score came when Jon Kitna hit Keith Ogletree on a 24-yard pass early in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys’ final preseason game is Thursday night against the Dolphins.

Dallas 16, San Diego 14: Late Safety Is Enough for Win

Miles Austin caught a nine-yard TD pass from Tony Romo in the second quarter.

Linebacker Victor Butler made the play of the game Saturday night when he sacked San Diego quarterback Jonathan Crompton. The third-string QB fumbled the ball into the end zone, where was recovered by a Charger lineman for a safety. The two points was enough to give Dallas a 16-14 win.

There was some good news on the offensive side of the ball when Tony Romo hit Miles Austin for a nine-yard touchdown pass with just over two minutes remaining in the first half. The TD was set up when Bradie James stripped Darren Sproles and Dallas safety Barry Church returned the ball 80 yards to the San Diego 8.Austin’s touchdown was the first offensive TD for the Cowboys this preseason.

The bad news for the starting offense: Dallas only managed 49 net yards and three first downs in the first half. Romo only completed three other passes and was picked off once.

The starting defense likewise didn’t look especially strong. San Diego moved the ball effectively for much of the first half, but Dallas managed two turnovers, including the Church fumble recovery and an interception by cornerback Terence Newman. The Chargers had 205 total yards in the first half to the Cowboys’ 49.

Several players had good games worth mentioning:

LB Sean Lee: The second-round pick finally saw action, and he was impressive. Filling in for an injured Keith Brooking, Lee recorded a total of eight tackles. With just under two minutes remaining and the Chargers facing a 4th-and-1, Lee split a gap, took on the lead blocker, and tackled running back Marcus Mason for a one-yard loss.

LB DeMarcus Ware: The team’s best defender had five tackles, three tackles for losses, a QB hurry, and a half-sack along with Anthony Spencer.

CB Cletis Gordon: Announcers Brad Sham and Babe Laufenberg were impressed with Gordon, who had a pick. He is trying to earn the fourth CB spot.

TE Martellus Bennett: Bennett had four receptions for 40 yards and a nice-looking touchdown grab on a pass from Jon Kitna.

WR Sam Hurd: There is some speculation that Hurd could lose his roster spot, but he looked pretty good in catching four passes.

Oakland 17, Dallas 9: Touchdown Woes Continue

More than 72,000 showed up to see the first preseason game at Cowboys Stadium.

The first- and second-team defensive units for the Cowboys were mostly dominant on Thursday night, generally shutting down the Oakland offense and holding the Raiders scoreless for three quarters. The Dallas offense had success between the 20s, though Tony Romo was sacked three times in a quarter of work. The real problem was that the Cowboys could do very little in the red zone.

The Cowboys moved the ball inside the Oakland 20 four times but could only come away with three field goals and a failed attempt on a 4th-and-1 play. A really ugly stat: the Cowboys ran a total of nine plays inside the red zone and picked up a combined total of zero yards on those nine plays.

Otherwise, this was not a terrible game, given that the Cowboys had so many starters out and that the team had just played the previous Sunday night.  Some fans at the game were a little bit upset at the loss, as were a few radio callers. The most comical was one caller who thought this didn’t look like a Super Bowl team because it gave up a big lead in the fourth quarter.

The Raiders in the game during the fourth quarter included quarterback Kyle Boller, who was once a starter for the Baltimore Ravens. The Oakland running back was Michael Bennett, who was once a 1,000-yard rusher for Minnesota.  Their counterparts on the Cowboys included quarterbacks Stephen McGee (zero career regular season snaps) and Matt Nichols (rookie free agent), along with running backs Herb Donaldson and Lonyae Miller.

Even with a good excuse to lose, the Cowboys still had a good chance to win this game. With Dallas leading 9-7 and only 2:34 remaining in the game, Boller tried to hit Johnnie Higgins on a slant. The ball popped in the air and apparently right into the hands of Leon Williams. However, Williams could not haul the pass in (he also completely whiffed on a tackle in an earlier series), and the Raiders kicked the go-ahead field goal.

On the next drive, Nichols moved the Cowboys from the 6 to the 37, but a pass attempt to Manuel Johnson bounced into the hands of Raider safety Jerome Boyd, who returned the pick 48 yards for a touchdown that put the game away.

Disappointing (especially for those of us at the game) but hardly a reason to think this can’t be a Super Bowl team.

It was a good day for special teams in general. David Buehler was voted by fans in attendance as the MVP of the game, as he hit three field goals. Mat McBriar averaged 48.1 yards per kick, including a 68-yard punt from his own end zone.

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