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Most Favor the Cowboys to Beat Carolina

The Cowboys head into Monday night’s game with Carolina as heavy favorites. Most experts predict a Dallas win, and many think that Dallas will cover the 9.5-point spread.

The last time that Dallas faced Carolina was in week 16 of the 2007 season. The Cowboys’ 20-13 win over the Panthers helped Dallas to keep pace for home-field advantage in the 2007 playoffs (a big deal at the time). The last time the Cowboys hosted the Panthers was in 2003, when Dallas pulled off a 24-20 win that guaranteed that Dallas would finish with at least a .500 record. The win prompted Bill Parcells to note that nobody could call the Cowboys losers any more (of course, Dallas laid an egg in a playoff loss to the Panthers later that season…).

Dallas Morning News

All of the Dallas Morning News staff picked the Cowboys to win.

Rick Gosselin: Dallas
Tim Cowlishaw: Dallas
Kevin Sherrington: Dallas
Todd Archer: Dallas
David Moore: Dallas

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The Star-Telegram staff went a little bit further and suggested scores for the game:

Charean Williams: Cowboys 31, Panthers 20

Jeff Caplan: Cowboys 31, Panthers 18

Jim Reeves: Cowboys 34, Panthers 17

Clarence E. Hill Jr.: Cowboys 28, Panthers 10

Randy Galloway: Cowboys 27, Panthers 14

Gil LeBreton: Cowboys 27, Panthers 17


Not quite a sweep, as Will Allen took the Panthers. The rest of the ESPN staff took Dallas.

Will Allen: Carolina
Mike Golic: Dallas
Merrill Hoge: Dallas
Ron Jaworski: Dallas
Chris Mortensen: Dallas
Adam Schefter: Dallas
Mark Schlereth: Dallas
Seth Wickersham: Dallas

Accuscore: Dallas 27, Carolina 21

Dallas won 66% of  Accuscore’s simulations by an average score of 27-21.

The Cowboys are better off being a run first offense, even if Marion
Barber is hurt in Week 3. In simulations where Tony Romo has over 250
passing yards the Cowboys actually win 62 percent, less than they do
when he has under 250 yards. Dallas leads the league with 184 rushing
yards per game. For the Panthers to win they need to hold the Cowboys
to under 120 rushing yards. In these simulations, the Panthers win 46
percent, up from 32 overall. The Cowboys defense has no interceptions
this season. If Jake Delhomme has no more than 1 INT their chances
improve to 39 percent, but if he has 2+ INTs the Panthers chances drop
to just 13 percent.

Madden Simulation: Dallas 31, Carolina 23

The Cowboys would score more than 30 points for the third consecutive game if the Madden simulation is accurate.

Tony Romo bounced back from his error-filled Sunday night fiasco to
throw three touchdowns as the passing attack helps Dallas squash the
Panthers 31-23.

Jake Delhomme completed only 12 passes for 142 yards while adding
another interception to his ever-escalating total. Carolina’s ground
game looked strong, with Williams rushing for 102 yards and Steve Smith
taking an end-around 65 yards for a score, but it just wasn’t enough as
Carolina continues their slide toward the bottom of the power rankings.

Meanwhile, Felix Jones electrified fans with 55 yards rushing,
including a crazy touchdown that saw him reverse field then hurdle a
tackler for one of the more exciting five-yard scores in recent memory.

WhatIfSports: Dallas 27, Carolina 16

The Cowboys had their way in the WhatIfSports simulations, winning 76.1 percent of the games. Tony Romo only averaged 190.2 yards in these simulations, with 1.3 touchdowns and 1.1 interceptions per game.

My Guess (2-0 this season)

Last week, I predicted a three-point (17-14) Dallas loss, though for the wrong reasons.

I think that the Giants game will be fairly low scoring. The Giants
have tended to start better than the Cowboys, and given how slow the
Cowboys were during the first half against Tampa Bay, I suspect that
the Giants will take an early lead. Dallas will stay in the game but
will struggle keeping the New York offense off the field. The Cowboys
will come back, but this comeback will end up just short.

Dallas came back several times against the Giants, but it was not a matter of the Dallas comeback falling short. Instead, the Cowboys defense could not stop Eli Manning when it mattered.

The pressure is on Dallas this week, but I think they will come through. Tony Romo will get Roy Williams and Jason Witten involved early, and then the team can rely on its running backs. Even without Marion Barber, the Cowboys will control most of the game on the ground. Carolina will score a couple of late touchdowns to make the game look closer than it will actually be.

My score is (if you can’t see the image, click here):


Cowboys Rushing Stats are Impressive, but Then There's the Rest

After two weeks, the Cowboys lead the NFL in rushing yards as well as yards per attempt and rushing touchdowns.

Then there are the other stats. Dallas ranks 30th or below in several offensive and defensive categories, including total yards allowed. Since NFL/AFL merger in 1970, the Cowboys have never finished lower than 20th in total yards allowed (the team finished 20th several times during the 1980s, when the league had 28 teams).

Here is a look at this year’s team statistics, including the rankings in parentheses:



Points: 65 (3rd)
Yards: 840 (2nd)
Plays: 110 (30th)
Yards/Play: 7.6 (1st)
1st Downs: 41 (9th)
Turnovers: 4 (14th)


Completions: 29 (31st)
Attempts: 56 (28th)
Yards: 471 (14th)
Yards/Attempt: 8.3 (4th)
TDs: 4 (9th)


Attempts: 53 (18th)
Yards: 369 (1st)
Yards/Attempt: 7.0 (1st)
TDs: 4 (1st- tie)



Points: 54 (26th)
Yards: 877 (30th)
Plays: 137 (27th)
Yards/Play: 6.4 (30th)
1st Downs: 45 (29th)
Turnovers: 0 (31st- tie)


Completions: 50 (27th- tie)
Attempts: 80 (27th- tie)
Yards: 606 (30th)
TD: 3 (15th- tie)
Int.: 0 (27th-tie)
Yards/Attempt: 7.6 (26th)


Attempts: 57 (19th)
Yards: 271 (23rd)
Yards/Attempt: 4.8 (25th)
TD: 2 (23rd)

Cowboys Fall to 14th in Composite Power Rankings

The Cowboys fell a spot or two in most of the power rankings this week, but most did not punish Dallas given that the Giants are ranked so high. A loss to Carolina, though, will likely send the Cowboys falling.

Sports Illustrated (Don Banks): 13th

The Cowboys moved up from 15th to 13th on this list.

The Cowboys came out of their Sunday-nighter with some issues — Tony
Romo’s inaccuracy and their secondary’s porous coverage — but there
were still some positives to build on with their strong running game
and run defense against the Giants. Speaking of issues, the
Giants-Cowboys game reminded me of one that bores me to tears: The
celebration of big TV ratings. I really don’t care that 24.8 million
people watched the Giants-Cowboys Sunday night on NBC. Not in the
least. I know NBC cares, and it should. Ditto for the NFL. But I don’t
care. I know I watched the game. I was there, and it was on in the
press box. But after that? Yawn.

ESPN: 15th

ESPN dropped Dallas from 13th to 15th.

Two problems don’t go away: critical turnovers by Tony Romo and giving up big plays on defense. (Clayton)

Fox Sports: 16th

Dallas likewise fell three spots in Fox Sports’ rankings.

NO WORRIES: The offseason hype was dead on about the
Dallas running game, now that Felix Jones is healthy. The duo of Marion
Barber-Felix Jones combined for 220 rushing yards against the
intimidating Giants in Week 2.
TIME TO WORRY: Tony Romo opened Jerry Jones’ new palace with a major dud and still can’t seem to win the big ones.

CBS (Pete Prisco): 10th

Like Don Banks, Prisco moved the Cowboys up after the loss.

Talk all you want about how poorly Tony Romo played, but if they don’t
improve on defense it won’t matter. That unit has given up too many big
plays in two games in the passing game. That needs to be fixed quickly. (expert picks): 13th

Dallas stayed in the same spot according to

FanHouse: 15th

Dallas fell five spots according to AOL.

Whether they’re playing in old Texas Stadium, JerryWorld or on Saturn,
the Cowboys are much more effective when they’re running the ball than
when they’re asking Tony Romo
to win games with his arm. This was obvious to everybody who was
watching Sunday night except the people calling the Cowboys’ plays.
They gave away a game, and they’ll keep doing it if they keep failing
to identify their strength.

Cold, Hard Football Facts: 12th

Dallas fell from 9th to 12th in CHFF’s rankings.

The Cowboys are 29th in the NFL in yards
per play allowed (6.4), 29th in first downs allowed (22.5) and 26th in
points allowed. Oh, and no sacks. Oh, and no turnovers forced. In other
words, maybe the defense isn’t so hot. However, 7.6 yards per play on
offense (1st) and an amazing 7.0 YPA (1st) on the ground will mask a
lot of problems on the other side of the ball.

USA Today: 13th

The Cowboys moved up a spot according to USA Today.

BetUS: 11th

Tony Romo can’t play this bad every week….can he?

WhatIfSports: 12th

The Cowboys’ biggest fall on this list was on WhatIfSports’ list. According to WhatIfSports’ simulations, the Cowboys won 58.7 percent of the games based on current statistics.

Composite Power Rankings

Here are the rankings according to averages in the polls above.

1. New York Giants (2-0)
2. New Orleans (2-0)
3. New York Jets (2-0)
4. Baltimore (2-0)
5. Atlanta (2-0)
6. Indianapolis (2-0)
7. Minnesota (2-0)
8. Pittsburgh (1-1)
9. New England (1-1)
10. Philadelphia (1-1)
11. San Francisco (2-0)
12. San Diego (1-1)
13. Chicago (1-1)
14. Dallas (1-1)
15. Arizona (1-1)
16. Green Bay (1-1)
17. Denver (2-0)
18. Tennessee (0-2)
19. Houston (1-1)
20. Cincinnati (1-1)
21. Buffalo (1-1)
22. Miami (0-2)
23. Seattle (1-1)
24. Washington (1-1)
25. Oakland (1-1)
26. Carolina (0-2)
27. Jacksonville (0-2)
28. Kansas City (0-2)
29. Tampa Bay (0-2)
30. Cleveland (0-2)
31. Detroit (0-2)
32. St. Louis (0-2)

Relative Value Rankings After Week 2

Quite a few changes in this week’s relative value rankings.

There weren’t too many who made huge strides forward, but here are some players who have risen or fallen:

Rising: G Kyle Kosier; RB Felix Jones; RB Tashard Choice, TE Martellus Bennett, DE Igor Olshansky.

Falling: QB Tony Romo, CB Terence Newman, CB Orlando Scandrick, LB Keith Brooking.

At the bottom of this list is a poll that allows users to rate most of the main players. Please take a moment to cast your votes.
53. Curtis Johnson, LB

Last week: 53

vs. N.Y. Giants: Did not play.

Notes: Leaving Johnson at the bottom position again this week. We don’t know much about him.

52. Duke Preston, C

Last week: 50

vs. N.Y. Giants: Did not play.

Notes: Fortunately, Dallas has had no injuries on the offensive line; as a result, Preston hasn’t been active.

51. Pat McQuistan, T

Last week: 49

vs. N.Y. Giants: Did not play.

Notes: Won’t be surprised if we never see McQuistan this season . . . or ever again in the NFL.

50. Montrae Holland, G

Last week: 46

vs. N.Y. Giants: Did not play.

Notes: Another veteran who probably won’t be in the league much longer.

49. Stephen McGee, QB

Last week: 51

vs. N.Y. Giants: Did not play.

Notes: I’ve seen some irrational calls to give McGee his shot already. Um, no.

48. Jason Williams, LB

Last week: 52

vs. N.Y. Giants: Did not play.

Notes: It would be helpful to know if Williams will be effective as a pass-rusher. He’ll likely only be a special-teamer, though.

47. Michael Hamlin, S

Last week: 48

vs. N.Y. Giants: Did not play.

Notes: I haven’t seen an update on Hamlin’s injury.

46. Kevin Ogletree, WR

Last week: 47

vs. N.Y. Giants: Did not play.

Notes: He isn’t likely to see action any time soon, but he might make the roster at some point this season.

45. Cory Procter, C/G

Last week: 44

vs. N.Y. Giants: Backup lineman and special teamer.

Notes: He sees action as a blocker on special teams. Nothing noteworthy to add.

44. Victor Butler, LB

Last week: 43

vs. N.Y. Giants: Saw actions on special teams.

Notes: Butler should have had a tackle on a kickoff return, but the returner slipped right under Butler.

43. Doug Free, T

Last week: 42

vs. N.Y. Giants: Backup lineman and special teamer.

Notes: Similar to Proctor, Free is a body on special teams. Nothing noteworthy about his performance.

42. John Phillips, TE

Last week: 40

vs. N.Y. Giants: Third tight end.

Notes: Phillips is a blocker, so he does not get many opportunities to stand out.

41. Marvin White, S

Last week: 39

vs. N.Y. Giants: One special teams tackle.

Notes: White recorded one tackle on a kickoff return.

40. Alan Ball, CB

Last week: 38

vs. N.Y. Giants: Tied for the team lead with two special teams tackles.

Notes: Missed a tackle on a punt return by Dominik Hixon in the first quarter, though the play was called back due to penalty. His two tackles came on kickoff returns.

39. L.P. Ladouceur, LS

Last week: 37

vs. N.Y. Giants: Long snapper.

Notes: No screw-ups. That’s good.

38. Jon Kitna, QB

Last week: 36

vs. N.Y. Giants: Did not play.

Notes: Curious whether anyone starts calling for Kitna to replace Romo. Ridiculous, I think, but the frustration level when it comes to Romo is pretty high right now.

37. David Buehler, K

Last week: 35

vs. N.Y. Giants: Kickoff specialist.

Notes: After Dallas took a 24-20 lead in the third quarter, Buehler kicked the ball deep in the back of the end zone for his sole touchback. Several other kicks also reached the end zone.

36. Pat Watkins, S

Last week: 34

vs. N.Y. Giants: Special-teamer.

Notes: Watkins was on the ground near a few tackles, but he did not record one.

35. Steve Octavien, LB

Last week: 33

vs. N.Y. Giants: Special-teamer and backup linebacker.

Notes: He helped to bring down Ahmad Bradshaw on one punt return along with Bobby Carpenter and Sam Hurd. Carpenter got the credit, though.

34. Stephen Bowen, DE

Last week: 41

vs. N.Y. Giants: Recorded one tackle.

Notes: Bowen’s one recorded tackle came on a first down play in Dallas territory. Bowen held Brandon Jacobs to a two-yard gain.

33. Junior Siavii, DT

Last week: 45

vs. N.Y. Giants: Two tackles.

Notes: Siavii picked up two consecutive tackles when the Giants drove into Dallas territory with a 27-24 lead in the fourth quarter. Siavii’s stops helped the Cowboys to hold New York to a field goal.

32. Jason Hatcher, DE

Last week: 32

vs. N.Y. Giants: Backup defensive lineman; recorded one assist.

Notes: It looked like Hatcher got a good push.

31. Bobby Carpenter, LB

Last week: 31

vs. N.Y. Giants: Nickel linebacker; recorded one defensive tackle and two special teams tackles.

Notes: Carpenter was near the ball on defense on a few plays, and he was active on special teams. However, he was called for defensive holding on a third down play deep in Giant territory, giving the Giants new life.

30. Deon Anderson, FB

Last week: 30

vs. N.Y. Giants: Starting fullback.

Notes: Anderson did not touch the ball. On a goalline play in the second quarter, Anderson went right to block before Marion Barber tried to jump the pile. I thought that a lead blocker usually tried to clear a linebacker on those types of plays.

Update, 9/23: On further review, Anderson made at least three solid blocks on plays were Marion Barber was able to cut back.

29. Sam Hurd, WR

Last week: 26

vs. N.Y. Giants: Backup receiver; 1 rec., 7 yards.

Notes: Hurd did not record a special teams tackle, and he was limited to one reception.

28. Orlando Scandrick, CB

Last week: 25

vs. N.Y. Giants: Starting corner; six tackles, two pass defenses.

Notes: Scandrick made a couple of nice plays, but he was also burned. He got the start tonight, and given that the Giants threw the ball all over the place, Scandrick gets some of the blame.

27. Miles Austin, WR

Last week: 24

vs. N.Y. Giants: Backup receiver; 1 rec., 20 yards.

Notes: Austin shows big-play potential, but not often enough. I will move him up eventually, but two catches (even though they were both significant) just not justify a bump forward.

26. Mike Jenkins, CB

Last week: 23

vs. N.Y. Giants: Third corner; four tackles, one pass defense.

Notes: Jenkins didn’t technically start, but he had the outside receiver in the nickel. Jenkins could have had a pick on the Giants’ opening drive. I thought he looked better than Scandrick.

25. Tashard Choice, RB

Last week: 29

vs. N.Y. Giants: 2 att., 8 yards; 1 rec., 3 yards.

Notes: Choice made plays to convert two third downs on the Cowboys’ first touchdown drive. He could have had a very long run on a third-down draw, but Kenny Phillips tripped him up. With Marion Barber likely out for one to two weeks, Choice’s value.

24. Ken Haml
in, S

week: 22

vs. N.Y. Giants: Starting safety; six tackles, two assists.

Notes: I thought Hamlin used to be a good form tackler. He seems to rely much more on throwing his body on tackles, and he missed a few again. He also bit on a play-action fake on a play that resulted in a 49-yard completion to Mario Manningham. He also completely blew a run blitz in the third quarter on a 19-yard run by Ahmad Bradshaw.

23. Gerald Sensabaugh, S

Last week: 21

vs. N.Y. Giants: Starting free safety; four tackles, two assists.

Notes: Unlike the Tampa Bay game, Sensabaugh did not have any big plays against the Giants. He seems like a solid safety; but then again, the Cowboys gave up 330 passing yards.

22. Anthony Spencer, LB

Last week: 20

vs. N.Y. Giants: Starting outside linebacker; two tackles (both for losses), one pass defense.

Notes: Spencer made some good plays on run support, though he also should have had contain on a few plays but ran upfield too far. Spencer is getting some pressure on the quarterback, but he can’t seem to close in quickly enough to get a sack.  He nearly had an interception in the first quarter but was only able to tip the ball.

Anyone else notice that Greg Ellis has three sacks in two games with the Raiders?

21. Mat McBriar, P

Last week: 18

vs. N.Y. Giants: 4 punts, 43.5 average, one punt inside the 20.

Notes: McBriar didn’t average his 50 yards per punt, but he was effective.

20. Nick Folk, K

Last week: 19

vs. N.Y. Giants: One field goal of 47 yards.

Notes: Folk remains automatic.

19. Igor Olshansky, DE

Last week: 28

vs. N.Y. Giants: Starting defensive end; recorded one tackle.

Notes: Olshansky made more of a push than he did against Tampa Bay. Although he only recorded one tackle, his presence was more noticeable.

18. Marcus Spears, DE

Last week: 15

vs. N.Y. Giants: Starting defensive end; one pass defense.

Notes: Spears had a game similar to Olshansky– nothing especially noteworthy, but the line must have done its job to shut down the New York running game.

17. Keith Brooking, LB

Last week: 12

vs. N.Y. Giants: Starting linebacker; two tackles, one assist, one pass defense.

Notes: There was a bit of a mixed reaction about Brooking’s performance against Tampa Bay. I thought he looked good, and several other writers mentioned him as a possible defensive player of the game. Others said he missed assignments. Against New York, I think his performance was shaky. He wasn’t around the ball as much, and he missed tackles on both Brandon Jacobs (understandable) and Steve Smith (inexcusable).

16. Martellus Bennett, TE

Last week: 27

vs. N.Y. Giants: 1 rec., 11 yards.

Notes: Romo tried to get the ball to Bennett on a third down play on the opening drive, though Bennett was not the first option nor was he open. Bennett’s first reception of the night came on the team’s first touchdown drive, when he caught a hitch pass and drove his way a few extra yards to the Giant 2. He was also used heavily as a blocker, lining up next to Marc Columbo to double-team Justin Tuck.

15. Marc Columbo, T

Last week: 16

vs. N.Y. Giants: Starting right tackle.

Notes: The Giants did not record a sack and really did not generate pressure from the Cowboys’ right side. Columbo had a quiet game, but it seemed effective.

14. Patrick Crayton, WR

Last week: 13

vs. N.Y. Giants: 1 rec., 4 yards; 1 rush, 20 yards.

Notes: Crayton would have had a 36-yard reception late in the second quarter, but the play was called back due to a tripping penalty on Flozell Adams.

13. Flozell Adams, T

Last week: 14

vs. N.Y. Giants: Starting left tackle.

Notes: Some will say that Flozell should drop further because of his tripping penalty on Justin Tuck in the second quarter. And, to be sure, the penalty cost the Cowboys 42 yards (negated a 36-yard completion and cost six yards). Last week, I dropped him because of his penalty against Tampa Bay. I won’t do it again because he shut down both Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, the latter of whom was held to one tackle and no sacks.

12. Roy Williams, WR

Last week: 6

vs. N.Y. Giants: Starting receiver; 1 rec., 18 yards.

Notes: If nothing else, Williams has shown that he is a good blocker at
the receiver position. One reception isn’t going to silence his
critics, though. Near the end of the first half, Williams had a chance
to make a play near the goalline, but the ball bounced off his hands.

11. Terence Newman, CB

Last week: 8

vs. N.Y. Giants: Starting corner; four tackles, one assist.

Notes: Newman did not have a good game against the Giants. On a few plays, the lack of a pass rush hurt, but receivers were able to get open by giving Newman quick moves. New York also had success running slants in front of Newman. Newman doesn’t look like he has slowed down as far a general speed, but reaction time has been very poor. Good reason to worry.

10. Jay Ratliff, NT

Last week: 11

vs. N.Y. Giants: Starting nose tackle;

Notes: Ratliff had several great plays against the Giants. He shot the gap to blow up at least two runs, and he also made a nice play covering and then tackling Ahmad Bradshaw in the flat.

9. Bradie James, LB

Last week: 10

vs. N.Y. Giants: Starting middle linebacker; two tackles, three assists, one pass defense.

Notes: James was more active against the Giants. I did not see any missed tackles. He showed some leadership with his comments after the loss.

8. Tony Romo, QB

Last week: 2

vs. N.Y. Giants: Starting quarterback; 13/29, 127 yards, 1 TD, 3 Int.

Notes: Romo didn’t have to win this game, given that the running game was working so well. But when the team needed him to be safe with the ball, he threw picks.

7. Kyle Kosier, G

Last week: 17

vs. N.Y. Giants: Starting left guard.

Notes: Kosier had several huge blocks, especially on touchdown runs by Tony Romo and Felix Jones.

6. Leonard Davis, G

Last week: 7

vs. N.Y. Giants: Starting right guard.

Notes: The Giants got no push up the middle, indicating that Davis and Gurode did their jobs.

5. Andre Gurode, C

Last week: 5

vs. N.Y. Giants: Starting center.

Notes: I think Gurode is about as solid as they come. The Giants were not able to get pressure up the middle.

4. Felix Jones, RB

Last week: 9

vs. N.Y. Giants: Backup running back; 7 att., 96 yards, 1 TD.

Notes: His 38-yard kickoff return set up the Cowboys’ first touchdown. His 56-yard touchdown set up Tony Romo’s touchdown run in the third quarter. Jones then scored on a seven-yard touchdown run to give Dallas a 31-30 lead in the fourth quarter. He was a little bit hesitant on a couple of runs and a couple of returns, and he also fumbled a kickoff return. However, he made up for it with his other plays.

Jones is going to have to carry a greater load this week with the injury to Marion Barber.

3. Marion Barber, RB

Last week: 4

vs. N.Y. Giants: 18 att., 124 yds., 1 TD

Notes: Barber is a big-game back. He cuts back and to the outside as well as any running back in the league, and he was one of big keys to the Cowboys staying in the game. However, a quad injury could keep Barber out of action for a week or two.

2. Jason Witten, TE

Last week: 3

vs. N.Y. Giants: 5 rec., 33 yards, 1 TD

Notes: Witten caught a few key passes, but it was a generally quiet night.

1. DeMarcus Ware, LB

Last week: 1

vs. N.Y. Giants: 6 tackles, no sacks.

Notes: Ware just missed getting sacks on a couple of plays. The Giants double-teamed him most of the game, using either a tight end or a running back along with the tackle block Ware.


Another "Great" Moment in the Cowboys' Decade of Disgrace

liquorstore.jpgDuring each previous decade during the existence of the Dallas Cowboys, the team has won signature games. During the 1960s, the Cowboys routed the Cleveland Browns in the team’s first-ever playoff win. The team had its moments during the 1980s, winning five playoff games and remaining viable Super Bowl contenders for at least a third of the decade. And then there were the ’70s and ’90s, during which Cowboys fans became spoiled.

The Cowboys have been an utter disgrace during the 2000s, and it is easier to say that after a loss like the one to the Giants on Sunday. But nobody should have had any reason to think that the Cowboys would win such a huge signature game, given the team’s failures during the present decade. Consider:

1. October 27, 2002: Emmitt Smith Breaks the NFL Rushing Record

Anyone remember what happened after Emmitt Smith scampered to his left to break the NFL rushing record against the Seahawks? The Cowboys lost a 17-14 game on a late field goal by Rian Lindell.

2. January 3, 2004: Cowboys Make the Playoffs Under First-Year Coach Bill Parcells

The Cowboys gave up a 100-yard rusher (Stephen Davis) and two 100-yard receivers (Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad) in a 29-10 loss to Carolina.

3. September 19, 2005: The Cowboys Induct the Triplets into the Ring of Honor

With the Cowboys leading 13-0, Mark Brunell completed touchdown passes of 39 yards and 70 yards to Santana Moss, giving the Redskins a 14-13 win.

4. January 6, 2007: Cowboys Return to the Playoffs for a Second Time Under Parcells

And it was the last time, thanks in large part to Tony Romo dropping a snap while serving as the holder on what would have been a go-ahead field goal. Dallas lost, 21-20.
5. January 13, 2008: Cowboys Host Their First Playoff Game Since 1998

The Cowboys’ 13-3 regular season record went up in smoke when the team lost 21-17 to the Giants.
6. December 20, 2008: Cowboys Play Their Final Game at Texas Stadium
With a chance to come from behind in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys could not tackle either Willis McGahee or Le’Ron McClain, both of whom broke long touchdown runs to give the Ravens a 33-24 win.
7. September 20, 2009: Cowboys Open Six Flags Over Jerry
The Cowboys held a 31-30 lead with three minutes remaining but could not stop the Giants on a last-minute drive. Tony Romo threw three interceptions in the loss.
To be fair, the Cowboys have won a few important games early in the past couple of seasons. They opened with a 45-35 win against the Giants in week 1 of the 2007 season, and the Cowboys beat the Eagles 41-37 in a week two shootout in 2008. Neither turned out to a be signature win, though, given how the seasons ended.
200-Yard Rushing Games

The Cowboys’ 251 rushing yards against the Giants ranks 12th in team history among regular season games. The last time that Dallas had more rushing yardage was on October 31, 1993, when Emmitt Smith set the team record with 237 yards and the team finished with 271 yards. Here’s a look:
354 yards– vs. Baltimore, Dec. 6, 1981
299 yards– vs. Cleveland, Nov. 25, 1982
289 yards– vs. Washington, Nov. 23, 1978
286 yards– vs. Philadelphia, Nov. 18, 1973
279 yards– vs. Minnesota, Oct. 7, 1979
278 yards– vs. Baltimore, Sept. 4, 1978
276 yards– vs. Washington, Dec. 6, 1970
271 yards– vs. Philadelphia, Oct. 31, 1993
268 yards– vs. Philadelphia, Dec. 4, 1977
264 yards– vs. St. Louis, Oct. 9, 1977
252 yards– vs. Cleveland, Dec. 7, 1974
251 yards– vs. New York Giants, Sept. 20, 2009
This shouldn’t surprise anyone, but the Cowboys won every game on this list other than the last one. 
The Cowboys gained more than 250 yards in three playoff games as well:
338 yards– vs. L.A. Rams, 1980 playoffs
255 yards– vs. Minnesota, 1996 playoffs
252 yards– vs. Miami, Super Bowl VI
As for the team during the Decade of Disgrace (the 2000s), the Cowboys have surpassed 200 rushing yards 12 times, including Sunday. Dallas lost only two of those games (vs. Giants in 2009 and vs. Atlanta in 2001).
Oct. 22, 2000– 200 yards vs. Arizona (W 48-7)
Dec. 10, 2000– 242 yards vs. Washington (W 32-13)
Nov. 11, 2001– vs. Atlanta (L 20-13)
Dec. 2, 2001– 215 yards vs. Washington (W 20-14)
Nov. 28, 2002– 211 yards vs. Washington (W 27-20)
Sept. 28, 2003– 202 yards vs. New York Jets (W 17-6)
Nov. 2, 2003– 208 yards vs. Washington (W 21-14)
Dec. 14, 2003– 222 yards vs. Washington (W 27-0)
Dec. 24, 2005– 214 yards vs. Carolina (W 24-20)
Oct. 1, 2006– 217 yards vs. Tennessee (W 45-14)
Sept. 21, 2008– 217 yards vs. Green Bay (W 27-16)
Sept. 20, 2009– 251 yards vs. New York Giants (L 33-31)
Oh, No, Ro-Mo

Tony Romo’s performance on Sunday was among his very worst. His 29.6 passer rating is the second lowest of any of his games, just behind a 22.2 rating his posted on December 16, 2007 in a 10-6 loss to the Eagles. Romo’s 127 passing yards are the fewest of any game in which he started and played the entire game. The only game in which he threw for fewer yards was against the Redskins in the final game of 2007. However, he only played during the first half of that game.

New York 33, Dallas 31: The Ball Doesn't Bounce in Cowboys' Favor - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more
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.

Predictions Favor Giants, but Not Unanimously

The Cowboys officially open Cowboys Stadium on Sunday night with a huge game against the New York Giants. Last November, the Giants took advantage of the Cowboys’ injuries at quarterback and other positions to rout Dallas, 35-14. The Cowboys responded on December 14, beating the Giants 20-8 thanks to strong performances by Tashard Choice and the Dallas defense. The win over New York in December marked the Cowboys’ last win ever at Texas Stadium.

Given how well the Giants looked against the Redskins in week 1, it makes sense that the majority of commentators have picked the Giants to win. But the predictions are not unanimous, as several were impressed enough with Dallas to predict that the Cowboys will improve to 2-0.

On NFL Playbook, Sterling Sharpe, Joe Theismann, and Brian Baldinger spent most of their time talking about the Giant offensive line vs. the Dallas defensive line. In a bit of a surprise, two of the three picked Dallas to win.

Dallas Morning News

Of five voters on the Dallas Morning News site, three took the Cowboys. However, one of those three was Rick Gosselin, who picked Tampa Bay next week.

Rick Gosselin: Dallas
Tim Cowlishaw: N.Y. Giants
Kevin Sherrington: N.Y. Giants
Todd Archer: Dallas
David Moore: Dallas

ESPN Experts

Of the eight ESPN experts, five took the Giants. Of these experts, Chris Mortensen had a 14-2 record last week. He picked the Giants.

Will Allen: N.Y. Giants
Mike Golic: N.Y. Giants
Merrill Hoge: N.Y. Giants
Ron Jaworski: N.Y. Giants
Chris Mortensen: N.Y. Giants
Adam Schefter: Dallas
Mark Schlereth: Dallas
Seth Wickersham: Dallas

Accuscore: Dallas 24.6, N.Y. Giants 23.9

According to Accuscore’s simulations, the Giants will have some success on the ground, while Tony Romo will be able to use Jason Witten and Roy Williams in the passing game. Dallas won 52.2% of the simulations, with the average score favoring Dallas by less than a point.

Here is more:

For the Giants to win they need to run the ball well. When Brandon
Jacobs has at least 50 rushing yards the Giants go from winning 47 to
56 percent. When Jacobs is held under 75 the Giants win jus 35 percent.
The Cowboys need a solid running game, but more importantly they need
to protect Tony Romo. When Romo is sacked 4 or more times the Cowboys
have just a 34 percent chance. When Romo is sacked no more than 2 times
the Cowboys have a 60 percent chance and Tony Romo goes off for 2 TDs
and completes over 60 percent of his passes.

WhatIfSports: Dallas 24, N.Y. Giants 17

The Cowboys won even more simulations at WhatIfSports, taking 65.9 of the games from the Giants. According to the simulations, nobody has a huge game, though Felix Jones outperforms Marion Barber.

Madden Forecast: Dallas 24, Giants 21

ESPN runs a simulation of each game on Madden 2010. In this week’s simulation, the Cowboys avoided turnovers in a 24-21 win.

This was an NFC East slobberknocker, with both teams slugging it out
until the final quarter, where the Cowboys pulled out the last-minute
24-21 win thanks to a 37-yard field goal.

Eli Manning threw three touchdown passes in the loss, but his day
was overshadowed by the tough inside running of Marion Barber. Barber
rushed for 67 yards and a touchdown, controlling the clock and the game
in the final quarter as Dallas set up its game-winning kick.

Tony Romo also continued to look strong for the Cowboys, completing
23 of 38 passes for 238 yards and one touchdown. More importantly, Romo
never turned the ball over to help Dallas start the season 2-0.

Tecmo Super Bowl Forecast: N.Y. Giants 17, Dallas 16

If we’re going to trust a simulation using Madden, we might as well use a simulation featuring a 2009 mod of Tecmo Super Bowl. In a very disappointing loss, the Cowboys gave up a last-minute drive to the Giants. Trailing 16-14 and facing a third-and-10 from his own 30 with less than two minutes to go in the game, Giant quarterback Eli Manning hit Brandon Jacobs, who had slipped out of the backfield. Jacobs took the ball all the way to the Dallas 35. Three plays later, Lawrence Tynes hit a 49-yard field goal to give the Giants a 17-16 win. The loss ruined a fine effort by Felix Jones, who rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown.

Buck TSB 09-10 v2_006.jpg
Buck TSB 09-10 v2_008.png

My Guess

Last week, I predicted a 34-24 Dallas win. Pure luck, of course, but I was pretty close.

Although the Buccaneers might be able to keep the ball out of the
Cowboys’ hands thanks to a good running game, Tampa Bay does not have
the firepower that Dallas has. Nevertheless, I think that game will
feature more scoring than some expect. Dallas will pull ahead early and
hold off a late Tampa rally.

I think that the Giants game will be fairly low scoring. The Giants have tended to start better than the Cowboys, and given how slow the Cowboys were during the first half against Tampa Bay, I suspect that the Giants will take an early lead. Dallas will stay in the game but will struggle keeping the New York offense off the field. The Cowboys will come back, but this comeback will end up just short. - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Week 2: Cowboys Rank 13th in Composite Power Rankings

Here is another weekly feature– we will review 10 power rankings polls from a variety of different media sources to see where the Cowboys fall. Below is a summary of where the Cowboys rank on these lists, followed by a list based on a composite of these ten lists.

Sports Illustrated (Don Banks): 15th

The Cowboys moved up from 17th to 15th according to SI’s Don Banks.

OK, Cowboys fans. I can hear you hollering already about a
middle-of-the-pack ranking after such an impressive offensive display
in the opener at Tampa Bay. Patience, patience. I’m headed to Dallas
this week for the grudge match against the Giants on Sunday night, and
let’s see how Tony Romo and the passing game fares against a
defense that doesn’t have safeties running in molasses like the Bucs.
Win this one and you’ll make a big move. Promise.

(I should have said something similar about my relative value ranking of Martellus Bennett, but I don’t think anyone would buy it)

ESPN: 13th

The Cowboys moved up further on the ESPN list, moving from 17th to 13th.

Roy Williams seems fine as the team’s No. 1 receiver, and he doesn’t
cause the internal problems Terrell Owens created. (Clayton)

Fox Sports: 13th

GLASS HALF FULL: Feel better now? Tony Romo silenced
doubters who wondered if the Cowboys could handle the term “offense”
without Terrell Owens with three big-play home runs at Tampa. Without
the weekly T.O. distraction, Dallas could be back in the division race.

GLASS HALF EMPTY: That sure was a slow-starting
first half, and until the lowly Bucs took a late second-quarter lead
Dallas played like little ‘Boys in getting pushed around down low.

CBS (Pete Prisco): 12th

According to Prisco:

The passing game was potent against the Bucs, but now will get a stiff
test against a good Giants defense. The receivers have to continue to
play big. (expert picks): 13th

The Cowboys come in right behind the Titans, Falcons, and Saints.

FanHouse: 10th

Impressive season-opening air show against the Bucs, but it’s
dangerous. Boys will still be at their best if they lean toward the

Cold, Hard Football Facts: 9th

This is more like it:

Tony Romo (16 of 27, 353 yards) averaged a
Lamonica-esque 22.1 yards per completion and a spectacular 13.1 yards
per attempt against the woeful Bucs so-called “defense.” Romo surpassed Peyton Manning in the process for the second-best career passer rating in NFL history (95.7).

USA Today: 13th

Similar to other polls, USA Today has Dallas just behind the Falcons, Saints, and Titans.

BetUS: 11th

At least we now know that Terrell Owens will not be missed.

WhatIfSports: 4th

Wow! Here is a description of how WhatIfSports ranks its teams: utilizes its NFL football simulation engine to present
the most comprehensive, deterministic and unbiased ranking of all 32
teams. We simulated every possible match-up in the NFL 100 times, and
used the winning percentages from those nearly 50,000 games to evaluate
every team. All 32 teams are ranked below with their average points for
and against from the simulated games. All rosters and depth charts are
up-to-date as of Monday night of each week.

Composite Power Rankings

Below are the rankings based on the averages from these polls. The Cowboys are just behind the New Orleans Saints, who rank as high as 5th on the SI poll.

1. Pittsburgh (1-0)
2. New England (1-0)
3. N.Y. Giants (1-0)
4. Philadelphia (1-0)
5. San Diego (1-0)
6. Minnesota (1-0)
7. Baltimore (1-0)
8. Indianapolis (1-0)
9. Atlanta (1-0)
10. Tenneseee (0-1)
11. Green Bay (1-0)
12. New Orleans (1-0)
13. Dallas (1-0)
14. N.Y. Jets (1-0)
15. San Francisco (1-0)
16. Seattle (1-0)
17. Arizona (0-1)
18. Chicago (0-1)
19. Miami (0-1)
20. Washington (0-1)
21. Buffalo (0-1)
22. Denver (1-0)
23. Houston (0-1)
24. Carolina (0-1)
25. Jacksonville (0-1)
26. Cincinnati (0-1)
27. Oakland (0-1)
28. Tampa Bay (0-1)
29. Kansas City (0-1)
30. Cleveland (0-1)
31. Detroit (0-1)
32. St. Louis (0-1)

Relative Value Rankings After Week 1

Each week, we will take a look at every active player on the Dallas Cowboys. I have ranked them in terms of relative importance based on three principal criteria: (1) actual performance; (2) talent and potential; and (3) how badly the team would suffer. This list only represents my opinion, of course, and it is subject to debate.

Last week, we had only 52 players to rank. This week’s list features the entire roster of 53.

53. Curtis Johnson, LB

Last week: 49

vs. Tampa Bay: Inactive

Notes: Dallas is trying to convert Johnson from defensive end to linebacker. It may take some time.

52. Jason Williams, LB

Last week: 51.

vs. Tampa Bay: Injured/Inactive

Notes: Williams is going to be a solid player for the Cowboys, but we almost have to put injured rookies near the bottom of the list.

51. Stephen McGee, QB

Last week: 50

vs. Tampa Bay: Inactive as third-string quarterback.

Notes: McGee is not likely to contribute this year barring injuries.

50. Duke Preston, C

Last week: 36

vs. Tampa Bay: Inactive

Notes: It looked like Preston might beat out Cory Proctor for the backup center job, but Preston wasn’t even active against Tampa Bay. Given that I ranked Proctor #48 last week, I’d say this pushes Preston down pretty far.

49. Pat McQuistan, T

Last week: 34

vs. Tampa Bay: Inactive

Notes: McQuistan looked poor during the preseason and did not even make the active roster against the Buccaneers.

48. Michael Hamlin, S

Last week: 52

vs. Tampa Bay: Injured/Inactive

Notes: Hamlin’s value rose a bit thanks to the rib injury suffered by Gerald Sensabaugh. Hamlin will likely see action on both special teams and in nickel and dime packages when he returns.

47. Kevin Ogletree, WR

Last week: 41

vs. Tampa Bay: Inactive

Notes: Although I liked how Ogletree looked during the preseason, he did not make the active roster for the Tampa Bay game.

46. Montrae Holland, G

Last week: 38

vs. Tampa Bay: Inactive

Notes: Similar to Preston, Holland seemed to outplay Cory Proctor during the preseason, but it was Proctor on the active roster in week 1 rather than Holland.

45. Junior Siavii, DT

Last week: 45

vs. Tampa Bay: Backup; saw action on defensive line rotation.

Notes: Siavii saw action, but he did not seem to provide much of a push up the middle. Hard to judge linemen in this rotation.

44. Cory Procter, C/G

Last week: 48

vs. Tampa Bay: Backup; saw action on special teams.

Notes: Proctor is backup to both Andre Gurode and both guards, which should mean that he has pretty good value. However, nobody wants to see him play extensively due to injuries to any of the starters.

43. Victor Butler, LB

Last week: 46

vs. Tampa Bay: 1 assist

Notes: Butler saw a little bit of action on defense.

42. Doug Free, T

Last week: 44

vs. Tampa Bay: Backup; played on special teams

Notes: Large body. At least he made the active roster.

41. Stephen Bowen, DE

Last week: 43

vs. Tampa Bay: Backup; saw action on defensive line rotation. 1 tackle.

Notes: Another large body, but this one is on defense. Bowen’s tackle came on a play when Byron Leftwich fumbled and had to improvise.

40. John Phillips, TE

Last week: 40

vs. Tampa Bay: 3rd tight end.

Notes: Phillips saw action when Dallas went to a single-back, 3 TE set. He isn’t likely to make much news.

39. Marvin White, S

Last week: n/a

vs. Tampa Bay: 1 special teams tackle

Notes: White just joined the Cowboys, and he recorded a tackle on a punt return in the third quarter.

38. Alan Ball, CB

Last week: 37

vs. Tampa Bay: 1 tackle.

Notes: Ball saw action in the second half. On a 3rd-and-6 play from the Dallas 14 in the fourth quarter, Sammie Stroughter ran right in front of ball to make a catch and nearly score.

37. L.P. Ladouceur, LS

Last week: 32

vs. Tampa Bay: Long-snapper

Notes: Ladouceur is not likely to make news unless he screws up. Against Tampa Bay, he didn’t screw up.

36. Jon Kitna, QB

Last week: 28

vs. Tampa Bay: Backup quarterback

Notes: Kitna is a good insurance policy, but hopefully he won’t play much. Unlike Brad Johnson, Kitna is not holding field goals and extra points.

35. David Buehler, K

Last week: 42

vs. Tampa Bay: Kickoff specialist

Notes: His job: kick the ball through the back of the end zone. His performance: three touchbacks, which were three more than Dallas had last season.

34. Pat Watkins, S

Last week: 35

vs. Tampa Bay: 4 tackles, 1 special teams tackle.

Notes: Watkins replaced Gerald Sensabaugh in the second half and made several tackles. Many of his plays came during clean-up time, but he looked pretty good after finishing strong in the preseason.

33. Steve Octavien, LB

Last week: 47

vs. Tampa Bay: Backup linebacker.

Notes: Octavien replaced DeMarcus Ware in the first quarter when Ware was shaken up trying to tackle Kellen Winslow. Octavien did not record a tackle nor did he generate much of a pass rush.

32. Jason Hatcher, DE

Last week: 39

vs. Tampa Bay: Backup; saw action in defensive rotation.

Notes: Hatcher did not record a sack, but we heard his name several times when he pressured Byron Leftwich.

31. Bobby Carpenter, LB

Last week: 33

vs. Tampa Bay: Carpenter saw action in the nickel formations.  

Notes: Although Carpenter only recorded two tackles, he made a nice play on fourth down reception by Kellen Winslow on a fourth-and-7 play late in the game.

30. Deon Anderson, FB

Last week: 31

vs. Tampa Bay: Starting fullback.

Notes: Dallas does not use its fullbacks very often, so Anderson is not likely to have many touches. He’s not a bad receiver out of the backfield, but more of those passes are likely to go to Martellus Bennett this year.

29. Tashard Choice

Last week: 27

vs. Tampa Bay: Backup running back. 2 att., 10 yards.

Notes: Choice will play a bigger role in some games, but he only touched the ball twice against Tampa Bay. His first run on the opening drive of the game gave Dallas a first down.

28. Igor Olshansky, DE

Last week: 19

vs. Tampa Bay: Starting defensive end. Recorded one tackle.

Notes: Hard not to notice that the Tampa Bay line pushed the Dallas defensive line off the ball. It is also hard not to notice Chris Canty making plays for the Giants on Sunday.

27. Martellus Bennett, TE

Last week: 23

vs. Tampa Bay: Second tight end. 1 rec., 13 yards.

Notes: Bennett will become more involved with the offense, but like Choice, he had few opportunities against Tampa Bay. Tony Romo missed a chance to throw a jump-ball to Bennett in the red zone during the first quarter.

Update (9/17): Having read other write-ups about the matchup problems that Bennett caused,  I acknowledge he should be higher on this list.

26. Sam Hurd, WR

Last week: 29

vs. Tampa Bay: Backup receiver; led team in special teams tackles with 3.

Notes: Hurd saw action at receiver but was never
a target. His value was pr
imarily on special teams.

25. Orlando Scandrick, CB

Last week: 24 (tie)

vs. Tampa Bay: Rotated at corner with Mike Jenkins. Recorded two tackles.

Notes: Jenkins seemed to outplay Scandrick, but neither was tested very much. Scandrick served more of a nickel corner role against the Buccaneers.

24. Miles Austin, WR

Last week: 30

vs. Tampa Bay: 1 rec., 42 yards, 1 TD

Notes: Austin did the most with one opportunity, catching a ball over his back shoulder and racing the rest of the way to score with just under a minute left in the first half. He should get more opportunities.

23. Mike Jenkins, CB

Last week: 24(tie)

vs. Tampa Bay: 2 tackles, 1 pass defended

Notes: Jenkins had an interception called back when Gerald Sensabaugh was called for illegal contact. Jenkins also picked up and returned a blocked field goal in the first quarter. However, Jenkins was nearly burned badly by Antonio Bryant late in the first half.

22. Ken Hamlin, S

Last week: 13

vs. Tampa Bay: 5 tackles, 2 assists

Notes: From what I could judge, Hamlin appeared to miss at least two tackles on Cadillac Williams. His tackling was a problem late last season, and he fell on this list thanks to similar problems on Sunday.

21. Gerald Sensabaugh, S

Last week: 26

vs. Tampa Bay: 4 tackles, 3 assists, blocked field goal

Notes: Sensabaugh had a very good debut for Dallas. He blocked a field goal in the first quarter, leading to a Dallas field goal. He put a big hit on Michael Clayton in the second half, but Clayton got the better of it. Sensabaugh was called for an illegal conduct penalty, erasing Jenkins’ interception, but the call was pretty touchy.

20. Anthony Spencer, LB

Last week: 16

vs. Tampa Bay: 2 tackles, 2 assists

Notes: Daryl Johnston noted that Spencer was just a little bit slow getting to the quarterback. He should have had a sack or two. (Hard not to notice on Monday that Greg Ellis recorded a sack, pushing his way past San Diego’s right tackle on the play)

19. Nick Folk, K

Last week: 22

vs. Tampa Bay: 2 field goals (51, 22).

Notes: His 51-yarder after the opening drive erased preseason concerns. His two field goals raised his career field goal average to 87.3%, which at the moment is the highest in team history.

18. Mat McBriar, P

Last week: 20

vs. Tampa Bay: 4 punts, 43.0 average.

Notes: McBriar is better at his position than all but a few other Cowboys, meaning he should be higher on this list. It’s just too hard to put a punter above the players below.

17. Kyle Kosier, G

Last week: 15

vs. Tampa Bay: Starting left guard.

Notes: Solid performance. Romo wasn’t pressured up the middle, but the Cowboys had a little bit of trouble running up the middle on the left side.

16. Marc Columbo, T

Last week: 14

vs. Tampa Bay: Starting right guard.

Notes: Nothing bad to note regarding Columbo. The Buccaneers’ sole sack came from the right side of the Dallas line, but that was on a corner blitz.

15. Marcus Spears, DE

Last week: 17

vs. Tampa Bay: 2 tackles

Notes: Spears isn’t going to make too many headlines, but he disrupted a couple of plays and was around the ball. I thought he looked better than Olshansky.

14. Flozell Adams, T

Last week: 9

vs. Tampa Bay: Starting left tackle

Notes: Adams seemed to handle the right side of the Tampa Bay line pretty well, but his penalties are beyond maddening. His unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the second quarter wiped out a 16-yard run by Patrick Crayton (below). That is therefore a 31-yard penalty on Adams.

13. Patrick Crayton, WR

Last week:

vs. Tampa Bay: 4 rec., 135 yards, 1 TD.

Notes: It’s tempting to put Crayton up higher thanks to his huge game. If not for Flozell Adams, Crayton would have had a 16-yard run as well.

12. Keith Brooking, LB

Last week: 18

vs. Tampa Bay: 7 tackles, 2 assists

Notes: Brooking tied for the team lead in overall tackles, and he seemed to swarm around the ball. He is a noticeable upgrade from Zach Thomas.

11. Jay Ratliff, NT

Last week: 12

vs. Tampa Bay: 2 tackles

Notes: There have been plenty of calls for the Cowboys to pick up a bigger nose tackle and move Ratliff to defensive end. The Cowboys did not get much of a push up the middle against Tampa Bay, and the Buccaneers had success in the inside run game.

10. Bradie James, LB

Last week: 11

vs. Tampa Bay: 5 tackles, 2 assists

Notes: I wouldn’t blame James for the team’s tackling problems, but many of the Buccaneers’ longer runs went right up the middle thanks to poor tackling. James had a chance to make a couple of those tackles but missed. Then again, James made a nice play tackling Sammie Stroughter on a 3rd-and-4 play in the third quarter (along with Scandrick).

9. Felix Jones, RB

Last week: 5

vs. Tampa Bay: 6 att., 22 yards

Notes: Jones will move back up this list, but his role was limited against Tampa Bay. His 36-yard kickoff return to open the game was a good start, and his 19-yard run on the Cowboys’ second possession helped set up a second field goal.

Update (9/16): Jones suffered a thigh bruise against Tampa Bay, which explains why he played so little during the season half. The fact that he was injured does not help his value ranking, though, given how many games he missed in 2008 due to injury.

8. Terence Newman, CB

Last week: 10

vs. Tampa Bay: 8 tackles (1 for loss), 1 assist.

Notes: Newman struggled a bit against Michael Clayton. At the end of the first half, Tampa Bay moved into field goal range when Clayton took a half-step past Newman and caught a long pass just before time expired. That said, Newman did not do anything that should reduce his value on this list.

7. Leonard Davis, G

Last week: 8

vs. Tampa Bay: Starting right guard

Notes: Nothing spectacular, but the Buccaneers did not get a push up the middle all game.

6. Roy Williams, WR

Last week: 7

vs. Tampa Bay: 3 rec., 86 yards, 1 TD

Notes: Williams’ 66-yard touchdown reception was huge, proving several of us wrong about his big-play ability.

5. Andre Gurode, C

Last week: 6

vs. Tampa Bay: Starting center.

Notes: The Buccaneers didn’t get much pressure up the middle, which reflects well on Gurode. Late in the first half, Gurode quickly snapped the ball when a Tampa Bay defender jumped offsides, resulting in a penalty on Tampa Bay. One play later, Romo hit Miles Austin on a 42-yard touchdown pass.

4. Marion Barber, RB

Last week: 4

vs. Tampa Bay: 14 att., 71 yards, 1 TD

Notes: There was talk last week that perhaps Felix Jones is more valuable to the Cowboys than Barber, but against the Buccaneers, Barber showed why he is the starter.

3. Jason Witten, TE

Last week: 3

vs. Tampa Bay: 5 rec., 71 yards.

Notes: Witten wasn’t spectacular, but he continues to be most reliable. His biggest receptions came in the first half, including an 18-yarder that pushed the Cowboys inside the Tampa Bay 10.

2. Tony Romo, QB

Last week: 2

vs. Tampa Bay: 16/27, 353 yards, 3 TD, 0 Int.

Notes: It was a tale of two halves for Romo. In the first half, he threw behind receivers a couple of times, and the

offense looked a little bit off. In the second half, Romo was great, holding on to the ball just long enough to make some huge plays.

1. DeMarcus Ware, LB

Last week: 1

vs. Tampa Bay: 4 tackles, 2 passes defended

Notes: Ware was used as much in coverage as he was in the pass rush. Though he didn’t have a sack, Tampa Bay had to account for him.

Cowboys vs. Buccaneers: New History and Instant Trivia

week1.jpgMany of the headlines yesterday and today inserted the phrase “without T.O.” in one way or another to describe yesterday’s game, and hopefully that will end now that Owens has played a real game with Buffalo.

Here is look at a few items of interest now that yesterday’s game is history:

Wade’s Defense Held Sack-less

For the first time since Wade Phillips took over as head coach of the Cowboys in 2007, the Cowboys were held without a sack. The last time that Dallas went without a sack was on December 3, 2006 against the Giants. Dallas nearly failed to record a sack in the season opener against the Browns in 2008, but the Cowboys managed one sack for zero yards lost in that game.

Romo’s 300-Yard Game

Against Tampa Bay, Tony Romo extended his team record for 300-yard
games to 17. His 353 yards were the most in a single game during his
career. His performance marked the 18th time that a Dallas quarterback
has thrown for 350 or more yards in a game.

460 – Don Meredith (vs. San Franciso, 1963)
455 – Troy Aikman (vs. Minnesota, 1998)
406 – Meredith (vs. Washington, 1966)
394 – Meredith (vs. Philadephia, 1966)
389 – Gary Hogeboom (vs. San Francisco, 1985)
379 – Aikman (vs. Phoenix, 1989)
377 – Danny White (vs. Tampa Bay, 1983)
363 – Aikman (vs. Miami, 1996)
363 – Drew Bledsoe (vs. San Francisco, 2005)
362 – White (vs. Atlanta, 1985)
362 – Aikman (vs. Washington, 1999)
359 – White (vs. Washington, 1987)
358 – Meredith (vs. N.Y. Giants, 1966)
356 – Aikman (vs. Tennesee, 1997)
355 – Vinny Testaverde (vs. Minnesota, 2004)
354 – White (vs. Miami, 1981)
353 – Tony Romo (vs. Tampa Bay, 2009)
350 – Aikman (vs. Arizona, 1995)

Patrick Crayton’s Big Plays

Patrick Crayton is known as a possession receiver. He has, however, had quite a few big plays during his six-year career. Consider this: he has caught at least one touchdown pass of more than 30 yards in each of his six seasons, including 2009.

Including his 80-yard TD reception against Tampa Bay, more than one-fifth (544 out of 2,401) of total receiving yards have come on touchdown plays. Prior to Sunday, his longest TD reception was 63 yards (2005 vs. Oakland). His 19 touchdown receptions is now tied for 13th with Butch Johnson on the franchise’s all-time list.

Crayton has three career 100-yard games, including:

2007 vs. St. Louis: 7 rec., 184 yards, 2 TD
2009 vs. Tampa Bay: 4 rec., 135 yards, 1 TD
2006 vs. Arizona: 5 rec., 104 yards, 1 TD

Long TD Passes

The Cowboys scored on touchdown passes of 66 yards (to Roy Williams) and 80 yards (to Crayton) against Tampa Bay. This marked the first time since 1962 that the Cowboys have had two TD receptions of longer than 60 yards in the same game. The last time this happened was when the Cowboys visited Los Angeles on September 30, 1962. Eddie LeBaron hit Amos Marsh for 85 yards and Frank Clarke for 66 yards in a 27-17 Dallas win.

Barber’s TD Total Grows

Marion Barber’s career touchdown total increased to 37 after he scored on a 6-yard run in the fourth quarter against the Buccaneers. Barber has not had a rushing TD of longer than 10 yards since he scored on a 20-yard TD run against Detroit in 2007. His longest TD run of 2008 was 2 yards, though he had TD receptions of 70 yards (vs. Arizona) and 17 yards (vs. Philadelphia).