New History and Instant Trivia: 200-Yard Receiving Games

By receiving 10 passes for 250 yards, Miles Austin became the ninth member of the Dallas Cowboys to gain more than 200 receiving yards in a game. The list of players is rather interesting, given that one would expect some of the players to be on this list but not others. Moreover, no player has ever gone over 200 yards twice in his Dallas career.

250 yards, Miles Austin, vs. Kansas City, W 26-20, 10/11/2009
246 yards, Bob Hayes, vs. Washington, W 31-30, 11/13/1966
241 yards, Frank Clarke, vs. Washington, T 35-35, 9/16/1962
223 yards, Lance Rentzel, vs. Washington, L 27-20, 11/19/1967
213 yards, Tony Hill, vs. Philadelphia, L 31-21, 11/12/1979
213 yards, Terrell Owens, vs. San Francisco, W 35-22, 11/23/2008
210 yards, Michael Irvin vs. Phoenix Cardinals, W 31-20, 9/20/1992
203 yards, James Dixon, vs. Phoenix Cardinals, L 24-20, 11/12/1989
203 yards, Kevin Williams, Arizona Cardinals, W 37-13, 12/25/1995

Overtime Games

The Cowboys’ 26-20 win over Kansas City marked the first overtime win for the Cowboys since October 9, 2005, when Dallas beat the Giants at home on a field goal. During the 2000s, Dallas has played in 10 overtime games, winning four of them.

10/1/2000 vs. Carolina, W 16-13
10/29/2000 vs. Jacksonville: L 23-17
11/5/2000 vs. Philadelphia: L 16-13
11/4/2001 vs. N.Y. Giants: L 27-24
10/20/2002 vs. Arizona: L 9-6
9/15/2003 vs. N.Y. Giants: W 35-32
10/9/2005 vs. N.Y. Giants: W 16-13
11/24/2005 vs. Denver: L 24-21
10/12/2008 vs. Arizona: L 30-24
10/11/2008 vs. Kansas City: W 26-20

Dallas 26, Kansas City 20: One Maddening Win


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.

Cowboys Are Non-Quite Unanimous Favorites vs. Chiefs

It took some hunting to find one expert who thought that Chiefs would pick up their first win of the season against Dallas. The expert: Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News. Not a huge surprise, however, given that Gosselin has picked against Dallas three times this season, including predictions in favor of Tampa Bay and Denver.

As for anyone else, Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram predicted a tie: 0-0 after overtime. That good ol’ Startle-Gram.

Dallas Morning News

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

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Charean Williams: Cowboys 28, Chiefs 10

Randy Galloway: Cowboys 0, Chiefs 0, OT

Jeff Caplan: Cowboys 24, Chiefs 12

Clarence E. Hill Jr.: Cowboys 24, Chiefs 10

Gil LeBreton: Cowboys 20, Chiefs 13

Jim Reeves: Cowboys 21, Chiefs 10


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

Accuscore: Dallas 27, Kansas City 18

The Cowboys won 72% of Accuscore’s simulations by an average score of 27-18.

The Cowboys should be able to control this game running the ball and
holding Larry Johnson to under 70 rushing yards. In simulations, the
Cowboys are averaging 125 rushing yards vs just 70 for the Chiefs. Tony
Romo and Matt Cassel both have passer ratings between 87 and 90 in
simulations, but the advantage Dallas has is in pressuring the passer.
There is a 60 percent chance of Cassel getting sacked 4+ times which
significantly increases the chance of a costly turnover in addition to
the lost yardage. If Cassel is sacked 4+ times the Chiefs only have a
21 percent chance of winning. If Cassel is not sacked more than twice
their chances improve to 45 percent and if Larry Johnson can actually
run for over 70 yards the Chiefs win 66 percent.

WhatIfSports: Dallas 23, Kansas City 15

Dallas won 78.4% of WhatIfSports’ predictions by an average score of 23-15. Both Marion Barber and Tashard Choice averaged more than 70 rushing yards in these simulations.

My Guess (3-1 this season)

I had faith last week that the Cowboys would be able to grind it out against the Broncos and pull out a 24-14 win.

I don’t think Dallas will take many chances this week, especially
early. We’ll see lots of Witten and the running back duo of Marion
Barber and Tashard Choice. Denver does not make many mistakes on
offense, but the Dallas defense will come through with a couple of
really big plays to help the Cowboys to improve to 3-1.

Had Dallas not turned the ball over, the team probably would have had a
10-0 halftime lead. Moreover, had the Cowboys capitalized on a Denver
fumble early in the second half, the Cowboys could have taken a 17-7 lead. Thus, 24-14 was not off-base, but the team fell apart after Romo’s interception.

My predictions thus far:

Week 1: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 24 (actual: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21)
Week 2: N.Y. Giants 17, Dallas 14 (actual: N.Y. Giants 33, Dallas 31)
Week 3: Dallas 31, Carolina 21 (actual: Dallas 21, Carolina 7)
Week 4: Dallas 24, Denver 14 (actual: Denver 17, Dallas 10)

I think the Cowboys are going to continue their see-saw season, much like they did in 2005 and 2006. I think this week will be a big win, giving us false hope for two weeks. Marion Barber will play, but I look for Tashard Choice to have a bigger game, running over the Chiefs in the second half.


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50 Seasons Series: Cowboys' 1983 Season Falls Apart

Part of the 50 Seasons Series.

The 1983 Cowboys had an uphill climb if they were going to return to their fourth straight NFC title game, let along Super Bowl XVIII. They never came close.

Week 17: San Francisco 42, Dallas 17

In the final week of the season, Washington beat the New York Giants, giving the Redskins a 14-2 record, the NFC East title, and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With nothing to play for, the Cowboys faced the improved San Francisco 49ers in the first matchup between the teams since “The Catch” in 1981.

Dallas played like a team with nothing to play for against the 49ers. Thanks to a Dana McLemore punt return and a 77-yard touchdown pass from Joe Montana to Freddie Solomon, San Francisco raced out to a 21-3 first quarter lead. Dallas cut the lead to 28-17 at one point, but San Francisco pulled away from there.

Dallas turned the ball over five times, and Tony Dorsett only managed 32 yards on 15 carries.

Cowboys Lose, To Face Rams in the Playoffs (DMN)

Box Score

Wildcard Playoff Round: L.A. Rams 24, Dallas 17

The Rams and Cowboys faced off in the playoffs for the seventh time in 1983. The Cowboys had won four of the previous six games against Los Angeles, but the ugly play continued for Dallas in the playoffs. Dallas turned the ball over four times in a 24-17 loss.

The score was tied at the half, and the team had some success moving the ball through the air. Danny White threw for 330 yards with two touchdowns, with nine of his throws going to Tony Hill for 115 yards. White’s three interceptions were another matter, though. All occurred on consecutive possessions of the second half, leading to 10 Los Angeles points.

Dallas trailed 24-10 in the fourth quarter, and despite scoring to close the gap to a touchdown, the Cowboys could not come back.

Doomsday for Cowboys (DMN)

Box Score

Cowboys Drop Two Spots in Stat-Based Power Rankings

This is the second week we will look at how the Cowboys rank in the stat-based power rankings. These rankings are fairly simple and are based on the following:

(1) Total offense (33.33%)
(2) Total defense (33.33%)
(3) Turnover ratio (16.67%)
(4) Point differential (16.67%)

Last week, the Cowboys ranked #11 thanks to a strong #3 ranking on offense. Dallas fell to fourth on offense after the loss to the Broncos, and the Cowboys also lost ground on turnover ratio (-1 vs. Denver) and point differential (-7 thanks to the loss).

1. N.Y. Giants (4-0). 175 points (no change). Last week: #1
2. New Orleans (4-0). 174 points (+3). Last week: #4
3. Denver (4-0). 173 points (no change). Last week: #2
4. Baltimore (3-1). 163 points (-9). Last week: #3
5. Philadelphia (2-1). 161 points (+5). Last week: #5
6. Indianapolis (4-0). 157 points (+10). Last week: #7
7. New England (3-1). 147 points (-5). Last week: #6
8. Pittsburgh (2-2). 131 points (+20). Last week: #13
9. Green Bay (2-2). 128 points (+23). Last week: #15
10. Minnesota (4-0). 127 points (-18). Last week: #8
11. San Francisco (3-1). 123 points (+27). Last week: #17
12. New York Jets (3-1). 114 points (-27). Last week: #9
13. Dallas (2-2). 109 points (-7). Last week: #11
14(t). Jacksonville (2-2). 101 points (+14). Last week: #19
14(t). Miami (1-3). 101 points (+31). Last week: #24
16. Chicago (3-1). 100 points (+3). Last week: #16
17. San Diego (2-2). 96 points (-33). Last week: #10
18. Washington (2-2). 95 points (-11). Last week: #14
19. Seattle (1-3). 89 points (-27). Last week: #12
20. Cincinnati (3-1). 88 points (+9). Last week: #22
21. Arizona (1-2). 85 points (+1). Last week: #20
22. Tennessee (0-4). 85 points (-5). Last week: #18
23. Houston (2-2). 84 points (+19). Last week: #25
24. Detroit (1-3). 65 points (+18). Last week: #28
25. Atlanta (2-1). 63 points (-19). Last week: #21
26. Oakland (1-3). 53 points (+3). Last week: #27
27. St. Louis (0-4). 42 points (+5). Last week: #31
28. Buffalo (1-3). 41 points (-32). Last week: #23
29. Carolina (0-3). 40 points (-2). Last week: #29
30. Tampa Bay (0-4). 39 points (-1). Last week: #30
31. Kansas City (0-4). 36 points (-14). Last week: #26
32. Cleveland (0-4). 14 points (+3). Last week: #32

A few notes:

9. Green Bay: The Packers might have lost the Vikings, but Green Bay outgained the Vikings by 90 yards. Green Bay thus moved up from 22nd to 13th in total offense, which allowed the Packers to move up in the rankings despite the loss.

10. Minnesota: The Vikings won but lost ground thanks to giving up more than 400 yards on defense.

Biggest gain : Miami (10 spots and 31 ranking points). The Dolphins helped themselves by holding Buffalo to 206 yards of offense.  The turnover ratio in the game was +3 in Miami’s favor, and it helped that Miami won by 28 points. All of this was enough to propel the Dolphins to the highest spot among 1-3 teams.

Second biggest gain:  San Francisco (6 spots and 27 ranking points).  The 49ers weren’t great on offense, but the team held St. Louis to just 177 total yards. The Rams also turned the ball over three times, compared with no turnovers by the 49ers.

Biggest drop: San Diego (7 spots and 33 ranking points).  After giving up 497 yards to the Steelers, the Chargers fell from 14th in the league on defense to 24th.

Second biggest drop:  Buffalo (5 spots and 32 ranking points).  The Bills had respectable numbers before the loss to the Dolphins, but managing only 206 yards and committing three turnovers hurts in this ranking system.

Cowboys (#13) vs. Chiefs (#31)

The Cowboys currently rank fourth in total offense but only 26th in total defense. With a turnover ratio of -2, Dallas ranks 19th. The Cowboys’ point differential is +10.

The Chiefs have struggled this season, scoring more than 20 points just once. Kansas City is even in turnover ratio, which is one of the team’s best stats. Kansas City currently ranks 31st in total offense and 28th in total defense.


DVOA:  In the far more sophisticated poll, Dallas ranks 12th by Football Outsiders. The Chiefs rank 26th.

ESPN: Dallas ranks 17th.

Apparently, the Cowboys got confused. Jerry Jones called them “champs,”
but Tony Romo interpreted it by throwing toward Champ Bailey. (Clayton)

50 Seasons Series: "No! No! No, Danny, No!"

Part of the 50 Seasons Series.

The 1983 Cowboys entered into their week 15 matchup with the Washington Redskins with a 12-2 record. One win and the Cowboys would set a club record for wins in a season. One win and the Cowboys would wrap up the NFC East. One win and perhaps Danny White would get another shot at making the Super Bowl.

Dallas trailed 14-10 in the third quarter and faced a 4th-and-1 from midfield. Dallas lined up, obviously trying to pull the Redskins offsides. At some point during the snap count, though, Danny White decided to audible into a running play. He handed the ball off to Ron Springs, who ran left. Washington defensive end Charles Mann crashed the right side of the line, and guard Herbert Scott could not block him. Springs lost two yards, and the Cowboys lost momentum they had gained since coming back from an early 14-0 deficit.

The video clearly shows an angry Tom Landry screaming, “No! No! No, Danny, No!”

Though the Redskins did not score immediately, the tide had turned. Later in the third quarter, Joe Theismann hit Art Monk on a 47-yard touchdown pass, and the game turned into a blowout. The Cowboys could not even stop the Redskins from performing the “fun bunch” celebration after the Monk score.

Dallas managed only 33 rushing yards, setting a team mark for futility on the ground. Although the Cowboys could still win the NFC East the following week by hoping for a New York win over Washington coupled with a Dallas win over San Francisco, the prospects for a Super Bowl run looked bleak.

Redskins Beat Up Cowboys, 31-10

Box Score

Relative Value Rankings After Week 4

After such a disappointing loss, it is a little bit hard to acknowledge players who contributed in positive ways. Nevertheless, here we go.

Thanks to those who voted in last week’s poll. We had a total of 81 votes, several more than the previous week.

Marvin White was ranked #42 in the previous review, but he was released last week to make room for running back Chauncey Washington. The Cowboys this week waived Washington, but Detroit signed White before the Cowboys could resign him. The Cowboys signed former Charger Cletis Gordon, who played under Wade Phillips as a rookie in 2006.

Rookie LB Jason Williams saw action for the first time in 2009.
53. Cletis Gordon, CB

Last week: n/a

Dallas just signed Gordon, so he gets the last spot. He is supposed to play on special teams next week.

52. Duke Preston, C

Last week: 53

Poll rating: n/a

vs. Denver: Inactive. Preston has not been active all year.

51. Pat McQuistan, T

Last week: 52

Poll rating: n/a

vs. Denver: Inactive. McQuistan has not been active all year.

50. Montrae Holland, G

Last week: 51

Poll rating: n/a

vs. Denver: Inactive. Holland has not been active all year.

49. Stephen McGee, QB

Last week: 50

Poll rating: n/a

vs. Denver: Third quarterback. McGee has not played in 2009.

48. Michael Hamlin, S

Last week: 48

Poll rating: n/a

vs. Denver: Inactive. Hamlin has not played in 2009 due to injury.

47. Kevin Ogletree, WR

Last week: 47

Poll rating: n/a

vs. Denver: Inactive. Ogletree has not been active all year.

46. Curtis Johnson, LB

Last week: 45

Poll rating: 1.72

vs. Denver: Johnson was inactive against the Broncos after playing in the first three games.

45. Cory Procter, C/G

Last week: 46

Poll rating: n/a

vs. Denver: Procter played on special teams against the Broncos. He might see action against the Chiefs because of an injury to Andre Gurode.

44. Jason Williams, LB

Last week: 49

Poll rating: n/a

vs. Denver: Williams was active for the first time in 2009. He recorded a tackle on special teams.

43. Doug Free, T

Last week: 43

Poll rating: 1.80

vs. Denver: Free played on special teams against Denver.

42. John Phillips, TE

Last week: 44

Poll rating: 1.90

vs. Denver: Phillips again saw action as the third tight end in several packages.

41. Jon Kitna, QB

Last week: 40

Poll rating: 2.25

vs. Denver: There have been a few more suggestions about Kitna replacing Tony Romo as the team’s bus driver. Not going there…

40. Steve Octavien, LB

Last week: 37

Poll rating: 1.92

vs. Denver: Octavien played on special teams but did not record a tackle.

39. Bobby Carpenter, LB

Last week: 34

Poll rating: 1.61

vs. Denver: Carpenter recorded one special teams tackle. He still plays as a nickel linebacker, but he hasn’t been impressive.

38. L.P. Ladouceur, LS

Last week: 41

Poll rating: 3.22

vs. Denver: The Cowboys only kicked twice–once on a field goal and once on an extra point. Ladouceur saw quite a bit of action on punts, though, and seemed to do a great job again.

37. David Buehler, K

Last week: 39

Poll rating: 3.92

vs. Denver: Two of Buehler’s kickoffs went into the end zone, with one being downed for a touchback.

36. Alan Ball, CB

Last week: 36

Poll rating: 2.25

vs. Denver: Ball recorded one special teams tackle against the Broncos. He will likely play some safety while Gerald Sensabaugh is injured.

35. Junior Siavii, DT

Last week: 32

Poll rating: 2.24

vs. Denver: Siavii recorded one tackle against the Broncos.

34. Jason Hatcher, DE

Last week: 31

Poll rating: 2.61

vs. Denver: Hatcher played against Denver but did not record a tackle. For the season, he has a total of one tackle.

33. Pat Watkins, S

Last week: 38

Poll rating: 2.24

vs. Denver: Watkins recorded five tackles with one assist after replacing Gerald Sensabaugh. With Sensabaugh likely out two to four weeks, Watkins will see much more action.

32. Stephen Bowen, DE

Last week: 33

Poll rating: 2.43

vs. Denver: Bowen recorded his first sack of the season against the Broncos.

31. Miles Austin, WR

Last week: 30

Poll rating: 2.58

vs. Denver: Austin caught three passes for 19 yards against Denver. He has only five receptions all year.

30. Ken Hamlin, S

Last week: 27

Poll rating: 2.59

vs. Denver: Hamlin is simply missing far too many tackles. He should have been able to bring down Brandon Marshall on Marshall’s game-winning touchdown. Instead, Hamlin looked like he was playing two-hand touch. Terrible.

29. Victor Butler, LB

Last week: 25

Poll rating: 3.59

vs. Denver: After his two-sack performance against Carolina, Butler failed to record a tackle against Denver.

28. Anthony Spencer, LB

Last week: 24

Poll rating: 2.55

vs. Denver: If we could reward players for almost making plays, Spencer would be a Pro Bowler. Instead, he nearly gets sacks and nearly gets interceptions but never quite gets there.

27. Gerald Sensabaugh, S

Last week: 23

Poll rating: 3.15

vs. Denver: Sensabaugh had one tackle before leaving the game with an broken thumb. He will likely miss two to four weeks.

26. Orlando Scandrick, CB

Last week: 29

Poll rating: 2.82

vs. Denver: Scandrick recorded three tackles, including a key third-down tackle that forced Denver to kick a field goal

25. Deon Anderson, FB

Last week: 28

Poll rating: 3.00

vs. Denver: Anderson is solid as a blocker and as a special teams player. He isn’t asked to do much more in the offense.

24. Sam Hurd, WR

Last week: 35

Poll rating: 1.90

vs. Denver: Hurd made the play of the game when he caught a 53-yard pass on a fourth-down play late in the game. Hurd led the Cowboys with three receptions for 62 yards, but he probably should not have been the go-to guy on the final two plays of the game.

23. Martellus Bennett, TE

Last week: 19

Poll rating: 2.85

vs. Denver: Bennett may have talent, but he has not made plays. He has four receptions for 40 yards, and I have not seen anything about his blocking that is terribly impressive. He was called for a holding penalty that negated a long Tashard Choice run.

22. Mike Jenkins, CB

Last week: 26

Poll rating: 3.48

vs. Denver: Jenkins was solid all game against the Broncos. He secured his place as the second corner.

21. Nick Folk, K

Last week: 22

Poll rating: 3.76

vs. Denver: Folk made a 49-yard field goal to open the scoring against Denver.

20. Marc Columbo, T

Last week: 18

Poll rating: 3.65

vs. Denver: Denver did not appear to get much of a rush from the ri
ght side of the Cowboys’ l
ine, which bodes well for Columbo.

19. Igor Olshansky, DE

Last week: 17

Poll rating: 3.60

vs. Denver: Olshansky had two tackles and an assist against Denver. He has been good at times but has not stood out.

18. Patrick Crayton, WR

Last week: 14

Poll rating: 3.29

vs. Denver: Crayton nearly had the play of the game when he picked up a punt and appeared to run it in for a score. The play was called a touchback, and the rest of Crayton’s game was average: 3 rec., 16 yds.

17. Flozell Adams, T

Last week: 13

Poll rating: 3.68

vs. Denver: Adams was beaten on at least three plays in the first half. This was his weakest game.

16. Mat McBriar, P

Last week: 21

Poll rating: 4.43

vs. Denver: Three of McBriar’s six punts landed inside the 20. His average is not overly impressive, but he is proving that he is a weapon.

15. Marcus Spears, DE

Last week: 20

Poll rating: 2.87

vs. Denver: Spears recorded a sack, two tackles, and an assist. This was one of Spears’ most active games.

14. Tashard Choice, RB

Last week: 15

Poll rating: 4.30

vs. Denver: Choice still looks quick and had a good game against Denver. He should have had more than 33 rushing yards.

13. Tony Romo, QB

Last week: 10

Poll rating: 3.69

vs. Denver: Romo is testing most fans’ patience. He missed throws, and he looked like someone with a complete lack of confidence. Not good for a franchise quarterback.

12. Roy Williams, WR

Last week: 12

Poll rating: 3.34

vs. Denver: Williams made a couple of fine plays against the Broncos. He was also injured trying to bring in a high pass from Romo. Just for that, he gets to move up a spot ahead of Romo this week.

11. Felix Jones, RB

Last week: 4

Poll rating: 4.43

vs. Denver: Did not play due to injury. Jones is very talented, but being fragile does not help his relative value ranking.

10. Terence Newman, CB

Last week: 8

Poll rating: 3.73

vs. Denver: Newman recorded three tackles and recorded one pass defense. It was the play he didn’t make that most noticed. Being in the right place against Brandon Marshall wasn’t enough. He somehow missed the ball and then half-assed it when chasing Marshall.

9. Keith Brooking, LB

Last week: 16

Poll rating: 3.79

vs. Denver: Brooking plays hard every play and always seems to be near the ball. He recorded nine tackles against Denver.

8. Bradie James, LB

Last week: 11

Poll rating: 3.81

vs. Denver: James recorded six tackles and two assists with his first sack of the season. He also recovered a fumble early in the second half.

7. Jay Ratliff, NT

Last week: 9

Poll rating: 4.61

vs. Denver: Ratliff did not record a tackle, but he disrupted the middle of the Denver line on several plays.

6. Leonard Davis, G

Last week: 7

Poll rating:

vs. Denver: Davis was called for a holding penalty. He was otherwise pretty solid.

5. Andre Gurode, C

Last week: 5

Poll rating: 4.38

vs. Denver: Gurode was called for a tripping penalty just before Romo fumbled on a sack in the second quarter. Gurode was apparently injured in the game.

4. Kyle Kosier, G

Last week: 6

Poll rating: 4.41

vs. Denver: Unlike most of the other linemen, Kosier is not being called for penalties. He has been solid all season.

3. DeMarcus Ware, LB

Last week: 2

Poll rating: 4.23

vs. Denver: Ware is not making plays, and it is not because he is being double-teamed all of the time. Several times on Sunday, Ware was handled by one tackle. He still has not recorded a sack, though he had two tackles and two assists.

2. Marion Barber, RB

Last week: 3

Poll rating: 4.27

vs. Denver: Barber only had 41 rushing yards and 27 receiving yards, but he gave everything he had. If he could remain healthy, he would likely take the #1 spot.

1. Jason Witten, TE

Last week: 1

Poll rating: 4.79

vs. Denver: Witten only managed four receptions for 31 yards. He was used as a blocker at the end of the game, which makes no sense at all.


Please take a moment to vote in this week’s poll.


Cowboys Regress Badly in Terms of Defensive Stats

Once the Cowboys fire Wade Phillips, he will not serve as an NFL head coach again. His legacy: mediocrity, as noted in yesterday’s post. This is his third stint as a full-time coach, and in each instance, his teams showed some promise early only to fail to meet expectations, leading to Phillips’ termination. His record in Denver from 1993 to 1994 fell from 9-7 to 7-9. His record in Buffalo improved from 10-6 to 11-5 between 1998 and 1999, but in 2000, the team dropped to 8-8.

Mike Shanahan replaced Phillips and famously led Denver from 1996 to 1998 to records of 13-3, 12-4, and 14-2, capping the last two of those seasons with Super Bowl titles. Buffalo hardly had the same luck, going 3-13 in the season (2002) after Phillips left.

If the Cowboys were to finish the season in the same manner that they have begun it, the team would show improvement in the major categories of team offense. The defensive stats are another matter. Dallas is on pace to give up more than 1,000 more yards on defense than was the case in 2007, and the Cowboys could give up more than 1,200 more yards compared with 2008.

Here’s a look:

Points For

2007: 455
2008: 362
2009 (projected): 384

Points Against

2007: 325
2008: 365
2009 (projected): 312

Yards– Total Offense

2007: 5851
2008: 5512
2009 (projected): 6416

Yards– Rushing Offense

2007: 1746
2008: 1723
2009 (projected): 2620

Yards– Passing Offense

2007: 4105
2008: 3789
2009 (projected): 3796

Yards– Defense

2007: 4922
2008: 4706
2009 (projected): 5940

Yards– Rushing Defense

2007: 1513
2008: 1706
2009 (projected): 1840

Yards– Passing Defense

2007: 3409
2008: 3003
2009 (projected): 4100

Turnover Ratio

2007: +5
2008: -11
2009 (projected): -8


2007: 104 penalties, 815 yards
2008: 119 penalties, 952 yards
2009 (projected): 96 penalties, 964 yards

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


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.

Recent Dallas-Denver Games Haven't Been Kind to the Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys have faced the Denver Broncos ten times in franchise history, dating back to 1973. The Cowboys won the first game on December 2, 1973 and have won four other games since then. Each of the other four wins game during Super Bowl seasons, including Super Bowl XII itself.

The last time the Cowboys beat the Broncos was 1995. Denver was led by second-year head coach Wade Phillips, who brought to Irving what was supposed to be one of the stronger teams in the AFC. Despite John Elway’s two touchdown passes to Anthony Miller (a future Cowboy), the Broncos trailed nearly the entire game in a 31-21 Dallas win.

Three years later, it was the Broncos who were Super Bowl bound, having come off their 1997 championship. Dallas was trying to rebound from a 6-10 season in 1997 with a new head coach in Chan Gailey. The Cowboys traveled to Denver and were manhandled, giving up 35 first-half points in a 42-23 loss to Denver. The Broncos knocked Troy Aikman out of the game with a broken collarbone, leaving the Cowboys to rely on backup Jason Garrett.

And three years after that, the Cowboys hosted Denver on Thanksgiving Day. After falling behind 26-3, the Cowboys roared back, closing the gap to 26-24. When Dallas scored in the fourth quarter on a Reggie Swinton punt return to close the gap to 26-16, Dallas coach Dave Campo opted to kick the extra point instead of going for two. A two-point conversion would have put Dallas behind by eight instead of nine, giving the Cowboys a chance to tie with another touchdown and two-point conversion. By settling for the field goal, Dallas needed two scores. Campo was criticized after the loss for conservative play-calling, but by that point, very little was going well for the Dallas franchise.

The teams last met in 2005 in one of the most disappointing losses during the reign of Dallas head coach Bill Parcells. The Cowboys came from behind to force overtime, but Ron Dayne’s 55-yard run set up a Jason Elam field goal, giving Denver a 24-21 win.

Now Phillips, Garrett, and Campo will lead the Cowboys into Denver to try to beat the 3-0 Broncos. Most experts favor the Cowboys, though a few think the Broncos are for real and will knock off Dallas.

Dallas Morning News

Three of the five staffers with the DMN picked Dallas.

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


Six of the eight experts with ESPN also took Dallas.

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

Accuscore: Dallas 24, Denver 20

The Cowboys won 60% of the simulations on Accuscore by an average score of 23.7 to 20.4.

The Broncos are 3-0, but are underdogs at home vs the Cowboys. The
Broncos run defense has played surprising well, but they wil have their
hands full with Dallas. The Cowboys are averaging over 130 rushing
yards. If Denver can limit the Cowboys to under 125 rushing yards they
pull close to even with Dallas winning 49 percent. However, if Dallas
runs for over 125 yards the Cowboys are heavy 88 percent favorites. The
Cowboys pass rush has not yet dominated a game this year. If Kyle Orton
is not sacked Denver wins 52 percent of the time, but if Orton is
sacked 3+ times Denver wins just 26 percent, not only because of the
lost yardage but also because of the higher rate of turnovers coming
from being sacked.

Madden Simulation: Dallas 28, Denver 24

The Cowboys likewise had good fortune on the Madden simulation.

The Denver Broncos have to be considered the most surprising 3-0 team
in the league, and if they beat the Cowboys, they will go one step
further in establishing themselves as a serious threat in the AFC West.
Unfortunately for the Broncos, the defense, which up to this point has
been the strongest unit on the team, gives up a last-minute touchdown
run to Marion Barber as Dallas pulls out the victory, 28-24.

WhatIfSports: Dallas 22, Denver 18

WhatIfSports made another prediction with a four-point spread. Dallas won 69.8% of the simulations.

My Guess (3-0 this season)

Last week, I predicted a  31-21 win for the Cowboys.

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.

Dallas did get Williams and Witten involved, but the entire team was sluggish during the first half. Carolina drove into Dallas territory after the Cowboys took a 21-7 lead, but Carolina turned the ball over on a late fumble.

My predictions thus far:

Week 1: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 24 (actual: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21)
Week 2: N.Y. Giants 17, Dallas 14 (actual: N.Y. Giants 33, Dallas 31)
Week 3: Dallas 31, Carolina 21 (actual: Dallas 21, Carolina 7)

I don’t think Dallas will take many chances this week, especially early. We’ll see lots of Witten and the running back duo of Marion Barber and Tashard Choice. Denver does not make many mistakes on offense, but the Dallas defense will come through with a couple of really big plays to help the Cowboys to improve to 3-1.

The score…