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…



50 Seasons Series: '83 Cowboys Look Like Possible Contenders

For 14 weeks of the 1983 season, the Cowboys looked as if they could contend for the NFC title. The Cowboys started at 12-2 leading to a winner-take-all game against the Washington Redskins. We will get to that game a little bit later.

After the Cowboys opened the season with a 31-30 win over the Redskins, Dallas tore through its next six opponents. The Cowboys narrowly lost to the Raiders and Chargers, but Dallas’ high-scoring offense looked like it could compete against anyone.

Week 2: Dallas 34, St. Louis 17

Dallas erased an early 10-0 deficit and defeated St. Louis 34-17 in week 2. Ron Springs rushed for two touchdowns in the win.

Week 3: Dallas 28, N.Y. Giants 13

Two touchdown passes from Danny White to Doug Cosbie gave Dallas a first-half advantage, and defensive touchdowns by Michael Downs and Dexter Clinkscale secured the win for the Cowboys.

Week 4: Dallas 21, New Orleans 20

In one of the most bizarre wins in franchise history, the Cowboys trailed New Orleans 20-13 in the fourth quarter. The Saints lined up for a field goal, but Dallas blocked the kick, and Ron Fellows returned the ball 62 yards for a touchdown. Rafael Septien missed his first field goal attempt in three years, though, meaning that Dallas trailed 20-19.

With just over two minutes remaining, Danny White threw an interception in the end zone, but New Orleans defender Dennis Winston tried to run the ball out and only got to the New Orleans 5. On a second down pass play, Anthony Dickerson sacked Saint quarterback Ken Stabler for a safety, giving Dallas a 21-20 win.

Week 5: Dallas 37, Minnesota 24

The Cowboys overcame a 24-13 halftime deficit to beat the Vikings in the Metrodome. Tony Dorsett led the Cowboys with 141 rushing yards on 26 attempts.

Week 6: Dallas 27, Tampa Bay 24

The winless Buccaneers nearly pulled off the upset against the unbeaten Cowboys. With the Cowboys trailing 24-17 with only 57 seconds remaining, White hit fullback Timmy Newsome along the left sideline for a 52 yard touchdown. Here is a video clip of the play:

Septien kicked a field goal in overtime to  give Dallas a 27-24 win.

Week 7: Dallas 37, Philadelphia 7

Dallas jumped out to a 23-7 first-half lead against the Eagles and never looked back. Four different players scored for the Cowboys, who improved to 7-0 on the season.

Week 8: L.A. Raiders 40, Dallas 38

In a seesaw battle that saw six lead changes, the Raiders prevailed in a 40-38 shootout. Mike Hegman’s nine-yard touchdown return of a fumble gave Dallas a 38-34 win, but the Raiders managed two field goals to pull out the win. The teams combined for 838 yards of total offense.

Week 9: Dallas 38, N.Y. Giants 20

White completed 15 of 33 passes for 304 yards and five touchdowns in a 38-20 blowout win vs. the Giants. It marked the first time that White threw for five touchdowns in a game, tying a team record.

Week 10: Dallas 27, Philadelphia 20

White threw touchdown passes to Tony Hill and Timmy Newsome in a 27-20 win for the 9-1 Cowboys.

Week 11: San Diego 24, Dallas 23

Thanks to a great game by San Diego backup quarterback Ed Luther, the Chargers raced to a 24-6 lead in the third quarter, but the Cowboys roared back. Dallas cut the lead to 24-23 with just over eight minutes to play, but the Cowboys could get no further and suffered their second loss of the season.

Week 12: Dallas 41, Kansas City 21

Two Tony Dorsett touchdowns gave Dallas a 27-0 lead, and the Cowboys barely looked back in a 41-21 win over the Chiefs. Dorsett finished with 108 yards.

Week 13: Dallas 35, St. Louis 17

Though the Cowboys gave up a 71-yard touchdown pass from Neil Lomax to Roy Green early in the game, the Cowboys took a 21-7 halftime lead in a 35-17 win. Dorsett had another good day, rushing for 102 yards and two touchdowns.

Week 14: Dallas 35, Seattle 10

For the third consecutive game, Dorsett topped the 100-yard mark. The Cowboys outgained the  Seahawks 418 to 216 in the Dallas win.

More resources…

Box Scores

DMN Stories

Cowboys Tied for 11th in Stat-Based Power Rankings

After three weeks, the Cowboys rank third in the NFL in total offense but only rank 26th in total defense. Dallas is preparing to face the Denver Broncos, who have the top-ranked defense after three week (albeit against fairly weak opponents). Denver ranks 9th in total offense.

Rather than focus on a composite of several power rankings, here is a new method: a power ranking system based in part on statistics. The ranking system takes into account the following:

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

Based on this, the Cowboys are tied for 11th in the NFL after week 3. The second highest-ranked team on the list is more than a bit of surprise: Denver. Another surprise: Atlanta, which ranks below the league average on both offense and defense. Though the Falcons have an average ranking of 9th in other power-ranking polls, they only rank 21st based on their stats. This is due to the Falcons ranking 23rd in the league on offense and 24th on defense.

Here’s a look:

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

Go here for the complete file. Please comment to this post if you have suggestions for adjustments (e.g., strength of schedule, which I did not try to factor). If you are a fan of Football Outsiders (which I am), you will probably find my ranking system to be an elementary-school version. That said, Denver ranked third on Football Outsiders’ DVOA this week, while Seattle ranked 13th and Washington ranked 15th.

Some explanations:

Seattle (tied for 11th with a 1-2 record): Seattle ranks 10th in the league in offense and 11th in defense, which explains why such a poor team ranks high. The Seahawks’ turnover differential is only -1, and the team had a point differential of +9 thanks to a 28-0 win over St. Louis followed by two closer losses.

Pittsburgh (13th with a 1-2 record): Less surprising is that Pittburgh ranks pretty high despite a 1-2 start. The Steelers dominated both of their last two games but could not hold on to leads.

Washington (14th with a 1-2 record): Washington ranks 13th and 15th in offense and defense, respectively, which is not bad.

Cincinnati (22nd with a 2-1 record): The Bengals have been a bit of a surprise after losing their opener to the Broncos in such a bizarre fashion. Cincinnati only ranks 24th in total offense, and they rank 24th in turnover differential. Pretty impressive that the Bengals beat the #14 and #16 teams on this list and should have beaten the #2 team.

Cleveland (32nd with an 0-3 record): The Browns are just awful, ranking 32nd in offense, 32nd in point differential, 31st in turnover ratio, and 30th in defense.

As for the Cowboys…

Total Offense (3rd): The Cowboys have averaged 429.7 per game, which is 96.3 above the league average of 333.4.

Total Defense (26th): The Cowboys have given up an average of 382.7 yards per game, which is 49.3 points below the average of 333.4.

Turnovers (16-tie): The Cowboys have a turnover ratio of -1. Scaled to a 16-game season, Dallas would have a ratio of -5.

Point Differential (+25, 8th): With two double-digit wins and a close loss, the Cowboys point differential is at +25.

Relative Value Rankings After Week 3

There was more movement in the weekly Relative Value Rankings based on performances against Carolina. Thanks to those who participated in the poll last week. I took votes into consideration along with performances to determine this week’s rankings. This week’s poll is at the bottom of this post.

Players rising up this week: LB Victor Butler, RB Tashard Choice

Players slipping: LB Bobby Carpenter, WR Sam Hurd

53. Duke Preston, C

Last week: 52

vs. Carolina: Inactive. He has yet to be active in 2009.

52. Pat McQuistan, T

Last week: 51

vs. Carolina: Inactive. He has yet to be active in 2009.

51. Montrae Holland, G

Last week: 50

vs. Carolina: Inactive. He has yet to be active in 2009.

50. Stephen McGee, QB

Last week: 49

vs. Carolina: Inactive. He has yet to be active in 2009.

49. Jason Williams, LB

Last week: 48

vs. Carolina: Inactive. He has yet to be active in 2009.

48. Michael Hamlin, S

Last week: 48

vs. Carolina: Inactive. He has yet to be active in 2009.

47. Kevin Ogletree, WR

Last week: 46

vs. Carolina: Inactive. He has yet to be active in 2009.

46. Cory Procter, C/G

Last week: 45

vs. Carolina: Inactive. He has yet to be active in 2009.

45. Curtis Johnson, LB

Last week: 53

vs. Carolina: He was placed on the active roster for the first time this season. He did not record a tackle.

44. John Phillips, TE

Last week: 42

vs. Carolina: Phillips saw action in the fullback position as well as the third tight end position. His most notable contribution: called for a false start on fourth-and-goal from the Carolina 1 in the third quarter. Not good.

43. Doug Free, T

Last week: 43

vs. Carolina: Free came into the game when Flozell Adams was injured briefly in the third quarter.

42. Marvin White, S

Last week: 41

vs. Carolina: White saw action on special teams but did not record a tackle. He was called for holding on a punt return late in the first quarter.

41. L.P. Ladouceur, LS

Last week: 39

vs. Carolina: His snap on Folk’s missed field goal  was a little bit inside (toward’s McBriar’d body), but it did not appear to cause Folk to miss.

40. Jon Kitna, QB

Last week: 38

vs. Carolina: Chatter about the team using Kitna should die down this week.

39. David Buehler, K

Last week: 37

vs. Carolina: Four kicks in the end zone with three touchbacks. Great draft pick.

38. Pat Watkins, S

Last week: 36

vs. Carolina: Played special teams but did not record a tackle.

37. Steve Octavien, LB

Last week: 35

vs. Carolina: Played special teams but did not record a tackle.

36. Alan Ball, CB

Last week: 40

vs. Carolina: Ball recorded a tackle late in the game when he filled in for Terence Newman.

35. Sam Hurd, WR

Last week: 29

Poll Rating: 2.26

vs. Carolina: Hurd recorded one tackle on special teams. Hurd was supposed to be a viable candidate as the #3 receiver, but he has shown very little.

34. Bobby Carpenter, LB

Last week: 31

Poll Rating: 1.79

Carolina: Carpenter played in the nickel package and on special teams.
He recorded two tackles and an assist. He completely whiffed trying to
tackle DeAngelo Williams on a third-and-16 draw play in the second

33. Stephen Bowen, DE

Last week: 34

vs. Carolina: Bowen saw action on the defensive line. He nearly got to Delhomme on at least one play.

32. Junior Siavii, DT

Last week: 33

vs. Carolina: Siavii likewise saw action on the defensive line. He did not record a tackle.

31. Jason Hatcher, DE

Last week: 32

vs. Carolina: Hatcher saw action on the defensive line and on special teams. He recovered a Jake Delhomme fumble on the Panthers’ final offensive series.

30. Miles Austin, WR

Last week: 27

Poll Rating: 2.58

vs. Carolina: Austin was the target of only one pass. He has made two pretty big receptions this year, but he is usually just another guy running routes.

29. Orlando Scandrick, CB

Last week: 28

Poll Rating: 1.78

vs. Carolina: Scandrick recorded two tackles on defense along with a special teams tackle.

28. Deon Anderson, FB

Last week: 30

Poll Rating: 2.48

vs. Carolina: Anderson is a solid blocker. He is not involved in the passing game, though. In the opening drive, Dallas used third tight end John Phillips at fullback, so it will be interesting to see if Anderson may be used less.

27. Ken Hamlin, S

Last week: 24

Poll Rating: 2.21

vs. Carolina: Anyone think of a former player who wore #31 when watching Hamlin? Doesn’t tackle well; makes poor choices in coverage. Hamlin completely missed a tackle on Muhsin Muhammad, allowing Muhammad to race on an apparent 79-yard touchdown. It was called back due to an offensive pass interference penalty, but that does not excuse Hamlin’s poor play.

26. Mike Jenkins, CB

Last week: 26

Poll Rating: 2.33

vs. Carolina: Jenkins recorded an interception in the second quarter, giving Dallas its first turnover of the season.

25. Victor Butler, LB

Last week: 44

vs. Carolina: Butler had a huge game, picking up two sacks. That’s two more than DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer combined.

24. Anthony Spencer, LB

Last week: 22

Poll Rating: 2.63

Carolina: A positive play: Spencer tackled fullback Tony Fiammetta for
a minimal gain on a second down play in the first quarter. The bad:
Spencer is not generating a pass rush. Just like this poll, Victor Butler may cause Spencer to look over his shoulder.

23. Gerald Sensabaugh, S

Last week: 23

Poll Rating: 2.35

vs. Carolina: Sensabaugh recorded two tackles and an assist. I didn’t see any mistakes, but he also has not made a big play since the opening week.

22. Nick Folk, K

Last week: 20

Poll Rating: 4.08

vs. Carolina: Folk had been automatic until he missed a 40-yard field goal in the first quarter.

21. Mat McBriar, P

Last week: 21

Poll Rating: 3.74

vs. Carolina: McBriar was quietly great, downing five punts inside the 20-yard line.

20. Marcus Spears, DE

Last week: 18

Poll Rating: 2.79

vs. Carolina: Spears did not record a tackle.

19. Martellus Bennett, TE

Last week: 16

Poll Rating: 3.16

vs. Carolina: I know that Bennett causes matchup problems, and I know he is a good blocker. But he has not been much of a weapon in the passing game so far.

18. Marc Columbo, T

Last week: 15

Poll Rating: 3.54

vs. Carolina: Columbo gave up a sack when Jon Beason ran right past him on a first-quarter play. He was also called for holding in the second quarter, negating a first-down throw to Patrick Crayton. Columbo has been solid, but he had a little bit of trouble against Carolina.

17. Igor Olshansky, DE

Last week: 19

Poll Rating: 2.96

vs. Carolina: Olshansky recorded four tackles. He is getting a better push in the pass rush and has been around the ball carrier quite a bit.

16. Keith Brooking, LB

Last week: 17

Poll Rating: 2.48

vs. Carolina: Brooking recorded three tackles with two assists. Brooking and DeMarcus Ware made a good play in the first quarter back breaking through to stop Jonathan Stewart for a four-yard loss.

15. Tashard Choice, RB

Last week: 25

Poll Rating: 3.12

vs. Carolina: What a great game. When Felix Jones went down with an injury early in the third quarter, Choice came in and looked like a #1 running back. 18 carries, 82 yards, 1 TD.

14. Patrick Crayton, WR

Last week: 14

Poll Rating: 2.68

vs. Carolina: Crayton is not a flashy player, but he has been dependable.  Three receptions for 44 yards, plus a 14.5 average on punt returns.

13. Flozell Adams, T

Last week: 13

Poll Rating: 2.83

vs. Carolina: Adams is still an excellent left tackle. His block on the Panthers’ right outside linebacker in the third quarter helped to set up Felix Jones’ 40-yard run. Then again there is the call: “False Start, #76, Offense.”

12. Roy Williams, WR

Last week: 12

Poll Rating: 2.50

vs. Carolina: Four receptions for 75 yards. Not bad, but he needs to make a few of those difficult catches.

11. Bradie James, LB

Last week: 9

Poll Rating: 3.30

vs. Carolina: Let the team in total tackles with three tackles and three assists.

10. Tony Romo, QB

Last week: 8

Poll Rating: 1.96

vs. Carolina: Romo looked very shaky in the first half, but he managed the game well in the second half. He finished 22 of 33 with 255 yards and no interceptions. He may have to give up stats as a game manager, but this change could help Dallas to more wins.

9. Jay Ratliff, NT

Last week: 10

Poll Rating: 3.83

vs. Carolina: Ratliff generated pressure and recorded the first sack of the season for Dallas.

8. Terence Newman, CB

Last week: 11

Poll Rating: 2.04

Carolina: Newman held Steve Smith in check all evening. Newman was horrible in the tackling department, but none of his missed tackles turned out to be significant. His pick-6
sealed the Cowboys’ win.

7. Leonard Davis, G

Last week: 6

Poll Rating: 3.79

vs. Carolina: Another solid game for Davis.

6. Kyle Kosier, G

Last week: 7

Poll Rating: 3.92

vs. Carolina: Kosier had more solid blocks that sprung Felix Jones. He should be a Pro Bowl contender if people are paying attention.

5. Andre Gurode, C

Last week: 5

Poll Rating: 3.92

vs. Carolina: Another game without pressure up the middle.

4. Felix Jones, RB

Last week: 4

Poll Rating: 4.21

vs. Carolina: The great: Jones looks like he may break one every time he touches the ball. The bad: He looks like he may break a bone every time he touches the ball. Jones will miss next week’s game against Denver.

3. Marion Barber, RB

Last week: 3

Poll Rating: 4.31

vs. Carolina: Barber has been great this season, but the Cowboys hardly looked like they missed him– except, perhaps, for goalline play-calling.

2. DeMarcus Ware, LB

Last week: 1

Poll Rating: 3.67

vs. Carolina: Ware still has not recorded a sack, though he came very close in the Carolina game.

1. Jason Witten, TE

Last week: 2

Poll Rating: 3.89

vs. Carolina: Nine receptions for 77 yards. Witten is Romo’s only reliable target, and he comes through time and time again. Given Ware’s lack of a sack, Witten takes the top spot for a week.


Please take a moment to rate the Dallas Cowboys:

Instant Trivia: 200-Yard Rushing Games


In the past two weeks, the Cowboys have had back-to-back 200-yard rushing games. This marks the first time since 1979 that the Cowboys have achieved this accomplishment.

The Cowboys have had back-to-back 200-yard performances six times in team history, with four of those instances coming during the 1970s. Incidentally, the Cowboys have never had three consecutive 200-yard rushing performances. Here is a look:


201, October 28 vs. St. Louis
224, November 4, vs. Washington


209, December 3 vs. St. Louis
246, December 9 vs. Washington


207, December 13 vs. Washington
243, December 21 vs. New York Jets


205, October 2 vs. Tampa Bay
264, October 9 vs. St. Louis


279, October 7 vs. Minnesota
201, October 14 vs. L.A. Rams


251, September 20 vs. N.Y. Giants
212, September 28 vs. Carolina

Jason Witten

Jason Witten has been solid this season and obviously serves as Tony Romo’s security blanket. One might think that a nine-reception performance is a typical game for Witten, but Monday’s game marked only the seventh time that Witten has caught nine or more passes.

Oct. 31, 2004 vs. Detroit: 9 rec., 84 yds.
Nov. 11, 2004 vs. Philadelphia: 9 rec., 133 yds.
Nov. 24, 2005 vs. Denver: 9 rec., 82 yds.
Oct. 21, 2007 vs. Minnesota: 10 rec., 86 yds.
Dec. 9, 2007 vs. Detroit: 15 rec., 138 yds.
Nov. 27, 2008 vs. Seattle: 9 rec., 115 yds.
Sept. 28, 2009 vs. Carolina: 9 rec., 77 yds.

Defense is Out of the Defensive Rankings Cellar

The Cowboys gave up an average of 438.5 yards per game in the first two weeks. Briefly, the Cowboys ranked dead last in the league when factoring in Sunday’s games by not the Monday night game. By holding Carolina to 271 total yards, the Cowboys’ average dropped to 382.7, which ranks 24th.

Dallas 21, Carolina 7: Newman's Pick-6 Secures Win (But Not Garrett's Reputation) - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

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

Dallas 13, Carolina 7.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)

50 Seasons Series: Cowboys Stun Redskins to Open 1983 Season

This post is part of the 50 Seasons Series.

The Cowboys may have struggled to find ultimate playoff success during the 1980s, but they were still one of the stronger teams in the league for the first half of the decade. To open the 1983 season, they had to return to RFK Stadium in Washington to face the defending Super Bowl Champion Redskins.

Washington raced out to a 23-3 halftime lead. The most memorable moment in the first half was a 77-yard run by Tony Dorsett, but even that play was overshadowed by rookie Darrell Green running Dorsett down from behind.

By 1983, Tony Hill had become the team’s best receiver, and when Danny White went deep to Hill in the second half, good things happened. White connected with Hill on touchdown passes of 75 and 51 yards to cut the Washington lead to 23-17. A White touchdown run followed by a TD pass to Doug Cosbie gave the Cowboys the lead for good. Washington scored late to close the gap to 31-30, but Dallas was able to run out the clock.

Here is a great video on YouTube by a user named rowisdan showing the highlights from this Monday Night Football game.

More references:

Cowboys Rally by Redskins, 31-30 (DMN)

Box Score

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)