Dallas 28, Cincinnati 14: Keep Romo on Ice

Jerry Jones continues to channel his inner Al Davis and has pronounced that Tony Romo will be the starter when healthy.

After the Cowboys destroyed the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday with rookie Dak Prescott leading the way again, good luck finding more than a handful of fans who agree with Jerry.

Prescott was effective once again, completing 18 of 24 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown. Prescott also added a touchdown run, giving him three this season.

But it was fellow rookie Zeke Elliott who continues to impress. He gained 134 on only 15 carries, scoring two touchdowns on the day.

Other rookie running backs have gained more than 100 yards in three different games, which is what Elliott has done in 2016. Here’s the difference—Elliott has done it in three consecutive games.

He is on pace to rush for 1,747 yards. Only one other rookie running back has gained more than 1,000 yards for the Cowboys, and that was Tony Dorsett in 1977 (14 games). At Elliott’s current rate, he would surpass 1,007 yards sometime around the team’s Thanksgiving Day game against Washington.

The Dallas offense was effective from the outset. The team drove 64 yards on seven plays to open the game, and Elliott’s first touchdown run gave Dallas a 7-0 lead. Prescott’s TD run early in the second quarter capped off an 89-yard drive, giving Dallas a 14-0 lead.

Now that's a hole.

Now that’s a hole.

In plenty of previous games, the Cowboys would have trouble putting an opponent away. Not on Sunday. Dallas moved the ball 80 yards on eight plays midway through the second quarter, and Prescott’s touchdown pass to Cole Beasley gave Dallas a 21-0 lead.

The Bengals drove into Dallas territory to open the second half, but kicker Mike Nugent missed a 50-yard field goal attempt.

On the next play, Elliott raced up a huge hole, going 60 yards for a touchdown to give the Cowboys an insurmountable 28-0 lead.

Morris Claiborne continued to play well. He was principally responsible for holding A.J. Green to four receptions for 50 yards.

The rest of the defense was also effective, sacking Andy Dalton four times and holding the Bengals to 345 total yards.

Dallas has a tough game next week as the Cowboys travel to Green Bay to face the Packers.

Dallas 24, San Francisco 17: These Kids Don’t Know Mediocrity

The Dallas Cowboys looked as if they were headed for a 2-2 start.

That would just make sense for a franchise that has mastered mediocrity. The two-game winning streak would be forgotten after a failed trip to San Francisco.

With the 49ers ahead 14-0 in the second quarter, the Cowboys opened a drive with a holding penalty. It looked like another three-and-out.

But then rookie quarterback Dak Prescott threw a screen to rookie running back Zeke Elliott, who took the ball 19 yards to put the Cowboys in position to make a first down.

Four plays later, the Cowboys faced a 3rd-and-6, and the 49ers managed to sack Prescott. But referees called defensive back Jaquiski Tartt for unnecessary roughness on a very questionable call, giving the Cowboys life.

Prescott capped off the drive with a touchdown pass to Terrance Williams, giving the Cowboys hope.

Brice Butler caught this four-yard touchdown pass, tying the game at 14 in the second quarter.

Brice Butler caught this four-yard touchdown pass, tying the game at 14 in the second quarter.

By the end of the first half, the game was tied thanks to a touchdown drive that ended when Prescott hit Brice Butler on a four-yard touchdown pass.

The 49ers regained the lead in the third quarter, but the Cowboys took control. Late in the third quarter, Elliott capped off a 10-play, 78-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run. The Cowboys would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game.

Morris Claiborne picked off a deep pass thrown by Blaine Gabbert, and Claiborne returned it to the Dallas 34. The Cowboys then drove the ball deep into San Francisco territory. A Dan Bailey field goal with 4:11 left in the game increased the lead to 7, but the Dallas defense needed to hold the 49ers.

The Dallas defense did just that. San Francisco moved the ball into Dallas territory, but with less than two minutes left, the 49ers needed to convert a 4th-and-6. Gabbert completed a three-yard pass to Torrey Smith, but Claiborne made the stop short of the sticks.

Dallas was able to make a first down thanks to a 47-yard catch-and-run by Cole Beasley.

The Cowboys have matched their 3-1 start from 2014. Elliott has looked even more effective than DeMarco Murray did two years ago. Elliott gained 138 yards on 23 carries. Prescott finished with a passer rating of 114.7 after throwing two touchdown passes.

 

Dallas 31, Chicago 17: Dak, Zeke, and the New Age of the Youngsters

Hard not to think of Star Wars when thinking of the names Dak and Zeke. Also hard not to be excited about the future with these youngsters playing so well.

Ezekiel Elliott easily hurdled this Chicago defender on Sunday night.

Ezekiel Elliott easily hurdled this Chicago defender on Sunday night.

Zeke Elliott rushed for 140 yards on 30 carries. He frequently gave the Cowboys second-and-short with good runs on first down, and he provided one of the big highlights of the night when he hurdled over defensive back Chris Prosinski.

Dak Prescott continued to show that Tony Romo perhaps should not be the franchise quarterback moving forward. Prescott completed 19 of 24 passes for 248 yards with a touchdown. His TD pass to Dez Bryant with 9:20 remaining in the fourth quarter sealed the 31-17 win for Dallas.

The win marked the first back-to-back victories for the Cowboys since the team opened the 2015 season with two wins.  A win over the 49ers next week would give Dallas its longest win streak since 2014, when the Cowboys ended their regular season by winning four straight, followed by a playoff win.

The Cowboys have had good early success all year, and Sunday night was no different. The Cowboys took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to a touchdown run by Prescott and a Dan Bailey field goal.

By the end of the first half, touchdown runs by Lance Dunbar and Alfred Morris made the game look like a blowout. Dallas led 24-3.

The win could have been more decisive. The Cowboys opened their second half by shutting down the Bears. On the ensuing offensive drive, Prescott hit Terrance Williams over the middle, and Williams took the ball 47 yards to inside the Chicago 20.

But Williams fumbled the ball, and Chicago recovered. The Bears drove back downfield and scored, cutting the Dallas lead to 24-10.

The Cowboys had some trouble putting the Bears away from that point. Nevertheless, Chicago could get no closer than 14 points, and Dallas came away with the 31-17 win.

***

Elliott’s 140 yards ranks eighth in team history for a rookie. DeMarco Murray set a high bar in that area, gaining 253 yards against the Rams in 2011. Tony Dorsett also surpassed 200 yards as a rookie, gaining 206 against the Eagles in 1977.

Here is a look:

Cowboys vs. Bears, 1962: Amos Bullocks and Billy Wade Put on a Show

In the history of the Dallas Cowboys, only nine opposing quarterbacks have thrown for more than 400 yards in a single game. Five of those games have taken place since 2011, with three of those games occurring in 2013. Before 2011, the previous games took place in 1985, 1991, and 1998.

And 1962.

QB Billy Wade was the only quarterback to throw for more than 400 yards against the Cowboys in the first 25 years of the Cowboys' existence.

QB Billy Wade was the only quarterback to throw for more than 400 yards against the Cowboys in the first 25 years of the Cowboys’ existence.

Heading into a week 10 matchup with the Chicago Bears on November 18, 1962, the Cowboys were 4-4-1. It appeared as if the Cowboys could be headed towards their first winning season, but Dallas was struggling by the time the Bears arrived.

The Bears were good in 1962, but they were one year away from an NFL Championship. Their quarterback was veteran Billy Wade, who had spent seven years with the Rams before coming to Chicago. Before November 18, 1962, he had never thrown for more than 356 yards in a game, and he had surpassed 300 yards only five times.

The 1962 Cowboys did not have the Doomsday Defense. One week earlier, Y.A. Tittle had torched the defense for 315 yards in a 41-10 win for the Giants.

Few showed up to the Cotton Bowl to watch the Cowboys face the Bears. On a chilly day, only 12,692 attended. Those who did arrive saw a barn-burner.

The lead changed six times. The Cowboys’ Amos Bullocks scored two touchdowns, including a 22-yard reception in the second quarter and a 73-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. His touchdown run gave Dallas a 33-24 lead.

As DMN writer Walter Robertson stated, “If you had just watched on the plays the Cowboys scored their 33 points, you’d have thought they should have won with more ease than the Dallas County Republicans.”

Not easy, as it turns out. Wade led a comeback, and kicker Roger LeClerc’s 15-yard field goal gave the Bears a 34-33 win.

Sam Baker's extra point attempt against the Bears in 1962 was blocked. The Bears ended up winning by one point.

Sam Baker’s extra point attempt against the Bears in 1962 was blocked. The Bears ended up winning by one point.

It not only marked the first 400-yard passing performance by an opposing QB in the Cowboys’ history, but it marked only the second time that an opposing team had gained 500 or more total yards against the Cowboys.

The first was the Rams in 1960. One of three QBs to play for the Rams that day? Billy Wade.

 

Dallas 27, Washington 23: Thanks, Unsung Heroes

The storyline heading into today’s game between the Cowboys and Redskins continued to focus on rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. For some time, it appeared the rookies might be the heroes.

Elliott scored on a one-yard run in the first quarter to give Dallas a 10-0 lead. The Cowboys were unable to hold the lead, but Prescott put the Cowboys ahead in the third quarter with a six-yard touchdown run of his own.

However, as the game progressed, it looked as if the rookies’ efforts would not be enough. The Dallas defense struggled to contain the Redskins in second and third quarters, and Dallas leads of 10-0 and 20-17 vanished.

With the game tied at 20, Elliott fumbled. Washington drove for a field goal at the end of the third quarter.

The Dallas offense then struggled, going three-and-out. Washington responded with a 57-yard pass from Kirk Cousins to Josh Doctson. Byron Jones raced back to tackle Doctson and prevent the touchdown, but it appeared the Redskins had all the momentum.

On third-and-goal from the Dallas 6, Cousins tried to get the ball over the middle to Pierre Garcon. But Barry Church stepped in front of the pass and picked it off.

Barry Church picked off Kirk Cousins in the end zone, ending a key drive in the fourth quarter.

Barry Church picked off Kirk Cousins in the end zone, ending a key drive in the fourth quarter.

Yes, the team that couldn’t get a turnover to save its life in 2015 forced a critical turnover in the fourth quarter.

Prescott looked sharp on the ensuing drive, hitting Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley to move the ball near midfield.

Elliott did not look sharp. He lost four yards on one play during the drive, then fumbled yet again. Thankfully, Doug Free landed on the ball, but Elliott was done for the day.

The Cowboys turned to former Redskin Alfred Morris, who scored from four yards out to give Dallas a 27-23 lead.

Alfred Morris scored the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Alfred Morris scored the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Washington had plenty of time. The Redskins took the ball at their own 25 with 4:45 remaining. They moved the ball to their own 44 but faced a 3rd and 1.

On third down, Justin Durant and Sean Lee made a nice play by stopping Chris Thompson.  The Redskins decided to go for it, but Durant stepped in front of the pass to kill the Washington drive.

Dallas was unable to move the ball, but Washington had to exhaust its timeouts. The Redskins drove the ball to the Dallas 36, but a penalty led to a ten-second runoff, and a last-second Hail Mary failed.

Church and Durant were big names throughout the game, but they came up huge when it mattered the most.

Elliott was largely effective until he had his fumble problems late. He rushed for 83 yards on 21 carries. Bryant came to life, gaining 102 yards on seven receptions.

Prescott was even better than he was last week. He completed 22 of 30 passes for 292 yards with a 103.8 rating.

Dallas hosts the Bears on Sunday Night Football next week.

Ezekiel Elliott’s First NFL Game: Some Comparisons

2016-ezekiel-elliott-dallas-cowboys-donruss-rated-rookie

Ezekiel Elliott was not great against the New York Giants, but few rookie running backs playing in their first NFL games have had great first games.

The rookie running back in Dallas with the most rushing yards in his first NFL game was Derrick Lassic. He gained 75 yards on 16 carries while filling in for Emmitt Smith in 1993.

Elliott’s 20 attempts against the Giants were more than any other rookie in his first NFL game. Calvin Hill had 18 attempts in his first game in 1969.

The most notable Cowboy running backs had lackluster debuts. Examples—Emmitt Smith (2 attempts, 2 yards in 1990); Tony Dorsett (4 attempts, 11 yards in 1977); Don Perkins (4 attempts, 24 yards in 1961); DeMarco Murray (2 attempts, 0 yards).

Elliott is among six rookie running backs in team history to score a touchdown in his first NFL game. The others were Herschel Walker in 1986, Felix Jones in 2008, ReShard Lee in 2004, Robert Newhouse in 1972, and Dan Reeves in 1965.

Some other rookie running backs in NFL history have had exceptional debuts. For example, William Andrews of the Falcons gained 167 yards on 30 carries against the Saints in 1979. Current Cowboy Alfred Morris also had a big debut, gaining 96 yards on 28 attempts with two touchdowns against the Saints in 2012.

N.Y. Giants 20, Dallas 19: Non-Rookie Mistakes

The 2015 Dallas Cowboys opened their season with an amazing, come-from-behind win over the Giants at AT&T Stadium. Tony Romo led a final, nail-biting drive where he relied on Lance Dunbar, Terrance Williams, and Jason Witten to move the ball 72 yards in 1:29 for the winning touchdown.

The Cowboys opened their 2016 season facing a somewhat similar situation, except that the quarterback was a rookie named Dak Prescott.

Down 20-19, Prescott and the Cowboys got the ball at their own 20 and no timeouts. Prescott could have begun his career with a defining moment by moving the ball into field goal range.

Other than Prescott, the names were the same—Dunbar, Witten, and Williams, along with slot receiver Cole Beasley.

Beasley made a nice catch on 3rd-and-15, giving Dallas the ball at the Dallas 46. The team would not, however, move any further.

A pass attempt to Witten fell incomplete, leading to a third-down attempt to Williams, who caught the ball near the right sideline but did not head out of bounds. As the picture below appears to show, Williams caught the ball with 10 seconds left and should have been able to make it to the boundary. He instead tucked the ball and ran up field.

Terrance Williams could have cut to his right to try to stop the clock. Or he could have tucked the ball to run up field, virtually guaranteeing that the clock would expire.

Terrance Williams could have cut to his right to try to stop the clock. Or he could have tucked the ball to run upfield, virtually guaranteeing that the clock would expire.

The Cowboys did not have a timeout left, ending the game. For the first time in eight season-openers against the Giants, Dallas lost.

Prescott didn’t have a spectacular game, completing 25 of 45 passes for 227 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions and a 69.4 passer rating. It appeared that he had thrown a touchdown pass to Dez Bryant, but replays showed that Bryant bobbled the ball in the end zone before falling out of bounds. Bryant finished with only one catch for eight yards.

Ezekiel Elliott had a nice touchdown run, but he otherwise had a hard time finding room. He carried the ball 20 times for 51 yards, with his longest run only going eight yards.

The diagram showing the path to Ezekiel Elliott's first NFL touchdown.

The diagram showing the path to Ezekiel Elliott’s first NFL touchdown.

The Cowboys were able to keep the ball out of the Giants’ hands for the most part. The Cowboys held the ball for 36:43 and outgained the Giants, 328-316.

The Dallas defense, however, had trouble stopping the Giants on runs right up the gut. New York gained 113 yards on 24 carries for an average of 4.7 yards per carry. Dallas averaged 3.4 yards per carry.

Brandon Carr recorded his first interception since 2013, and his pick set up the Elliott touchdown run. The Cowboys were able to hold Eli Manning to 207 yards, and Orlando Scandrick and Benson Mayowa recorded sacks.

On the other hand, Scandrick was unable to contain Odell Beckham on a 45-yard completion that set up the Giants’ first touchdown. Manning ended up throwing three touchdown passes.

The Cowboys travel to Washington to face the Redskins next Sunday.

Know Your 2016 Dallas Cowboys and Their Uniform Numbers

 

As we wait for the 2016 season to open, here is a quiz about uniform numbers.

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

***

Know Your Dallas Cowboys, One Decade Later

So ten years ago tonight, curiosity got the better of me, and this blog suddenly existed. The vague idea? Run a Cowboys blog that would post some occasional trivia questions and answers.

Occasional trivia questions resulted in more than 2,100 posts. No, this isn’t the best blog. It tends to be quirky, and I put it on life support during the offseasons, but it’s still here.

Snapshot_2

The KYDC logo in 2006, reflecting utterly no talent.

In light of this anniversary, here is a look back at blogging about the Cowboys during the past ten years.

What was available on the Internet in 2006?

It wasn’t as if the Internet was in its infancy in 2006. Blogs were nothing new, as were forums.

However, only a handful of Cowboys blogs existed. Blogging the Boys was getting much bigger, and some other larger network sites came along in the years that followed.

On the other hand, many of the blogs and forums have come and gone in ten years.

The main Cowboys site wasn’t great, but it had a large fan base. I posted quite a bit in the Classic Cowboys section then, but I’m not a huge fan of the current site and do not post much on there.

What did the site originally look like?

Pretty damn ugly. You can see it on Internet Archive.

Yeah, that is ugly. I mean, fugly.

What is fugly?

Oh, you know what fugly means. Do I need to write f’ing ugly?

Alright, I know what fugly means. Go to hell.

How many people have visited the site since 2006?

My original counter no longer functions, but the total number is about 1,500,000. I don’t pay attention to detailed stats.

Are those unique visitors? Because I don’t see too many unique visitors around here. Hell, we may be the only ones to read this.

No, they’re not unique visitors. I have just made sure I get on here 100,000 times a year to boost my stats. Idiot.

Have you made money on this site?

Just enough to pay the hosting fees.

There was a time when some companies would pay several hundred dollars for me to post links in articles and my sidebar, but with Google’s changing algorithms, that money is no longer available. The few ads I run barely cover the costs to run the site.

If you paid attention to detailed stats, don’t you think your ad revenue could increase?

Shut up.

What is your most popular post or series?

Probably the greatest by jersey number series in 2008. That one had a pretty good following. The other series didn’t do quite as well.

Yeah, you should have retired this thing back then.

We’re going to fight, jackass.

Highlight of the past ten years?

Covering the playoff win over the Eagles after the 2009 season. We had waited a long time for that one.

Low points of the past ten years?

Any playoff loss. And this blog post.

 

 

 

An Abbreviated History of Unproven Backups

Rookie Dak Prescott is making the Dallas Cowboys’ brain trust look very good thanks to his first-half performance against the Rams on Saturday night. Jameill Showers had one very nice play to salvage a third-down. His overall performance was weak, however, compared with Prescott.

The Cowboys historically had good backups ready to take over in case injuries occurred to their starters. This has continued to be the case for the most part under Jerry Jones, but Jones is less willing to develop younger players.

Here is a quick look at situations where Dallas had to roll the dice with unproven backups.

1964, John Roach: During the Cowboys’ first four seasons, they had both Eddie LaBaron and Don Meredith. When LaBaron retired, though, the backup job went to John Roach, an SMU graduate who had started 16 games in six years for the Cardinals and Packers. Roach started four games for the Cowboys that year but lost all four. One year later, the Cowboys drafted Craig Morton, and Roach was out of football.

1975, Clint Longley: I’ll go ahead and throw this one in here. The Cowboys traded Morton midway through the 1974 season, leaving only Clint Longley as the backup. We all know that Longley was the savior on Thanksgiving Day in 1974, but he was still relatively unproven when he served as the backup in 1975. He started one game that season, leading Dallas to a 31-21 win over the Jets.

1980, Glenn Carano: Carano had been the team’s third-string quarterback since 1978, but he had never thrown an NFL pass in a regular season game. The Cowboys drafted Gary Hogeboom in 1980, but Carano was the team’s second-string QB in 1980 and 1981.

1986, Steve Pelleur: The Cowboys traded Hogeboom to the Colts in 1986, leaving Steve Pelleur and his eight career passes as the backup.  When the 6-2 Cowboys lost White for the season with a broken wrist, Pelleur led the team to a 1-7 finish.

1988, Kevin Sweeney: White was the backup to begin the 1988 season, but he had nothing left in the tank. Sweeney was Tony Romo before there was a Tony Romo in Dallas—exciting to watch in preseason, and fans wanted to see what he could do as the starter. Well, two starts, two losses, and a passer rating of 40.2 ended the Sweeney era.

1990, Babe Laufenberg: The Cowboys entered the 1990 season with Steve Walsh as the backup, but Dallas traded Walsh to New Orleans early in the season. This left Babe Laufenberg and his 2-4 career record as a starter with the Chargers. When Aikman went down with a season-ending injury and the playoffs were on the line, Laufenberg’s performance guaranteed that the Cowboys would watch those playoffs from home.

1993, Jason Garrett: This one falls under the same category as Clint Longley. Dallas had success with Steve Beurlein as the backup in 1991 and 1992, but he signed with the Cardinals. That left Jason Garrett. Although most fans remember Garrett for leading Dallas to a comeback win on Thanksgiving Day in 1994, he first served as the second-stringer in 1993. With the Cowboys trying to defend their Super Bowl title, Jones signed Bernie Kosar midway through the season, and Kosar came through in the playoffs to help Dallas secure a win over the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. Garrett needed a few more years to develop.

2001, Anthony Wright, Ryan Leaf, Clint Stoerner: The starter named to replace the retired Troy Aikman was Quincy Carter. When Carter was injured, Dallas went through a cycle of players who had no business starting, including the infamous first-round bust Leaf and former Arkansas Razorback Stoerner. Of course, Wright and Stoerner both one games that season, and their two wins were one more than Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore managed in 2015.

2002, Chad Hutchinson: The Cowboys signed former baseball player Hutchinson as something akin to buying a lottery ticket. He wasn’t ready to start in 2002, but the Cowboys decided to start him anyway after Carter struggled. Dallas went 2-7 with Hutchinson, and he threw only two passes the following season as Carter’s backup.

2004, Drew Henson: Dallas was not finished buying lottery tickets in the form of former baseball players. Henson had started at Michigan, and when Dallas went 3-7 under Vinny Testaverde, Bill Parcells decided to start Henson on Thanksgiving Day. Henson completed only four passes, and Parcells decided he had seen enough and sent Testaverde back in.  Henson never threw another pass for the Cowboys.

2005, Tony Romo: Yes, Romo worked out quite well, but he had never played a down in a regular season game before becoming the backup to Drew Bledsoe in 2005. He did not play a down in 2005, either, but he was firmly entrenched as the starter by the gmc denali road bike review from middle of the 2006 season.

2015, Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, Kellen Moore: Weeden and Cassel don’t quite fit the “unproven” label, but I’ll throw this summary in here. The Cowboys had brought in several veterans to back up Romo between 2007 and 2014, including Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, and Kyle Orton. Weeden was a veteran, but he was generally unproven even though he had started 20 games for the Browns. After he led the Cowboys to three losses, the team signed Cassel, another veteran, but Cassel went 1-6. Moore finished out the season but could not lead the Cowboys to a win in two starts.

2016: Dak Prescott (presumably): Unless Prescott really falls apart in the remaining three preseason games, it looks if the backup job is his to lose. Hopefully, we see much more of this…