Dallas 24, Miami 14: Some Clue How to Win

The Dallas Cowboys scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Miami Dolphins and win for the first time since September.

The Dallas Cowboys scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Miami Dolphins and win for the first time since September.

During their seven-game losing streak, the Dallas Cowboys found plenty of possible ways to lose.

They squandered opportunities. They blew leads. They ruined comebacks. Anyone reading this blog knows all of this.

On Sunday, the Cowboys jumped out to a 14-0 lead thanks to an interception return for a touchdown by Rolando McClain and a touchdown pass from Tony Romo to Terrance Williams. Despite bad field position for much of the first half, the Cowboys looked like they would go into halftime with a two-touchdown lead.

But during the celebration following Williams’ touchdown, he and Dez Bryant were called for taunting, forcing Dan Bailey to kick off from the 20. His squib kick was poor, giving the Dolphins the ball at the Miami 46.

Four plays later, Miami had cut the lead to 14-7.

To make matters worse, Miami tied the game midway through the third quarter on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to Kenny Stills.

It was this type of sequence of events that haunted the Cowboys for two months. In the past seven games, Dallas would have found a way to lose this game.

But not today. And perhaps Romo can provide a spark that leads Dallas back into this race.

With the game tied 14-14, Romo and the Cowboys took over at their own 20 and promptly marched 80 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Romo hit Bryant for the score, marking the 50th time Romo and Bryant have hooked up for touchdowns. That is a franchise record.

The Dallas defense had failed the team several times during the losing streak. But not today. Miami not only failed to score for the remainder of the day, but the Dolphins also managed only one first down during the entire fourth quarter.

Tony Romo completed 18 o 28 passes for 227 yards with 2 TDs and 2 Ints.

Tony Romo completed 18 of 28 passes for 227 yards with 2 TDs and 2 Ints.

Romo was not great. He threw two interceptions, including one in the red zone in the first half. But he also made just enough plays to give the Cowboys a chance.

His touchdown pass to Williams was exciting, and he kept Bryant involved even with Bryant battling injuries.

Darren McFadden was solid again. He carried the ball  29 times for 129 yards, including a 35-yarder in the second half to help set up a touchdown. McFadden also had a critical 15-yard run on a 3rd-and-14 play to keep a drive alive as the Cowboys were trying to kill the clock late in the fourth quarter.

New running back Robert Turbin was a pleasant surprise. He ran hard and gained 35 yards on 7 carries.

Dallas held the ball for 38:50, running 68 plays compared with 41 for the Dolphins.

With the Redskins and Eagles losing today, the 3-7 Cowboys are only two games out of first place in the NFC East. The Giants are 5-5, while the Eagles and Redskins are both 4-6.

Tampa Bay 10, Dallas 6: No Clue How to Win

Jeff Heath giveth. Jeff Heath taketh away.

Jeff Heath giveth (two interceptions). Jeff Heath taketh away (holding call with less than a minute remaining).

Jeff Heath picked off two Jameis Winston passes today, giving the Dallas Cowboys their first multiple takeaway game since week 2.

Heath’s second interception came with 5:48 remaining in the game with the Cowboys leading 6-3. Dallas had a chance to win a game for the first time since week 2.

The 2014 Cowboys would have fed DeMarco Murray at that point, and the team might have run out the clock.

These 2015 Cowboys? Of course not. The Dallas offense faced a 3rd and 1 with 4:13 left, and quarterback Matt Cassel threw a back-shoulder pass to Dez Bryant, who dropped the pass.

The defense that had stuffed the Buccaneers all day then needed one more stop to give Dallas the win.

It looked as if the Cowboys might have caught a break with just under one minute left. Winston tried to dive over the goal line, but he fumbled the ball. Dallas recovered the apparent fumble.

But the referees called Heath for holding, and Tampa Bay scored the game-winning touchdown on another run by Winston.

Cassel launched a desperation pass to Bryant with 28 seconds, but Bryant barely made a play on the ball. Tampa Bay picked the pass off as Bryant did what he has done best lately—run his mouth, arguing for a pass-interference call.

Seven consecutive losses. The Cowboys held a lead or the game was tied in six of those seven games.

 

Bryant backed up his locker-room eruption by catching only 5 passes for 45 yards. On the other side of the ball, Mike Evans dropped several passes yet still caught 8 for 126 yards.

Nobody else stepped up for Dallas, either. Darren McFadden managed only 32 yards on 17 carries. Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley combined for three receptions.


 

The Cowboys only managed 212 yards on offense, representing the team’s lowest output of the season. Dallas has been outgained in total yards in six of the seven losses during the losing streak. The only game in which the Cowboys have outgained an opponent since week 2 was against the Giants in week 7.


Tony Romo will return next week, but it hardly seems to matter.

Glass-half-full fans will say Dallas can win seven straight and still make the playoffs. Sure.

A more immediate concern? Dallas will avoid its first 2-8 start since 2001 by beating the Dolphins next week.

 

 

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