1976: Expansion Seahawks Give Cowboys a Scare

Former Cowboy Jack Patera was the first head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. Don’t confuse Jack with brother Ken Patera, the former two-time Continental Wrestling Association international heavyweight champion.

The NFL welcomed two expansion teams in 1976. Tampa Bay was the more notable of the two, as the Buccaneers went 0-14. Dallas did not get to face Tampa Bay until 1977.

Dallas did, however, face the other expansion team, which was the Seattle Seahawks. The head coach was Jack Patera, who was a member of the original Dallas Cowboys in 1960. The quarterback was Jim Zorn, whom the Cowboys cut at the end of training camp in 1975.

Nobody gave the 0-3 Seahawks a chance against the 3-0 Cowboys, but in the second quarter, Seattle had jumped out to a 13-0 lead thanks to two Zorn touchdown passes.

The Cowboys woke up to score 28 unanswered points and came away with a 28-13 win. Dallas finished the year at 12-2, while Seattle only managed a 2-12 mark.

Here’s the video, which features some nice plays by Golden Richards, Charley Young, and “stumpy” Robert Newhouse.

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Recalling the 2006 Playoff Loss. Again.

Tony Romo may never have a positive legacy because of The Botch during the 2006 playoffs.

The 2006 season was the first one I covered for this blog. The Cowboys looked very mediocre early that season as Drew Bledsoe continued to earn a “statue” nickname and Terrell Owens did little to help the Cowboys stand out.

Then came the emergence of a new quarterback. He played college in Charleston, Illinois, which is where I was born. The college was Eastern Illinois University, which is where my father received two degrees. The new QB was also the kick holder, which is the nickname I used on here because I couldn’t think of anything else.

I’m not sure what all of that was supposed to mean, but none of it turned out to be good luck in the end. The Cowboys made the playoffs as a wildcard but had to travel to Seattle to face the defending NFC Champions.

Though Dallas fell behind in the second half, a 93-yard kickoff return by an unknown receiver named Miles Austin gave the Cowboys a lead. In the fourth quarter, that lead was 20-13.

Then came what amounted to an implosion. Dallas had the ball at its own 2 with 6:42 remaining. Romo threw a short pass to Terry Glenn, who fumbled. This lead to a safety (after a review), and the Dallas lead shrank to 20-15.

Though Seattle regained the lead, the Cowboys were still in a position to win the game. Many tend to forgot that with just under two minutes left to play, Romo hit Jason Witten on a 3rd-and-7 play, and the original mark gave Dallas a first down at the Seattle 1. Had the spot held up up, the Cowboys would have run down the clock and probably kicked on third down. Had there been an error on the snap, the Cowboys would have had a second chance.

Instead, the replay moved the ball to the 2, and Dallas faced a fourth down. Here’s the play that everyone does remember:

My comments after the game:

How is it that I use the name kickholder on here even though I haven’t actually been a kick holder since high school (er… I guess I did hold some kicks on the practice squad in college, but that is beside the point)? And how does the Cowboys season end? On a dropped snap by Tony Romo when he served as a kick holder.

* * *

Anyway, I well beyond sick right now and hope that the shock keeps me numb for a couple of days. Nothing good can possibly come from this loss or this season as a whole, unless you want to prove the Dallas Cowboy franchise is one that has no clue how to win in this league on a consistent basis. Enjoy the off-season, boys.

 

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Cowboys Rank High in Total Offense and Defense for Week #1

Here’s a quick look at some Dallas Cowboys statistics.

Week #1 of the NFL season featured plenty of offense. Teams averaged a total of 342.2 yards per game, which was just below the league’s average of 346.8 yards per game in 2011 and higher than the average of 336.0 yards per game in 2010.

Ranking high on the list of total yards, for one week at least, were the Cowboys. The team ranked #11 in 2011 with an average of 375.5 yards per game. Against the Giants, the Cowboys finished with 433 total yards, which ranked third among all teams. Only Washington and Philadelphia had higher numbers.

Dallas finished the week with the highest statistics in yards per play, averaging 7.6 yards for each play. Only the Baltimore Ravens averaged at least 7 yards per play last week. In 16 games in 2011, the Cowboys averaged 5.9 yards per play, which ranked #10.

Offensive line remains a concern, of course. Here’s a noteworthy stat: The Dallas line ranks 30th in terms of total experience, as its five starters have started a total of 144 games. The two teams below the Cowboys are the Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks, the latter of which the Cowboys play on Sunday. Seattle’s starters have started a total of 89 games. Ranking #1 in the experience category is the Detroit line, which features players who have started a total of 528 games.

The Cowboys’ defense gave up only 269 yards on Wednesday and rank #7 in total defense after one week.

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Taking a Cowboys Stadium Tour

Dallas Cowboys 2009

Cowboys Stadium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Cowboys don’t return home until September 23, when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A friend visiting Dallas asked whether it was worth taking a look at Cowboys Stadium.

As a venue to watch a game, it certainly is. Some have written that the stadium ranks has high as second among NFL stadiums. Other have written about Cowboys Stadium compared to other stadiums around the world.

Anyway, during a week with an away game, consider visiting the stadium and taking a tour. Cost is about $30, which is a bit high, but you get to visit field, locker rooms, and so forth. Worth the trip, especially if you’re a Cowboys fans.

* * *

The Cowboys rank pretty high in various power rankings, which Dallas Morning News reporter Scott Bell has summarized. The high-end ranking has the Cowboys at #6 (Pete Prisco, CBS), while the low-end ranking (Ashley Fox, ESPN) has the Cowboys at #13.

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Tony Romo TD Watch

Tony Romo is likely to surpass Troy Aikman in career touchdown passes.

I addressed this briefly before, but Tony Romo is going to wind up owning several team passing records by the time he is finished. The next major mark in his reach is the career record for most TD passes.

In only 78 career starts, Romo has 152 TD passes. That is one behind Roger Staubach and three behind Danny White. Troy Aikman leads the category with 165.

Of course, each of those QBs played in many more games than Romo—165 for Aikman, 166 for White, and 131 for Staubach.

But, of course, Romo played in different era with very different rules than those three.

Below is a complete list of the 45 players who have thrown at least one touchdown pass.

 

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This Might Be a Scary NFC East

Three of the four NFC East teams started the season at 1-0.

The Cowboys’ season-opening win on Wednesday may have been a statement that the team can contend for the NFC East title. If week #1 is any indication, this will be quite a race.

In the past decade, Dallas has usually been able to count on the Redskins struggling. That may not be the case any longer thanks to a couple of rookies.

Robert Griffin III started the game against the Saints throwing a series of WR screens. Those screens became downfield throws soon enough, and he finished the game completing 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards with 2 TDs and no picks. That’s a passer rating of 139.9. Drew Brees only managed a passer rating of 70.9 in a 40-32 loss to Washington.

The other rookie is running back Alfred Morris, who was previously best known as a deep fantasy sleeper. He ran hard en route to a 96-yard, 2 TD game.

In Cleveland, the Eagles did not look good all game. Michael Vick threw four picks, and the Browns held a 16-10 lead in the fourth quarter. However, Vick managed to hit Clay Harbor with the game-winning touchdown with 1:18 remaining, giving the Eagles a 17-16 win.

That means that defending Super Bowl Champions are now the only 0-1 team in the NFC East.  On top of that, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Chicago each had strong games, showing that the NFC as a whole looks awfully tough.

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Romo’s Passer Rating vs. the Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 05:  Quarterba...

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – SEPTEMBER 05: Quarterback Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys runs with the ball on his way to throwing a touchdown to wide receiver Kevin Ogletree #85 in the second quarter as he his chased by defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul #90 of the New York Giants during the 2012 NFL season opener at MetLife Stadium on September 5, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Tony Romo has posted a single-game passer rating of better than 120.0 17 times during his career. He added to that number on Wednesday night, posting a rating of 129.5.

That ranks as his 8th best game in terms of passer rating. Here is a list of those 8 games.

148.9 (vs. Tampa Bay, 2006: 22-29, 306 Yds., 5 TD, 0 Int.)
148.4 (vs. Buffalo, 2011: 23-26, 270 Yds., 3 TD, 0 Int.)
141.7 (vs. Philadelphia, 2007: 20-25, 324 Yds., 3 TD, 1 Int.)
141.6 (vs. Atlanta, 2009: 21-29, 311 Yds., 3 TD, 0 Int.)
141.3 (vs. New York Giants, 2011: 21-31, 321 Yds., 4 TD, 0 Int.)
140.6 (vs. Tampa Bay, 2009: 16-27, 353 Yds., 3 TD, 0 Int.)
133.9 (vs. Tampa Bay, 2011: 23-30, 249 Yds., 3 TD, 0 Int.)
129.5 (vs. New York Giants, 2012: 22-29, 307 Yds., 3 TD, 1 Int.)

Interestingly, it is not his best game against the Giants in this regard. His performance on December 11, 2011 at home against New York was better on paper.

The difference: when the game was on the line against the Giants in 2011, Romo and Miles Austin could not hook up on a pass that would have put the game away.

On Wednesday, with the game on the line, Romo made a great throw to Kevin Ogletree on third down to secure the win.

This list gives us reason to look forward to September 23, when the Cowboys host Tampa Bay. In three starts against the Buccaneers, his total numbers have been 61 completions on 86 attempts for 908 yards with 11 TDs and 0 interceptions. That’s good enough for a three-game passer rating of 144.7.

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A Great Opening Day Game by a Forgotten Cowboy

Dallas receiver Kevin Ogletree managed to change the focus of conversations from “The Cowboys don’t have a third receiver” to “This Ogletree kid looked awfully good. Should I pick him up on waivers for my fantasy team?”

(Eric Karabell at ESPN says yes to the last question. I own Miles Austin in two leagues and would prefer to see better production from #19. That’s a different matter, though).

Anyway, the point of this post isn’t really about Ogletree. It’s about one of the greatest opening-day performances not only in Cowboys history but also in league history. A certain receiver once opened as season by catching 10 passes for 241 yards with 3 TDs, two of which were on pass plays of longer than 50 yards. For those scoring at home, that’s 42.1 fantasy points in most standard leagues and 52.1 points in PPR leagues.

Of course, fantasy points were quite irrelevant to this player, who was not Bob Hayes, Drew Pearson, or Michael Irvin.

The player was Frank Clarke. His 3 TDs helped the Cowboys to a 35-35 tie with the Washington Redskins on opening day in 1962. Those 241 receiving yards are the most by any receiver on opening day in league history, according to a post today at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Of course, without the  fantasy football implications of today, reference to Clarke’s performance did not appear until the ninth paragraph of Charles Burton’s story in the Dallas Morning News:

The tie score obscured a brilliant day of pass receiving and running by Frank Clarke, the veteran wingback, who caught the ball 10 times, made the catches worth 241 yards and three touchdowns.

Incidentally, Clarke had some other monster games for the Cowboys. He had two games in 1963 alone where he had more than 150 receiving yards, including an 8-reception, 190-yard performance against the San Francisco 49ers.

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Dallas 24, N.Y. Giants 17: Definitely a New Year

Kevin Ogletree certainly looked like a solid #3 receiver on Wednesday.

Few teams in NFL history were as clueless about what to do with a lead than the 2011 Dallas Cowboys. This was the team that couldn’t hold a 24-10 lead over the Jets, a 27-3 lead over the Lions, or a 34-22 lead over the Giants. Making matters worse, the Cowboys had those leads in the fourth quarter.

There have been too many reminders of those failures during the long offseason. And with the Cowboys opening against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants on Wednesday, it looked as if Cowboys fans might have to endure some more pain. Few thought the Cowboys would win.

Then came the fourth quarter. Dallas led 17-10 heading into the quarter and still held that lead when the Cowboys got the ball with 13:03 left in the game. Tony Romo promptly led the team on a 12-play drive that ended when he hit Miles Austin on a 1st-and-30 play and Austin was able to split defenders on his way to a 34-yard touchdown.

Exciting, of course, but there was that reminder: Dallas held a 24-10 lead over the Giants, but nearly 6 minutes remained on the clock. Plenty of time for Eli and company.

Of course, it took Manning just over 3 minutes to cut the Dallas lead to 7. To make matters worse, former Cowboy Martellus Bennett caught the touchdown that cut into the Dallas lead.

The Cowboys had to kill 2:36 from the clock. The Giants had two timeouts. After two plays, there was yet another sign that this could be a frustrating ending. On 3rd and 2, it appeared that DeMarco Murray had run for a first down, which would have iced the game. However, referees called Jason Witten with a hold, moving the Cowboys back eight yards. Dallas had to convert a 3rd-and-10, or Eli would have yet another chance.

Then Romo threw a quick slant to Kevin Ogletree, who slid past defenders for a 13-yard gain. That ended the game.

This was the same Kevin Ogletree who had caught a total of 25 passes for 294 yards and no touchdowns in three seasons. On Wednesday night, he caught 8 passes for 114 yards with 2 TDs.  We hope Laurent Robinson is happy in Jacksonville, because Ogletree looked better on Wednesday than Robinson looked last year.

On top of that, this defense seems to be for real. It was mildly exciting when the Cowboys only gave up a total of 12 first-half points in four preseason games. The team once again did not give up a touchdown in the first half on Wednesday, holding the Giants to a single field goal. That field goal came after the Cowboys defense kept the Giants out of the end zone following a Romo interception that Michael Boley returned inside the Dallas 3-yard line.

Romo made up for the pick, completing 22 of 29 passes for 307 yards with 3 TDs. Austin finished with 4 receptions for 73 yards and the score, while Dez Bryant had 4 catches for 85 yards.

Murray had a nice game, gaining 131 yards on the ground. His 48-yard run in the 3rd quarter helped to set up a Dan Bailey field goal.

On defense, Sean Lee continues to make a name for himself. He had 12 total tackles and forced a David Wilson fumble in the first quarter. Many expect Wilson to contribute heavily, but he had only 4 yards on 2 carries.

Meanwhile, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz were targeted a total of 17 times combined but had only 10 receptions for 96 yard between them. Cruz also had two costly drops.

DeMarcus Ware made some history tonight by recording 2 sacks. That gives him 101.5 during his career, which is a franchise record (though only because sacks were not an official stat before 1983).

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Cowboys Could Be a Dark Horse

English: Texas Stadium - Dallas Cowboys World ...

There’s a glimmer of hope that the team can add to the list of world championship seasons.

Outside of Jerry Jones and some die-hard fans, you might be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks the Cowboys will make a Super Bowl run this year.

Thanks to the Dallas Morning News, though, we know that ESPN’s Jamison Hensley thinks that the Cowboys and Texans will face off in Super Bowl XLVII.

Two quick thoughts: (1) New Orleans was a good place for the Cowboys to visit following the 1971 and 1977 seasons, so there’s at least some history; and (2) who the hell is Jamison Hensley?

(Answer: ESPN’s AFC North blogger. I’m confident now.)

Anyway, several commentators have the Cowboys going 8-8 again, or perhaps going 9-7, or perhaps going 7-9. In a  Morning News poll, 24.63% think Dallas will go 10-6, while 20.42% think that Dallas will go 9-7. The Morning News staff has the Cowboys starting at 3-1 only to finish at 9-7. Importantly, the staff thinks the Cowboys will be swept by both the Eagles and Giants. The only bold prediction by DMN with a positive spin is that the Cowboys will beat New Orleans in week 16.

Back to ESPN, most have picked either the Eagles or Giants to win the NFC East. However, at least Herm Edwards thinks that Dallas will grab one of the two wildcard spots.

This defense is vastly improved with Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr on the outside. If Tony Romo and the rest of the offensive cast can stay healthy (and out of trouble), watch out.

Mel Kiper picked the Cowboys as a possible dark horse, though he wouldn’t use the label dark horse.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Bengals won 11 games. I could also see them winning five. They’re the team I can’t peg either way, which has been their history. The Cowboys aren’t much of a dark horse in that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them in the playoffs, but Dallas is an 11-win team if it can stay healthy in key spots.

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