Arizona 19, Dallas 13 (OT): The Cowboys Ice Their Own Kicker

Dan Bailey missed two long field goals, including one that would have beaten the Cardinals on Sunday.

These endings had become a bit routine. Late in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 13, the Cowboys forced the Cardinals to a three-and-out at the Arizona 9. Dallas had a chance for a nice put return.

And the Cowboys got that punt return, as Dez Bryant returned the kick to the Arizona 25. However, Orlando Scandrick was called for an illegal block in the back, moving the ball back to the Dallas 32.

Nevertheless, the Cowboys moved the ball into Arizona territory, converting a 3rd-and-11 to the Arizona 31 with  more than 20 seconds left. Dallas had two timeouts left, but Tony Romo decided to let the clock run down to eight seconds before spiking the ball.

Dan Bailey lined up for a field-goal attempt and appeared to make it. However, Jason Garrett called timeout just before the kick. The real attempt fell short, sending the game to overtime.

[There is some debate right now about whether the Cowboys managed to ice their own kicker. Perhaps that’s not the best description, but I’m leaving the title of this post as-is.]

It was Bailey’s second miss of the game after he had made 26 consecutive attempts. He did not get another chance.

In overtime, a penalty moved Arizona back to its own 24. But on 2nd-and-19, Terence Newman was called for pass interference.

Four plays later, Newman had another poor play, as he was unable to get away from a receiver. Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ arm tackles could not stop LaRod Stephens-Howling, who took a swing pass and weaved 52 yards for the game-winning score.

Arizona 19, Dallas 13. Dallas falls to 7-5.

The only good news for Dallas was that the Giants lost to the Packers. Dallas hosts the Giants next Sunday night.

Romo suffered five sacks in the loss. Though Dallas had a 10-3 lead at halftime, thanks to Romo’s touchdown pass to Dez Bryant, the Cowboys had a hard time maintaining drives. Mat McBriar punted three times, and Bailey missed his first attempt.

With Dallas leading 10-3, Arizona held the ball for the first 6:42 of the second half. A field goal cut the Dallas lead to 10-6.

The Cowboys answered with a long drive of their own, and Bailey’s second field goal increased the lead to 13-6.

Arizona then tied the game early in the fourth quarter on a touchdown run by Beanie Wells. Two subsequent Dallas drives ended in McBriar punts. The Dallas defense managed to hold Arizona until the fateful drive in overtime.

DeMarco Murray fell back to earth, managing only 38 yards on 12 carries. Bryant had the best game on offense, catching 8 for 86 with a score. He had two huge receptions on the Cowboys’ last drive.

Cowboys vs. Cardinals as Non-Division Rivals

The St. Louis (and later Phoenix/Arizona) Cardinals long served as thorns in the side of the Dallas Cowboys. Even when the Cardinals didn’t quite pull out wins, Dallas often struggled.

For most of these years, the Cowboys and Cardinals were in the same division. Dallas joined the NFL’s Eastern Conference in 1961 and played St. Louis twice per year from 1961 to 1966.

Things changed for a few years in 1967, though, as the Cowboys moved to the Capital Division while the Cardinals were members of the Century Division. Dallas and St. Louis still played one another, though they faced off only once per year.

Both teams were members of the NFC East from 1970 through 2001 and played a total of 63 times. Since 2002, Dallas has been in the NFC East while Arizona has been in the  NFC West.

When the teams were division rivals, Dallas had a record of 49-26-1 against Arizona, including a playoff loss after the 1998 season.

As non-division opponents, the teams have played a total of 10 times. Their 11th meeting takes place on Sunday.

Here is a look at the other games played as non-division opponents:

Most Power Rankings Have Cowboys in the Top 10

It wasn’t long ago that the Cowboys were among the bottom third in the league in various power rankings. With their four-game winning streak, Dallas now ranks in the top 10 in most polls.

Here’s a look at three of those polls:

ESPN

 

Dallas moved up one spot this week in the ESPN poll to #8.

The Cowboys control their own destiny, with three of their last five games on the road, starting Sunday at Arizona. (Fox)

Pete Prisco, CBS

Prisco has had the Cowboys ranked higher than others for much of the year. However, he has them ranked one spot lower this week than ESPN.

Teams should be scared of the Cowboys. They have a lot of talent and this is a team that is getting better as the season moves along.

Brian Billick, Fox

Billick doesn’t think very highly of the Cowboys he still has them ranked 9th.

Unimpressive wins against the Dolphins and Redskins were wins nonetheless. The two head-to-head games with the Giants may determine the division, but with the Giants’ loss and their remaining schedule, the Cowboys are clearly in the driver’s seat in the NFC East. Not sure they are in the same category as the other division leaders, though Dallas did beat the 49ers in San Francisco in OT.

Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly from November 30, 1985

Bill Bates: Taking on Another Speciality

A reader named Bruce Lombard earlier this year most generously sent me a stack of copies of the old Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly from the 1985 season and 1986 offseason. Each Wednesday, we will take a look at some interesting tidbits in these issues.

The focus this week is in the issue published on November 30, 1985.

Ask Tex Schramm: Use of Polaroid Pictures

One reader asked Tex about whether teams could you Polaroid pictures during games. For instance, a coach in the press box could take pictures of defensive alignments and send these pictures to coaches on the sidelines. Tex responded that this was acceptable. The only limitation was that coaches could not use video replays on the sidelines.

(We still see similar uses of photos today, though coaches essentially send the pictures via fax).

Cowboys Rebound vs. Eagles

The team’s 44-0 loss to the Bears did not create a hangover effect, as the Cowboys rebounded to beat the Eagles 34-17. Danny White threw three touchdown passes without an interception in the win.

One critical play was a touchdown pass to Doug Cosbie right before halftime. It gave Dallas a 21-10 lead.

Dallas remained tied with the Giants atop the NFC East with an 8-4 mark. Washington was still hovering at 7-5.

This was a must win for us if we want to win our division. Philadelphia is one of the most improved teams we have played….We are in the stretch drive now. We have a playoff chance with four games left. — Tom Landry

With the win, Dallas moved back up in the Top 10 NFL Poll, landing at #6. Chicago was the unanimous choice for #1.

Bill Bates: Punt Returner

All-purpose defensive back Bill Bates added duties as punt returner in 1985. Despite his lack of speed, the team was pleased with his efforts. He averaged 6.9 yards per return on 22 punts in 1985.

Future of the Dallas Offensive Line

Several offensive linemen were featured as possible starters for the 1986 season. Two familiar names showed up in this feature: Mark Tuinei, who was a strong candidate to play either center or tackle, and Brian Baldinger, who wanted more playing time at guard.

Baldinger (now an NFL Network analyst) started four games in 1984, but an injury sidelined him for the 1985 season. Tuinei, on the other hand, did become a starter at left tackle in 1986.

Waiting to Play: Steve Pelluer

Steve Pelluer was a second-year player in 1985 and was sitting behind Danny White and Gary Hogeboom on the depth chart. Tom Landry had said that he wanted to get Pelluer more playing time, though. The quarterback had set a record at the University of Washington with 4,365 yards of total offense in one season.

Brad Sham Interviews Jim Jeffcoat

Jim Jeffcoat had a breakout year in 1985. Against Washington on November 10, he set a team record with five sacks. Brad Sham asked him what Jeffcoat’s thoughts were when the Cowboys selected him with the #1 pick in 1983.

I came into the Cowboys organization feeling that I wanted to contribute in some way, whether it was through special teams or through the pass rush, whatever. Most young defensive linemen get the most chance by rushing the passer, because they’re not prepared to play against the run in the NFL.

Jeffcoat added that he learned the flex defense from Harvey Martin, which helped his development.

Cowboys Hoping to Improve Record After Thanksgiving

Three years ago, I wrote a post about the Cowboys’ record after Thanksgiving. What I noted there was that between 1966 and 1984, the Cowboys’ record during the week after Thanksgiving was 16-1.

Between 1985 and 2007, though, the record in those games sank to 10-13. It has not gotten much better. In 2008, Dallas lost to the Steelers in a game that hurt the team’s playoff chances. One year later, the Cowboys had a one-game lead in the NFC East after Thanksgiving, but they lost to the Giants during week 13. In both 2008 and 2009, the Cowboys had won their Thanksgiving Day matchup.

Last season was a bit different. Dallas was unable to hang on to its lead against New Orleans on Thanksgiving and lost 30-27 to the Saints. A week later, Dallas traveled to Indianapolis to face the Colts. The Cowboys pulled out the win in overtime thanks in large part to Sean Lee’s breakout performance.

The last time that Dallas won both the Thanksgiving Day game and the next game was 2007, when the Cowboys beat the Jets on Thanksgiving and then wrapped up the NFC East by beating the Lions.

Looking a Bit Like 2009

With the Giants’ loss to New Orleans on Monday night, the Cowboys sit alone atop the NFC East. It marks the first time since week 12 of the 2009 season that the Cowboys have led the division alone.

In 2009, a Thanksgiving Day win over Oakland gave Dallas an 8-3 mark, which was one-game better than the Giants (7-4) and Eagles (7-4). The Redskins were out of it at 3-8.

Of course, Dallas lost the division lead by losing consecutive games to the Giants and Chargers. New York, though, lost three of its last four to finish at 8-8 and out of the playoffs. Dallas won its final three games, including the season finale against the Eagles, to take the division title.

This year, Dallas (7-4) has a one-game lead over the Giants (6-5). The Eagles and Redskins are all but out of the race at 4-7, though stranger things have happened should the Eagles make a complete turnaround.

The Cowboys’ schedule includes two games against the Giants, along with games against the Cardinals, Buccaneers, and Eagles, each of which have losing records at this point. The Giants still have to face the Packers and Jets, along with the Cowboys and Redskins. The Eagles have a relatively light schedule, facing the Seahawks, Dolphins, and Redskins, along with the Jets and Cowboys.

* * *

After five games this year, DeMarco Murray had a total of 73 rushing yards. He now has 834 yards on 147 carries (5.7 ave.), which ranks 9th in the league. Get this– Murray has more rushing yards that the likes of Steven Jackson (813), Arian Foster (805), and Ray Rice (722).

At this pace, Murray would have more than 1,200 rushing yards for the season. The last time that a Dallas running back had at least 1,200 rushing yards was 2000, when Emmitt Smith finished with 1,203.

Cowboys Continue Success vs. Former Assistant Coaches

A total of 14 former assistant coaches with the Cowboys have later become head coaches, including three current head coaches. Other than Dave Campo, whose only head coaching service was with Dallas, the Cowboys have played against each of these coaches.

The Cowboys total record vs. these coaches: 39-27-1.

The latest former assistant to face the Cowboys was Tony Sparano. Interestingly, the Cowboys have beaten each of these coaches at least once. Five coaches only faced the Cowboys one time, and each of them lost.

Dick Nolan
Dallas Assistant, 1962-1967, 1982-1990
San Francisco Head Coach, 1968-1975
New Orleans Head Coach, 1978-1980

vs. Dallas as head coach: 2-6-1

Note: The Cowboys went 5-2-1 against Nolan’s 49ers team and 1-0 against Nolan’s Saints team.

Raymond Berry
Dallas Assistant, 1968-1969
New England Head Coach, 1984-1989

vs. Dallas as head coach: 0-2

Gene Stallings
Dallas Assistant, 1972-1985
St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals Head Coach, 1986-1989

vs. Dallas as head coach: 4-4

Mike Ditka
Dallas Assistant, 1973-1981
Chicago Head Coach, 1982-1992
New Orleans Head Coach, 1997-1999

vs. Dallas as head coach: 5-3

Ditka was 3-3 vs. Dallas in Chicago, losing his final game as Bears’ head coach in 1992. Ironically, Ditka won his final game as a head coach by beating the Cowboys in 1999.

Dan Reeves
Dallas Assistant, 1972, 1974-1980
Denver Head Coach, 1981-1992
New York Giants Head Coach, 1993-1996
Atlanta Head Coach, 1997-2003

vs. Dallas as head coach: 5-8

Reeves was 1-1 against Dallas with the Broncos, 2-6 with the Giants, and 2-1 with the Falcons.

John Mackovic
Dallas Assistant, 1981-1982
Kansas City Head Coach, 1983-1986

vs. Dallas as head coach: 0-1

Dave Shula
Dallas Assistant, 1989-1990
Cincinnati Head Coach, 1992-1996

vs. Dallas as head coach: 0-1

Dave Wannstedt
Dallas Assistant, 1989-1992
Chicago Head Coach, 1993-1998
Miami Head Coach, 2000-2004

vs. Dallas as head coach: 3-1

Note: Wannstedt went 2-1 vs. Dallas with Chicago and 1-0 with Miami.

Butch Davis
Dallas Assistant, 1989-1994
Cleveland Head Coach, 2001-2004

vs. Dallas as head coach: 0-1

Dave Campo
Dallas Assistant, 1989-1999, 2008-present
Dallas Head Coach, 2000-2002

Obviously, Campo could not have played against himself as head coach of the Cowboys. Dallas would have found a way to lose at any rate.

Norv Turner
Dallas Assistant, 1991-1993
Washington Head Coach, 1994-2000
Oakland Head Coach, 2004-2005
San Diego Head Coach, 2007-present

vs. Dallas as head coach: 6-9

Note: Turner went 4-9 against Dallas with Washington, 1-0 with Oakland, and 1-0 with San Diego.

Todd Haley
Dallas Assistant, 2004-2006
Kansas City Head Coach, 2009-present

vs. Dallas as head coach: 0-1

Sean Payton
Dallas Assistant, 2003-2005
New Orleans Head Coach, 2006-present

vs. Dallas as head coach: 2-1

Tony Sparano
Dallas Assistant, 2003-2007
Miami Head Coach, 2008-present

vs. Dallas as head coach: 0-1

Dallas 20, Miami 19: Another Thanksgiving Win on Another Late FG

Just a few weeks ago, the annual Thanksgiving Day game looked especially inviting, with the formerly winless Dolphins coming town. Many have assumed that Dallas would roll easily and then take a nice 10-day break to gear up for December.

Of course, then Miami won three in a row, the Cowboys have not been dominant even during their own three-game winning streak.

In the end, the Cowboys played a sloppy game, committing several dumb penalties and having trouble in the secondary. Miami held a 19-17 lead for almost all of the final seven minutes of the game.

Still, the defense made several key stops inside the red zone, and Tony Romo kept several plays alive with his mobility. When the defense forced a three-and-out with just over three minutes left the play, the Cowboys had another shot. Dez Bryant returned a punt 20 yards to give Dallas the ball at its own 36.

From there, Dallas only faced one third down on a drive that ate up the clock. With three seconds left, the Cowboys attempted a field goal from 28 yards away, and Dan Bailey made his 26th consecutive attempt.

Romo threw two interceptions in the first half, but he improved as the game continued. Though Bryant and Jason Witten made some nice plays, the key receiver today was Laurent Robinson, who caught 7 passes for 79 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Miami ended up outgaining the Cowboys in total yards (352-303) and won the turnover battle. However, four trips to the red zone resulted in four field goals, allowing Dallas to stay in the game.

DeMarco Murray was effective yet again. He gained 87 yards on 22 carries, including several key runs on the final drive of the game.

Dallas improved to 7-4 and has a half-game lead over the Giants, who play the Saints on Monday night.

Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly from November 23, 1985

Danny White: Rounding into Former Form?

A reader named Bruce Lombard earlier this year most generously sent me a stack of copies of the old Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly from the 1985 season and 1986 offseason. Each Wednesday, we will take a look at some interesting tidbits in these issues.

The focus this week is in the issue published on November 23, 1985.

Demolition at the Hands of the Bears

It was not a good week after the Cowboys played the Chicago Bears on November 17. Chicago rolled into town and demolished the Cowboys in a 44-0 shutout. It remains one of the ugliest losses in franchise history.

Tom Landry’s comment:

What we had here today was a real old-fashioned whipping.

Yup.

What many forget (including this writer) is that Dallas had a decent start to the game, picking up five first downs on three possessions compared to just one first down for Chicago. It was not the Dallas defense that caused the rout but rather the Dallas offense. Chicago scored 14 of its 24 first-half points off interception returns, and the Bears knocked starter Danny White out of the game early in the second half. White had been injured earlier in the game but had returned.

One accomplishment for the Cowboys— William “The Refrigerator” Perry did not score at the goal line late in the first half. Otherwise, this one was one of the worst games ever for Dallas fans.

Danny White Resumes Leadership Role

White was the cover boy for the November 23 issue. He had been elected as a captain for the 1985 season and was pivotal as the team tried to claim the NFC East title.

According to Mike Renfro:

Danny’s more relaxed now. He’s gotten back into the leadership role…

Everson Walls and His Grambling Spirit

Another player having a solid season in 1985 was cornerback Everson Walls. He  had seven interceptions by Week 11 (and a total of 9 for the entire season).

Nevertheless, he had a chip on his shoulder for not being drafted after coming from Grambling University. Instead, Dallas signed him as a free agent in 1981.

All I know is, guys that are not anywhere as accomplished as me got picked, but they aren’t around anymore.

Feature on Defensive Back Victor Scott

The November 23 issue featured defensive back Victor Scott, who had a child in September 1985. Scott had survived growing up in East St. Louis, Illinois and was a standout at the University of Colorado. The 1985 season was his best, when had two interceptions, scored a touchdown, and recorded three sacks.

[Scott’s story didn’t turn out to be a good one, though. He was convicted of aggravated sexual assault and is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence in Texas]

Clint Murchison Visits Valley Ranch

Former team owner Clint Murchison got to visit the team’s new facility in Valley Ranch. He was giving a guided tour by team president Tex Schramm.

Will the 2008 Draft Go Down as a Bust as Well?

The last month has not been kind to the 2008 draft class for the Dallas Cowboys.

The team cut Tashard Choice, who was the fourth-round pick that year. Many would like to see Dallas rid itself of Martellus Bennett, who has managed only nine receptions this year and who has not been a big factor in the running game as a blocker.

Felix Jones may have lost his starting job for good to DeMarco Murray. Mike Jenkins has been out as well, and though he’s been missed more than Jones, it is more because the team’s reserve corners have sometimes struggled than because of Jenkins’ play earlier this year.

Orlando Scandrick had an interception vs. Washington on Sunday, but he was also called for holding on a key third-down play late in the game.

The remaining player was linebacker Erik Walden, who has become a starter with the Packers this year.

So this class may not be as bad as the 2009 draft, but it may turn out to be a bust. What do you think?

Was the 2008 draft a bust?

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