Cowboys Go Nowhere in Power Rankings After Win Over 49ers

A total of 18 teams in the NFL are now 1-1, and there was a bunch of movement in the power rankings at the top.

Then there were the Cowboys, who sat in the middle of the pack after losing to the Jets and who remained in the same position a week later after beating San Francisco.

In fact, Dallas did not move at all in the three polls summarized below. Not sure what the odds of that are.

ESPN: 13th

Dallas stayed one ahead of Tampa Bay in ESPN’s poll, but the Cowboys could move past the likes of the Chargers or Lions.

Tony Romo quieted his critics, at least temporarily, by playing with a broken rib against the 49ers. Gutsy.

CBS (Pete Prisco): 12th

Dallas is slightly higher in Prisco’s poll, but the Redskins are right behind.

That was a big-time drive by Tony Romo. But this is a banged-up team that is getting ready to face the 2-0 Redskins.

Fox (Brian Billick): 14th

Billick has the Buccaneers ranked just ahead of Dallas, which drops Dallas to 14th on his list.

Could not have been a better way for the Cowboys to win this game. For Romo to come off the bench, with a rib injury, and lead this team to a come-from-behind win was huge for his confidence. The defensive secondary is beat up and Rob Ryan is writing some checks the back end can’t cash.

Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly from September 21, 1985

Sept. 21, 1985 issue: “Michael Downs: Co-Captain, Defense”

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 September 21, 1985.

Ask Tex Schramm

One reader asked which former player had been injured in a farm accident about five years earlier. Schramm replied that it was Burton Lawless, who had been part of the “Dirty Dozen” draft of 1975. Lawless was not expected to walk again, but by 1985, he was on his feet and living in Waco, Texas.

Ugly Day in Detroit

The 1985 Detroit Lions were on the rebound from a 4-11-1 season in 1984. Dallas helped the Lions to a 2-0 start by committing five turnovers in a 26-21 Detroit win. Though Dallas had 33 first downs to Detroit’s 13, the Lions jumped out to a 26-0 lead. Danny White and Gary Hogeboom combined for 62 pass attempts and 481 yards in the loss. Both Tony Hill and Doug Cosbie had 11 receptions.

Top 10 NFL Poll

With the loss, the Cowboys slipped out of the Top 10 NFL Poll run by the magazine. The top team after week 2 was Seattle, which was out to a 2-0 start.

Cowboys Elect Captains

The team voted on captains for the 1985 season. For the first time in his career, center Tom Rafferty was selected. He was joined as offensive co-captain by quarterback Danny White. On defense, the team selected Randy White and safety Michael Downs, while Bill Bates earned the nod as the special-teams captain.

Football Writers Round Table

A popular show on Monday nights was the Football Writers Round Table, which featured several prominent Cowboys beat writers. Included on the show were Jim Dent of the Dallas Times Herald; Gary Myers of the Dallas Morning News; Gil LeBreton of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram; and Steve Perkins of the Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly. The moderator was KRLD sports director Brad Sham.

Moving Away from the Flex?

Sham interviewed Dallas cornerback Dennis Thurman. In the interview, Sham asked of the scheme were moving away from the traditional flex.

[Yes.] We’re trying to do some things with Randy White that the New York Giants have done with Lawrence Taylor. Move him around like a chess piece, never let the offense know where he’s coming from. If we can do this and not tip our hand, in the places that he lines up that we’re playing a certain defense, I think we can be successful.

Tuesday Trivia: Missing Chip-Shot Field Goals

Dan Bailey joined the missed-a-chip-shot club among kickers in team history.

Dan Bailey might be able to sleep better if he knew that his miss on a 21-yard field-goal attempt was not the shortest miss in team history.

Of course, NFL goal posts were on the goal line until the 1974 season, so field-goal attempts could be shorter. Several Dallas kickers during the 1960s missed field goals from inside 19 yards, which would be like a miss from inside 29 yards in today’s game. These kickers including the likes of Fred Cone (1960), Allen Green (1961), Sam Baker (1963), Dick Van Raaphorst (1964), and Mike Clark (1969). Van Raaphorst has the infamous distinction of missing the most field goals from between 0 and 19 yards as he only connected on 6 of 9 such attempts in the ’64 season.

This leads us to today’s trivia question. Since the NFL moved the goal posts to the back of the end zone in 1974, only one Dallas kicker has missed a field-goal attempt of less than 20 yards. Which kicker was it, in what year did this happen, and against which team did this occur?

Romo’s Comeback Wins

Romo has had his share of exciting wins during his six-season stint at the Dallas starter.

A week ago, Tony Romo was about to get his walking papers out of Dallas. We welcomed the 2011 season with the Tony Romo Blame Game, noting that Romo was 40-26 as a starter, including playoff games.

After week 2, Romo is 41-26 as a starter, and though he hasn’t escaped criticism, nobody can legitimately question his toughness after he played much of the game with at least one cracked rib and a punctured lung.

This week is really about giving the guy credit. In 11 of those 41 wins, the Cowboys were tied or were behind heading into the fourth quarter. Romo is just as responsible for most of those wins as he might have been for bad losses described last week.

Below is a summary of each of those games.

Oct. 29, 2006: Dallas 35, Carolina 14

Those who see the score might wonder why this is on here. But in Romo’s first career start, Dallas fell behind 14-0 early and still trailed heading into the fourth quarter. Dallas scored 25 in the fourth to give Romo his first NFL win.

Nov. 19, 2006: Dallas 21, Indianapolis 14

The 5-4 Cowboys hosted the 9-0 Colts in a November matchup, and the Cowboys came away with the win. Romo completed 19 of his 23 pass attempts, and Dallas came back from a 14-7 deficit to pull out the win.

Dec. 3, 2006: Dallas 23, N.Y. Giants 20

Romo’s first really great moment came at the Meadowlands. The Giants tied the game at 20 late in the game, but Romo drove the Cowboys down for a game-winning field goal. The biggest play was a 42-yard pass from Romo to Jason Witten on the final drive.

Oct. 8, 2007: Dallas 25, Buffalo 24

Romo threw five interceptions in this game, and Dallas trailed 24-13 heading into the fourth quarter. But Romo helped the Cowboys to an improbable win thanks to Nick Folk’s 53-yard field goal as time expired.

Dec. 9, 2007: Dallas 28, Detroit 27

The Cowboys clinched the NFC East by erasing a 27-14 deficit in the fourth quarter. Romo’s 16-yard touchdown to Witten gave Dallas the win.

Sept. 15, 2008: Dallas 41, Philadelphia 37

The Eagles took a six-point lead early in the 2008 game at Texas Stadium, but the Cowboys came back. Romo threw for 312 yards with three touchdowns.

Nov. 16, 2008: Dallas 14, Washington 10

Romo returned from injury to lead the 5-4 Cowboys to an important win at Washington. His 25-yard touchdown to Martellus Bennett was the difference in the game.

(Fun trivia for today: how many touchdowns has Bennett had since scoring four as a rookie?)

Oct. 11, 2009: Dallas 26, Kansas City 20 (OT)

Two years before Jesse Holley came out of nowhere to help the Cowboys to a win, a speedy receiver named Miles Austin caught 10 passes for 250 yards against the Chiefs, including a 60-yarder in overtime to give Dallas the win. Romo threw for 351 yards with two touchdowns.

Nov. 8, 2009: Dallas 20, Philadelphia 16

In what turned out to be a critical win in 2009, Dallas erased a three-point deficit to get the win. One of the big plays was Romo’s 49-yard touchdown to Austin.

Nov. 22, 2009: Dallas 7, Washington 6

The least impressive win on this list also marked the last time before the 2011 season that Romo led a comeback. Dallas trailed 6-0 in the fourth quarter before Romo drove the team down and hit Patrick Crayton for the game winner.

Sept. 18, 2011: Dallas 27, San Francisco 24 (OT)

Romo has been compared with Don Meredith, playing a game with a cracked ribs and a punctured lung sounds like what Dandy Don might do.

(Of course, Romo was probably the beneficiary of modern medicine, while Dandy might have had to rely on Southern Comfort.)


Dallas 27, San Francisco 24 (OT): Atonement at Candlestick

Jesse Holley tries to race away from Donte Whitner on a 77-yard pass play in overtime.

This is going to take a heck of a lot of research to confirm, but I am not sure how many games can match the number of players who atoned for mistakes in the same game to lead the Cowboys to a win.

Dan Bailey missed a 21-yard field goal on the opening drive of the game, and the team trailed by three late in the game. He got the chance to tie the game at the end of regulation, and he nailed a 48-yarder to send the game to overtime. He then hit another chip shot attempt to give Dallas the 27-24 win.

Alan Ball had trouble with a bunch of backup receivers who kept making third-down plays. But in the third quarter, Alex Smith apparently miscommunicated with tight end Vernon Davis, and Ball picked off Smith’s pass attempt. The interception led to a game-tying touchdown from Jon Kitna to Miles Austin.

Kitna was in the game when Tony Romo went down with a fractured rib. Romo had trouble completing a pass for much of the first half, and though Kitna threw a pick early in the third quarter, his touchdown pass to Austin tied the game.

Few were cheering when Romo insisted on going back in the game, and he did not look good when he did. However, when Kitna threw his second interception off a tipped pass—which led to the third San Francisco touchdown of the game—Romo was indeed back in there.

The 49ers increased their lead to 24-14 with just over 11 minutes left, but then Romo caught fire. He led the team 80 yards on the next possession and cut the 49er lead to 24-21 on a touchdown pass to Austin, who overcame a hamstring issue to have a huge game (9 rec., 143 yds., 3 TD).

The defense notoriously gave up long drives in 2010, but when Dallas needed a stop, the defense made a stop. A DeMarcus Ware sack backed San Francisco up, and the 49ers eventually had to punt.

From there, Romo made a hero of Jesse Holley, who until today had never caught an NFL pass. He grabbed two passes on the drive the led to the tying field goal.

Ware, Romo, and Holley continued their heroics in overtime. The 49ers moved the ball to their own 39 in overtime, which was a concern because David Akers had kicked a 55-yarder earlier in the game. However, on a 2nd-and-2 play, Ware stayed with Frank Gore coming out of the backfield, taking Smith’s safety valve out of the play. Jay Ratliff sacked Smith, and the 49ers could not convert on third and long.

Romo wasted no time after Dallas got the ball on its own 22. Holley later said that Romo changed the call from the sideline, and the play that Romo called had Holley hitting a seam after a play fake. Holley caught the ball in stride and should have scored on what was a 77-yard catch and run.

Jason Garrett immediately had Bailey attempt a 19-yarder, and the kick gave Dallas the emotional win.

* * *

Felix Jones injured his shoulder early and apparently suffered other injuries as well. He only managed 25 yards on nine attempts. The team as a whole only rushed for 45 yards.

* * *

Holley was four yards short of 100. He would have joined Austin and Jason Witten in the century club with those four more yards.

Holley has a few things to learn, though. He admitted in an interview after the game that he was watching the scoreboard rather than the end zone and that he planned to dive across the goal line.  Given that Dallas turned the ball over so close to the end zone last week, it was a bad idea.

* * *

Sean Lee had another huge game with eight tackles and two assists. It was rare not to see #50 near the ball.

* * *

Four of David Buehler’s five kickoffs went into the end zone and were downed for touchbacks. The other one in the third quarter was bad news. Kendall Hunter took the ball at the 8 and ran it back 43 yards into Dallas territory. Although the 49ers punted, San Francisco was able to pin Dallas deep. Kitna threw an interception on the next drive, leading to the go-ahead touchdown.

Cowboys Trail 49ers at the Half

Ugly first half for the Cowboys. Dan Bailey missed a 21-yard field goal, and Alan Ball cannot cover anyone. Dallas got lucky on a long TD from Tony Romo to Miles Austin.

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Simulation Saturday: Some Expect a Close One Between Dallas and San Francisco

San Francisco didn’t look great in defeating a poor Seattle team, while Dallas looked good for 3+ quarters in its loss to the Jets. It might seem that Dallas would be favored pretty big against the 49ers.

That’s not the case. Below is a look at some various simulations.

What If Sports? Dallas 25, San Francisco 21

Dallas managed to win 62.7 percent of the simulations, but the 49ers kept things close. The Cowboys had trouble with Frank Gore in these sims.

AccuScore: San Francisco 24, Dallas 23

In a bit of a surprise, the 49ers won nearly 52% of the AccuScore sims and edged the Cowboys overall.

AccuScore is forecasting a close game with the Dallas Cowboys winning 48% of simulations, and the San Francisco 49ers 51% of simulations. In close games, turnover margin is especially important. The Dallas Cowboys commit fewer turnovers in 42% of simulations and they go on to win 71% when they take care of the ball. The San Francisco 49ers wins 69% of the simulations in which they commit fewer turnovers. Tony Romo is averaging 278 passing yards per sim. If he can have a great game with better than average passing yards and at least a 2 to 1 TD to INT ratio (35% chance) then he helps his team win 58%. Frank Gore is averaging 47 rushing yards per sim. If he can have a great game with better than average rushing yards and at least a 1 rushing TD (19% chance) then he helps his team win 76%

Madden: Dallas 34, San Francisco 13

This is more like it. Romo tore apart the Niners according to ESPN’s Madden simulation.

Tecmo Super Bowl 2012: Dallas 28, San Francisco 15

That leaves the most important simulation: Tecmo Super Bowl 2012. Dallas overcame a slow start and an 15-7 deficit to beat San Francisco.

* * *

By the way, tickets to the September 26 Dallas Cowboys-Washington Redskins game seem to be a little bit lower than normal. There are quite a number of tickets going for less than $100 in the upper levels, and even some of the lower-level seats are going for less than $200.

Friday Fun with Dallas vs. San Francisco

A 49ers fan tonight said he thought the Cowboys would dominate the game on Sunday to the tune of around 30-13. The diehard Cowboys fans turned around and tried to explain why the game would be much closer. The early 1990s could not be further away.

Anyway, let’s start today’s post with the answer to Tuesday’s trivia question about the one time the Cowboys blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead and finished with a tie.

Dallas Cowboys Trivia, Week 2
by: kickholder

* * *

Instead of a puzzle this week, let’s turn to Hulu, which presented the 1970 NFC Championship Game between Dallas and San Francisco, played on January 3, 1971 at Kezar Stadium.

Fantasy Values of Your Dallas Cowboys

Just slightly outdated.

Several Cowboys players had decent fantasy games last week. Below is a summary of what the various players did and how they are projected to do this week. Points are based on standard scoring in leagues. Rankings are based on the composite rankings available at FantasyPros.

QB Tony Romo

Last week: 18.58 points

Romo threw for 342 yards with two touchdowns, so even with a fumble and an interception, he put up good numbers.

Rank for week 2: 7th.

Most of the better experts expect Romo to have a solid game against the 49ers, who were poor against the pass last year.

RB Felix Jones

Last week: 10.60 points

Jones only managed 66 total yards, but his touchdown run helped.

Rank for week 2: 19th

Some experts have Jones ranked in the top 10 for this week, while others have him ranked lower than 30th. This will be an interesting game.

WR Miles Austin

Last week: 15.00 points

Austin had a good game with 90 yards and a touchdown. This was much better than several of his games from last year, where he often disappeared with Jon Kitna at QB.

Rank for week 2: 9th

Several have noted that if Austin can play well against the Jets while injured, he will do just fine against the 49ers.

WR Dez Bryant

Last week: 13.10 points

Bryant pulled in the other Romo score. He did all of his damage on the team’s opening drive.

Rank for week 2: 12th

Hard to say how many receptions Bryant will have. However, he is always a threat to break a long one, so he will likely get yards and is a good bet to score. He may not return punts, which hurts his value in league that include return yards.

TE Jason Witten

Last week: 11.00 points

Witten had a good game that could have been great with a TD. Had he cut back on the long pass in the fourth quarter, he might have scored.

Rank for week 2: 3rd

Although Romo notoriously does not look at Witten in the red zone, Witten is a big target who can put up yards. Even the better defenses have a hard time stopping him.

K Dan Bailey

Last week: 6.00 points

Bailey made a field goal with three extra points.

Rank for week 2: 27th

Bailey will not likely have value this year. David Buehler will probably get the nod for long attempts, so unless the Cowboys kick three or four field goals from inside the 40, Bailey will probably not get more than 10 points at the most.

Cowboys D/ST

Last week: 8.00 points

The Cowboys had four sacks, an interception, and a fumble recovery while giving up 27 points.

Rank for week 2: 7th

The high rank is more of a reflection of a bad San Francisco offense. However, Dallas did better against the Jets than most expected, so perhaps there is some value.

Other Offensive Players

Nobody. Kevin Ogletree might get 10 to 20 receiving yards. That is probably the best output anyone could expect from other members of the Cowboys.

Cowboys Individual Defensive Players Players

The big player on the IDP front for Dallas was linebacker Sean Lee, who had 10 tackles, 2 assists, and an interception. Had he score on the interception return, he would have had a 20-point game by himself.

Anthony Spencer had a decent game with three tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. DeMarcus Ware also had a good game with two sacks along with three tackles.

None of the other Dallas defensive players did anything worth mentioning.

Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly from September 14, 1985

Tony Hill: Always the Threat

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 September 14, 1985.

On the cover…

Tony Hill made the cover of the September 14 issue. He was in his ninth season in 1985. He became the team’s #1 threat the year before with the retirement of Drew Pearson and the team’s trading of Butch Johnson.

Happy Birthday, Joe

Washington QB Joe Theismann celebrated his 36th birthday by losing big to the resurgent Cowboys. Dallas snagged six interceptions along with a fumble in a 44-14 win. Tom Landry commented that the game was “[o]ne of the best opening nights we’ve had. It was a hot night and we were hotter.” According to Theismann,

This was a bad experience. It was a bad learning experience. But there’s a reason for a lot of things to happen….[The Cowboys] play smart football—tough football. If you give up the ball as many times as we did, you don’t deserve to win. It really got out of hand in the third quarter.

Dallas only held a 17-7 lead at the half, but by the end of the third quarter, the lead was 30-7.

Haggar Player of the Game

Mike Renfro was named player of the game against Washington. He caught five passes for a career-high 99 yards.

Veterans Cut

Before their win over Washington, Dallas had to make its final roster cuts. Two veterans did not make the team, including fullback Ron Springs and receiver Duriel Harris. Dallas had tried to work out a trade with Buffalo for Springs, but that fell through.

Frank Luska wrote a piece noting that Springs had become too big (225 pounds) to spell Tony Dorsett at halfback, but Spring still did not block well enough to fill in effectively at fullback.

Evolution of the Front Four

The magazine considered whether the front four of the 1985 Cowboys might be the best ever.

(No, seriously).

The team opened the season with a defensive line consisting of Randy White, Too Tall Jones, Jim Jeffcoat, and John Dutton. Coming off the bench was first-round draft choice Kevin Brooks.

A New Punter

Dallas had used John Warren as a punter in 1983 and 1984, but Danny White still handled the bulk of the punting duties. That changed in 1985 when Dallas brought in Mike Saxon, who had been an 11th-round pick by Detroit in 1984 before being released in training camp that year.

The Dodger

Here’s a comment that football historians (and only football historians) will enjoy. The magazine included some miscellaneous notes near the back. One of them focused on Roger Staubach.

Okay, we all goof now and then. USA Today noted recently that when Roger (The Dodger) Staubach was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a Dallas bank took out a full-page newspaper ad praising the Cowboys—with a baseball twis: “Congratulations to the only Dodger ever to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. To all those Giants, Bears, Redskins, and Browns…add the only Dodger: Number 12, Roger Staubach.” They forgot there was once an NFL team called the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1930 to 1943 and that three of its players—quarterback Ace Parker, end Red Badgro, and tackle Frank (Bruiser) Kinard—are full-fledged members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“Danny White” Tapes

A reader named Hugh McCollum from Virginia Beach, Virginia sent a letter to the editor regarding his collection of Danny White video tapes.

Many fans of the Cowboys often write and ask for video cassettes of past games from across the country. I’ve got a good collection of Danny White’s greatest failures: Dallas-Philadelphia in ’81, Dallas-San Francisco in ’82, Dallas Washington in ’83, and Dallas-L.A. Rams in ’84. In each of these games White can be seen missing wide open receivers, throwing interceptions, and fumbling the football away during crucial two-minute drills. I’ve watched these films many,  many times and these game failures always point to a quarterback who cannot win the pressure ballgames. But, Danny White is still a “Proven Winner” in some Cowboys fans’ opinions? It would seem that these fans have very short memories, especially about the true FACTS.

[Okay, so substitute the name Tony Romo and change a few games, and you have…?]