Dallas 24, Washington 23: A Faint Heartbeat

With their season on the line, the Dallas Cowboys found a way to turn a 14-6 halftime lead over the Washington Redskins into a 23-14 deficit.

DeMarco Murray hauled in a Tony Romo pass and fell into the end zone to give Dallas the go-ahead touchdown against the Redskins. Dallas won the game, 24-23.

DeMarco Murray hauled in a Tony Romo pass and fell into the end zone to give Dallas the go-ahead touchdown against the Redskins. Dallas won the game, 24-23.

How? A fumble by fullback Tyler Clutts, who had not touched the ball in a regular season game since 2011, set up a touchdown. A Tony Romo interception on a play where Dez Bryant fell down set up a second touchdown. A completely stupid personal foul penalty on J.J. Wilcox allowed Washington to continue a drive and kick a field goal.

So when the Cowboys took control of the ball with 14:46 left in the game and trailing 23-14, it was easy to make a couple of assumptions.

First, it was easy to assume the Cowboys would not run the ball again for the rest of the game. And second, it was easy to assume this team was just about ready to quit.

Both assumptions were quite false.

On the Cowboys’ first drive of the fourth quarter, DeMarco Murray carried the ball 8 times for 26 yards, helping Dallas to move the ball 71 yards to set up a field goal.

When the defense needed to make one stop, the defense came through, stopping the Redskins after one first down.

The Cowboys’ offense took the ball at the Dallas 13 and had to move the ball 87 yards in 3:39 to win the game. It was that simple.

Two passes, including a 51-yarder, to Terrance Williams gave the Cowboys a chance to score the go-ahead touchdown. The Cowboys moved the ball to the Washington 1 at the two-minute warning.

It appeared that the biggest concern was not whether the Cowboys would score but whether the Redskins would have too much time to drive for the game-winning field goal.

However, Washington stuffed Murray on a 2nd-and-goal from the 1. Then disaster struck, as Murray tried to reverse his field on an outside run, and he somehow lost 9 yards. Dallas faced a 4th-and-goal from the 10.

Romo had one more chance. He bought some time on the play before looking to his right and finding Murray. Romo threw to the back, who dove into the end zone. The extra point gave Dallas the lead.

The Redskins still had 1:08 remaining but had no timeouts. A penalty moved the ball back to the Washington 13. The maligned Dallas defense needed to make plays.

And it did. Yes, the plays stopped a 3-11 team playing with its backup quarterback, but the Dallas defense forced a turnover on downs, giving the Cowboys a chance to play for the NFC East title against Philadelphia next Sunday.

* * *

The final couple of games for Dallas are similar to the final games in 2009. That year, the Cowboys had a 9-5 mark when they visited Washington in week 16. The Cowboys qualified for the playoffs with a win over the Redskins, setting up a season finale with the NFC East title on the line.

Dallas thumped the visiting Eagles in week 17 and then beat the Eagles again for the franchise’s only playoff win since 1996.

* * *

A few notes about stats:

  • Murray now has 1,073 rushing yards, making him the first Cowboy since 2006 to rush for at least 1,000 yards.
  • Bryant caught his 12th touchdown reception, matching his number from 2012.
  • The Cowboys allowed 297 yards, bringing the team’s average yards per game down to 418.6. This still ranks dead last in the NFL.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Previous 7-7 Starts Marked Turning Points for the Cowboys

The 2013 marks just the fourth time in franchise history that the Cowboys have begun a season at 7-7. The three previous seasons were 1965, 1986, and 1999.

None of those seasons was memorable. However, each was noteworthy in the context of franchise history, as may the 2013 season. Below are some comparisons.

1965 Cowboys

What happened in 1965? Dallas had suffered through five straight losing seasons and began the 1965 season with a 4-7 record. The worst loss was a 34-31 defeat to the Washington Redskins in a game where the Cowboys led 24-6 in the third quarter and 31-20 in the fourth quarter. However, Dallas did not lose another game during the regular season and finished with a non-losing record for the first time in franchise history.

What happened in the seasons that followed? The Cowboys became contenders one year later, going 10-3-1 and facing the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Championship Game. Dallas would not suffer through a losing season for another 20 years.

Why could the 2013 Cowboys be like the 1965 Cowboys? The 1965 squad featured a strong core of younger players reaching their prime. This group included Bob Lilly, Mel Renfro, Lee Roy Jordan, Bob Hayes, Cornell Green, and so forth. The 2013 squad has young talent as well in the form of Sean Lee, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray, Bruce Carter, and so forth. The team suffered through bad losses similar to the defeat to the Redskins in 1965, but the current Cowboys usually display resiliency.

Why might the Cowboys have a different future than the 1965 Cowboys? By 1965, Gil Brandt had begun to set himself apart among other head scouts. The 1964 draft for the Cowboys was one of the very best in franchise history, and the direct result was the team’s immediate improvement. In contrast, the Cowboys have had some mediocre-to-poor drafts during the past several seasons.  Lee and Bruce Carter are frequently injured, and Bryant has not shown much leadership. Moreover, Jason Garrett has not proven he can manage a game effectively as a head coach, which is something Tom Landry started to prove after 1965. Hard to believe this current team would have 20 straight winning seasons.

 The Cowboys technically made their first playoff appearance after the 1965 season, facing the Baltimore Colts in the Playoff Bowl. This game featured the second-place teams from each conference and was known as the Loser Bowl. Dallas lost 35-3.

1986 Cowboys

What happened in 1986? The Cowboys began the 1986 season with a 6-2 record and looked like a playoff team. Then Danny White broke his wrist in a game against the Giants, and the Cowboys could only manage one win over their last eight games. The 7-9 record marked the first losing season for the franchise since 1964.

What happened in the seasons that followed? Two years later, the Cowboys were the worst team in the NFL. Tom Landry was fired in 1989 after the team posted a 3-13 record and Jerry Jones bought the team from Bum Bright.

Why could the 2013 Cowboys be like the 1986 Cowboys? The 1986 Cowboys had star power in the form of Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker, Randy White, Danny White, and some other recognizable names. However, the team had drafted poorly for most of the 1980s, and the team simply had no depth at most positions. The current team has likewise suffered from poor drafting. Though the Cowboys have star players, they also lack depth in most key positions. The Cowboys do not have enough talent across the board to suffer losses at key positions. The injuries this year have contributed heavily to the team having the worst defense in franchise history.

Why might the Cowboys have a different future than the 1986 Cowboys? The Cowboys  have more young talent than the 1986 team had. The Cowboys lost receiver Mike Sherrard to serious injuries in 1987 and 1988, and the team had to start over again at the receiver spot. The lone star by 1988 was Walker. The current team has Bryant and Murray along with some other talented skills players. Moreover, the current team operates during the free-agent era, whereas the league did not have Plan B free agency until 1989. The Cowboys could find free agent talent to replace aging or injured stars faster than the team of the late 1980s could.

 My opinion: the best thing to happen to Jerry Jones would be the worst thing to happen to Cowboys’ fans, and that would be a disastrous season (like the 3-13 season of 1988). Why? Because Jerry would have little choice but to accept that the way he has operated the franchise is not going to lead to another Super Bowl appearance in the foreseeable future.

1999 Cowboys

What happened in 1999? The Cowboys jumped out of the gate with a 3-0 start. However, once the Cowboys lost Michael Irvin to a career-ending neck injury, the team struggled. Dallas led in every game of the season but could only manage an 8-8 finish. The team luckily made it into the playoffs but lost to Minnesota in a forgettable game.

What happened in the seasons that followed? The Cowboys suffered through salary-cap hell along with some bad personnel decisions. Head coach Dave Campo saw his team record three consecutive 5-11 seasons between 2000 and 2002.

Why could the 2013 Cowboys be like the 1999 Cowboys? The current team has suffered from being in salary-cap hell and bad personnel decisions. Even dedicated fans would have a difficult time naming the guys playing defense in 2013, and the Cowboys will have limited ability to address weaknesses on defense because of more cap problems in 2014. Falling from 8-8 to 5-11 is not hard to imagine.

Why might the Cowboys have a different future than the 1999 Cowboys? In 1999, Jerry was still hanging on to the idea that the franchise could return to glory with just a few missing pieces, such as a good second receiver or a good defensive end. The cornerstones of the dynasty, though, had little left in the tank, and once they were gone, the team had to start over again. The current squad is not in such a dire position. Tony Romo is playing better now than Troy Aikman was in 1999 and 2000. The team might lose DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, along with some others, over the next couple of years, but it does not appear the team will face such a precipitous drop in talent that the team experienced in 2000 and 2001.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Cowboys Miss Marion Barber

The Dallas Cowboys do not have a “closer” at the running back position. The team really needs a player like Marion Barber, who excelled in that role.

Full Story »

Green Bay 37, Dallas 36: Excessive Disgrace

The Dallas Cowboys did exactly what we have come to expect from them, blowing a 23-point lead while repeatedly throwing the ball against the Packers in a 37-36 loss.

Full Story »

Photo Trivia: 1966 NFL Championship Game

A Dallas Cowboys trivia question based on the 1966 NFL Championship Game.

Full Story »

Looking Back: A Bad Scheme with the Wrong Players

The results on the defensive side of the ball in 2013 are similar to the results when the team struggled on offense during the early 2000s.

Full Story »

Chicago 45, Dallas 28: Looking Nothing Like a Playoff Team

The Dallas Cowboys brought the group they call a defense to Chicago and watched the Bears do whatever they wanted on Monday night.

Full Story »

Cowboys Need to Hold Serve on Monday

The Dallas Cowboys need to continue to win to have a chance to win the NFC East.

Full Story »

A Forgotten Tony Dorsett Highlight

Tony Dorsett had a great play in the Dallas Cowboys’ 23-14 win over the Chicago Bears, taking a screen pass and racing 68 yards for a touchdown.

Full Story »

Cowboys’ Defense Not on Track for Notorious Record

The Dallas Cowboys have already allowed more than 5,000 yards to opponents in 12 games in 2013. However, the team is not on pace to break the NFL record for yards allowed.

Full Story »
Page 6 of 191« First...«456789»102030...Last »

Connect

newsletter software
Get Adobe Flash player