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Dallas 24, Cincinnati 18: Dez Shows Beast Mode

Until the very end of the first quarter of Saturday night’s game between the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals, Dez Bryant had one reception for one yard. He was also the intended receiver on a play where the Bengals were called for pass interference.

Bad seats at the Cowboys' fourth preseason game against the Bengals on Saturday.

Bad seats at the Cowboys’ fourth preseason game against the Bengals on Saturday.

Then came a 12-yard reception on a 2nd-and-9 play, giving Dallas a first down in Cincinnati territory.

Same drive: Romo to Bryant for 15 to the Cincinnati 26,.

Same drive (very next play): Romo to Bryant for 15 to the Cincinnati 11.

Same drive (very next play): Romo to Bryant for 5 yards to the Cincinnati 6.

Same drive (two plays later): Romo to Bryant on a 5-yard touchdown pass.

Bryant finished with 6 receptions for 54 yards, with five of those receptions coming on a total of seven plays. The Bengals did not appear to have any answers.

Tony Romo threw another touchdown to Miles Austin late in the first half to give the Cowboys a 14-7 halftime lead. Romo completed 13 of 18 passes for 137 yards with 2 TDs.

DeMarco Murray fumbled early in the game, and though he recovered his own fumble, Phillip Tanner had most of the carries for the rest of the first half.

Murray returned in the second half with backup QB Kyle Orton, the backup receivers, and the first-team line. He picked up 51 rushing yards and had a nice touchdown reception, juking several Bengal defenders after catching a pass in the flat on a 3rd-and-goal play from the Cincinnati 7.

The Bengals cut the Dallas lead to 21-18 in the fourth quarter, but the Cowboys put together a late drive to kill most of the clock. Xavier Brewer picked off a Josh Johnson pass with less than a minute remaining, giving Dallas its second interception and fourth turnover.

The Cowboys finish their preseason against the Houston Texans on Thursday night.

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Dallas 20, Cincinnati 19: A Somber Win

Jerry Brown, 1987-2012If the Cowboys appeared distracted on Sunday, it was for good reason. It would be impossible for the team to concentrate fully on the game while the death of practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown was fresh on everyone’s minds.

Even before the accident occurred, many had doubts about the Cowboys’ chances. Just before the game started, a radio commentator with ESPN said he thought the game would come down to the Cowboys needing a defensive stop. He didn’t think the Cowboys would get one and would lose the game accordingly.

Until the 6:35 mark of the fourth quarter, it was hard to argue with him. Until then, most were just hoping that Jason Garrett would stop Rob Ryan from coming onto the field after the defensive coordinator was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, extending a Cincinnati drive early in the third quarter. (More on the bone-headed move below.)

The Dallas defense indeed made that critical stop, which gave the Cowboys a chance to drive for the game-winning field goal in a 20-19 Dallas win.

Thanks to the win, the Cowboys are not dead in the playoff race. However, wins by the Giants, Seahawks, and Redskins did not help the Cowboys’ chances. At 7-6, the Cowboys are going to need help to take either a wildcard or a division title.

Back to the game.

This Dallas squad just isn’t a first-half team, whatever the reason may be. The Cowboys have trailed at some point in the first halves of 12 of 13 games. The only exception was the Atlanta game, which was a 6-6 tie at the half before the Falcons ran away with the game.

Sunday’s game against the Bengals followed a typical pattern. Dallas moved the ball a little bit early but could not punch it in.

An early 3-0 lead became a 10-3 deficit. Cincinnati led 13-10 at the half as the Dallas offense struggled.

The third quarter should have belonged to the Bengals. The Cowboys had three possessions but could only manage 42 yards with no points.

Had the Bengals not made some critical mistakes, including several drops, Cincinnati’s 19-10 lead may have been much worse.

The Cowboys trailed by nine when they took the ball at their own 32 with 9:47 remaining. Things looked bad again when referees called Doug Free for holding, setting up a 1st-and-20 at the Dallas 35.

On the next play, though, Romo hit Kevin Ogletree on a 23-yard play to give the Cowboys a first down.

Three plays later, the Cowboys faced a 3rd-and-10 from the Cincinnati 42, but Romo was able to find Miles Austin for 15 yards.

On the next play, Romo hit Dez Bryant over the middle for a 27-yard touchdown pass. Dallas suddenly had life.

Cincinnati took over with 6:35 remaining. This was the spot where the Cowboys needed a stop. After one first down, the Bengals stalled. Anthony Spencer had the best play of the day on defense by sacking Andy Dalton on a 3rd-and-4 play, forcing the Bengals to punt.

The Cowboys took over at their own 28 with 3:44 left. They managed to convert three third-down plays on the drive and moved the ball to the Cincinnati 22. Dan Bailey nailed a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give the Cowboys the win.

* * *

It may not be hard to tell that I’m not a Rob Ryan fan.

I hated Buddy Ryan. I’m not a Rex Ryan fan. Rob Ryan has been a defensive coordinator for nine years but has yet to coach a team with a winning record. Hype, hype, hype.

Yes, the defense helped to win the game today, but this was the same defense that could not generate a pass rush until the very end. Had several Bengal receivers not dropped some critical passes, the game may have been out of reach by the fourth quarter.

Here’s the scenario on Sunday: Cincinnati led 13-10 and had driven inside the Dallas red zone. The Bengals faced a 1st-and-15 after a penalty.

Andy Dalton faced almost no pressure but ran to his right to extend the play. As he moved to his right, Ryan (and other coaches) were already on the field screaming. Here’s the shot:

You can see Rob Ryan on the field in the upper right-hand corner.

Maybe Ryan had every right to be mad. However, he continued his rant by shouting some variations of a word that starts with F at tackle Andre Smith.

“I think you fouled up, you freaking, foolish, facetious failure.”
Today’s win is sponsored by the letter F.

I’ve now seen Ryan shout f-this and f-that into his headset. I’ve seen him yell at an opposing team’s tackle. I have yet to see Ryan yell at a member of the Cowboys’ defense.

* * *

As for the playoffs, the Cowboys needed the Seahawks, Giants, and Redskins to fall today. Instead, the Seahawks beat the Cardinals 58-0, the Giants beat the Saints 52-27, and the Redskins beat the Ravens 31-28 in overtime.

Because the Cowboys will lose tiebreakers to the Bears and Seahawks (and even the Redskins, depending on a few scenarios), the Cowboys’ best chance may be the division title and not the wildcard. It’s not looking good.

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A Look Back to 1973: Cowboys Dominate Bengals in Their First Meeting

Cliff Harris returns a punt against the Cincinnati Bengals in 1973.

Though the Cincinnati Bengals became a franchise in 1968, the Dallas Cowboys did not face the new Cincinnati team until 1973. That was because the Bengals were part of the AFL until 1970, and the teams were in different conferences when the leagues merged in 1970.

The teams finally met on November 4, 1973 at Texas Stadium. It was Cincinnati head coach Paul Brown’s first visit to Dallas since he coached the Browns in 1962 and turned out to be his last visit to Dallas during his 25-year NFL career.

In 1962, his Browns lost in a 45-21 blowout to the Cowboys, who were two years removed from their inaugural year. In 1973, the Dallas team was two years removed from its first Super Bowl title, and the result of the game was another blowout win for the Cowboys.

The video highlights and story of the game are below. Interesting note: the loss to Dallas dropped the Bengals to 4-4. Nevertheless, the team rebounded with six consecutive wins to finish the season at 10-4. They made the playoffs but eventually lost to the Super Bowl champion Miami Dolphins.

As for the Cowboys, they also finished at 10-4 and made it to the NFC championship game before losing to the Minnesota Vikings.

 

 

Doomsday Cuts Loose on Bengals

 11/5/1973

 By BOB ST. JOHN / The Dallas Morning News

Actually, it all started earlier in the week, though the records will show it ended very impressively for the Dallas Cowboys on a mostly gray Sunday afternoon at Texas Stadium.

“We started working with the right kind of attitude last Wednesday,” said middle linebacker Lee Roy Jordan, shortly after he’d made a tour of the Cowboys dressing room, shaking hands with every member of the team.

“Since we lost to Washington we really hadn’t had the consistent attitude and concentration. This week we made up our minds. We played well in practice. We were making interceptions and so that meant we were moving better. We felt the same thing would continue in the game.”

It did … in the game, Jordan intercepted three passes in the first period off the arm of Cincinnati quarterback Ken Anderson, ran one 31 yards for a touchdown and set up a score with anther one. These interceptions sent the Bengals reeling and they never really recovered as Dallas stormed off with an impressive 38-10 victory over a good team before a crowd of 54,944. There were 3,658 no shows.

So Dallas, perhaps, has turned the corner once again, heading for another playoff berth. Anyway, the Cowboys can do worse than remain a single game behind Washington in the NFC Eastern race and could move into a tie for the lead, should Pittsburgh top the Redskins on Monday night.

“We’ve got it started and we’re not going to do the same thing we did after beating the Giants a couple of weeks ago,” continued Jordan. “We were up for that one and then came back in practice the following week and let it get away. So the Eagles beat us. This time we’ll go back out there this week and keep it going.

“We’re not even thinking about a wild card berth. We’re going for the championship.”

The most impressive thing was the Cowboy defense, which did everything it had not been doing. What happened basically was that they had their collars loosened, Cowboy linemen were turned loose more, instead of reading so much and then rushing the passer. Thus there was more pressure than there had been since the Redskin game. And Dallas blitzed 7-3 times, very un-Cowboy like. Conservatism was thrown to the wind.

“They turned us loose, let us go and we went after them,” said cornerback Mel Renfro. “I hope we do it from now on.”

The Cowboy defense was so impressive that Dallas had such fine field positions on the Cincinnati 42, 17, 42, 44 and 7 yard lines. The Cowboy offense only had to go 42, 44, 55, and 7 yards for touchdowns.

“It wasn’t an offensive day,” said quarterback Roger Staubach, who had a fine personal day with 14 hits on 18 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns. And he threw no interceptions, the thing that had killed Anderson … killed the Bengals. “Our defense just gave us great field position all day.

“Cincinnati has a fine defense and we needed everything we could get. I’d rate the Bengals on defense right up there next to Washington.”

Jordan first struck with Dallas leading 3-0 on Toni Fritsch’s 34-yard field goal and with neither team seeming able to move. But Anderson threw for wide receiver Chip Myers on the sideline and Lee Roy, whose man was blocking and didn’t go out, ran across field and picked off the throw, following practically the entire defensive entourage to the end zone. The second interception was tipped as free safety Cliff Harris crunched into tight end Bob Trumpy, causing him to cough up a ball he never had control of in the first place. Jordan got the third one by reaching up, one-handing it, and bringing it into control and setting up Dallas in TD business at the Cincy 42.

“On the first interception we blitzed,” said Lee Roy, “I just looked up and he was throwing a down-and-out. It was so hard I didn’t think I could hold it.”

“Jordan has range, experience and is a fine player,” said Anderson. “The first interception was very impressive because he ran a long way to get there. He just seemed to get to the right place at the right time. But that’s what it takes to make a good linebacker.”

Renfro and tackle Jethro Pugh combined to set up the final Cowboy TD. Renfro jarred running back Essex Johnson loose from the ball as Anderson, in trouble, dropped the football off to his back. Pugh picked up the ball and ran 30 yards in about 30 minutes to the Cincy seven, from which Dallas scored. Pugh has never scored a touchdown and was zooming in on the end zone but just couldn’t make it. “If it had been downhill I believe I’d have scored,” said Pugh.

The defense also held the Bengals out of the end zone on four downs from the Dallas four just before the half when a TD could have put them back into the game. Tackle Bob Lilly led two of the charges and Jordan, Pugh, Cole, Rodrigo Burnes and others stopped a final play from a half yard out.

Cincinnati got 10 points in the third period, the big one being much like big ones of recent weeks. Wide receiver Isaac Curtis got behind cornerback Charlie Waters and took a perfect throw for a 50-yard touchdown. A less than perfect throw and Waters of Harrison would have knocked it down.

Anderson was also not pressured on the bomb after faking play action. This was not what he became accustomed to during this day. He was trapped five times for 45 yards in losses. End Larry Cole got him twice and assisted tackle Bill Gregory on another trap, rookie end Harvey Martin banged him down once and Cornell Green got him on a safety blitz.

Cincinnati shut down Calvin Hill which was one of their prime purposes. Hill had a season low of just 39 yards on 16 carries and Dallas wasn’t able to run that well, netting 119 yards.

Split end Bobby Hayes and tight end Billy Joe DuPree each caught five passes, each scoring a touchdown as did flanker Mike Montgomery, taking a Staubach pass over the middle and racing 32 yards for a TD.

But there was a long one to Hayes. Staubach had been blitzed a great deal on this afternoon and this time he spotted it coming with the Cowboys at the Cincy 39. Roger called an audible, which meant Hayes streaked deep. Bobby ran between the two Bengal safeties and took the throw on his finger tips for six.

The specialty teams, a great source of embarrassment for Dallas in recent weeks, perked up greatly. Montgomery’s fine 63-yard opening kickoff return set up Fritsch’s field goal, and Marv Bateman, back from never-never, averaged 53 yards on five punts, and a 57-yarder which backed up Cincy to its own four eventually put Dallas in field position for a TD. Dallas also got boost by Mike Clark, booming all his kickoffs.

But in the end this day belonged to the defense. There were traps, turnovers, interceptions, fine individual plays such as Waters twice throwing Bengals for losses on screens and Dallas was doing what it had not been doing.

“The turnovers were big plays for us today,” said Tom Landry. “We’ve been talking about these since before the Washington game and we got them back today.”

“I hope we continue to cut loose and not play so conservatively,” added Jordan. “We might get hit with a big play and give up some yardage but we’ll also be coming up with the big play.”

So at this time it appears the Dallas Cowboys are not depending on somebody beating Washington. It appears they are depending on themselves.

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Rate the Cowboys: Week 5 vs. Cincinnati

Marvin Lewis consoles Wade Phillips

Marvin Lewis consoles Wade Phillips

Although I am generally displeased with the Cowboys’ overall performance against the Bengals, I am think everyone needs to keep some events of this game in context. This is especially true of those calling for the head of Wade Phillips. Some thoughts:

Want to Fire Someone? Start with Bruce Read

* Perhaps the coaches could have devised better game on both sides of the ball, but the area that has broken down most consistently at the worst times in the past two seasons has been special teams. Against Cincinnati, the Bengals put themselves in a position to take the lead (before Chris Perry fumbled) thanks to an onside kick that the Cowboys never saw coming. After the Perry fumble, Dallas scored quickly with 12 minutes left to take an eight-point lead. Cincinnati looked beat until the Cowboys’ kickoff team gave up a 60-yard return to Glenn Holt. This put the Bengals in great position to drive 37 yards for a touchdown that cut the lead to two points.
* Holt’s fourth quarter return was the second kickoff he returned to Dallas territory. The first was a 46-yard return. This return gave the Bengals the ball at the Dallas 48, and after moving the ball 25 yards, the Bengals kicked their first field goal. Until this return, Cincinnati had crossed midfield, and the Cowboys had taken a 17-0 lead.

Not Wade’s Fault: Pacman’s Drop

* With the Cowboys leading 17-6, Carson Palmer threw an errant pass in the direction of Chad Johnson. The ball ended up in the hands of Pacman Jones, but he dropped it. The pick would have ended a drive that resulted in a Cincinnati touchdown that cut the Dallas lead to 17-13. Pacman dropped a second pick late in the game.

Apparently Not Wade’s Fault: Tony Romo’s Turnover Woes

* Romo’s uh-oh moments often come at inconsequential times. His fumble at the Dallas 42 with two minutes left in the first half was not an inconsequential moment. Marion Barber did not help matters when he grabbed Jamar Fletcher’s facemask after the recovery. This series of events led to the second Cincinnati field goal of the first half.
* Leading 17-13 late in the third quarter, Dallas moved the ball to the Cincinnati 35. Romo threw an errant pass, apparantly trying to force the ball to Witten. It was picked off by linebacker Keith Rivers, who returned the ball 39 yards into Dallas territory. This set up the Bengals’ third field goal and cut the Dallas lead to 17-16.

Not Wade’s Fault: Patrick Crayton’s Case of the Drops

* There must a reason why Patrick Crayton is the team’s second receiver. His drop of a Romo pass in the third quarter is not one of those reasons. Although Romo underthrew the ball, the football hit Crayton in the hands at the Cincinnati 30. The play could have led to at least a Dallas field goal attempt. Instead, Dallas punted.

* * *

Anyway, I know the head coach is ultimately responsible for anything that happens to a team, but I don’t think cheerleading was the answer yesterday. That is, unless the cheerleading consists of: hey, don’t leave your lanes on kickoff coverage; hey, tackle; hey, keep both hands on the ball so you don’t fumble; hey, don’t drop the ball; hey, that linebacker in the black jersey that is camped out over the middle plays for the other team, so don’t throw at him. Way to go, guys.

My votes:

Tony Romo – 2 Stars: Romo seemed off all day. He underthrew several receivers and made some bad decisions. His statement suggesting that turnovers are expected from quarterbacks who make great plays ignores… most great quarterbacks other than Brett Favre.

Marion Barber – 4 Stars: Barber had 84 yards in 23 carries in a generally good outing. His only really big mistake was a facemask penalty. In fact, Barber’s only really big problem right now is that Felix Jones is so much fun to watch.

Terrell Owens – 3 Stars: There are conflicting stories about whether Owens has been getting open. A few have suggested that Romo is not even looking in Owens’ direction. His 57-yard touchdown was critical in the game, but he may be something less than a great decoy.

Patrick Crayton – 2 Stars: Crayton did very well on the tip drill on what turned out to be the game-clinching touchdown. His drop in the third quarter, though, was bad. Crayton is generally looking very Billy Davis-like at this point. Consider this:

Billy Davis, 1998: 14 rec., 270 yds., 2 TD. Quarterback during part of the Cowboys 3-2 start? Jason Garrett.
Patrick Crayton, 2008: 16 rec., 207 yds., 1 TD. Offensive coordinator? Jason Garrett.

Jason Witten – 4 Stars: Witten was not sensational, but he has been the most dependable player on the offense. By far.

Offense – Pass Blocking – 5 Stars: Romo appeared to have plenty of time to throw the ball. He was sacked once, but often had plenty of time to underthrow his intended targets.

Offense – Run Blocking – 4 Stars: Barber was stuffed a few times, but Dallas generally had success running the ball on first down.

Offense – Role Players and Backups – 4 Stars: Felix Jones returned to the field this week and continued to dazzle. If he can reach the edge, good things have happened.

Penalties – Offense – 4 Stars: Four of the team’s six penalties were on offense, but two of them were stupid personal fouls (Andre Gurode and Marion Barber). The false starts were minimal.

Run Support – 5 Stars: Chris Perry and Cedric Benson combined for 61 yards on 23 carries. Tank Johnson had a hugh play in stripping the ball from Perry early in the fourth quarter.

Pass Rush – 2 Stars: Dallas picked up two sacks late, but far too often, the team could not generate anything. This was reminiscent of the defense under the Bill Parcells’ regime: don’t matter how many we send, they’ll get stuck in the mud somewhere.

Tackling – 4 Stars: Tackling did not appear to be a problem as a whole, especially with regard to run defense. One bad thing, though, was that Pacman Jones led the team in tackles.

Coverage – 3 Stars: Carson Palmer did not light the defense up, which is what some have seemed to suggest, but the secondary seems to play awfully loose for having so much talent on the field. Some of this must have to do with the lack of pass rush, though.

Penalties – Defense – 4 Stars: Two defensive penalties all game. That’s pretty good, though one was a pass interference call on Anthony Henry.

Nick Folk – 4 Stars: Common theme: Automatic on field goals, but not a single touchback this season.

Mat McBriar – 5 Stars: McBriar only had three punts, but one went 66 yards and another was downed at the Cincinnati 8. Pretty good.

Coverage Units – 1 Stars: Two returns into Dallas territory=10 Cincinnati points. Terrible.

Return Game – 2 Stars: Punt and kickoff returns were inconsequential.

Penalties – 5 Stars: Good news: Dallas had no penalties on special teams.

Cowboys 31, Bengals 22: Most Pouting Ever in a Win

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There is a good chance that those of us on the forums this week will need to be reminded that the Cowboys beat the Bengals 31-22 on Sunday. In fact, if you never saw the game, and you couldn’t see the score on the screen, you might be surprised that the Cowboys were leading 17-6 when the camera spotted Romo in the above shot.

In fact, the second half of the game was as much about wondering what was happening on the sideline in the face of what was looking like an upset. We can look at Romo, who barely celebrated at all, probably due to a costly fumble and equally costly interception. Then we can look at Owens, who outshined Romo in the moping department to the extent that Jerry Jones was on the sideline apparently consoling the star receiver.

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Even in the face of this depressing win, the Cowboys had the benefit of pure luck. Leading 24-22 with 1:59 remaining, the Cowboys faced a 3rd-and-11 from the Cincinnati 15. Romo tried to rifle the ball to Miles Austin in the end zone. The ball ricocheted off of Austin’s hands and wound up in the arms of Patrick Crayton, who caught his first pass of the day on the strange touchdown play.

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First Half: Cowboys Take a 17-6 Lead

The Cowboys looked strong jumping out of the gate. On the Bengals’ opening drive, Greg Ellis took advantage of an errant pass by Carson Palmer, picking off the pass and returning it to the Bengal 17-yard line. Dallas settled for a field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

After forcing a punt, the Cowboys moved easily downfield on a 10-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a 33-yard touchdown run around the right end, giving Dallas a 10-0 lead.

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On the next offensive drive, Dallas moved the ball 80 yards easily thanks to a 16-yard run by Marion Barber along with a 29-yard pass from Romo to Jason Witten. A four-yard Romo-to-Witten touchdown gave Dallas a 17-0 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the second quarter.

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From that point, the Cowboys began to unravel. The Bengals drove into Dallas territory and kicked a field goal to cut the lead to 17-3. Dallas began to have trouble moving the ball, and after exchanging punts, the Cowboys gave Cincinnati the ball in Dallas territory when Romo was stripped by Frostee Rucker. The turnover led to another Cincinnati field goal, making the score at halftime 17-6.

Second Half: Cowboys Nearly Collapse, but Show Enough to Pull Out the Win

The defense had its woes in the second half. An long drive in the third quarter allowed the Bengals to move the ball into Dallas territory. Facing a 3rd-and-9 from the Dallas 18, Palmer found T.J. Houshmandzadeh near the 5, and he was able to wind his way into the end zone. This cut the lead to 17-13.

On the next drive, Dallas missed a huge chance when Patrick Crayton dropped a slightly underthrown Romo pass at the Cincinnati 30, and when the drive failed, Dallas had to punt. After forcing a Cincinnati punt, Dallas moved the ball into Bengal territory. However, Romo underthrew Witten over the middle, and the pass was picked off by linebacker Keith Rivers, who returned the pick 39 yards to the Dallas 41. The play led to a Cincinnati field goal, cutting the lead to 17-16.

The Bengals then took a big chance and tried an onside kick, which was successful. However, the Cowboys had luck and a good tackle by Tank Johnson on their side, as Johnson stripped Chris Perry at the Dallas 37. Anthony Spencer recovered the fumble, giving Dallas the ball at its own 41.

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Two plays later, Romo found Owens on a deep in pattern, and Owens was able to sprint past the Cincinnati secondary for a 57-yard touchdown. It was the 136th touchdown of Owens’ career, tying him for fourth all-time with Marshall Faulk.

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Cincinnati was not finished yet, though, as Glenn Holt returned the ball 60 yards to the Dallas 37. The return led to a Bengal touchdown, as Palmer hit Houshmandzadeh on a 10-yard touchdown with 7:39 left. The Bengals attempted a two-point conversion, but Palmer’s pass to Ben Utecht was knocked away by safety Keith Davis.

Dallas put the game away on the next drive, moving the ball 80 yards in 11 plays and taking 5:47 off the clock. When Romo hit Crayton (through Austin’s hands), the game was over.

Romo completed 14 of 23 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns. He was off much of the day, over-and under-throwing several receivers. The big hero on offense was Felix Jones, who provided the spark that was missing for much of the Washington game.

On defense, the team did a good job stopping the run, and Spencer and Ellis came up with big plays. However, the secondary was shaky, and the team was unable to pressure Palmer much at all, especially in the second half.

What If? Cowboys vs. Bengals in Super Bowl XVI

Cowboys vs. Bengals, Ficticious Super Bowl XVI

Cowboys vs. Bengals, Ficticious Super Bowl XVI

Consider this: On January 10, 1982, the Cowboys visited Candlestick Park in San Francisco to face the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. The Cowboys took a late 27-21 lead thanks to a 21-yard touchdown pass from Danny White to Doug Cosbie. The defense had to keep Joe Montana and the San Francisco offense out of the end zone to earn the Cowboys their sixth trip to the Super Bowl. The 49ers moved the ball to the six yard line with 58 seconds left. Joe Montana rolled out to his right, but with nobody open, he threw the ball out of the end zone, missing the outstretched arms of receiver Dwight Clark. On fourth down, Montana’s pass was tipped at the line by Ed “Too Tall” Jones, and the Cowboys were on their way to Detroit to face Cincinnati in Super Bowl XVI.

Super Bowl XVI

Super Bowl XVI

Dallas Cowboys vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Super Bowl XVI

Dallas Cowboys vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Super Bowl XVI

This background brings us to this evening’s simulation using What If Sports. What if The Catch had never occurred, and the Cowboys had faced Cincinnati in the Silverdome on January 24, 1982?

In the simulation, Dallas prevailed 27-13. Thanks to a touchdown pass from Danny White to fullback Ron Springs, Dallas jumped out to a 13-0 halftime lead. A second White-to-Springs touchdown extended the lead in the second half to 20-3, and Cincinnati was unable to catch up. The win gave Dallas its third NFL title, and folks generally got off White’s back for not being Roger Staubach.

At least in our fantasy world, that was so.

Danny White

Danny White

If you weren’t aware of it, omnipresent Cris Collinsworth was a rookie with the Bengals in 1981. He gained more than 1,000 yards that season on 67 receptions, but in this simulation, he gained only 43 yards on three catches.

Cris Collinsworth

Cris Collinsworth

Here is the box score from our fantasy game:

Final – 01/24/1982 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total
1981 Dallas Cowboys 10 3 7 7 27
1981 Cincinnati Bengals 0 0 10 3 13
Scoring Summary
1st Quarter
DAL 9:24 FG Rafael Septien 39 yds. 3-0
DAL 4:22 TD Ron Springs 1 yd. pass from White (Septien kick) 10-0
2nd Quarter
DAL 0:11 FG Rafael Septien 37 yds. 13-0
3rd Quarter
CIN 10:37 FG Jim Breech 21 yds. 13-3
DAL 5:01 TD Ron Springs 4 yd. pass from White (Septien kick) 20-3
CIN 0:45 TD Charles Alexander 9 yd. run (Breech kick) 20-10
4th Quarter
CIN 6:02 FG Jim Breech 23 yds. 20-13
DAL 1:52 TD Tony Dorsett 5 yd. run (Septien kick) 27-13
 

Team Statistics
  1981 Dallas Cowboys 1981 Cincinnati Bengals
First Downs 24 13
– Rushing 14 7
– Passing 10 6
– Penalty 0 0
3rd Down Eff 7/12 4/10
4th Down Eff 0/1 0/1
Rushes-Yards 41-208 29-186
Avg Rush 5.1 6.4
Comp-Att-Int 18-24-0 11-13-0
Passing Yards 181 86
Sacks-Yards 1-5 3-17
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-1
Punts-Avg 1-41.0 2-38.0
KR-Avg 4-14.3 6-22.7
PR-Avg 2-9.0 1-12.0
Penalties-Yard 1-3 3-15
Time of Possession 33:11 26:49

1981 Dallas Cowboys Individual Stats   1981 Cincinnati Bengals Individual Stats
Rushing
  Att Yds 20+ L TD
’81 Tony Dorsett 23 144 2 43 1
’81 Ron Springs 13 49 0 12 0
’81 Danny White 5 15 0 16 0
 
Rushing
  Att Yds 20+ L TD
’81 Pete Johnson 12 124 2 42 0
’81 Archie Griffin 4 23 0 13 0
’81 Charles Alexander 8 23 0 9 1
’81 Ken Anderson 2 11 0 10 0
’81 Steve Kreider 1 6 0 6 0
’81 Jim Hargrove 2 -1 0 0 0
Receiving
  Rec Yds 20+ 40+ L TD
’81 Drew Pearson 4 40 1 0 23 0
’81 Doug Cosbie 1 35 1 0 35 0
’81 Tony Hill 2 30 0 0 18 0
’81 Ron Springs 4 23 0 0 9 2
’81 Tony Dorsett 3 22 0 0 14 0
’81 Billy Joe Dupree 2 20 0 0 14 0
’81 Butch Johnson 2 16 0 0 11 0
 
Receiving
  Rec Yds 20+ 40+ L TD
’81 Cris Collinsworth 3 43 0 0 17 0
’81 Dan Ross 4 27 0 0 10 0
’81 Pete Johnson 2 15 0 0 10 0
’81 Steve Kreider 1 12 0 0 12 0
’81 Charles Alexander 1 6 0 0 6 0
Passing
  Comp. Att. Yards TD INT
’81 Danny White 18 24 186 2 0
 
Passing
  Comp. Att. Yards TD INT
’81 Ken Anderson 11 13 103 0 0
Defensive
  Tackles Sacks INT
’81 Ron Fellows 8 0 0
’81 Michael Downs 8 1 0
’81 Everson Walls 5 0 0
’81 Bob Breunig 4 1 0
’81 Charlie Waters 3 1 0
’81 D.D. Lewis 3 0 0
’81 Guy Brown 3 0 0
’81 Steve Wilson 2 0 0
’81 Benny Barnes 2 0 0
’81 Dennis Thurman 1 0 0
 
Defensive
  Tackles Sacks INT
’81 John Simmons 6 0 0
’81 Glenn Cameron 6 0 0
’81 Rick Razzano 5 0 0
’81 Bo Harris 5 0 0
’81 Ray Griffin 5 0 0
’81 Ken Riley 4 0 0
’81 Tom Dinkel 4 0 0
’81 Jim Leclair 3 1 0
’81 Bryan Hicks 3 0 0
’81 Louis Breeden 3 0 0
’81 Mike Fuller 2 0 0
’81 Clarence Chapman 2 0 0
’81 Reggie Williams 1 0 0
’81 Bobby Kemp 1 0 0
Field Goals
  Made Missed
’81 Rafael Septien 39,37 49
 
Field Goals
  Made Missed
’81 Jim Breech 21,23 48

When the Bengals Have Visited Dallas, We’ve Had Some Odd Heroes

Tim Seder vs. Cincinnati, 2000

Tim Seder vs. Cincinnati, 2000

The Cincinnati Bengals have visited Dallas five times in the past, with the Cowboys winning four of the games. In each of the four wins, the Cowboys have had some unexpected heroes lead the way. Below is a summary:

1973: Lee Roy Jordan’s Three Interceptions

The Cowboys sparked a three-game winning streak in 1973 with a 38-10 win over Cincinnati. Though Lee Roy Jordan was certainly a great leader on defense during his career, he seldom had a game like this one. His three first quarter picks of Ken Anderson set the tone for the game. Roger Staubach threw three touchdowns in the win.

1979: Day of the No-Name Defensive Backs

During the 1979 season, Randy Hughes, Aaron Mitchell, and Bruce Thornton combined for a total of four interceptions. Three of those picks came when the Bengals visited Dallas. Tony Dorsett had the big day on offense, rushing for 119 yards in a 38-13 Dallas win.

1988: (Um, Not Worth Mentioning)

The Cowboys lost their tenth straight to the Bengals in 1988 in front of a crowd of only 37,865. Fair to say that Jerry would not have a new stadium right now if the team had continued to have performances like this one. The two Dallas quarterbacks in the 38-24 loss: Steve Pelleur and Kevin Sweeney.

1991: Some Firsts for a Couple of Rookies

Most Cowboys fans remember linebacker Dixon Edwards, who was a rookie when Cincinnati visited Dallas in 1991. In the fourth quarter of the game, with Dallas leading by five, Edwards picked off a tipped Boomer Esiason and raced 36 yards for a touchdown to seal a 35-23 win. Edwards was filling in for starter Vinson Smith.

The other hero is not as familiar. On his first NFL carry, Ricky Blake raced 30 yards for a touchdown to give Dallas a 14-10 lead. Blake had played in the World League of American Football during the spring of 1991, and his touchdown run was one of only 15 carries he had during a brief NFL career.

2000: Tim Seder, Former High School Running Back

The Cowboys did not have too many highlights during the 2000 season, but the team’s 23-6 win over Cincinnati offered some relief from the pain of losing. Kicker Tim Seder did not help the cause by missing three field goals, but he did not hurt the effort when he took a handoff on a fake field goal and plunged for a one-yard touchdown. In modern football, we do not often see this in the box score: Tim Seder 1 yard rush (Tim Seder kick).

Also noteworthy about this game: it was Troy Aikman’s 13th and final 300-yard game. This is the team record that Tony Romo just tied.

* * *

Far less interesting are the games when Dallas has visited Cincinnati. The Cowboys are just 1-3 during those games, with the only win coming in 1994 against a bad Cincinnati squad. The last meeting between the teams was in 2004, when the Bengals completely shut down the Cowboys in a 26-3 win.

Preview: Cowboys vs. Bengals

We’ve seen quite a bit of garbage flying around about: (a) Terrell Owens either flying off the handle about his role in the offense or not flying off the handle about his role in the offense; (b) how Wade Phillips suddenly can’t ever beat anyone in the division (notwithstanding his 5-3 regular season record within the division– far superior than anything we’ve seen since the 1990s); (c) how the defense has become just the absolute worst in the NFL; (d) how the referees exacted their revenge on Jerry Jones for his comments about Ed Hochuli by calling a Redskins field goal good when it may have hooked to the left (from the perspective of the kicker).

Most of this is nonsense, I think. Several of the pundits making these comments have suggested that Cowboys have to turn everything around to salvage their season, or else the entire world is going to come crashing to the ground. Et cetera.

Fortunately, most of the prognosticators have the Cowboys winning this week. Here’s a look:

CBS Sportsline

Here is the preview from CBS Sportsline:


Watch CBS Videos Online

Accuscore Prediction: Cowboys 32, Bengals 15

The Cowboys won 89% of the Accuscore simulations this week. Carson Palmer is projected to throw for only 118 yards, which would certainly be nice.

WhatIfSports Prediction: Dallas 35, Cincinnati 10

WhatIfSports has been even better to the Cowboys in its simulations. The Cowboys won 95% of the simulations by an average score of 35-10. This site inserted backup Ryan Fitzpatrick for Carson Palmer, which may explain why Dallas was so dominant.