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Washington 20, Dallas 17: Perhaps It Was Just a Night Without Magic

Jason Witten's second touchdown in 2014 tied the game on Monday night, but the Cowboys fell in overtime to the Washington Redskins, 20-17.

Jason Witten’s second touchdown in 2014 tied the game on Monday night, but the Cowboys fell in overtime to the Washington Redskins, 20-17.

A night of some perhaps.

It was perhaps a matter of time before the Tony Romo’s surgically repaired back would give out and cause him to miss playing time.

That occurred with just under eight minutes left in the third quarter of Monday night’s game against the Washington Redskins. Romo was in obvious pain and went to the locker room for most of the second half.

He returned, but he was unable to lead Dallas to an overtime win. Washington kicked a field goal and then stopped Dallas on its only overtime possession to pull out the 20-17 win. The loss dropped the Cowboys to 6-2.

Perhaps it was a matter of time before DeMarco Murray’s fumbles became especially costly.

He had a great catch-and-run early in the second quarter, but after gaining 36 yards inside the Washington 10, he fumbled for the fifth time this season. At the time, Dallas trailed 3-0 and looked like it would take the lead.

Although the Cowboys went into the half with a 7-3 lead, a touchdown after the Murray play could have allowed the Cowboys build a more sizable advantage before halftime.

Instead, the Cowboys four-point lead turned into a three-point deficit when Washington took the second-half kickoff and marched 80 yards for a go-ahead score.

Which leads us to the final perhaps—

Perhaps it was time that this no-name defense could not save the day.

With Romo heading to the locker room, the defense forced a three-and-out. However, after the Cowboys tied the game at 10 in the third quarter, the defense looked vulnerable.

DeSean Jackson burned the Dallas secondary for a 45-yard gain on the final play of the third quarter. It was his second gain of more than 40 yards during the game, and the second play set up a touchdown run by quarterback Colt McCoy.

Yes, that Colt McCoy. The former Texas Longhorn, Cleveland Brown, and Redskin third-stringer sliced up the Dallas defense for nearly 300 passing yards. Washington entered the game with one of the worst third-down percentages in the league. Against the Cowboys late in the game, however, the Redskins converted a number of key third downs.

Thanks to backup quarterback Brandon Weeden, the Cowboys stayed in the game in the fourth quarter. He led the Cowboys on two second-half scoring drives. Dallas forced a Washington punt at the two-minute warning with the game tied at 17.

A bonus perhaps—it was perhaps through the miracle of modern medicine that Tony Romo left the locker room and reentered the game to try to engineer a game-winning drive.

Whether Romo should have returned will be a point of debate all week. At that point, Weeden had led the Cowboys on two scoring drives. Romo was obviously not going to be mobile in his condition.

Facing heavy pressure with just over a minute to play, Romo fumbled the ball at the Dallas 5. Though Murray recovered and Dallas managed a first down to keep the drive alive, the Cowboys could not move the ball past their own 28. In fact, on 3rd and 1 from the 28, Romo was called for intentional grounding, forcing the Cowboys to punt.

The Redskins had little trouble moving the ball 58 yards in overtime to set up what would be the game-winning field goal.

Dallas could not manage a single first down on its drive, ending the game.

The Cowboys still lead the NFC East by a half-game, but a win would have given Dallas some breathing room. The Cowboys now have a short week before facing the Arizona Cardinals at home on Sunday afternoon.

Dallas Cowboys History: 6-Game Winning Streaks

winningstreak

After a poor performance to open the 2014 season, the Dallas Cowboys have stunned many people by winning six consecutive games.

Historical context: this is the eighth time in team history that the Cowboys have won six straight regular season games. The team made the playoffs during each of the previous seven times. The Cowboys won the Super Bowl during three of those seasons.

The history—

1968

The Cowboys opened the season by going 6-0 and finished the regular season with a 12-2 record. However, the Cowboys fell apart in the playoffs, losing to Cleveland.

1969

For the second consecutive season, Dallas started with a 6-0 record. However, after finishing 11-2-1, the Cowboys stumbled again in the playoffs, losing to the Browns.

1971

The Cowboys stumbled out of the gate in 1971, recording a 4-3 record after seven weeks. However, Roger Staubach took over as the full-time starter and led Dallas to an 11-3 finish. The Cowboys won their first Super Bowl that year.

1977

Dallas had its strongest start in team history in 1977, going 8-0. The Cowboys finished the season 12-2 and won Super Bowl XII.

1983

The Cowboys looked like world-beaters in 1983, starting at 7-0. However, the team stumbled in the season half of the season and was knocked out of the playoffs in the wildcard round.

1993

Dallas started the 1993 season by going 0-2 while Emmitt Smith held out. Once Smith returned, the Cowboys won seven straight and finished the regular season at 12-4 before winning Super Bowl XXVIII.

2007

The last time anyone considered the Cowboys to be among the best in the league was 2007. Dallas started at 5-0 and won seven straight later in the season to improve to 12-1. However, the team lost two of its last three and finished 13-3. Dallas then lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New York Giants in the playoffs.

Dallas 30, Seattle 23: Just a Different Team

Rolando McClain's interception secured the fifth win of the season for the Dallas Cowboys.

Rolando McClain’s interception secured the fifth win of the season for the Dallas Cowboys.

This is your weekly reminder that the Dallas Cowboys are winning games they would have lost during the past four years. Thanks for tuning in.

In 2012, for example, the Cowboys traveled to Seattle after what many thought was a significant win over the New York Giants to open the season.

The Seahawks punched the Cowboys in the mouth, figuratively speaking.  Dallas fumbled the opening kickoff, leading to a Seattle field goal. The Seahawks then returned a blocked punt for a touchdown in the first quarter. Dallas looked defeated before the first quarter ended and eventually lost the game, 27-7.

Two years later, the Cowboys were 4-1 as they headed back to Seattle. The Seahawks seldom lose at home. Most thought Seattle would again punch the Cowboys in the mouth, figuratively speaking, and the Cowboys would limp back to Dallas.

Sure enough, Seattle blocked a punt in the first quarter. Like the 2012 game, Dallas found itself behind 10-0 in the first quarter.

It was ov…

Well, no, it wasn’t over. The Cowboys not only tied the game in the second quarter but also took a 17-10 lead. In fact, Dallas had drives of 10 and 15 plays during the second quarter and held the ball for nearly 75 percent of that quarter.

Even when Dwayne Harris muffed a punt, which Seattle returned for a touchdown, Dallas was not out of it.

Seattle took a three-point lead. Dallas tied it.

Seattle took another three-point lead. With 8:16 remaining, Dallas needed to drive to tie the game.

But then the Cowboys faced a 3rd-and-20 from their own 31. Less than five minutes remained. A punt could allow Seattle to exhaust the clock.

Seattle put pressure on Tony Romo, who limped around much of the game. He somehow managed to escape the rush before releasing a pass in the general direction of both Jason Witten and Terrance Williams.

Williams snagged the ball and dragged his toes inbounds for a 23-yard gain. First down. It was, like many other plays this year, something the Cowboys had not seen in quite some time.

Three plays later, DeMarco Murray gave Dallas a 27-23 lead with a touchdown run. Although the Cowboys were unable to run out the clock on offense, Rolondo McClain’s interception with less than 50 seconds remaining secured the win for Dallas.

Yes, this author predicted a 3-13 finish. That 3-13 team is now 5-1. Who would have thought.

Dallas 38, New Orleans 17: A Stunning Blowout

The Dallas Cowboys stormed down the field on their opening drive of Sunday night’s game against New Orleans. A touchdown pass from Tony Romo to Terrance Williams gave the Cowboys an early lead.

This marked the first time all season the Cowboys had scored on an opening drive. The first quarter was also the first where the Cowboys did not have to overcome a DeMarco Murray fumble.

But even with the great start, Dallas fans had to be cautious about any optimism. This was the Saints. They were the team that walked all over the Cowboys last season in a 49-17 New Orleans win at the Superdome.

As it turns out, nobody needed to be cautious about being excited until the fourth quarter. Dallas scored 17 points in the second quarter to extend the lead to 24-0 at the half.

Meanwhile, the Saints punted twice, had a pass intercepted, and missed a field goal in the first half.

DeMarco Murray looked nearly unstoppable. Tony Romo did not need to set the world on fire, but he was effective. Everything that failed to work in the 2013 debacle worked on Sunday night.

Then came the fourth quarter. The Cowboys defense that had played so well all game gave up two touchdown drives, and a 31-3 lead became a 31-17 lead.

The Dallas offense stalled on three straight possessions in the third and fourth quarters.

Blow a 28-point lead in the fourth quarter? Surely not.

Well, no, it didn’t happen. The Dallas defense forced a fourth-down play with 7:45 remaining, and the Saints lined up for a punt. Dallas only had ten players on the field.

The Saints called a fake, and punter Thomas Morstead tried to throw a pass for the first down. He wound up face first on the ground.

Seven plays later, Romo hit Dez Bryant on an 18-yard touchdown pass, which iced the game.

This marked the 20th time the Cowboys had led by 24 or more points at the half. The team is now 20-0 in those games.

With the Eagles losing to the 49ers today, Dallas and Philadelphia are now tied for first in the NFC East.

Dallas 26, Tennessee 10: A Successful Run

DeMarco Murray has franchise marks for rushing yards and rushing attempts after two weeks in a season.

DeMarco Murray has franchise marks for rushing yards and rushing attempts after two weeks in a season.

As expected, much of the talk this week centered on what was wrong with Tony Romo’s head.

Other talk focused on the Dallas defense. Many thought the Tennessee Titans would repeat their efforts from their week 1 win over Kansas City and give the Cowboys all sorts of trouble.

(Admittedly, I thought the Cowboys would struggle.)

Instead, Dallas ran the ball 43 times and won the time of possession 41:11 to 18:49.

The last time the Cowboys ran the ball at least 43 times was 2010 in an overtime win over Indianapolis. The time before that was in 2005. Sunday’s game at Tennessee marked just the tenth time since 2000 that the Cowboys have run the ball at least 43 times.

Their record in those games: 9-1, including the Cowboys’ 26-10 win over the Titans.

DeMarco Murray has looked dominant in two games, despite losing two fumbles in those games. He rushed 29 times for 167 yards and a touchdown on Sunday.

The last Dallas player with at least 29 attempts? Julius Jones in 2005.

Murray’s previous high in rushing attempts was 26 in a 31-7 win over the Rams in 2013.

Murray now has 285 rushing yards. Until now, no Dallas runner ever had as many as 285 yards after two games. The previous high after two weeks was 277, set by Emmitt Smith in 1995.

At this rate, Murray would finish the season with 2,280 yards. Let’s not go overboard with these stats, but he’s looking like an elite back.

The Dallas defense held the Titans to 314 total yards. The Cowboys also had two interceptions, including a great pick by linebacker Rolando McClain.

This marked just the sixth time during the Jason Garrett era where the Cowboys have won by 16 or more points. The Cowboys managed just one win by that margin last year and did not win any times in 2012 by that margin.

The Cowboys and Redskins are now 1-1. The Giants fell to 0-2. The Eagles face the Colts on Monday night.

Animated Trivia: James Hanna’s Touchdown vs. San Diego

Brandon Weeden found James Hanna for the Cowboys' only score against San Diego.

Brandon Weeden found James Hanna for the Cowboys’ only score against San Diego.

The Dallas Cowboys did not play starters Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, or Jason Witten against the San Diego Chargers. That meant we saw Brandon Weeden, Joseph Randle, Terrance Williams, and James Hanna.

The Cowboys lost 27-7 in a game featuring no defense by the Cowboys. San Diego did not have a single incomplete pass until the beginning of the fourth quarter.

As you can see from the GIF, Hanna scored the Cowboys’ lone touchdown. Given the lack of other highlights, here is some trivia about Hanna:

  • Hanna is one of two players from the University of Oklahoma on the Cowboys’ roster. The other is, of course, Murray. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have six players who played at Oklahoma State on the roster right now.
  • The Cowboys selected Hanna in the 6th round (#186 overall) of the 2012 draft. He was among 12 tight ends taken in that year’s draft. Another of those tight ends was Ladarius Green, who had two receptions for the Chargers tonight.
  • Hanna has never scored a touchdown in a regular season game, having caught just 20 career passes in two seasons. However, he did score seven touchdowns for the Sooners in 2010. That was the year that Weeden threw 34 touchdowns to the likes of Justin Blackmon at Oklahoma State.
  • This was Weeden’s first game since starting for the Cleveland Browns against the Jacksonville Jaguars on December 1, 2013 in a 32-28 loss for the Browns.
  • True or False? This was Hanna’s first preseason touchdown of his career.
  • True or False? Hanna did not catch a single pass during the 2013 preseason.

The Franchise Career Record Tony Romo Might Break in 2014

Tony Romo can set his sights on a new team passing record in 2014.

Tony Romo can set his sights on a new team passing record in 2014.

Tony Romo is not likely to play in the Cowboys’ first preseason game on Thursday night as he tries to stay healthy for the team’s season-opener.

If he can stay healthy during his eighth full season as a starter, Romo could break a significant franchise career record.

He already has the most career touchdown passes, and his career 95.8 passer rating his higher than any other starter in team history.

The next mark would be career passing yards. He currently has thrown for 29,565 yards, putting him 3,377 behind Troy Aikman. The only time Romo has thrown fewer than that since 2007 was 2010, when he was limited to six games because of an injury.

Here is a list of the top 10 Dallas passers by career passing yards.

It will take Romo at least two seasons to surpass Aikman for most career attempts and completions.

Quote Trivia: Jerry Jones Being the Eternal Optimist

Jerry opened his mouth. Again.

Jerry opened his mouth. Again.

Jerry Jones will make news no matter what he says or does not say. That is just reality.

Today’s quote about the team’s chances in 2014: “Better than 8-8. We can get better than 8-8. We are hell-bent to change that.”

Good. Great. Just do it.

Anyway, for quote trivia today, we look back at a previous dark time during the Jerry Jones era. We will even look at two quotes.

Here’s the first one:

I couldn’t operate and couldn’t make decisions if I got up in the morning and thought that we were going to have a losing record. When I’m making decisions – even though we want to look long-term – I want to make decisions that help us win games this year, as well. I think we can do both, and that’s why I think we’ll win more than half our games.

Question #1: Jerry said this in June of what year?

Question #2: How did the Cowboys end up doing that year?

Jerry predicted a 10-6 record for the Cowboys in the season described above. A linebacker on the team made the following quote:

Actually, I feel like he shortchanged us a couple of games. He says 10-6, but we’ve got to believe we’re a 12-4 team.

Question #3: Who said this?

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Quote Trivia: Jerry Jones, the Liar

Jerry opened his mouth. Again.

Jerry opened his mouth. Again.

As usual, Jerry Jones opens his mouth, leaving fans of the Dallas Cowboys, once again, to figure out his priorities.

The latest controversy has focused on a statement Jerry made where he appears to brag about the Cowboys having high television ratings. This led an ESPN writer to write that Jerry is sending the wrong message by accepting mediocrity. Here is my Facebook post on this subject:

 

This leads us to today’s quote trivia. Jerry at one time had to deal with a player facing suspension, but Jerry was less than forthcoming about the facts of the player’s case. Jerry made the following statement:

What I have said, very consistently and very firmly over the last two weeks, is that if there was a suspension, I would be the first to know, because that’s the way I have it set up with the league. But me knowing cannot and did not go beyond notification of suspension. Outside of what I read in the papers, I knew nothing about this until late Tuesday afternoon.

Trivia questions:

(1) Which player was suspended?

(2) During which year was this player initially suspended?

(3) Which area writer called Jerry a liar in print?

 

 

 

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Crossword Puzzle: Possible #1 Draft Choices

National Football League Draft

National Football League Draft (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Below is a crossword puzzle focusing on the Cowboys’ possible selections with the #16 overall pick in the NFL draft.

Dallas Cowboys\ Top Draft Pick, 2014 crossword puzzle game » make crossword

Below are the possible hints (the puzzle changes each time you play). You can identify the players by reviewing the hints and then visiting the 2014 NFL Draft Tracker.

DT, Pitt
S, Louisville
S, Alabama
DT, Florida State
DT, Notre Dame
DE, Oregon State
LB, Alabama
DE, Missouri
DT, Notre Dame
DE, Clemson
DT, LSU
OT, Auburn

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