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The Dallas Cowboys are setting all sorts of dubious records on defense and could very well break the single-season record for most yards allowed, set last year by those Saints.
Last night while playing bad ball (oh, thanks for clearing that up, Monte Kiffen), the Cowboys became the first team in NFL history to allow 40 first downs. The New York Jets had the previous high mark of 39, set against the Miami Dolphins in 1988.
For the Cowboys, it marked the eighth time in franchise history that the Cowboys had allowed 30 or more first downs to an opponent. As one would expect, the results in those games has not been favorable, as the Cowboys’ record is 1-7 when allowing 30 or more first downs.
This happened four times during the team’s first 51 years in existence. Since 2011, it has happened another four times, including twice in 2013.
Hence, the “Can’t Stop Anyone” defense.
Year – Opp. First Downs – Opponent – Result
2013 – 40 – New Orleans – L 17-49
2013 – 34 – Denver – L 48-51
2012 – 33 – New Orleans – L 31-34 (OT)
2011 – 31 – Philadelphia – L 7-34
1996 – 32 – Washington – L 10-37
1995 – 32 – Oakland – W 34-21
1991 – 33 – Houston – L 23-26 (OT)
1983 – 31 – L.A. Raiders – L 38-40
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The Cowboys have recorded 30 or more first downs in several games. The most came during a 26-21 loss to the Detroit Lions in 1985, when the Cowboys had 33 first downs. Dallas turned the ball over 5 times, contributing heavily to the loss.
* * *
The Cowboys only managed 9 first downs against the Saints. It marked the fewest first downs since the team had only 7 in a 27-6 loss to Washington to end the 2007 season.
Nobody can really dispute whether the 2013 Cowboys have the worst defense in franchise history. After 10 games, this unit has won the prize.
Yes, the unit has suffered injuries, and nobody knows the names of the defensive linemen. But the results have been just incredibly bad, no matter what the reasons or excuses are.
So the Cowboys had to take the worst defense in franchise history to New Orleans to face one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL.
And how did Monte Kiffen et al. decide to slow down Drew Brees and the Saints? Our best guess is that the brain trust decided the defense would rely on air and gravity.
The problem? The Saints play their games in a dome, meaning the air did not have much of an effect. That left gravity.
Of course, gravity wouldn’t stop Brees, who effortlessly threw for 392 yards and 4 TDs.
On the other hand, gravity has helped just about every other team to slow down Mark Ingram, the former Alabama running back who had never rushed for 100 yards in a game.
Er, Ingram had never rushed for 100 yards in a game until the Saints played the Cowboys. Ingram rushed for 145 yards, averaging 10.4 yards per carry. Jim Brown in his day did not run through the Cowboys as easily as Ingram did on Sunday.
The Cowboys were actually in the game for part of the first half. When DeMarco Murray scored on a 7-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, the Cowboys had a 10-7 lead.
But on the first play after the Dallas touchdown, Sean Lee suffered a hamstring injury. From that point on, the Cowboys had no chance.
Brees led the Saints on a 14-play drive that resulted in a Pierre Thomas touchdown that allowed New Orleans to regain the lead.
Dallas did not manage a single first down for the rest of the first half. The Saints managed to score two more touchdowns to take a 28-10 lead at halftime.
The Cowboys obviously decided to commit to the run, and Murray had a good first half. However, Romo did nothing in the air, completing just 3 of 9 passes for 20 yards in the first half. He completed all three passes to tight ends, including two to James Hanna. Yes, Terrance Williams dropped some passes, but the passing game never really got on track.
It would be easy to say blame the defense’s performance on Lee’s injury, but this is a team that has given up just under 4,400 yards in ten games. The team will break the Saints’ NFL record for most yards allowed in a season if the Cowboys allow more then 2,644 yards in their final six games. That will require the Cowboys to give up about 441 yards per game.
The Eagles beat the Packers today, so both teams now have 5-5 records. Dallas has a bye, while the Eagles will face the Redskins. It is very possible that the Cowboys could be in second place when they play again on November 25.
I asked this in a post from yesterday, but here is more about the unknown fullback who scored three times against the Cowboys in 2006.
The Saints would eventually head to the NFC Championship Game in 2006 thanks to stars such as Drew Brees, Deuce McAllister, Reggie Bush, and Marques Colston. Heading into this game, both teams were 8-4 and riding hot streaks.
The Cowboys had to figure out how to slow down these skill players to have any chance to beat New Orleans.
The problem was that when the Saints got down inside the 5 on more than one occasion, the Cowboys forgot to cover the fullback. This fullback scored twice in the first half and yet another time in the third quarter. The Saints won in a blowout, 42-17.
Here’s a puzzle with the player:
provided by flash-gear.com
Tony Romo said during the week that if the Cowboys were down by 10 or 14 points in the fourth quarter, they would find a way to win the game.
Until lately, this was a laughable thought. The Dallas team was better known for blowing 10- to 14-point leads.
With just under 10 minutes remaining on Sunday, the Cowboys were down by 14 and had to punt. On the previous drive, the Saints had marched 98 yards on 10 plays to take the 2-touchdown lead.
New Orleans moved the ball to midfield but were unable to move further. The Saints punted the ball, and Dallas took over with just under 5 minutes left.
On a 2nd-and-2 play from the Dallas 28, Romo found Dez Bryant, who added to his monster game with a 41-yard reception. Three plays later, Romo hit Dwayne Harris for a touchdown to cut the lead to 31-24.
Dallas needed and got a stop, forcing another punt with less than two minutes left.
Romo drove the team back inside the red zone but faced a 4th and 10 from the New Orleans 19. Romo bought some time and lofted a pass to the right side of the end zone. Miles Austin was there and caught the pass, tying the game and forcing overtime.
From there, it was all Saints. Dallas received the kickoff but could not pick up a first down. The Saints took over after the Dallas punt at the Saint 26-yard line.
The first play was a 26-yarder to Jimmy Graham to move the ball into Dallas territory. Five plays later, Drew Brees hit Marques Colston, who fumbled. However, the ball rolled forward more than 20 yards, and Graham recovered. Referees upheld the play on review, and one play later, the Saints kicked a field goal to win the game.
The loss ruined a career day by Bryant, who finished with 224 yards on 9 receptions. Romo had four touchdowns along with 416 passing yards.
As it turns out, the Cowboys are still in the playoff hunt. The Giants lost to the Ravens, meaning that the winner of the Cowboys-Redskins game next week will win the NFC East. This is the fourth time since 2008 that the Cowboys have faced a division foe on the final week of the season with either the division title or a playoff berth on the line.
Robert Griffin III started the game against the Saints throwing a series of WR screens. Those screens became downfield throws soon enough, and he finished the game completing 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards with 2 TDs and no picks. That’s a passer rating of 139.9. Drew Brees only managed a passer rating of 70.9 in a 40-32 loss to Washington.
The other rookie is running back Alfred Morris, who was previously best known as a deep fantasy sleeper. He ran hard en route to a 96-yard, 2 TD game.
In Cleveland, the Eagles did not look good all game. Michael Vick threw four picks, and the Browns held a 16-10 lead in the fourth quarter. However, Vick managed to hit Clay Harbor with the game-winning touchdown with 1:18 remaining, giving the Eagles a 17-16 win.
That means that defending Super Bowl Champions are now the only 0-1 team in the NFC East. On top of that, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Chicago each had strong games, showing that the NFC as a whole looks awfully tough.