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I am perhaps overdoing it with the puzzles, but they have prevented me from being too sarcastic about the Cowboys this offseason.
Anyway, most mock drafts have the Cowboys taking a defensive tackle in the 2014 Draft. This would mark the first time since 1991 that the Cowboys have selected a DT in the first round.
In their history, the Cowboys have taken eight DTs in the first round. The results are quite mixed, with two of the players making the Hall of Fame, two never playing a down with the Cowboys, and the others falling somewhere in between.
Here is a crossword puzzle featuring these former first-round picks. The puzzle should vary, and not all eight players will show up in every puzzle.
Below are all eight hints:
- 1991, Miami (FL)
- 1991, Mississippi
- 1987, Nebraska
- 1985, Michigan
- 1978, Michigan State
- 1975, Maryland
- 1964, Texas
- 1961, TCU
Without significant effort, it was difficult in 2013 to keep track of who was playing defense for the Dallas Cowboys. The names are as obscure as some of those who played in the replacement games in 1987.
So let’s have fun with it. In the puzzle below, find the names of the players who played on the defensive line for the Cowboys in 2013.
The Eagles entered Sunday’s game with the third-rated offense in the NFL, averaging more than 451 yards per game. Meanwhile, both the Cowboys and Eagles ranked among the bottom five defenses.
It was no wonder the over/under for the game was 54.5. Some might have thought one of the teams could score 55 points by itself.
Instead, it took nearly 27 minutes before either team scored a point.
Combined, the teams had averaged 58.2 points per game through six weeks. On Sunday, the teams combined for a total of 20 in a 17-3 Dallas win.
The Dallas defense was going to have to find a way to stop Philadelphia QB Nick Foles, who had been on fire.
By the time the defense knocked Foles from the game at the end of the third quarter, Dallas had a 10-0 lead. A 9-yard touchdown from Tony Romo to Terrance Williams in the fourth quarter iced the game for the Cowboys, who took a one-game lead in the NFC East and now has a 3-0 record in the division.
The Cowboys’ defensive line should have been pitiful without DeMarcus Ware, who missed a game for the first time in his career. The only Dallas defensive lineman with a recognizable name was Jason Hatcher.
Nevertheless, guys like George Selvie (1.5 sacks) and Jarius Wynn (0.5 sacks) made the stat line. Foles only managed 80 passing yards in 3 quarters before suffering a head injury.
Rookie Matt Barkley saw his first NFL action in a regular-season game, but he threw 3 interceptions.
LeSean McCoy had averaged more than 100 yards per game in six previous games. Against Dallas, he only managed 55 rushing yards, including just 12 yards in 8 carries in the first half.
The defense that gave up 51 points to the Broncos just two weeks ago has held two division opponents to a combined total of 19 points in 2 weeks.
We can hope the can’t-stop-anyone defense will rest in peace.
* * *
The radio team of Brad Sham and Babe Laufenberg complained several times that the Cowboys were not willing to run the football.
Playing with rookie Joseph Randle instead of DeMarco Murray, the Cowboys ran the ball 12 times for 38 yards in the first half. Randle had 10 carries for 34 yards, which was not great but was better than McCoy’s 12 yards at halftime.
Randle finished the game with 65 yards on 19 carries. He had more rushing attempts than Murray has had since week 3, when Murray ran 26 times for 175 yards.
* * *
It would seem like the 2013 season includes a quiet farewell to Miles Austin.
He has not caught a pass since the team’s week 3 against the Rams, when he injured his hamstring yet again.
He has played in two consecutive games but has not caught a pass.
Meanwhile, Williams and Cole Beasley have looked very good. They combined for 12 receptions for 124 yards against the Eagles.
Releasing Austin after this season will not be a painless process, though. The Cowboys are reportedly going to be $31 million over the salary cap after this season, and Austin’s large salary does not help matters. He restructured his contract after the 2012 season to help with the salary cap, but releasing him would give the Cowboys more than $10 million in dead money from his salary alone.
* * *
The last time the Cowboys held a team to 3 or fewer points was during the final week of the 2009 season, when the Cowboys shut out the Eagles 24-0 to win the NFC East.
Philip Rivers dropped back to pass with the San Diego Chargers trailing the Dallas Cowboys by a score of 14-10.
Rivers tried to get the ball to Antonio Gates, but Jason Hatcher got to Rivers and caused the quarterback’s pass to pop up in the air.
Middle linebacker Sean Lee intercepted the pass and raced down the right sideline for a 52-yard touchdown.
Dallas 21, San Diego 10.
The Cowboys then packed their bags and headed to the locker room. Perhaps they would shower and get ready to answer questions about their second consecutive win. Or maybe…
Well, maybe they might realize at some point that 73 seconds remained in the first half. That realization might have helped the Cowboys, because the team effectively stopped playing for those 73 seconds as well as the final 30 minutes of the second half.
From that point on, Rivers completed 21 of 23 passes and finished with 401 passing yards. The Chargers scored the last 20 points of the game to beat the Cowboys 30-21, dropping the Cowboys to 2-2 for the third consecutive season.
Need a reminder that the last two 2-2 starts ended up leading to 8-8 finishes? Nah.
Tony Romo did not look awful, completing 27 of 37 passes for 244 yards with 2 TDs to Dez Bryant.
Terrence Williams’ final stat totals were not bad as he started in place of Miles Austin. However, he botched an opportunity to keep the game close.
With less than three minutes remaining and Dallas trying to score from the San Diego 7, Romo hit Williams over the middle. Williams tried to reach for the goalline, but when he extended his arm, a San Diego defender knocked the ball out. The Chargers recovered and were able to kill most of the rest of the clock.
The loss was not Williams’ fault, though. This was just another team loss by a mediocre team that cannot find consistency when it needs it.
This team may have the talent to have a 4-0 record, but this team has no idea how to win games on a regular basis. Sean Lee can look like a beast, but that doesn’t mean the team has any idea how to cover Antonio Gates (10 receptions, 136 yards, 1 TD).
Bryant may look unstoppable, but having Bryant does not improve the Cowboys’ statistic of going 3 of 9 on third-down conversions.
Perhaps the Cowboys come out of nowhere and beat the undefeated Broncos next week.
It’s possible, but there is also a good chance the Cowboys would follow up the win by blowing their game against the Redskins during the following week.
The Dallas Cowboys may have saved their season thanks to three returns they made for touchdowns in the fourth quarter against Philadelphia. Until that fourth quarter, the Cowboys had not scored on any type of return for nearly an entire calendar year. The last touchdown on a return came against the Buffalo Bills on November 13, 2011 in a 44-7 Dallas win.
This was not the first time the Cowboys have had multiple touchdowns from non-offensive touchdowns (i.e., those made on returns on special teams or defense) in a single game. It was also not the first time the Cowboys scored on three returns in the same game. However, it was the first time the Cowboys scored on three returns in the same quarter, which makes the feat even more remarkable.
Scoring on multiple returns is not common. The Cowboys have now done so only 11 times in team history. Here is a summary:
3 Returns for Touchdowns
The Cowboys scored three touchdowns on Sunday thanks to a punt return by Dwayne Harris, an interception return by Brandon Carr, and a fumble recovery return by Jason Hatcher.
The only other time the Cowboys scored on three returns was almost exactly 47 years ago. On November 7, 1965, in a game against San Francisco, the Cowboys scored on a kickoff return by Mel Renfro, a fumble recovery return by George Andrie, and an interception return by Bob Lilly. These touchdowns did not occur in the same quarter, but they did occur in the same half.
Dallas won the game 39-31. It took a fourth quarter touchdown pass from Don Meredith to Bob Hayes and a field goal by Danny Villanueva to put the game away.
2 Returns for Touchdowns
In nine other games, Dallas managed two returns for touchdowns. In chronological order:
October 14, 1962, Dallas 41, Philadelphia 19: Amos Marsh returned a kickoff 101 yards, and Mike Gaechter returned an interception 100 yards. It marked the first time in NFL history that two players on the same team had returns of at least 100 yards.
October 3, 1966, Dallas 52 Pittsburgh 21: Lee Roy Jordan returned an interception for a score, and Renfro returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
September 18, 1983, Dallas 28, N.Y. Giants 13: Dexter Clinkscale returned an interception for a score, while Michael Downs returned a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
September 9, 1985, Dallas 44, Washington 14: Happy birthday to Joe Theismann. Interception returns by Victor Scott and Dennis Thurman.
December 19, 1994, Dallas 24, New Orleans 16: Emmitt Smith suffered a costly hamstring injury in this win. Tony Tolbert and Darrin Smith returned interceptions for touchdowns.
September 21, 1998, Dallas 31, N.Y. Giants 7: Jason Garrett would remember this one because he started for the Cowboys. Deion Sanders would also remember it. He scored on both an interception return and a punt return.
October 3, 1999, Dallas 35, Arizona 7: This was Michael Irvin’s last full game. George Teague returned an interception for a score, while Greg Ellis returned a fumble 98 yards for another touchdown.
November 4, 2001, N.Y. Giants 27, Dallas 24: Dexter Coakley and Mario Edwards scored on interception returns, but Clint Stoerner’s four interceptions killed the Cowboys in a loss.
December 5, 2010, Dallas 38, Indianapolis 35: Interception returns by Orlando Scandrick and Sean Lee kept the Cowboys in the game at Indianapolis, which the Cowboys won in overtime.