now browsing by tag
It’s old news now that the Cowboys have released receiver Miles Austin. For two seasons, Austin looked like the next coming of Drew Pearson—a free agent receiver with first-round talent. He was a key part of the Cowboys’ playoff season of 2009 following his breakout performance against the Kansas City Chiefs that year.
He was less impressive though still dangerous in 2010. Since that time, he has battled hamstring injuries and has not produced as he did in 2009.
Here are some final stats related to Austin’s time in Dallas:
1. Austin was primarily a kick returner between 2006 and 2008. He averaged 24.1 yards per return on 89 kickoff returns. The biggest moment of his early career occurred in the 2006 playoffs against the Seattle Seahawks, when Austin returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to give Dallas a 17-13 lead. It marked the only time that Austin ever scored on a kickoff return.
2. Austin caught his first NFL pass on Thanksgiving Day against the Jets on November 22, 2007. He caught a 17-yard pass on the Cowboys’ opening drive. Dallas later scored on that drive en route to a 34-3 blowout win.
3. His first 100-yard game was against the Green Bay Packers in 2008. He caught passes of 63 and 52 yards to gain 115 yards that night.
4. Other than the Green Bay game in 2008, he did not surpass 45 receiving yards in a game until he started against the Kansas City Chiefs on October 11, 2009. The reason he started was an injury suffered by Roy Williams against the Broncos the week before.
5. His 250 receiving yards against the Chiefs in 2009 are the most in franchise history. He broke Bob Hayes’ record of 246 set in 1966.
6. He had less than 45 receiving yards in only eight games between October 11, 2009 and the end of the 2010 season. He had nine games in which he had more than 100 receiving yards.
7. Austin’s success was critical for the Cowboys in 2009. Dallas had released receiver Terrell Owens and needed a playmaker to emerge. Despite starting only nine games, Austin caught as many passes (81) as Owens had in 15 games in 2007, which was Owens’ most productive season in Dallas. Austin finished with 1320 yards and 11 TDs in 2009. Owens had 1355 yards and 15 TDs in 2007.
8. Between 2011 and 2013, Austin had only three 100-yard receiving games.
9. In the three season finales against the Giants, Redskins, and Eagles in 2011, 2012, and 2013, Austin caught a combined total of four receptions for 42 yards.
10. Austin’s last 100-yard game with the Cowboys came on October 28, 2012, when he caught nine passes for 133 yards.
11. His last touchdown reception as a Cowboy occurred on December 23, 2012 against the New Orleans Saints.
12. Austin caught his last pass as a Cowboy in the fourth quarter of the season finale against the Eagles. The 16-yard pass from Kyle Orton to Austin gave the Cowboys a first down at the Philadelphia 49 with the Cowboys training 17-16. The Cowboys turned the ball over on downs, however.
13. Austin finishes his career in Dallas ranked ninth in receptions. Thanks to his two receptions against the Eagles in his final game as a Cowboy, he surpassed former tight end Doug Cosbie on the team’s reception list (301 for Austin, 300 for Cosbie).
14. Austin ranks seventh in receiving yards but is just 377 yards ahead of Dez Bryant.
15. Austin ranks tenth in TD receptions with 34. Bryant already has 40.
I am trying a new feature during mid-week. It’s called What-If Wednesday. We will review some event (draft, game, or whatever) and consider what might have happened if history had been different. This week’s post focuses on receiver Miles Austin.
In real life…
Between 2006 and week 4 of the 2009 season, Austin had a total of 23 receptions for 435 yards and 4 TDs. His biggest play as a professional was a kickoff return for a touchdown in the 2006 playoffs when the Cowboys faced the Seahawks (better known for Tony Romo’s fumble while holding a field-goal attempt).
Although Austin showed some big-play potential, he was never a major weapon. He caught a 42-yard touchdown pass in the season-opener in 2009 but failed to catch a pass two weeks later against the Carolina Panthers.
He got more opportunities to see the field when the 2-2 Cowboys visited the 0-4 Chiefs in week 5 of the 2009 season because of an injury to Roy Williams. The game was nearly a disaster for Dallas, as the Chiefs took a 13-3 lead in the second half. However, Austin caught touchdown passes of 59 and 60 yards in the fourth quarter and in overtime, giving the Cowboys a 26-20 win.
After the bye week in 2009, the Cowboys faced the Falcons, Seahawks, and Eagles. In real life, Austin scored four combined touchdowns in those three games, including the game-winner against the Eagles, and those three wins improved the team’s record to 6-2. The Cowboys wound up with an 11-5 record and won the NFC East. The team beat the Eagles in the playoffs for the Cowboys’ first playoff win since 1996.
What if Austin had not had a breakout game against the Chiefs?
At the time the Chiefs had taken a 13-3 lead, Austin had caught four passes for 71 yards. Until that point, he had never caught more than three passes in a single game. Without his performance in the fourth quarter and in overtime against the Chiefs, the Cowboys would have had to mount a comeback with Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd. It’s fair to say that the Cowboys likely would have lost and dropped to 2-3.
The bye was the next week after the Chiefs game, and the chances that Jerry Jones would have fired Wade Phillips immediately were substantial. Nobody had forgotten that the Cowboys had missed the playoffs in 2008, and calls for Phillips’ head were loud and clear.
Of course, Jason Garrett was still considered a solid candidate to become a head coach, so what ended up happening in 2010 likely would have happened in 2009.
2. The Cowboys miss the 2009 playoffs.
Without Austin, the Cowboys likely lose one or more of the three games against the Falcons, Seahawks, and Eagles. The Cowboys lost three of their next five after beating the Eagles in the actual season, so the chances that Dallas would finish at 11-5 would have dropped precipitously. And as it turns out, any record below 11-5 in the NFC in 2009 would have eliminated the Cowboys from the playoffs.
3. The Cowboys still take Dez Bryant in the 2010 Draft.
The Cowboys would have had a greater need at receiver in 2010 without Austin as a clear-cut starter. Even with a higher pick, though, the Cowboys would not have had great options in the 2010 draft. The team might have taken Demaryius Thomas (taken at #22 by the Broncos), but there is a better chance the Cowboys still would have taken Dez Bryant.
4. The Cowboys retain Patrick Crayton in 2010.
The Cowboys would had few options if they wanted to pursue a receiver in free agency in 2010. Three of the free agents were former Cowboys in Terrell Owens, Antonio Bryant, and Joey Galloway, and none of them were coming back. The other free-agent names—Derrick Mason, Nate Burleson, Kevin Walter, Arnez Battle, Marty Booker, Chris Chambers, Muhsin Muhammad— were no better.
With Austin as nothing more than a fourth or fifth receiver, the Cowboys would have Roy Williams and Dez Bryant as the starters. Patrick Crayton would be far less expendable, so the chances that the Cowboys would have kept him would have been much greater.
5. Without Austin, the Cowboys would have an even longer playoff drought.
Although injuries slowed Austin in 2011 and 2012, he was a major factor in the team turning the 2009 season around and winning the franchise’s first playoff game since 1996. Without Austin, the Cowboys would have likely missed the playoffs in 2009 and would probably have had the same success (that is, lack of success) since 2010.
In other words, without Austin’s breakout performance, this team could be suffering through a five-year playoff drought, and the gap between playoff wins could be 16 years.
6. Jason Garrett would not still be the coach in 2013.
If the Cowboys’ last playoff game were indeed the 2007 loss to the Giants in the NFC divisional playoffs, it is very difficult to believe that Jason Garrett would survive as head coach between 2009 and 2013. In fact, if the Cowboys had the same fortunes in 2010 without Austin as they had with him, Jones probably would have fired Garrett then and started over.
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.
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.
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.
Until 2006, the Cowboys managed to have two receivers hit the 1,000-yard mark in the same season once. That occurred in 1979 when Tony Hill and Drew Pearson passed the mark.
Since 2006, the Cowboys have have four pairs reach 1,000 yards. This included Terry Glenn and Terrell Owens (2006), Owens and Jason Witten (2007), and Witten and Miles Austin (2009 and 2010).
It is possible that the Cowboys could have three receivers surpass 1,000 yards this year. Dez Bryant already has 1,028 yards. Witten has 880 yards, while Austin has 819. There are three games remaining, and two of the defenses (Saints and Redskins) are not especially good at defending the pass.
Below is a list of the 1,000-yard receivers in team history.
Jerry Jones called the Cowboys’ 19-14 win over Carolina “beautiful.”
And there were, to be sure, some stats that looked better to Dallas fans than some in previous weeks—Carolina had more turnovers, more penalties, and fewer points than the visiting Cowboys.
But there were the negatives, leading at least one person to call the win “f’ugly.” (My 12-year-old can figure that one out later.)
Ugly, as in a 14-13 fourth-quarter deficit to a team that entered the game with a 1-4 record. Ugly, as in a team that needed a few lucky breaks at the end to propel the Cowboys to the win over the previously 1-4 team.
Some expected the Dallas offense to have a great game on the ground and also to take advantage of a weak Carolina secondary. Miles Austin had a decent game (5 rec., 97 yards, 1 TD), but few other Cowboys stood out. Dez Bryant only managed 2 receptions for 14 yards. Felix Jones could not match his totals from last week’s game against Baltimore, gaining just 44 yards on 15 carries.
On a more positive note, a member of the Dallas secondary finally recorded an interception when Morris Claiborne picked off a Cam Newton pass in the end zone, ending a Carolina drive. Except for a couple of drives in the second quarter, the Cowboys managed to contain Newton.
The Cowboys held 3-0 lead when Claiborne intercepted the pass. Dallas moved into Carolina territory, but when Miles Austin caught a pass over the middle, he couldn’t keep his hold on the ball, fumbling it back to the Panthers.
Ten plays later, and Carolina led 7-3 thanks to a touchdown pass from Newton to Brandon LaFell. The Dallas pick was important, but the fumble was more costly.
Fortunately, Austin made amends in the third quarter. He caught consecutive passes of 36 and 26 yards, respectively. The second was in the end zone, giving Dallas a touchdown and a 10-7 lead. Dallas later extended the lead to 13-7 on a Dan Bailey field goal.
Carolina started a drive early in the fourth quarter and benefited from a personal-foul call on Jay Ratliff along with a defensive holding penalty on Brandon Carr. A Mike Tolbert touchdown gave the Panthers a 14-13 lead with 11:38 remaining.
The teams exchanged possessions before the Cowboys managed a drive for the go-ahead field goal. One controversial call was on a 3rd-and-9 play from the Carolina 15 when Jason Garrett called a simple draw that wasn’t about to get a first down. Nevertheless, Bailey was good on a 28-yard field goal to give Dallas a lead.
On the next drive, Carolina moved to its own 40 but faced a fourth-and-1. Dallas was caught with the wrong personnel, and it appeared that Dallas was going to be called for too many man on the field. However, the Cowboys managed to call a time out.
On the fourth-down play, Newton’s pass to Louis Murphy was incomplete, and it looked as if Claiborne got away with interference. Nevertheless, Dallas took over at the Carolina 40.
More luck on the next drive when referees called James Anderson was called for a horse collar, even though replays showed the Anderson did not have his hands inside Philip Tanner’s shoulder pads.
Bailey’s fourth field goal of the game gave Dallas a 19-14 lead. Newton could not lead Carolina on a miracle comeback, so Dallas picked up its third win of the season.
The Cowboys are now tied with the Eagles with a 3-3 record, while Washington falls into last place with a 3-4 record. Dallas hosts the Giants next week.
The team needed a receiver, though, given that Terry Glenn had played his final game. The other receivers were a 29-year-old Patrick Crayton and a 35-year-old Terrell Owens. Miles Austin wouldn’t break out for another year. Dallas took Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins in the first round and had the 61st overall pick, which was near the end of the second round.
Dallas got Texas A&M tight end Martellus Bennett. In 9 games as a rookie, he had 4 TDs. Of course, after 48 games as a Cowboy he still had the same 4 TDs.
Over the first 9 games of the 2011 season, he had 6 receptions for 49 yards. He wasn’t close to scoring a touchdown.
It’s now 2012. Bennett plays for the Giants. After he caught 6 passes for 73 yards against the Panthers tonight, his totals for the season are now 15 receptions for 185 yards with 3 TDs.
So his performance thus far has more than a few people wondering if his failure here was more about the Cowboys failures or more about Bennett finding new life. Some quotes:
Zordon (no relation) on CowboysZone:
This is getting ridiculous. Lets try to leave all of the off the field stuff out of this. What exactly is it that makes him have 4 touchdowns in 4 years in Dallas and 3 touchdowns in 3 games in New York? What the hell is it?! Is it the culture? Is it Romo vs Eli? Is it the coaches? I’m starting to wonder…my mind is literally blown by this. Please help me out b/c it’s depressing seeing him play like this for the enemy.
oneluv77 at DallasCowboys.com:
Bennett has the physical tools, he young.. and we got nothing from him. Another wasted pick.
Yeah he’s dropped passes, but the Giant’s still called his number and he’s made key play’s.
It seems like he never played with confidence when he was here.
And a couple of tweets:
Don't buy the bull that there wasn't room in Cowboys' passing game for Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett. Look at Patriots' TEs.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) September 21, 2012
Yes, Martellus Bennett is making some plays right now – he's a talent – but he'll let down the Giants when they need him most. Dallas knows.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) September 21, 2012
No, I’m certainly not asking anyone to agree with Skip.
Jerry Jones didn’t have a great weekend. His Arkansas Razorbacks were worse than some Division 1-AA (or whatever they’re called now) schools in a 52-0 loss to Alabama on Saturday.
On Sunday, former Razorback Felix Jones returned the opening kickoff for the Dallas Cowboys against the Seattle Seahawks. He fumbled. Seattle recovered. Seattle kicked a field goal. Seattle didn’t trail again.
There was more fun on special teams. Jones returned the second kickoff 16 yards, and the Cowboys managed to gain five yards. On a punt attempt, Seattle’s Malcolm Smith raced up the left side of the Dallas line and managed to block Chris Jones’ punt. Jeron Johnson recovered the loose ball and scored, giving Seattle a 10-0 win.
I mean lead, not win. My apology.
The Cowboys moved the ball on its next drive only to have Romo throw an interception while trying to throw the ball across the field from his right to his left. Seattle couldn’t capitalize, and the Cowboys were able to move the ball on their next possession as well. Romo hit Miles Austin on a 22-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 10-7 with 12:09 left in the second quarter.
Dallas had momentum and managed to hold Seattle to a three-and-out. The game never got closer, though.
The Cowboys punted the ball right back to the Seahawks, who drove for a field goal. Dallas had a chance to drive for another score in the final two minutes. Felix took the Seattle kickoff eight yards deep and decided to run it out.
He made it to the 15. The Dallas drive stalled at the Seattle 40. Halftime score: 13-7.
Nobody has provided a good reason why Felix is still getting time on the field.
Anyway, former Arkansas Razorback Jimmy Johnson said the Cowboys were going to dominate the second half. I cannot think of any analogy that would express how wrong he was.
The Cowboys had the ball on four drives in the second half, and the team gained 81 yards. Meanwhile, Seattle and its rookie quarterback completely controlled the Dallas defense, which simply could not make stops when it needed to. Seattle had one 90-yard drive followed by an 88-yard drive to put the Cowboys out of their misery.
* * *
After last week, three teams in the NFC East were 1-0, and two of those teams were the Cowboys and Redskins. The third was an Eagles team that barely beat a bad Cleveland team.
At one point today, the Giants trailed Tampa Bay by a score of 27-13. The Eagles trailed Baltimore 23-17 in the fourth quarter.
Of course, the Giants and Eagles have had a bit more success than the Cowboys and Redskins in the past few years. And, of course, both figured out how to win those games.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys went through the motions in Seattle, while the Redskins lost a 21-6 lead to the hapless Rams on their way to a 31-28 loss.
Anyway, I suggested last week that this was definitely a new year. I meant that literally.
The 2006 season was the first one I covered for this blog. The Cowboys looked very mediocre early that season as Drew Bledsoe continued to earn a “statue” nickname and Terrell Owens did little to help the Cowboys stand out.
Then came the emergence of a new quarterback. He played college in Charleston, Illinois, which is where I was born. The college was Eastern Illinois University, which is where my father received two degrees. The new QB was also the kick holder, which is the nickname I used on here because I couldn’t think of anything else.
I’m not sure what all of that was supposed to mean, but none of it turned out to be good luck in the end. The Cowboys made the playoffs as a wildcard but had to travel to Seattle to face the defending NFC Champions.
Though Dallas fell behind in the second half, a 93-yard kickoff return by an unknown receiver named Miles Austin gave the Cowboys a lead. In the fourth quarter, that lead was 20-13.
Then came what amounted to an implosion. Dallas had the ball at its own 2 with 6:42 remaining. Romo threw a short pass to Terry Glenn, who fumbled. This lead to a safety (after a review), and the Dallas lead shrank to 20-15.
Though Seattle regained the lead, the Cowboys were still in a position to win the game. Many tend to forgot that with just under two minutes left to play, Romo hit Jason Witten on a 3rd-and-7 play, and the original mark gave Dallas a first down at the Seattle 1. Had the spot held up up, the Cowboys would have run down the clock and probably kicked on third down. Had there been an error on the snap, the Cowboys would have had a second chance.
Instead, the replay moved the ball to the 2, and Dallas faced a fourth down. Here’s the play that everyone does remember:
My comments after the game:
How is it that I use the name kickholder on here even though I haven’t actually been a kick holder since high school (er… I guess I did hold some kicks on the practice squad in college, but that is beside the point)? And how does the Cowboys season end? On a dropped snap by Tony Romo when he served as a kick holder.
* * *
Anyway, I well beyond sick right now and hope that the shock keeps me numb for a couple of days. Nothing good can possibly come from this loss or this season as a whole, unless you want to prove the Dallas Cowboy franchise is one that has no clue how to win in this league on a consistent basis. Enjoy the off-season, boys.
Tony Romo's QB rating vs. the Giants was 129.5. That is the 8th best game of his career in those terms. http://t.co/0be2YhO7
— kickholder (@kickholder) September 8, 2012
That ranks as his 8th best game in terms of passer rating. Here is a list of those 8 games.
148.9 (vs. Tampa Bay, 2006: 22-29, 306 Yds., 5 TD, 0 Int.)
148.4 (vs. Buffalo, 2011: 23-26, 270 Yds., 3 TD, 0 Int.)
141.7 (vs. Philadelphia, 2007: 20-25, 324 Yds., 3 TD, 1 Int.)
141.6 (vs. Atlanta, 2009: 21-29, 311 Yds., 3 TD, 0 Int.)
141.3 (vs. New York Giants, 2011: 21-31, 321 Yds., 4 TD, 0 Int.)
140.6 (vs. Tampa Bay, 2009: 16-27, 353 Yds., 3 TD, 0 Int.)
133.9 (vs. Tampa Bay, 2011: 23-30, 249 Yds., 3 TD, 0 Int.)
129.5 (vs. New York Giants, 2012: 22-29, 307 Yds., 3 TD, 1 Int.)
Interestingly, it is not his best game against the Giants in this regard. His performance on December 11, 2011 at home against New York was better on paper.
The difference: when the game was on the line against the Giants in 2011, Romo and Miles Austin could not hook up on a pass that would have put the game away.
On Wednesday, with the game on the line, Romo made a great throw to Kevin Ogletree on third down to secure the win.
This list gives us reason to look forward to September 23, when the Cowboys host Tampa Bay. In three starts against the Buccaneers, his total numbers have been 61 completions on 86 attempts for 908 yards with 11 TDs and 0 interceptions. That’s good enough for a three-game passer rating of 144.7.