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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.
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.
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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
Hard to believe that football returned to NBC seven years ago as NBC Sunday Night Football. The Dallas Cowboys played in the second regular season game on this program, beating the Washington Redskins 27-10 on September 17, 2006.
The Cowboys will appear on Sunday Night Football for the 22nd time on November 10. It is also the third time this season for Dallas to play in primetime.
Including the two previous games this year, the Cowboys have a combined record of 12-9 in the previous 21 games. Here are a few trivia items about those games:
- The Cowboys have played division opponents on Sunday Night Football 15 times, including 5 games against the Redskins, 4 games against the Eagles, and 6 games against the Giants.
- The only AFC team the Cowboys have faced on Sunday night since 2006 were the Jets in 2011.
- The Cowboys had a 10-2 record on Sunday night between 2006 and 2009. However, after the Cowboys lost to the Redskins to open the 2010 season, the Cowboys lost 7 straight between 2010 and 2012.
- The Cowboys’ first loss on Sunday night was against the Saints, who the Cowboys play this Sunday. That was a matchup between Bill Parcells and his former assistant, Sean Payton. New Orleans destroyed Dallas, 42-17.
- ESPN (and for some time, TNT) aired games on Sunday night from 1987 through 2005. The Cowboys appeared on Sunday night 17 times during those years and had a total record of 5-12.
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In the Saints’ win over the Cowboys in 2006, one player for New Orleans scored 3 touchdowns.
In his career, this player scored a total of 7 touchdowns.
Who was it?
The Dallas Cowboys abandoned the run on Sunday like they never have before.
During the time that Tom Landry coached the Cowboys, the team never had fewer than 16 rushing attempts in a single game. Between 1960 and 1988, the Cowboys played 64 games in which they ran the ball 25 or fewer times. The team’s record in those games was 11-53.
Since 1989, the Cowboys have played 24 games in which they rushed 15 or fewer times in a game. Until Sunday, the team had a combined record of 0-23 in those games. Thanks to Sunday’s game, the team’s record in those games is 1-23.
The team’s previous low in rushing attempts was 10, set in 1989 in a 28-0 loss to New Orleans and again in 2011 in a 34-7 loss to Philadelphia.
Dallas became the second team in 2013 to have only 9 rushing attempts. The other team was Baltimore, which ran the ball 9 times for 24 yards in a 23-20 loss at Buffalo. Teams that have ran the ball 15 or fewer times have a combined record of 4-16. The Cowboys’ previous low this year was 14 attempt in the 51-48 loss to Denver.
Here is a chart showing games in which Dallas has ran the ball 15 or fewer times:
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The Cowboys had only 36 rushing yards on Sunday. That number did not set a franchise low, however.
Dallas has rushed for 36 or fewer yards in 15 games. The team’s combined record in those games is 2-13.
The previous win game in 1987, when Dallas ran the ball 24 times for 26 yards in a 33-24 win over the New York Giants. Tony Dorsett had one of the worst games of his career, gaining just 3 yards on 14 carries. He lost his starting job two weeks later.
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If Jerry was going for the creepy-old-man look, he nailed it next to Selena Gomez, who will perform at halftime on Thanksgiving.
A trivia question I could not answer: name one song that Selena Gomez sings.
Of course, my daughter might watch football on Thanksgiving this year. Thanks, Jerry!
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.
In 1971, Dallas faced New Orleans in October at time when Tom Landry was still alternating between Roger Staubach and Craig Morton. The result was a disaster for the Cowboys—a 24-14 loss that dropped the team’s record to 3-2. The Cowboys needed to forget that game and the six turnovers the team committed.
Of course, the Cowboys returned to New Orleans the following January and won Super Bowl VI.
Two years later, the Saints visited Dallas on a Monday night in September. It was the second appearance for New Orleans on Monday Night Football.
The Saints probably wanted to forget that one. The Cowboys scored three touchdowns in the third quarter and turned a 12-3 game into a 40-3 rout. New Orleans quarterback Archie Manning only managed 97 passing yards, and the team fumbled six times (though only lost one of those fumbles).
Robert Newhouse scored two touchdowns for the Cowboys, while Calvin Hill led the overall rushing attack with 71 yards.
Some interesting side notes:
* The headline for the Dallas Morning News on the morning after the game (September 25, 1973): “Nixon Moves to Kill Panel Bid for Tapes.” This was during a time when Richard Nixon was still refusing to release tapes that may have recorded conversations regarding Watergate. Judge John Sirica eventually issued a subpoena for those tapes. Want more? See Wikipedia.
* The Cowboys beat the Bears, Saints, and Cardinals to start the 1973 season at 3-0. However, Dallas stumbled and lost three of its next four.
* In 1971, Manning scored on a two-yard run to put the game away in a 24-14 win over Dallas. However, Manning never beat the Cowboys again, losing in 1973, 1978, and 1982 (the latter as a member of the Houston Oilers).
* Archie’s sons have fared a bit better than his 1-3 mark vs. Dallas. Peyton has a 2-2 record against Dallas, while Eli has a 10-7 mark.