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Philadelphia 33, Dallas 10: No Thanks

Many of us looked like this for three hours on Thursday.

Many of us looked like this for three hours on Thursday.

Last Sunday evening, the Giants tore through the Dallas defense to take a 21-10 lead. The Cowboys might have had a much more difficult time coming back had Barry Church not picked off an Eli Manning pass in the third quarter, after which Dallas scored to take the lead. Of course, Dallas won the game after a clutch drive in the final two minutes.

On Thanksgiving Day, the Eagles made it look even easier to run through the Dallas defense. With the Eagles leading 23-7 in the third quarter, it looked like Dallas got another big break in the form of a turnover. The Cowboys stripped LeSean McCoy from the ball and recovered at the Philadelphia 13. DeMarco Murray then gained nine yards on first down, giving Dallas a 2nd-and-1 from the Philadelphia 4.

A touchdown would mean the Cowboys would cut the lead to 9 with about 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter. That would have been a manageable deficit.

Instead, the Cowboys lost a total of six yards on the next two plays and had to settle for a field goal. The deficit was still 13.

And the Dallas defense still could not stop the Eagles. On the next drive, Philadelphia went 80 yards on six plays, capped off by a 38-yard touchdown run by McCoy. The touchdown extended the Eagle lead to 30-10 and ended the competitive phase of the game.

Romo played his worst game of the season, throwing for less than 200 yards with two interceptions. The Eagles contained the entire Dallas offense, holding Murray to 73 rushing yards and Dez Bryant to 73 receiving yards. McCoy outgained their combined yardage total with 159 rushing yards.

The loss drops Dallas (8-4) to second place in the NFC East with four games remaining. In the wildcard race, the Seahawks and Lions both have 8-4 records as well. Dallas would win the tiebreaker with Seattle because of the Cowboys’ win over the Seahawks earlier this season. Detroit, however, has a better conference record than Dallas.

Even worse, Seattle looks like it is on a roll, winning two straight without giving up a touchdown. The Lions ended a two-game losing streak by beating Chicago today, and Detroit faces Tampa Bay, Minnesota, and Chicago during the next three weeks.

Dallas Cowboys: Ten Pivotal Regular Season Games, Part 2 (1970)

This is the second part of a ten-part series focusing on ten pivotal regular season games in the history of the Dallas Cowboys.

Not all famous games will appear on this list. For example, the Mad Bomber game from Thanksgiving Day in 1974 is a famous game, but it was hardly pivotal, given that the Cowboys missed the playoffs that year.

Likewise, Roger Staubach’s final regular-season game against the Redskins was unforgettable, but the Cowboys turned around two weeks later and lost to the Rams in the playoffs.

Instead, this series focuses on games that marked turning points—good and bad—in franchise history.

1970November 22, 1970: 

Dallas 45, Washington 21

“Road to the Super Bowl Begins in Washington”

By 1970, the Dallas Cowboys had become Next Year’s Champions. The team had highly successful regular seasons but faltered in the playoffs.

The 1970 season looked different, but not in a good way. The Cowboys started out with a 5-2 record before losing to the New York Giants on the road on November 8. One week later, the bottom fell out as the Cowboys lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, 38-0.

Nine weeks into the season, the Cowboys were 5-4. They trailed both the Cardinals and the Giants in the division and had already lost to the Cardinals twice.

It appeared that Dallas would miss the playoffs for the first time since 1965. This was hardly the best start to the first season after the NFL-AFL merger.

Fortunes changed on Sunday, November 22.  Quarterback Craig Morton, who entered the game with a completion percentage of 41.5, hit on 12 of 15 pass attempts. His two touchdown passes in the second quarter helped the Cowboys build a 24-7 halftime lead en route to a 45-21 rout.

The Cardinals ended their game in a tie with Kansas City. St. Louis improved to 8-2-1 the following week but lost three straight to end the season at 8-5-1.

The Giants lost two of their last five to finish at 9-5.

Meanwhile, Dallas won its final five games of the regular season to win the division with a 10-4 record. The Cowboys then beat the Lions and 49ers in the NFC playoffs to reach the Super Bowl.

Of course, Dallas lost to the Colts in Super Bowl V, so this season did not have a happy ending. Nevertheless, the team had gone one step further than it ever had, setting the stage for their first championship season one year later.

Previously:

Part 1, December 5, 1965: “A Loser No More”—Dallas 21, Philadelphia 19

 

Dallas Cowboys Quote Trivia: Rotating the Secondary

quotation-marksThe Cowboys have had some great players in the secondary, but the team had to make adjustments even in the era of the Doomsday Defense.

Here’s a quote about one member of the secondary.

He’ll be an outstanding player at safety, whether he makes his move there this year or next season.

Trivia question: Who was the player?

This may help—

On the same day Tom Landry made this statement, the Cowboys announced they had traded Craig Morton to the New York Giants in exchange for New York’s number one draft pick.

The Giants finished 2-12 that season, meaning the Cowboys held the second overall pick the follow season.

The Cowboys selection? Hall-of-Famer Randy White.

 

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Quote Trivia: Finishing .500 in 1965

Three hours before the season finale against the New York Giants on December 19, 1965, Bob Hayes gave his thoughts about the game. His quote:

Yankee Stadium, man. It’s going to be fun.

Dallas Morning News writer Gary Cartwright’s reply: “Fun? It was a genuine riot.”

The Cowboys blew out the Giants, 38-20. The win allowed Dallas to finish with a .500 record at 7-7, marking the first time in franchise history that Dallas did not have a losing record. The Cowboys advanced to the 1965 Playoff Bowl, where Dallas lost to Colts, 35-3.

Hayes caught two touchdown passes from Don Meredith in the win. Meredith only completed 8 passes, but three were for touchdowns.

The trivia question for today is below—

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

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A Complete History of Win One, Lose One

I noted on Tuesday that the Cowboys had opened their season with a win followed by a loss five times since 1997. In each of those seasons, the Cowboys won their third game.

win-someIn team history, the Cowboys started with a win followed by a loss 11 times. During those seasons, the Cowboys have an overall 8-3 record during their their third game.

Here is a complete list:

1974: Beat Atlanta, lost to Philadelphia, lost to N.Y. Giants

1980: Beat Washington, lost to Denver, beat Tampa Bay

1984: Beat L.A. Rams, lost to N.Y. Giants, beat Philadelphia

1985: Beat Washington, lost to Detroit, beat Cleveland

1990: Beat San Diego, lost to N.Y. Giants, lost to Washington

1991: Beat Cleveland, lost to Washington, lost to Philadelphia

1997: Beat Pittsburgh, lost to Arizona, beat Philadelphia.

1998: Beat Arizona, lost to Denver, beat N.Y. Giants.

2005: Beat San Diego, lost to Washington, beat San Francisco.

2009: Beat Tampa Bay, lost to N.Y. Giants, beat Carolina.

2012: Beat N.Y. Giants, lost to Seattle, beat Tampa Bay.

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Cowboys-Chiefs Instant Trivia: Another Unique Score

cowboys.question.mark

Some random trivia items focusing on yesterday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs:

The Dallas Cowboys have played 862 regular-season and playoff games. I have no idea what the actual odds of this happening are, but how possible is it for the Cowboys to play back-to-back games with final scores unique to any of the other 860 games?

Last week, the Cowboys beat the Giants 36-31, marking the first time the Cowboys have ever played in a game with that particular score.

Yesterday, the Cowboys lost a game with a final score of 17-16 for the first time ever. The Cowboys had previously played in one game with a score of 17-16, but that was in a win over the New York Giants on October 29, 1961.

* * *

KC quarterback Alex Smith frustrated the Cowboys with his running yesterday, leading all rushers with 57 yards on 8 carries. Andy Reid apparently found a read-option quarterback where one did not previously exist.

Smith’s previous high rushing mark before yesterday was 49 yards against Buffalo in 2012. He has gained 30 or more yards only 7 times during his career.

Smith had faced the Cowboys only once previously in 2011. He had only 21 rushing yards for the 49ers then.

* * *

Reid coached the Philadelphia Eagles for 14 seasons. He faced the Cowboys 29 times during that period, including the playoffs.

During that time, the Eagles had some athletic quarterbacks, including Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, and Jeff Garcia.

Also during that time, a total of 22 Eagles rushed for 57 or more yards against the Cowboys.

How many of those players were quarterbacks?

Just one. McNabb rushed for 67 yards in a 2002 game and 58 yards in a 2000 game.

* * *

Jason Witten now ranks second on the all-time list of receptions by a tight end.

Few doubt that Witten is the greatest tight end in franchise history. Of course, he plays in a different era than the likes of Billy Joe DuPree, Doug Cosbie, and Jay Novacek, but Witten’s numbers are amazing even considering that he plays in such a pass-happy league now.

Consider this: DuPree, Cosbie, and Novacek combined to catch 906 passes for 10,869 yards. Witten’s current numbers include 817 receptions for 9,030 yards.

* * *

During five seasons dating back to 1997, the Cowboys have won their season opener only to lose their second game of the season.

The good news? In each of those five seasons, the Cowboys have won their third game. A review:

1997: Beat Pittsburgh, lost to Arizona, beat Philadelphia.

1998: Beat Arizona, lost to Denver, beat N.Y. Giants.

2005: Beat San Diego, lost to Washington, beat San Francisco.

2009: Beat Tampa Bay, lost to N.Y. Giants, beat Carolina.

2012: Beat N.Y. Giants, lost to Seattle, beat Tampa Bay.

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Recent 1-0 starts by the Dallas Cowboys

It would seem that an opening-game win for an NFL team would be significant.

For the Dallas Cowboys, a fan could point to a huge 45-35 win over the New York Giants in 2007 as a catalyst for a 13-3 season.

A win during Kickoff Weekend is usually good for the Cowboys.

A win during Kickoff Weekend is usually good for the Cowboys.

Conversely, a fan could look at the team’s disappointing loss to the Redskins to open the 2010 season as a major factor in the team’s 6-10 record.

A opening-game win, though, is hardly a predictor. For instance, the 2003 Cowboys opened with a loss to the Falcons, but the Cowboys wound making the playoffs with a 10-6 mark.

One year later, the Cowboys opened with a loss to the Vikings, but the Cowboys reversed their record from a year before by going 6-10.

In 2011, the Cowboys lost a frustrating game in New York, falling to the Jets in a 27-24 loss. The team finished at 8-8.

In 2012, the Cowboys won on the same field, beating the Giants, 24-17. The team finished 8-8.

So how much does the opening-game win mean? Consider this:

The Cowboys won five of their last ten opening games dating back to 2003 (not including the recent win over the Giants).

In the five seasons when the Cowboys have gone 0-1, the team has had a combined record of 39-41 with two playoff appearances.

By comparison, when the team has gone 1-0, the Cowboys have a combined record of 50-30 with two playoff appearances.

Incidentally, the last time the Cowboys went 2-0 was 2008, when the team finished poorly and wound up missing the playoffs with a 9-7 record.

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Cowboys vs. Giants: Instant Trivia

cowboys.question.markA few trivial items about the Dallas Cowboys’ 36-31 win over the New York Giants, along with tidbits about the series:

  • The Cowboys now lead the overall series 59-42-1.
  • The Giants’  four-game winning streak at Cowboys Stadium was the longest for New York at Dallas. The Giants had won three straight at Texas Stadium between 1988 and 1990.
  • This was the first time the Cowboys had ever played in a game with a final score of 36-31.
  • The game marked the seventh time in the series where the Cowboys scored 36 or more points. The most points scored by the Cowboys against the Giants was 52 in 1966.
  • The Cowboys trailed in every game in 2012. The Cowboys did not trail at all on Sunday night.
  • The Cowboys recorded 6 or more turnovers in 23 previous games.
  • The Giants have turned the ball over six or more times against the Cowboys in 4 previous games.
  • The most turnovers committed by the Giants against the Cowboys was 7 in 1961. Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle threw four interceptions on October 15, 1961, but the Giants still won 31-10 at the Cotton Bowl.
  • Sunday night’s game marked the 7th time where the Cowboys have given up 400 or more passing yards.
  • The Giants have thrown for 400 or more yards against the Cowboys three times: twice by Eli Manning (2011 and 2013) and once by Phil Simms (1985).
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Dallas 36, N.Y. Giants 31: Cowboys Rediscover Turnovers

During the first quarter of last year’s 24-17 win by the Cowboys over the New York Giants in the season opener, the Dallas Cowboys forced running back David Wilson to fumble the ball. The Cowboys’ offense turned around and did next to nothing.

Jason Witten caught two touchdown passes in a 36-31 win by Dallas over the New York Giants.

Jason Witten caught two touchdown passes in a 36-31 win by Dallas over the New York Giants.

That was a key pattern of 2012. For the season, the Cowboys only forced 16 turnovers and only managed 52 points off turnovers to rank 27th in the league.

During the first half of tonight’s game, the Cowboys managed to force three turnovers. Points off those turnovers?

Three.

Then came the second half. On the Giants’ first offensive drive of the second half, Wilson fumbled, and Barry Church returned a fumble recovery 27 yards for a touchdown.

Later in the quarter, the Giants’ Trumaine McBride touched the ball on a punt return, resulting in a muff. DeVonte Holloman recovered the ball, and the Cowboys managed to score another touchdown later in the drive.

Finally, with the Giants trailing 30-24 with two minutes remaining, Eli Manning tried to throw a screen pass to running back Da’Rel Scott, but Scott did not turn around in time. Brandon Carr picked off the pass after the ball bounced off Scott’s shoulder, and Carr returned the pick 49 yards for the Cowboys’ final score.

Three turnovers and 21 points off those turnovers (6 turnovers for 24 points for the game). Quite a difference from 2012.

The team’s 36-31 win certainly wasn’t perfect. The Cowboys took a 13-point lead with 12 minutes remaining, but no lead in the former Cowboys Stadium is safe when the Giants are in town.

A short summary of the Giants’ wins at Dallas since 2009:

2009: The Giants trailed 31-30 but drove the length of the field in the final seconds for the game-winning field goal.

2010: The Cowboys saw a 20-7 first-half lead dissolve into a 38-20 deficit in what turned out to be a 41-35 Dallas loss.

2011: The Cowboys took a 34-22 lead in the fourth quarter, but the Giants managed to score twice in just over three minutes to pull out a 37-34 win for New York.

Dallas should have been able to put this game away much earlier, but the secondary could not avoid major breakdowns. Hakeem Nicks had a 57-yard reception in the first quarter, and Victor Cruz had a 70-yard touchdown in the second quarter to keep the game close.

The Cowboys led 13-10 at the half thanks to two field goals and a touchdown pass from Tony Romo to Jason Witten.

Following Church’s touchdown in the third quarter, the Cowboys extended the lead when Romo hit Witten again on a four-yard touchdown. The second score gave Dallas a 27-10 lead.

Dallas once again could not stop Cruz, who ended up scoring three touchdowns. His last touchdown came after the Cowboys had kicked a field goal and cut the Dallas lead to 30-24.

For part of the final nine minutes, it felt as if the Cowboys would let the win slip through their fingers. However, the Cowboys held the Giants to a three-and-out with just over five minutes left, and then Carr’s interception sealed the win for Dallas.

Below is my Facebook thought near the end of the game. Please note that I backed off my “solid defense” reference in the comments:

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Simulations: Cowboys Will Edge Giants in Season Opener

The Cowboys host the Giants on Sunday night to open the 2013 season.

The Cowboys host the Giants on Sunday night to open the 2013 season.

The Cowboys never beat the New York Giants at Cowboys Stadium. Nevertheless, in the first regular season game at the renamed AT&T Stadium, the Cowboys enter as 3.5-point favorites.

Results of most of the polls show that fans are split about who will win. As for predictions through simulations, most predict the Cowboys will edge the Giants for the first win in Dallas since the season-opener in 2007.

A few of the previews:

Team Rankings

Dallas 25.3, N.Y. Giants 22.4

numberFire

Dallas 24.7, N.Y. Giants 23.9

WhatIfSports

Dallas 26, N.Y. Giants 25

Here is video preview provided by Football Gameplan. It’s worth watching (and predicts a Dallas win):

 

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