Jerry Jones joins The Fan to speak about his teams victory over the Redskins on Sunday, and looking forward the Lions this weekend.
Dallas Cowboys have a new identity … Jason Garrett’s crew has put egos aside and turned into a bunch of grinders
IRVING, Texas — This is a different Dallas Cowboys team than you’re used to seeing.
There are no diva wide receivers being brought in to jump-start the offense.
Forget about high-priced free-agent offensive linemen or safeties leading the charge.
If we’ve learned anything from the first month of the 2011 season, it’s that these Cowboys are more homegrown. And if a free agent is signed from another team, don’t expect a fancy news conference announcing the deal.
The past nine games under Garrett have been decided by three points or fewer, the longest stretch of games with such a slim point differential in league history (the Cowboys are 5-4 in those games). The previous record was held by one of owner Jerry Jones’ old buddies, Al Davis. The Raiders were involved in six straight games by three or fewer points from 2004 to 2005.
“I think we talked about it earlier in camp, a lot of games come down to these situations and we need to be ready to go,” tight end Jason Witten said. “You saw all the situational football we worked on [in training camp] and to be in a situation where we can handle it, and I feel like our team has done a good job of it so far. We need to continue doing it.”
Yes, you get a big play here and there, like QB Tony Romo’s 77-yard strike to WR Jesse Holley in San Francisco and Romo’s 30-yard pass to WR Dez Bryant in the Monday night win over the Redskins. But you also get the little plays.
You see LB Anthony Spencer smother Redskins TE Chris Cooley at the start of his route, preventing QB Rex Grossman from completing a swing pass in the flat.
You see LB DeMarcus Ware flush Grossman out of the pocket, leading to a Spencer strip-sack that forced a game-clinching turnover Monday.
If you’re going to grind, you put your ego aside.
There was LB Bradie James on the kickoff unit Monday night so second-year player Sean Lee, who is having a wonderful start to the season, could catch his breath.
LB Keith Brooking put his ego aside, knowing he’s still going to play, so Lee can start at inside linebacker.
DE Marcus Spears put his ego aside so his good friend Jason Hatcher could take over at defensive end.
Players are playing nicked up.
In San Francisco, there was WR Miles Austin, with one leg bothering him and the other carrying him along to the tune of nine catches for 143 yards and three touchdowns. CB Mike Jenkins is so banged up he’s living in the ice tub. He’s got a bruised shoulder, a sore knee and he’s recovering from a stinger.
RB Felix Jones is battling through a dislocated shoulder.
Witten is playing with bruised ribs, but the vest he wore Monday night was bothering him, so he took it off and played without it.
Let’s not forget Romo, who recovered from a small puncture of his lung and needed two pain injections to play in the home opener.
This might not have happened under former coach Wade Phillips.
While the players liked Phillips — and won two NFC East division titles for him — they didn’t pour out their hearts and souls for him often.
It seems this group is doing it for Garrett.
There was Garrett, on the sidelines hugging Spencer, a man who questioned his own abilities, for making the big play on Monday.
Dan Bailey, the rookie kicker who was wide right on a 21-yarder at Candlestick Park, was smiling after making six field goals in the Cowboys’ win versus the Redskins.
Bryant is perhaps the only diva on the team — and he’s under some control.
He went on a sideline rant during the MNF game, upset about something. He walked along the sidelines yelling, and nobody really said anything to him. But wide receivers coach Jimmy Robinson was there to lend an ear to a young receiver who is still learning the game.
No fuss. No controversy.
Whether this transfers into victories — because that’s what these people are playing for — is uncertain. At least in September, the Cowboys can say they’re in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East.
And that’s a good thing going into Sunday’s home game against the Detroit Lions.
“No team has been like this — gritty,” Ware said. “No matter what happens, let’s go out there and just grind. If it’s 16-15 with one second left, let’s go out here and grind this one play because that builds that team unity.”
Laurent Robinson is new to the Cowboys, but he’s not new to the NFL. He’s a five-year veteran, and his experience showed Monday night in his first game with the Cowboys.
His 22-yard catch and run in second quarter helped the Cowboys in the drive that put them ahead 9-6, and his 25-yard catch in the fourth quarter set up the field goal that cut the lead to 16-15.
He also came back for a catch from a scrambling Tony Romo after a bad shotgun snap.
“He was quarterback-friendly, made a couple of plays after the catch, running with the football and made some big plays in the game,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.
Robinson, a third-round pick in 2007 by the Atlanta Falcons, played 20 snaps and said he didn’t miss an assignment.
“None. I was real proud of that,” he said.
Robinson spent training camp with the San Diego Chargers, who released him in the final cut. The Cowboys signed him four days before the season opener, released him, then re-signed him two days after the New York Jets game.
“I thought he did a nice job for a guy who hasn’t been here very long,” Garrett said. “He stepped in there and played well within our scheme.”
Robinson spent two years in Atlanta and two years with the St. Louis Rams. He came to the Cowboys with career numbers of 89 catches for 1,000 yards and four touchdowns.
“I think this is a good fit for me,” he said. “I just feel good about it. I feel confident. Hopefully, I can continue progressing every week and getting better.”
The Cowboys knew when they released veteran Roy Williams before training camp that there would be some growing pains among their young receiving corps. With Miles Austin still rehabbing a hamstring injury, the Cowboys’ top four receivers are Dez Bryant, Kevin Ogletree, Laurent Robinson and Jesse Holley. They have a combined 25 starts, 88 games, 164 catches, 2,051 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Robinson is the most veteran of the group, with five years of experience, 20 starts, 39 games played, 92 catches, 1,049 yards and four touchdowns. But he has spent only 15 days with the Cowboys, having been signed before the Jets game, released after a hamstring injury and then re-signed Sept. 20.
Robinson said he didn’t have a missed assignment in the 20 plays he played Monday night against the Redskins. The same can’t be said for the other three receivers who played. They struggled to get on the same page with quarterback Tony Romo on Monday night.
“We were playing some young receivers and dealing with some receiver injuries going into the game and also throughout the game,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday. “I thought for the most part the receiver group played a pretty good ball game. They made some plays when they needed to, kept coming, battling and fighting, and ultimately we had a pretty good yardage production from our receiver group and in our passing game. But ultimately, we’ve got to get better in all areas. There were some young guys who made some mistakes. And that’s part of the deal. We just have to learn from them. We’re very process-oriented here, as you’ve heard me say before. So regardless of whether or not we win or lose a game, we’re going to go back and look at these games play by play and try to instruct our players as best we can and make them teaching opportunities, and there certainly were plenty of them on Monday night.”
Romo, who completed 22 of 36 passes for 255 yards with no touchdowns and one interception against the Redskins, told reporters in Detroit he isn’t worried about his young receivers.
“They’ll get it right,” Romo said on the conference call Wednesday. “Obvoiusly, if you were watching the game, you could tell there were a couple of things we need to execute on better. That’s what practice this week is for. We’re going to make sure we get these guys going. They did a good job today. It’ll be good to go on Sunday.”
The Cowboys have no plans to seek a veteran receiver on the free agent market.
IRVING — Cowboys veteran linebacker Bradie James, one of the team’s captains, recently approached special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis and the coaching staff about helping out on special teams.
James – in his ninth season with the Cowboys – hasn’t played on special teams since early in his career, but on Monday night against Washington James was on the team’s kickoff coverage unit twice.
James declined to comment Wednesday about his conversation with DeCamillis about playing on special teams.
James’ playing time has decreased this season with second-year linebacker Sean Lee starting and James sharing time with veteran Keith Brooking.
RELATED: James playing special teams
Cowboys linebacker Bradie James has had his playing time reduced by the emergence of second-year veteran Sean Lee. James has played only 76 of 180 defensive plays.
So James, one of the team’s defensive captains, volunteered to play special teams.
James wouldn’t talk about it Wednesday, but he covered two kickoffs Monday night. It was the first time since early in his career that the nine-year veteran has played on special teams.
James has led the team in tackles for six consecutive seasons. He is 11th this season with eight tackles.
After Monday night’s victory over the Redskins, James talked about the need to be unselfish to help the Cowboys get to where they want to go.
“Man, we’ve got the right type of guys on the team, and we’ve got to keep them,” James said. “Everybody has to play unselfish for us to be successful. And that’s really what it’s about, man.”
Dan Bailey made all six of his field-goal attempts, and with David Buehler nursing a strained groin, he had two touchbacks on kickoffs. Bailey’s performance led to a local debate about whether the Cowboys need two kickers on their 53-player roster.
But owner Jerry Jones said Buehler’s job is safe.
“We want David Buehler to get well,” Jones said on his weekly radio show on KRLD-FM. “He will need the bye to really get well, I think. We need that kickoff deep in that end zone. That touchback is an important part of the game.
“…Buehler is too big of an asset for us not to count on him the rest of the year.”
Buehler has 56 touchbacks in his career. He also was the field-goal kicker last season, but made only 24 of 32 last season and missed two extra points.
IRVING – When asked if he would play Sunday against Detroit, Cowboys defensive end Jason Hatcher looked over at Marcus Spears and smiled.
“Ask Marcus,” Hatcher said.
By that point, Spears had already declared he was starting and by doing so he all but confirmed that Hatcher would be sidelined with the left-calf strain he suffered Monday in the first quarter of the Cowboys’ 18-16 victory over Washington.
Hatcher said he was “feeling better” despite not participating in practice Wednesday and wearing a bandage wrapped around his lower leg. The Cowboys hope he makes a rapid recovery after he distinguished himself as the most productive defensive lineman in the first three weeks of the season, when he collected nine tackles and two sacks.
But Spears said he is prepared to handle Hatcher’s workload.
“I’ve been doing this for a while,” said Spears, who has started 78 games in his career. “I don’t look at it as an opportunity. I look at it like I’m going out playing like I’ve always done.”
ARLINGTON – Tony Romo may never become more than a very good regular-season quarterback for the Cowboys, but it’s hard to deny how much he’s grown in the eyes of his teammates the last few weeks.
If anyone doubted Romo in the Cowboys’ locker room going into the San Francisco game, that is no longer an issue.
Romo bashers – and I’ve been one at times – can’t say anymore that the quarterback lacks passion for and commitment to football because of his off-the-field interests in golf and his seemingly laid-back demeanor (the smiling, the backwards cap, his past comments about how football isn’t life or death).
After Romo played the last two weeks with a broken rib – and even a punctured lung against San Francisco – his toughness and dedication to football is undeniable.
Before leading the Cowboys to a win over Washington on Monday night, Romo took two pain-killing shots so he could play. He wore a protective vest to help with the pain as well.
Leading up to the game, he hurt so badly that he had to sleep in a chair and couldn’t even go through all the team’s pre-practice stretching routine Saturday because of his pain.
“The team is actually seeing what he’s about,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after the win over the Redskins, “and it’s very tangible, but boy that’s going to be a big asset for us going forward.”
It was a big asset for the Cowboys before the Redskins’ game.
Second-year wide receiver Dez Bryant warmed up before the Washington game – testing out his deep quadriceps bruise – and said it “is killing me.”
Bryant had done the same thing the week before at San Francisco and shut it down. He was inactive against the 49ers. But now, with Romo leading the way by playing despite a broken rib and having punctured his lung the week before, Bryant said he had to play Monday. How could he sit out again with a bruise when Romo was setting an example of playing despite a severe injury?
“But just watching Tony,” Bryant said, “I didn’t even care about my quad.”
See, that’s leadership. We can talk all about how Romo e-mailed his teammates to organize player-run summer workouts during the 4½-month NFL lockout and even how he used a whistle to lead the practices, but what Romo has done the last two weeks overshadows that threefold.
Suddenly, no one is barking about how Romo is 3-7 over his last 10 starts. Funny how that changes after a few gut-it-out victories.
Around here, it’s simple: Win games. Shut mouths. Change perceptions.
IRVING — Cowboys safety Gerald Sensabaugh isn’t intimidated by having to defend arguably the NFL’s best receiver this Sunday.
The starting safety said he feels like he has a chance against any receiver as long as he’s not 7-foot-10.
Well, there’s the problem. Johnson plays bigger than 7-10.
The Detroit Lions wideout, nicknamed Megatron, is 6-5, 240 pounds and has a 42-inch vertical. And if that wasn’t scary enough, the second overall pick of the 2007 draft doesn’t have a weakness in his game.
Johnson is quick, athletic, strong and can make any catch that’s thrown in his direction. He is the best jump-ball threat in the NFL and showed last week in overtime that he is capable of making difficult grabs over his shoulder while being draped by a defender.
“He’s a big play guy,” Sensabaugh said. “You always have to account for Calvin. He’s been making those plays in this league for years. He’s a real tall guy, real athletic, able to go up and get the football. We have to make sure that he’s taken care of, make sure he is accounted for.
“Calvin is just in his own league with what he does. He’s super big, a lot of guys aren’t as big as he is. He has good hands and he’s able to make plays, especially those jump-ball catches that he seems to come down with all of the time.”
Johnson leads the league with six touchdown catches this season, despite often facing double and triple coverage.
Cowboys linebacker Bradie James joked Wednesday that he wouldn’t mind playing quarterback if a player as talented as Johnson was one of his receivers.
“You throw it up, man, he can go get it,” James said. “He’s about 11-feet tall and he doesn’t mess around.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday that Johnson was “arguably the best player in the NFL.”
The wide receiver most associated with Johnson is Andre Johnson of the Texans. The Houston playmaker is slightly smaller (6-3, 225) but has the same type of effect on opposing defenses. In comparison, Andre Johnson has more catches, yards and touchdowns over the last four seasons. But when he was recently asked if he was the best receiver in the NFL, the former Miami Hurricane gave that honor to the man in Detroit.
“No. I’m not the best,” Andre Johnson said during a Miami radio interview. “I’m a big fan of Calvin. Calvin Johnson. Right now I would probably say he is the best.”
The problem for opposing defenses is that Johnson, who has put up quality numbers during his first four seasons in the NFL, has been outstanding without quarterback Matthew Stafford. With him, the Lions could have an outstanding duo for quite a while.
Before Stafford arrived, many of Johnson’s catches came from quarterbacks named Orlovsky, O’Sullivan, Stanton and Henson. None had anywhere near the ability of Stafford.
“He’s able to make pretty much every throw and he has the weapons around him to make him blossom,” Sensabaugh said of Stafford. “I think without Calvin he’d still be pretty good. It’s not necessarily all Calvin.”
IRVING, Texas — Thirty-six hours after managing his fractured rib with two pain-killing injections and a protective vest in the win over Washington, quarterback Tony Romo participated in a limited portion of Wednesday’s light practice.
“The communication I’ve had with Tony and also with our doctors and training staff would suggest that he came out of the game fairly well,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “The Kevlar vest certainly helped. I don’t think there’s any reason for him to take that thing off, at least for a little bit.”
Said Romo via conference call with the Detroit media: “It’s coming along. As long as you win games, it feels good.”
Wide receiver Dez Bryant (thigh) was also limited in practice. Fellow starting receiver Miles Austin (hamstring) missed practice and will likely be held out through the team’s Week 5 bye, team owner/GM Jerry Jones said on KRLD-FM.
When Nick Fairley fell to Detroit in April’s draft, their selection of the Auburn defensive tackle served notice to teams across the NFC that the Lions’ interior line could be something to fear.
With Fairley, one of the most disruptive players in college football last year, teamed up next to the 2010 Defensive Rookie of the Year, Ndamukong Suh, the Lions have the potential for the best tandem of defensive tackles in the league in years to come. However, the recovery from foot surgery during training camp has been slow-going for Fairley, and NFL.com reports the Lions are not expecting him to play against the Cowboys on Sunday.
The Lions have a pretty formidable tackle playing alongside Suh, anyway, in veteran Corey Williams, formerly of the Browns. Kyle Vanden Bosch is the team’s sacks leader on the outside, with 3.0 on the year, one ahead of Sug.
Even without Fairley, the Lions are doing something very right on defense.
Along with the Cowboys, they’re one of only three teams ranking in the top 10 both offensively and defensively, and currently have allowed the third-fewest points per game in the league, 15.3.
As close as Monday’s win over the Redskins was, it’s quite possible the Cowboys would have lost the game if not for three fortunate bounces on shotgun snaps from Phil Costa to Tony Romo.
The Cowboys say the problem was that Washington’s defensive front was barking out signals of their own to try and disrupt the offense’s communication, which should be a penalty. With the umpire moved behind the offense since last season, though, it’s more difficult for him to tell who’s yelling what in the trenches.
After the game, the Cowboys promised they would be in touch with the league to find a solution. Jason Garrett said he did believe the extraneous noise was to blame for the botched snaps.
“We haven’t gotten a clarification with them yet, and to be honest with you, that’s not something we’re overly concerned about,” Garrett said. “We need to be able to handle that situation, and we’ll do a better job of that going forward. A lot of times there’s noise at the line of scrimmage, and we just need to be able to decipher what’s our noise and what’s their noise.”
Before the wild hikes began, Costa was flagged for double-clutching a snap in the second quarter. Garrett said he still anticipated some word from the league.
“I think certainly the NFL understands what was going on,” Garrett said. “They’re trying to address it and handle it the right way, but we haven’t had much communication with them.”
For the first time in Cowboys history, a player has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Month.
That would be the surprise element here, not the actual player who received the honor. Certainly it would be linebacker Sean Lee, who has been a phenomenal in three games this year.
Just before the start of the season, the Cowboys named Lee a starter, which forced veterans Keith Brooking and Bradie James into a rotation. That move has proven to be one of the best made by the Cowboys and new coordinator Rob Ryan.
Lee has been all over the field and filling up the stat sheet. Through three games, Lee has two interceptions – both of which have led to scores for the offense. Lee also recovered two fumbles, including one in the fourth quarter Monday night against Washington that clinched the Cowboys’ 18-16 win. Lee also has three pass deflections and one tackle for loss.
Lee leads the Cowboys with 36 tackles, with Gerald Sensabaugh second on the squad with just 17. Combined, Brooking and James (18) have exactly half than Lee’s 36 tackles, which unofficially ranks third in the NFL, although teams chart their own tackles.
A second-round pick last year, Lee’s rookie season started out with an injury and that trend continued throughout most of the season although he did provide some highlights, including a two-interception game against the Colts. In that game, Lee returned one Peyton Manning interception for a touchdown and the second one, an overtime pick, led to the game-winning field goal.
Obviously, that game has proven to be just a glimpse of what Lee has shown in his second year.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo blamed the Washington Redskins for the problems he had fielding snaps from center Phil Costa in Monday night’s 18-16 Dallas victory. Costa snapped the ball a number of times before the quarterback was ready.
Romo accused Redskins defenders of yelling out their own snap count, attempting to fool Costa. “We’ve got to get the snap thing worked out,” Romo told reporters after the game. “We’ll get that worked out. We’ll tell the league and see if that’s something that can be fixed because you’re not supposed to be able to do that. So we’ll see. But we can’t have that happen. We shouldn’t have been in that situation.”
NFL rules prohibit defensive players from making “disconcerting signals” by pretending to call out the quarterback’s cadence.
Costa, however, said he just has to do a better job.
“It’s just being patient,” Costa said. “Just trying not to hear them and trying to hear Tony.”
ARLINGTON — Smiling broadly, Jason Garrett dropped to a knee and pumped his fist repeatedly after Anthony Spencer sealed the Dallas Cowboys’ 18-16 win over Washington with a strip sack recovered by Sean Lee with 28 seconds left.
Garrett later explained that his emotional celebration was a show of appreciation for the perseverance the defense displayed in helping the Cowboys (2-1) hold off their NFC East rivals.
“As a coach, it’s hard not to get emotional when you see the effort of those guys up front continuing to stay after the quarterback, determined to make a play,” Garrett said Monday night. “The whole crew was just working so hard throughout the game. We knew they were going to make a play.”
Two of Dallas’ three sacks of Rex Grossman came in the final four minutes. The offense also delivered late, producing drives that set up two Dan Bailey field goals in the final 6:58, including the 40-yard winner with 1:47 left.
Bottom line: The Cowboys delivered in crunch time.
Improved fourth-quarter play was a huge training camp goal for Dallas after it was outscored 126-111 in the final period last season. After the New York Jets outscored the Cowboys 17-7 in the fourth quarter of the season-opening 27-24 loss, Dallas has outscored its past two opponents 19-3 after the third quarter en route to winning both games.
That’s a sign of growth for a team that seems to play nothing but down-to-the-wire games under Garrett, who is 7-4 since replacing Wade Phillips last season.
Each of the Cowboys’ past nine games has been decided by three or fewer points, which is the longest streak of games with that point differential in NFL history. Oakland owned the previous record, stringing together six such games in 2004-05.
Dallas is 5-4 over that span, with two wins coming in OT. Before winning their last two games, the Cowboys were 4-11 in their past 15 games decided by a touchdown or less.
“If you look at statistics in the NFL, two out of three games last year were within one score in the fourth,” Garrett said. “We play a lot of those games. You have to understand, and you have to believe you can make the plays when necessary.”
The Redskins gained a 16-9 lead on a 1-yard pass from Grossman to Tim Hightower with 19 seconds left in the third. But instead of hanging their heads, the Cowboys hung tough.
Quiet most of the night, DeMarcus Ware had a huge sack in the fourth. Another late contributor was Felix Jones, who overcame an injured shoulder to finish with 115 rushing yards on 14 carries, including 58 yards on four carries in the fourth.
“We had to just keep banging away,” Garrett said.
Then there was Tony Romo.
Hampered by the fractured rib he sustained in the OT win at San Francisco in Week 2, Romo finished with a subpar 70.9 passer rating.
But he was at his improvisational best when he scrambled right before lofting a pass to Dez Bryant for a 30-yard gain on third-and-21 from the Dallas 30 with 2:08 left. The gain was increased to 45 yards thanks to a facemask penalty against DeAngelo Hall.
Four plays later, rookie Bailey made the winning kick from 40 yards, giving him a franchise rookie record six field goals.
“It didn’t matter what was really happening in the game. We just kept playing hard,” Spencer said.
Said Romo: “It was a great example of us grinding, continuing to go forward.”
“Our young guy, Sean Lee, is playing out of control,” linebacker Bradie James said, unable to hold back his enthusiasm. “We’ve got to keep him. We’ve got to keep the fire lit under him.”
Lee also broke up two passes against the Redskins, and he’s shown sure hands when he gets a chance to catch the ball.
“If they keep throwing me the ball, I’ll take it, and I enjoy it,” Lee said. “It’s all of us. The whole team worked. You look at our defensive line tonight, I thought they did a great job against the run. I was playing off them all night because they were holding up offensive linemen, and the secondary did a lot of great things.”
James said the defense is working as a unit right now, with each position doing its part.
“Man, we got the right type of guys on the team, and we got to keep them,” James said. “Everybody has to play unselfish for us to be successful. And that’s really what it’s about, man.”
Lions coach Jim Schwartz is preparing his team to face off against the pass rush of the Cowboys. But he says there’s more to it than DeMarcus Ware.
“Spencer on the opposite side is really good. Ratliff in the middle is really good, and they have a scheme where they use a lot of different players interchangeably,” he said on his radio show in Detroit on Tuesday.
Ware leads the NFL in sacks with five, and the Cowboys have 13 in three games. Last week, the Lions gave up five sacks. They hadn’t given up any in the first two games.
Schwartz didn’t blame his tackles, although he benched right tackle Gosder Cherilus after two series last week because he wasn’t stopping Vikings defensive end Brian Robinson.
“We had a snap-count problem on one; we had a receiver run a wrong route on another. Those things can make an offensive tackle look bad,” Schwartz said. “One, the guard should be helping on one. It’s easy to blame a corner when a wide receiver gets a touchdown. It’s easy to blame the quarterback when a ball gets intercepted. It’s easy to blame an offensive tackle when a quarterback gets sacked or hit. But sometimes the truth lies somewhere else.”
Schwartz also talked about playing at Cowboys Stadium. The Lions lost 35-19 last November in their first appearance at Cowboys Stadium.
“That’s a unique place,” Schwartz said. “It seems like it never ends. It’s just one level after another. It’s a very unique stadium. And like I said, it’s tough to win on the road. The Metrodome is as loud as any place in the NFL, and each one has little different challenges. One of the interesting things about Dallas is you walk through a sports bar on your way out to the field. And you’re right there. They rope off sort of the center section, and you walk right through on your way out. There’s people in there drinking and eating wings and things like that, and you’re walking out to coach a football game.”
He started out as the quiet, rookie kicker who was anything but a household name. But after making six field goals Monday night against the Redskins, including the game-winning kick to lift Dallas to an 18-16 win, which followed two clutch kicks to beat San Francisco the week before, Dan Bailey is certainly making a name for himself.
The rookie from Oklahoma State was recognized by the league on Tuesday, being named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Bailey becomes the first Cowboys’ place-kicker to win the award since Nick Folk won it after his game-winning kick in Buffalo back in 2007.
However, the Cowboys have now continued their streak to six straight seasons of having at least one Special Teams Player of the Week winners. Last year, cornerback Bryan McCann won the award for his impromptu punt-return touchdown against Detroit. Other recent winners include Patrick Crayton, Felix Jones, Sam Hurd and Mat McBriar.
Bailey was also one of the five rookies up for the Pepsi Rookie of the Week award.
These good fortunes are quite a turn for Bailey, who missed a 22-yard chip shot field goal in San Francisco that seemed to cloud his future at the position. Instead, he’s made eight straight kicks, including a clutch 47-yarder to force overtime against the 49ers, and then a 19-yard kick to win in overtime, along with six straight against the Redskins.
Bailey set a franchise rookie record with six field goals against the Redskins, one short of Chris Boniol’s seven made kicks in 1996 against the Packers. Ironically enough, Boniol is Bailey’s kicking coach.