Daily Archives: December 16th, 2012

MOTHERS LOVE TRUMPS BOOMER: Jerry Jones defends having Josh Brent on sideline despite criticism

Jerry Jones defends having Josh Brent on sideline despite criticism

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he stands behind today’s decision to have defensive tackle Josh Brent on the team’s sideline for the Pittsburgh game despite criticism from network television analysts and some Cowboys’ fans.

Jones said Brent, who is facing charges of intoxication manslaughter related to last week’s death of former teammate Jerry Brown, joined the Cowboys on the sideline for the team’s first home game since the Dec. 8 accident because that was the desire of Stacey Jackson, Brown’s mother. Jones said Jackson specifically asked team members to support Brent, Brown’s best friend and roommate, because the family loved him and urged the Cowboys to “give your brother love.”

“Our team and our players wanted him today on the sideline,” Jones said. “Jerry’s mother asked us directly as a group. She said, ‘Support him. Help him. He needs your help. Jerry wants that. I want that.’ His teammates asked him to come and be down there with them.”

The move triggered negative feedback from some Cowboys’ fans, who responded via Twitter and email once it was reported that Brent was on the team’s sideline. During Sunday’s telecast, CBS analyst Boomer Esiason called it “disgraceful” that Brent was standing with his teammates. During the network’s pregame show, Esiason said: “Football players are an example and Josh Brent is the worst of those examples.”

Jones said he realizes “there’s the other side of the coin” in regard to Brent’s situation but he stood by the team’s decision despite any criticism it generated. So did coach Jason Garrett, who said the move was “initiated by our players” and aimed at honoring Jackson’s wishes.

“She considers Josh a son and she loves him very much,” Garrett said. “We’re going to try and support him every way that we can.”

The Cowboys began Sunday’s game with a moment of silence for Brown as well as the victims of Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

MILESTONES: Dallas Cowboys vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

With today’s overtime win, the Dallas Cowboys are 8-6, giving the club its 37th season with a finish of .500-or-better.

Today’s win also gave Dallas wins in three straight games for the first time this season.

Today was the second time this season Dallas played in an overtime game, and it was the club’s second overtime win of the season, 19th in franchise history. Dallas owns a 19-13 overtime record and a 6-4 home overtime record.

The win also gave Dallas a 3-0 record this December, guaranteeing the club a winning record in the month for the first time since 2001 when the club went 3-2.

Miles Austin caught a team-high seven passes for a team-best 79 yards. His receptions total today gave him 273 for his career to pass Billy Joe DuPree (267) for 12th in team history.

Dan Bailey was true on both of his field goal tries tonight – 50 and 21 yards. His 21-yarder came with 13:41 remaining in the overtime period, giving Dallas the 27-24 win. Today was Bailey’s third game-winning kick of the season and the seventh of his career. His seven tie Rafael Septien for the most in team history.

Dez Bryant caught four passes for 59 yards and a touchdown today. He upped his career receptions total to 187 to break a tie with Lance Rentzel (183) for 22nd in franchise history.

Bryant’s touchdown catch today was his sixth consecutive game with a touchdown reception, the longest streak in his career, tied for the fourth-longest streak and tied for the second-highest streak figure in franchise history.

For the season, Bryant has a career-high 10 touchdown receptions. This season is the 16th time a Cowboys pass catcher reached double-digit touchdown receptions and Bryant is the ninth different Dallas Cowboy to accomplish the feat.

Brandon Carr improved his club-high interception total to three with his interception in overtime. Along with his pick last week, it was the first time in his career he had interceptions in consecutive games.

Sean Lissemore notched his first sack of the season today to give him 3.5 for his career.

Brady Poppinga has his first start as a Dallas Cowboy today as the club opened with five linebackers.

Tony Romo finished today’s game completing 30-of-42 passes (71.4%) for 341 yards, two touchdowns and a rating of 111.3. He upped his season passing attempts total to 568 to establish a single-season club record:

Single-Season Pass Attempts

Player Attempts Season
Tony Romo 568 2012
Tony Romo 550 2009
Danny White 533 1983
Tony Romo 522 2011
Tony Romo 520 2007

Romo’s 30 completions today gave him 379 completions this season to extend his single-season club record:

Single-Season Pass Completions

Player Completions Season
Tony Romo 379 2012
Tony Romo 347 2009
Tony Romo 346 2011
Tony Romo 335 2007
Danny White 334 1983

Romo’s 341 yards today gave him 4,269 for the season, the fourth 4,000-yard season in his career, the fourth in team history and the second-most yards in a season in club books.

Single-Season Pass Yards

Player Yards Season
Tony Romo 4483 2009
Tony Romo 4269 2012
Tony Romo 4211 2007
Tony Romo 4184 2011
Danny White 3980 1983

Romo’s 341 yards today also gave him 25,103 for his career, making him the 64th quarterback in NFL history to reach 25,000 career passing yards.

In reaching 25,103 career passing yards today, Romo passed Tommy Kramer (24,777), Bob Griese (25,092) and Ken O’Brien (25,094) for 62nd in all-time passing yards.

In reaching the 300-yard mark with 341 yards today, Romo improved his club record of 300-yard games to 39. Dallas now holds a 25-14 (.641) record when Romo hits 300-plus yards.

In topping 300 yards again today, Romo has eight 300-yard games this season. His eight tie his club record established in 2009:

300-yard games (season)

Player Games Season
Tony Romo 8 2009
Tony Romo 8 2012
Tony Romo 7 2007
Tony Romo 6 2008
Tony Romo 5 2011

Romo’s two touchdown passes today gave him 54 career multiple-touchdown games to improve his club-high and allow him to place fifth in the NFL since becoming a starter in 2006:

Cowboys Career Multi-TD Games

Player Games
Tony Romo 54
Roger Staubach 48
Danny White 44
Troy Aikman 43
Don Meredith 41

NFL Multi-TD Games (since 2006)

Player Games
Drew Brees 72
Tom Brady* 63*
Philip Rivers 62
Peyton Manning 59
Tony Romo 54
Eli Manning 53
* indicates game in progress  

In completing 30-of-42 passes, Romo completed 71.4% of his passes – his 31st career game with a completion percentage of 70.0-or-more. Troy Aikman has the club high with 39. His 31 are fifth in the NFL since becoming a starter in 2006:

Total 70.0% Games (since 2006)

Player Games
Drew Brees 44
Peyton Manning 43
Philip Rivers 37
Matt Schaub 33
Tony Romo 31

Romo’s 71.4 completion percentage today gave him eight games this season with a completion percentage at or above 70.0, second in a season in franchise history. Aikman has the club-high with eight in 1993.

Romo had a passer rating of 111.3 today. It was his 48th career game with a rating above 100.0 to improve a club record and rank fourth in the NFL since 2006:

Career 100.0 Rating Games (Cowboys)

Player Games
Tony Romo 48
Troy Aikman 44
Roger Staubach 37
Danny White 33
Craig Morton 24

100.0 Rating Games Since 2006

Player Games
Tom Brady* 54*
Drew Brees 54
Philip Rivers 50
Tony Romo 48
Aaron Rodgers 46
Peyton Manning 44
* indicates game in progress  

In leading the Cowboys to an overtime win while trailing in the fourth quarter, today was Romo’s fifth come-from-behind win of the season and the 18th of his career – improving his franchise-high. Romo’s five this season are also a franchise-high. Tied for second with four each are: Roger Staubach (1979), Troy Aikman (1990), Drew Bledsoe (2005) and Romo (2011).

Marcus Spears had his first sack of the season today to give him 10.0 for his career.

Anthony Spencer had 1.5 sacks today to give him 10.0 sacks for the season to improve his single-season career-best. Along with DeMarcus Ware’s 11.5, this season is the first time since 2007 the Cowboys had two defenders top 10.0-or-more sacks – DeMarcus Ware (14.0) and Greg Ellis (12.5). This season is the fifth time in franchise history Dallas accomplished the feat – 1983 (Randy White and Anthony Dickerson), 1984 (Randy White and Jim Jeffcoat), 1985 (Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Jim Jeffcoat and Randy White) and 2007 (Ware and Ellis).

DeMarcus Ware’s half sack gave him 111.0 for his career and moved him into a tie with Randy White for second on the Cowboys all-time (unofficial) sack chart. Harvey Martin is at the top with 114.0

Jason Witten finished today’s game with five catches for 43 yards. For the season, Witten has 97 catches – the most in a season in his career, second-most in a season by a Dallas Cowboy and the fifth-most in a season by an NFL tight end.

Single-Season Receptions (Dallas Cowboys)

Player Receptions Season
Michael Irvin 111 1995
Jason Witten 97 2012
Jason Witten 96 2007
Jason Witten 94 2009
Jason Witten 94 2010

Single-Season Receptions (NFL TEs)

Player Receptions Season
Tony Gonzalez 102 2004
Dallas Clark 100 2009
Tony Gonzalez 99 2007
Jimmy Graham 99 2011
Jason Witten 97 2012
Ben Coates 96 1994
Tony Gonzalez 96 2008
Jason Witten 96 2007

Witten’s 43 receiving yards today upped his career total to 8,832 and allowed him to pass Terance Mathis (8,809) and Terry Glenn (8,823) for 57th on the NFL’s all-time receiving yards chart.

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OVERTIME THRILLER IN DALLAS: Cowboys D comes up big; Steelers denied another win in Cowboys Stadium

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The Steelers came into this game with the top-ranked defense in the NFL. The Cowboys? Well, they had six of their original starters out of the lineup, plus their nickel cornerback, then lost yet another linebacker in the early stages of the game.

But as the old saying goes, the games aren’t played on paper. Instead, it was the Dallas defense that came up big, leading the team to a thrilling 27-24 overtime victory in front of 95,595 raucous fans.

Despite the glaring differences between their defensive units, Dallas’ patchwork side held their own throughout the contest, and when they needed it most, came up with three big sacks late in the fourth quarter. That was followed by a game-changing interception from Brandon Carr in the extra frame, which set up the winning field goal.

It was by no means easy. Twice the Steelers took the lead and three times the game was tied. But Dallas kept battling back.

Pittsburgh put up 388 total yards of offense and did not have a single penalty. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 339 yards on 24-of-40 passing with two touchdowns. His primary target was tight end Heath Miller, who totaled 92 yards on 7 catches, while wide receiver Mike Wallace had four catches for 95 yards.

But on the other side of the ball, the Cowboys were ready for the the mighty Steelers defense, racking up 415 total yards. Tony Romo was again outstanding, throwing for 341 yards on 30-of-42 passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He connected with nine different players, Miles Austin leading the way with seven catches for 79 yards while Dez Bryant and Jason Witten did what they do best, each scoring a touchdown.

Even DeMarco Murray got into the action, rushing for 81 yards on 14 carries with a score. By comparison, the Steelers only ran for 69 yards as a team.

Continue reading →

SOAKED TEXAS-SIZED TEAR TOWELS: Dallas Cowboys fight for NFC East title

Fans hold up a huge (tear sized) Terrible Towel before the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

The Texas sized Terrible Towels fittingly became Texas-Sized Tear Towels for approximately 15,000 visiting Pittsburgh Steeler fans.

ARLINGTON — Brandon Carr intercepted a pass from Ben Roethlisberger to set up Dan Bailey’s 21-yard field goal in overtime, and the Dallas Cowboys beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24 on Sunday.

The Cowboys won a Bailey kick on the final play for the second straight week since practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown was killed in a one-car accident that led to manslaughter charges against teammate Josh Brent.

Carr intercepted Roethlisberger’s pass along the sideline and returned it 36 yards to the 1. Bailey’s kick came after Tony Romo took a 2-yard loss to put the kicker in better position.

It was a disappointing ending for tens of thousands of Terrible Towel-waving Pittsburgh fans at Cowboys Stadium.

The Cowboys (8-6) moved into a three-way tie for the NFC East lead with the New York Giants and Washington Redskins. The Steelers (7-7) lost for the fourth time in five games.

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE NFC EAST STANDINGS

There were a pair of early Sunday games that had big implications to the Cowboys’ playoff hopes. One worked out for Dallas while the other didn’t. Here’s an updated look at the NFC East standings after the Cowboys’ win this afternoon, the remaining games for the NFC East contenders and a pair of recaps of the Sunday NFC East action (reminder: The Philadelphia Eagles played on Thursday and lost to the Cincinnati Bengals).

NFC East Standings

t-1. Dallas Cowboys: 8-6

t-1. Washington Redskins: 8-6

t-1. New York Giants: 8-6

4. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-10

Remaining games:

Dallas Cowboys: vs. New Orleans, @Washington

Washington Redskins: @Philadelphia, vs. Dallas

New York Giants: @Baltimore, vs. Philadelphia

Recap: Redskins 38, Browns 21

CLEVELAND — Robert Griffin III watched as the Redskins’ other rookie quarterback won again.

Rookie Kirk Cousins threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns filling in for an injured Griffin, leading Washington to its fifth straight win, 38-21 over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Cousins connected with Leonard Hankerson for both TDs in his first career start and the Redskins (8-6) barely missed a beat without the talented and multi-dimensional RG3, who sat out with a sprained knee.

Last week, Cousins came off the bench after Griffin got hurt and rallied the Redskins to an overtime win. Cousins was behind center from the start of this one and delivered a performance that extended Washington’s longest winning streak since 2007 and moved the Redskins into a tie for first in the NFC East.

Rookie Trent Richardson had a pair of TD runs for the Browns (5-9).

Alfred Morris, a childhood rival of Richardson, had two touchdowns for the Redskins.

Wearing a burgundy warm-up suit instead of his No. 10 jersey, Griffin, who sustained a mild sprain in the fourth quarter last week against Baltimore, cheered from the sideline as Cousins kept the Redskins (8-6) moving toward a possible spot in the playoffs.

Cousins may not have RG3’s talent, but the fourth-round pick from Michigan State was efficient, accurate and only made one major mistake — an early interception to set up Cleveland’s first TD.

Cousins finished 26 of 37 as the Redskins improved to 5-0 since their bye. They’ll end the season with games against NFC East rivals Philadelphia and Dallas, teams they beat in consecutive weeks to start their streak.

Griffin’s playing status was in doubt all week before the Redskins surprisingly announced late Saturday night that Cousins would start. If the Browns thought they were getting a break, Cousins proved to be as challenging to stop as his more elusive and hyped teammate.

The Browns (5-9) had their winning streak stopped at three and faint playoff hopes snuffed out. Coach Pat Shurmur’s fate may have rested on the Browns winning out, but that won’t happen and his days in Cleveland could be dwindling quickly.

Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden struggled from the outset. He went 21 of 35 for 244 yards and two picks, both leading to Washington touchdowns.

Cousins’ second TD pass to Hankerson, a 2-yarder, gave the Redskins a 24-14 lead. As Cousins came to the sideline, Griffin gave him a fist bump and then sat on the bench with his backup, who for the past two weeks has shown he too can lead the Redskins to victory.

Washington went ahead 31-14 on Evan Royster’s 4-yard run.

Weeden came back with a 69-yard scoring strike to speedy rookie Travis Benjamin to pull the Browns within 10, but Cousins calmly took the Redskins down the field again with Morris scoring from eight to make 38-21.

The Redskins needed this win, and Cousins made sure they got it.

He shook off the early pick and showed exceptional play faking ability. With Griffin out and inactive, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan had to alter his game plan and Cousins ran it with precision.

Linebacker Rob Jackson’s interception of Weeden helped the Redskins take a 17-14 lead less than two minutes into the third quarter on Morris’ 3-yard TD run.

Jackson picked off Weeden and returned it to the 15. Three plays later, Morris pulled in for his eighth rushing TD, tying the team rookie record set by Skip Hicks in 199

Richardson’s second TD run gave the Browns a 14-10 lead with 1:11 left before halftime.

Cleveland’s offense had been in a funk for most of the second quarter before Weeden completed five passes to get the Browns to Washington’s 3. Richardson did the rest, busting over the left side for his 11th rushing TD. Earlier, he broke Hall of Famer Jim Brown’s 55-year-old team rookie record for rushing TDs.

Kai Forbath’s 44-yard field goal put the Redskins ahead 10-7. Forbath has started his career 15 of 15.

Cousins threw a 54-yard TD pass to Hankerson in the first quarter to tie it 7-7.

The Redskins gained just seven yards on their first four plays before Cousins, rolling right on the kind of play Shanahan has devised to maximize Griffin’s wondrous skills, hooked up with Hankerson.

Browns safety T.J. Ward intercepted Cousins, on a ball tipped by cornerback Sheldon Brown, to set up Richardson’s TD run in the first quarter. Ward returned the pick to Washington’s 6-yard line, where he was tackled by Cousins, who showed good form in preventing an easy TD.

On the next play, Richardson took a handoff to the left side, was stopped at about the 2 and kept his legs and the pile moving into the end zone.

Recap: Falcons 34, Giants 0

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons sent a message to all the skeptics with a resounding victory over the defending Super Bowl champions.

Matt Ryan threw three touchdowns passes and the Falcons defense handed New York its first regular-season shutout since 1996, stifling the Giants 34-0 on Sunday.

Julio Jones caught a couple of scoring throws from Ryan, who broke his own franchise records for completions and passing yards in a season. Matty Ice finished 23 of 28 for 270 yards.

The Falcons (12-2), who have already clinched the NFC South, moved a step closer to locking up home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. One more win would ensure that any postseason contests before the Super Bowl are held at the Georgia Dome.

Eli Manning threw two interceptions for New York (8-6), which dropped into a first-place tie with Washington in the NFC South. Dallas had a chance to make it a three-way tie later in the day, hosting Pittsburgh.

The Giants also went 0-for-3 on fourth down and missed a short field goal.

Despite their lofty record, Atlanta has received plenty of criticism for winning ugly against inferior opponents. A 30-20 loss to last-place Carolina the previous week only seemed to reinforce the notion that the Falcons are headed for another short stay in the playoffs. They have yet to win a postseason game since Ryan took over as the quarterback in 2008, going 0-3.

But one thing the Falcons never seem to do anymore is lose two straight games. They extended the NFL’s longest active streak since consecutive defeats to 49 games, going back to the 2009 season.

For the Giants, it was a miserable performance when they desperately needed a win, at a time of year when they normally play some of their best football.

Manning threw his first pick on the second play of scrimmage, setting up a quick Atlanta touchdown. Coach Tom Coughlin made a curious call late in the first half, passing up another short field goal attempt when his team was almost 2 yards shy of the marker. Asante Samuel batted down a short pass intended for Victor Cruz, sending Atlanta to the locker room with a commanding 17-0 lead and all the momentum.

But even if the Giants had taken the field goal, it’s probably wouldn’t have made much difference.

The tone in this one was set right away.

When Manning attempted to hit Hakeem Nicks on a short pass to the right, Samuel stepped in to make the interception and return it to the Giants 16. From there, Michael Turner ran it four straight times, the last of those a 1-yard plunge that gave Atlanta a 7-0 lead less than 3 minutes into the game.

It was all Falcons after Lawrence Tynes missed a chip shot kick from 30 yards, ruining an impressive second possession by the Giants. Atlanta took it 80 yards from there, with Ryan going to Harry Douglas on a 37-yard gain for the big gainer. Then, on third-and-11 from the 12, Ryan went to his favorite target, Tony Gonzalez, in the end zone. The 16-year veteran leaped over safety Will Hill to haul in the high throw — and hopped up quickly for his customary dunk over the goalposts.

Early in the second half, the Falcons blew it open on Ryan’s 40-yard touchdown pass to Jones down the left sideline. Finally, after a drive that used up more than 9 minutes in the fourth quarter, Ryan went to Jones for a 3-yard TD.

The Giants turned it over one more time in the closing minutes, finishing off their first shutout in the regular season since a 24-0 defeat at Philadelphia on Dec. 1, 1996. The performance came just a week after they put up 52 points on the New Orleans Saints.

There was a moment of silence before the game honoring the Connecticut shooting victims, and the Giants also wore "SHES" decals on their helmets for Sandy Hills Elementary School.

THREE-WAY TIE–THREE WIN STREAK: Dallas Cowboys 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 24

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) adjusts his helmet, revealing his broken left hand - The Boys Are Back blog

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Cowboys extended their season-saving winning streak to three games with a dramatic, 27-24, victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime on Sunday.

The Cowboys season continued their playoff hopes when Brandon Carr intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass and returned it 36 yards to set up the game-winning kick, of 21 yards by Dan Bailey.

When it was over, Miles Austin was pushing his coach, Jason Garrett and Jason Hatcher was hugging him. Emotions are high for the Cowboys with two games remaining in the regular season.

What it means?: The Cowboys are in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East. However, the Cowboys own the tie-breaker over the New York Giants because they have a better division record. Washington is in first place because it owns the tie-breaker over the Cowboys thanks to their Thanksgiving Day victory.

Dez Bryant and the broken finger: Dez Bryant played with a broken left index finger. It was taped up and the tip of the finger was exposed. The Steelers played him tough with double coverage on some passing downs, even dropping a linebacker underneath his routes. Bryant finished with four catches for 55 yards.

The decision: Dwayne Harris caught a four yard pass at the 2:00 mark and after a measurement, coach Jason Garrett elected to punt from his own 21. It would have been a gutsy call late in the game, but it seems as if Garrett was trusting his defense to get him the ball and he didn’t want to put the defense at risk with defending the Steelers deep in their own territory. It ended up not costing the Cowboys anything because the Steelers punted. Garrett had another decision late in regulation, setting up for a 61-yard field goal for Bailey, but after a timeout, he elected to punt the ball eventually forcing overtime.

Cowboys honor victims and a teammate: The Cowboys held a moment of silence for deceased linebacker Jerry Brown and for the victims of Friday’s school shooting in Newton, Conn. The Cowboys had Brown’s jersey on their bench and a No. 53 decal on the back of their helmet. Nose tackle Josh Brent, who was charged with intoxication manslaughter, attended the game.

Who’s next?: If you thought it was loud with Steelers fans at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday, wait until you hear the New Orleans Saints fans who visit here next week. The Saints beat Tampa Bay, 41-0, on Sunday.

NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Dallas Cowboys vs. Pittsburgh Steelers - December 15, 2012 - The Boys Are Back blog

HEAD2HEAD: A look at the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers match up

Pittsburgh returns to Arlington for the first time since it lost Super Bowl XLV in February 2011. This Steelers team doesn’t look nearly as formidable, however. They stand at 7-6 and while they have the top-ranked defense in the NFL they also have a suspect running game and a quarterback, Ben Roetlisberger, who is still trying to regain his form after recently missing three games because of shoulder and rib injuries. The Cowboys, who are also 7-6, are aiming to achieve their fifth victory in their last six games. Here is a look at how both teams match up:

When the Cowboys run

While he Cowboys still can’t depend on their ground attack to move the ball over the course of an entire game, tailback DeMarco Murray has helped give it some punch since he returned to action earlier this month. Murray, who has gained 136 yards in two games after coming back from a sprained left foot, has made an impact. But he will be presented with one of his toughest challenges yet. Pittsburgh’s defense, even though it’s been decimated by injuries, is conceding only 3.69 yards per carry—the fourth-lowest average in the NFL.

Edge: Steelers

When the Cowboys pass

The fractured left index finger Dez Bryant suffered last Sunday could spell disaster for the Cowboys. Bryant, listed as questionable on the team’s official report, was enjoying the most productive stretch of his career, making 33 catches, amassing 525 receiving yards and scoring seven touchdowns in his last five games. Not having Bryant at full strength could be harmful to a passing offense and a quarterback, Tony Romo, that has depended on him. Romo and his receivers will have one of their toughest tests yet. The Steelers have yielded 169.2 passing yards per game – the lowest average in the NFL. They have also allowed 54.2 percent of the pass attempts against them to be completed.

Edge: Steelers

When the Steelers run

Pittsburgh’s most productive back, Jonathan Dwyer, ranks 27th in the NFL in rushing yards. The Steelers have averaged only 98.6 yards on the ground this season. And their running game has accounted for only seven touchdowns – tied for the sixth-lowest total in the league. Yet the Steelers may be able to take advantage of Dallas’ run defense that has conceded 6.1 yards per carry in the last three games.

Edge: Cowboys

When the Steelers pass

Ben Roethlisberger is back. That’s the good news for Pittsburgh. The bad? The two-time Super Bowl winner wasn’t in top form last Sunday in the first game he played since suffering a sprained right shoulder and dislocated rib. In a 10-point loss to San Diego he completed only 52 percent of his pass attempts. That same day, a Cowboys defense that looked ragged in its previous two games stood strong against Andy Dalton, allowing only 206 passing yards and sacking him five times. Whether Dallas can deliver the same punishment to Roethlisberger could be the difference Sunday.

Edge: Steelers

Special teams

There are only four kickers who have made a higher percentage of their field-goal attempts than the Cowboys’ Dan Bailey.  One of them is Pittsburgh’s Shaun Suisham, who has converted 25 of 26 tries. Suisham stands on the opposite side of the spectrum as the Steelers’ Antonio Brown, who has the lowest punt-return average in the NFL. The Cowboys, meanwhile, averted disaster last Sunday. And that’s a good thing for a team that has conceded a blocked punt, allowed a 108-yard kick return and has committed two turnovers on special teams this season.

Edge: Steelers

Intangibles

The Cowboys will play their first game at home since the one-vehicle accident that killed practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown and led to nose tackle Josh Brent being charged with intoxication manslaughter. The team has been through quite an ordeal ever since and head coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys were emotionally “spent” earlier this week. Whether Dallas can regain the energy needed to beat a team fighting for a playoff spot is uncertain. But the Cowboys managed to persevere last Sunday and they may find enough in themselves to be able to so again Sunday.

Edge: Cowboys

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Trackers and Scoreboards

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GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Sounds of the game

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THROWBACK: Very first win for Dallas Cowboys was a memorable one

Fort Worth Star-Telegram staff writer Ray Buck takes a look at the history of the Cowboys – from a great game to a singular moment to a memorable player – this is a reprint of his online-exclusive offering posted Friday, Mar. 21, 2008

In high school, Jerry Tubbs never lost a game.

In college, Jerry Tubbs never lost a game.

Playing for Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma, Tubbs was a big-time inside linebacker on three undefeated teams (1954-56).

This came during Wilkinson’s historic 47-0 run (1953-57) — still an NCAA Division I record.

“I was in the middle of the streak. We went 31-0,” Tubbs said. “To be able to say you never lost a game in college…..well, that’s my greatest claim.

“I was one lucky guy.”

However, Tubbs’ luck quickly ran amok in the NFL.

He was taken by the Chicago Cardinals in the first round of the ’57 draft — 10th overall. Suddenly, he found himself on a perennial loser, playing out of position (outside — not inside), then eventually benched, then cut near the end of his second season.

Although he landed on his feet in San Francisco, where he quickly elevated his pro game, he concluded that it might be time to find a job in the real world.

It was after the ’59 season. He was about to turn 25.

“Coca-Cola had this job opening for a district manager in Arkansas,” said Tubbs, whose idle thoughts became real concerns of 49ers coach Red Hickey.

“Jerry, I’ve got to know,” Hickey told him. “We like you. We want you. But if you’re going to retire, then I’m going to put you on that ‘Dallas Cowboys’ expansion list.”

The color ran out of Jerry’s face.

“I knew an expansion team wasn’t going to win,” Tubbs said. “But I was being honest. I told Red Hickey, ‘Coach, I can’t really tell you what I’m going to do yet.’ And so, he put me on the list.”

As it turned out, Tubbs would spend the next 29 years in Dallas — as a player, then a player-coach, then a fulltime assistant.

Playing/working for Tom Landry would prove to be heaven on earth — but Tubbs had no idea of that in 1960.

He never lost a game in college. Now he would be joining an expansion team that wouldn’t win a game all season. The ’60 Cowboys ended up 0-11-1.

“It looked like we were never going to win a game,” Tubbs recalled.

The closest they came was a 31-31 tie at New York in the next-to-last game of that inaugural season.

Little Eddie LeBaron picked apart a championship-tested Giants defense and snapped the Dallas losing streak at 10. But the non-winning streak would grow to 12 with a season-ending loss at Detroit.

“But I have to tell you, it felt like we won the world championship — when we tied New York,” Tubbs said. “Of course, we didn’t hit the jackpot until the start of ’61.”

“The Jackpot” came Sept. 17, 1961, against a veteran Steelers team led the legendary Bobby Layne; Hall of Fame fullback John Henry Johnson, and a grizzled defense featuring future Cowboys coach Ernie Stautner.

On this day, the Cowboys would finally achieve a regular-season victory, but not without some smoke and mirrors.

They would need to score 10 points in the final 56 seconds.

They would need help from the most unlikely hero on the team: Rookie kicker Allen Green, who was playing in his first NFL game.

But it all came together for a Cotton Bowl crowd of 23,500.

The Star-Telegram reported in its Sept. 18, 1961, editions:

“Rookie Allen Green, a pressure-resistant Rebel from Mississippi, kicked a 27-yard field goal in the last second of the game to give the incredible Cowboys a 27-24 triumph over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Cotton Bowl Sunday.”

Allen who?

We’ve tried to track him down. No one seems to know where he went, and few remember from where he came.

Allen Green had a knack for game-winning field goals at Ole Miss, according to his 1962 Post Cereal football card. (Post Cereal, however, didn’t get the memo that Green would be out of the league after the ’61 season — never to return again.)

Read the cereal card: “Al’s three-pointer in the last seconds of the 1958 season gave Ole Miss a 10-7 victory over Arkansas and his 41-yarder in the final seconds gained a 6-6 tie with LSU…..a specialist on last-second victories.”

Actually, Green’s right foot accounted for half of the 4-9-1 Cowboys’ four victories in 1961. (Another game-winner came in the final minute at New York 17-16.)

However, Green made only 5 of 15 field-goal attempts while averaging 37.3 yards on 60 punts. It wasn’t enough to keep his job in Dallas — or find another one in the NFL.

“But that was a pretty big kick he had against Pittsburgh,” recalled Tubbs. “It got the monkey off our backs; that’s exactly what it did.”

Unlikely hero. Thrilling comeback. But there was much more to this first-ever victory in franchise history.

“The Cowboys looked like they were fighting a lost cause in the last six minutes,” according to the lone Star-Telegram game story on Sept. 18, 1961. “John Sample of the Steelers picked off a Don Meredith pass and raced 39 yards for a touchdown with 5:52 remaining.

The Steelers led 24-17.

Off the bench came LeBaron, who “started throwing his life-saving pitches,” according to the newspaper. The “stubby” LeBaron completed 5 of 8 passes for 75 yards — including a 17-yard touchdown strike to tight end Dick Bielski.

The game was tied 24-24 with 56 seconds left.

This is where Tubbs came in. His INT from the middle- linebacker position made Allen Green’s dramatics possible.

Wrote the Star-Telegram:

“No one dared dream the Cowboys would ever get the ball again. But linebacker Jerry Tubbs apparently wasn’t watching the clock. The old master, Bobby Layne…..erringly threw down the middle and Tubbs stole it on the Dallas 38.”

The Dallas offense was back on the field. LeBaron eventually hit Bill Howton, who scooted out of bounds to stop the clock.

In came Allen Who?

 

“Winning was such a good feeling that day,” Tubbs recalled. “And it felt good to have had a little bit of something to do with it.”

Wrote the Sept. 8, 1961, Star-Telegram: “The Cowboys failed to choke on their 56-second time limitation…..and sent the stunned Steelers reeling back to Pennsylvania.”

Tubbs can’t recall what Landry said or did after the win — or even whether he had a reaction.

“I don’t remember Tom being very animated at all,” he said.

Tubbs, who won All-America honors and finished fourth in the ’56 Heisman Trophy balloting (won by Paul Hornung), was rejuvenated enough by what Landry was doing with the upstart Cowboys to take a flyer on that Coca-Cola job.

Today, Jerry and his wife, Marlene, live in University Park. They recently celebrated 50 years of marriage.

Every morning, Jerry — a native Texan born in Breckenridge 73 years ago — gets up, eats breakfast and makes the one-hour drive to his ranch northeast of McKinney. There, he keeps close to 100 head of cattle.

Don’t tell anybody…..but Jerry is playing hurt right now. He recently cracked a vertebra in his lower back when caught between a pair of 1,500-pound bulls.

“One of ’em whipped around at full speed,” said Tubbs. “But it wasn’t the bull’s fault. It was mine.”Tubbs will forever be linked to Landry.

When Landry was fired, Tubbs was fired.

“I got a few calls from other teams (in 1989), but I wasn’t interested,” said Tubbs, who found what he missed most about football was “getting it right as a team” on Sunday afternoon.

And for that, he has plenty of good memories with the Cowboys: 20 consecutive winning seasons, five Super Bowl appearances, two Super Bowl wins.

But when Tom Landry never worked again in the NFL, Jerry Tubbs never worked again in the NFL. He would have it no other way.

COURTESY: RAY BUCK | Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Marcia Melton of the Star-Telegram library contributed to the research of this story.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers 24 at Dallas Cowboys 27

Sunday, September 17, 1961

Stadium: Cotton Bowl, Surface: grass,
Weather: 66 degrees, relative humidity 55%, wind 11 mph
1 2 3 4 Final
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1-0) 0 14 0 10 24
Dallas Cowboys (1-0-0) 7 3 7 10 27

Scoring

Team Stats

Passing, Rushing, & Receiving

Defense & Returns

Kicking & Punting

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