WIDEOUT WIPEOUT: Dallas Cowboys wide receiver injuries neutralizes exploitation of Redskins poor secondary
First, Miles Austin went out. Then, Dez Bryant. Cole Beasley was shaken up, too, and Dwayne Harris left the field on crutches.
If the Cowboys had to play a playoff game this weekend, they would be hurting at receiver.
"We were banged up going into this game, and at this point, I think we would have a tough time having some guys back next week," Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said. "Some of the injuries don’t look very good."
At crunch time, with the Cowboys down two scores, Romo was trying to spearhead a comeback without his starting receivers. Austin was standing on the sideline with a left ankle injury. Bryant was in the locker room with a lower back injury.
"I went down with the high-ankle sprain, so that wasn’t a good thing," Austin said. "Very difficult [to push off], very difficult. Frustrating."
Romo threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Ogletree with 5:50 left. Ogletree had been chastised by Romo after Romo’s first interception, which was intended for Ogletree. Then, Romo hit Dwayne Harris for a two-point conversion to draw Dallas to within 21-18.
On the Cowboys’ final drive, they were without Harris, who had a left ankle injury on the Redskins’ last kickoff in the waning seconds.
"We got beat up pretty good at receiver," Ogletree said. "I know Miles went down and Dez left. As a group, we just try to pick each other up when we can. Missing those two guys is crucial, but we know it’s next-man-up system."
Tight end Jason Witten had seven catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. Bryant had four catches for 71 yards. Austin had no receptions (but several tackles!).
Dallas Cowboys center Phil Costa went into this season as the starter, but he was in that role for only 130 snaps this season. Injuries ruined Costa’s season.
Costa said he had surgery last week to repair ligament damage in his right ankle. He dislocated the ankle in the second quarter of the team’s Oct. 21 game at Carolina and was inactive for six games before the Cowboys placed him on season-ending injured reserve.
Costa’s season got off to an inauspicious start when he injured his back in training camp. He started the season opener against the Giants but left after reinjuring his back on the third play from scrimmage. Costa missed three games with the back injury.
"Durability is an issue, and that hasn’t been something in my career that’s been a problem," Costa said. "Never missed a game in high school, never missed a game in college for that. First few years in the league, I was healthy. Just an issue that’s here. It’s something that I’ll overcome, but it was frustrating."
Costa said the goal is to be healthy enough to return for organized team activities this spring.
Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis is on the Chicago Bears list of head coaching candidates. Bears general manager Phil Emery has asked the Cowboys for permission to interview DeCamillis. (The Cowboys cannot deny the request since it is a head coaching position.)
DeCamillis and Emery worked together in Atlanta for three years, when Emery was the Falcons director of college scouting and DeCamillis the special teams coach there.
DeCamillis, 47, just completed his fourth season with the Cowboys. He also previously has been a special teams coach for the Broncos (1988-92), Giants (1993-96) and Jaguars (2007-08) besides his stint in Atlanta (1997-2006).
John Harbaugh was the Eagles special teams coach when the Ravens hired him as their head coach in 2008.
The Bears also reportedly will interview Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong, Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. Chicago fired Lovie Smith on Monday after Smith went 84-66 in nine seasons.
Redskins running back Alfred Morris rushed for 200 yards, coming up 10 yards short of the second-best rushing performance ever against the Cowboys, and Washington gained 274 rushing yards as a team, only 9 short of the third-most rushing yards the Cowboys had ever allowed.
Worse still, the Cowboys tied the team record for the fewest rushing attempts in a 16-game season, finishing with 355. They set the team record for fewest rushing yards in a 16-game season with 1,265. The previous worst in a 16-game season was the 1,409 rushing yards the 1989 team had.
DeMarco Murray rushed for 663 yards this season after missing six games with a foot injury.
Editors note: The 2012-2013 Dallas Cowboys also set team and individual records for receiving. Look for 2012 Dallas Cowboys milestone posts in the coming days.
Dez Bryant’s back spasms were so bad after the game Sunday night, he spent the night in the hospital after the team got back home.
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Bryant needed help putting on his clothes in the locker room and walking to the bus.
Bryant played until suffering a back injury in the fourth quarter against the Redskins. He caught four passes on eight targets for 71 yards, and for the first time in eight games was held without a touchdown.
“It was a pretty significant injury,” Garrett said Monday at Valley Ranch. “He couldn’t come back and play. He really couldn’t walk until this morning.”
Garrett added that the Cowboys are still determining the injury. “Clearly, it spasmed after the initial injury. That was clearly the issue,” he said.
Garrett said Bryant had trouble even sitting for short periods Monday. Asked if Bryant could have played if there was a game this week, Garrett said he wouldn’t know “unless he wakes up tomorrow ready to roll.”
Bryant walked with crutches in the locker room Monday and declined to talk to reporters. But he said he does not know yet when he will have surgery on his broken finger.
LOCKER ROOM ENDORSEMENT: Players voice support for Jason Garrett and optimism for next season under his leadership.
IRVING, Texas – As the Cowboys emptied their lockers after another disappointing end to an 8-8 season, they also voiced their support for the head coach who got them there.
Speculation arose all season after a 3-5 start regarding head coach Jason Garrett’s future in Dallas. Despite fighting and failing in a Week 17 effort with a playoff berth on the line for the second consecutive year, his players stood by him and his message the same way they had all season.
“I think he did a great job,” said DeMarco Murray. “He’s a great coach, terrific guy, glad to be a part of this team and I’m 100 percent behind him, as well as everyone else in this locker room. I wouldn’t want to play for anyone else, and I’m definitely happy he was our coach and he led us the right way this year.”
Murray said he and the rest of his teammates needed to do more to step up and make the plays necessary to get into the playoffs. He didn’t pin the loss on coaching, nor did the rest of his teammates.
Cowboys veterans and newcomers both voiced their strong opinions regarding Garrett’s future in Dallas. Livings said the team began to mesh on and off the field, and that feeling of camaraderie was encouraged and developed by Garrett, who always believed the right process would eventually reap the right results.
“Just the way he approaches things, it’s not like he’s blind to the fact of who we are, because he was a player,” Livings said. “He sees things differently from our perspective, and he makes the best of it. One hell of a coach, man, a real good coach. I played three years under Nick (Saban), and I played around some good coaches, and Coach Garrett’s up there.”
Rarely did the Cowboys make things easy, but rarely could question their resolve. The Cowboys still put themselves in position to win the NFC East the last week of the season, despite a losing first half of the season, the death of a teammate late in the year and injuries across the starting defense.
One of those injured defenders was Sean Lee, who voiced his adamant support of Garrett as the right person to lead the Cowboys.
“I don’t think there’s anybody else who could,” Lee said. “I think he’s an unbelievable coach. I think we’ve responded to him, and he’s made us better football players, better people. If you watch us, I think we play with a certain relentless spirit. But we need to find a way to cut mistakes and build on our mistakes so we never make those mistakes again and we can win those close ballgames.”
Bruce Carter, another injured starter who was forced to watch the end of the season slip away from the sidelines, said Garrett’s message to the team after the season was to get away from football and come back in the offseason ready to work again.
Carter said “we really wanted to win that game” when the Cowboys fell late to the Redskins in the finale. He still felt as much a part of the team as anyone else despite sitting out with an elbow injury.
He believes another year of Garrett and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and a healthier defense can reap different results next season.
“We went through a whole lot,” Carter said. “The only way we can go from here is up. Guys see that and see we’ve got to keep working and strive to push each other and I think things will go in our favor next season.”
When the season ended Sunday, Garrett didn’t change his tune. He was obviously disappointed with how the year ended again, but he remained proud of the team’s resolve and optimistic for what the future can hold.
He said the team’s identity is beginning to get established with its relentless style of play and ability to keep fighting when trailing late in games. The Cowboys played from behind all season, yet they never lost by more than a touchdown from Week 5 to Week 16, a span that included a plethora of injuries on both sides of the ball.
Garrett realizes, though, that his message and his beliefs need to get established immediately and eventually translate into the results he’s looking for so the Cowboys don’t have the empty feeling they endured after Sunday’s loss.
“I’m proud to be part of this team,” Garrett said. “It’s not proud of, it’s proud to be part of, and I told them that again today because of the commitment they’ve made. You talk a lot about mental toughness, and oftentimes mental toughness is really dealing with adversity. We’ve had a lot of different adversities this year. We’ve had injuries, we’ve lost close games, we’ve had tragedy, tragedy unlike any other I’ve been around in the National Football League, and at every point our guys responded the right way, they became closer, they became stronger and they kept playing with that relentless spirit that we think is really, really important. We think it’s line one in football, and we have to get lines two, three, four and the rest of them right and we’ll keep working hard to do that. But there was a spirit, there was an undeniable will that our team played with.”