Monthly Archives: October, 2013

VIKINGS VS COWBOYS GAMEDAY SCOUT: Surviving Dallas’ emerging 2013 injury crisis

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IRVING, Texas — Thoughts from the practice field at Valley Ranch:

Offensive Line Shuffle

With the Dallas Cowboys now planning for the worst without Brian Waters in the lineup, expect to see some of the rotational mixes that we saw in training camp with this offensive line.

Mackenzy Bernadeau will be the starter at right guard between Travis Frederick and Doug Free, which is something this team has already played with through the Giants and Chiefs games this season. Without Waters, now comes the practice shuffle of Costa back into the mix at center, with also Bernadeau getting some reps there as well.

Travis Frederick will see some work at both guard spots along with Doug Free. As much as this coaching staff does not want to move Frederick or Free, it is quite possible this combination might be called on to finish a game this season. Jermey Parnell will still be the swing tackle and will go into the game if Free has to kick inside. The loss of Waters is huge to this offensive line, but of all the combinations listed above, it is something these players have at least practiced and used in a game.

Church To Answer The Bell

It was a shame that Barry Church had to come out of the Lions game with a hamstring injury when he did, because it put rookie Jakar Hamilton out on the field during a critical point in the game.

There were some questions after the game whether Church would be ready for the Vikings this week, but today he was on the practice field taking reps next to Jeff Heath with the first defense. Jakar Hamilton was able to get more work this week than he did last week, and that should be able to help him have a much better feel for what he needs to do in case he is called back into action.

Speaking of Jeff Heath, J.J. Wilcox should be back for the trip to New Orleans next week. Expect to see Heath in a rotational situation with both Church and Wilcox keeping him on the field. 

Minnesota’s Quarterback Questions

Word out of Minnesota is that Josh Freeman will get the start against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. With the way the Vikings quarterbacks have played this season, it really hasn’t mattered who will hand the ball to Adrian Peterson.

Josh Freeman, compared to Christian Ponder, clearly has the more quarterback traits, but there is no telling where the ball is going to go when he throws it. The Vikings offense against the Giants was grab bag by Bill Musgrave in looking for plays that he could actually run.

With Ponder, you are going to get a quarterback that plays with a great deal of grit and toughness, but he is nowhere near as talented as Freeman. The problem the Vikings must have with Ponder is that he leaves plays on the field. There have been times where their skill players have been wide open and he either hasn’t seen them or is afraid to pull the trigger in fear of a mistake. Teams have loaded the box and dared these quarterbacks to beat them with their arms and it has yet to happen.

The biggest difference of the two, is that Ponder is more likely to try and make plays with his legs while, Freeman would much rather throw the ball than run. 

Corner The Market

With no Morris Claiborne for the next two games, this Cowboys defense is at the critical point when it comes to needing healthy bodies to line up at that spot.

Rookie B.W. Webb has been getting work in practice during the season, and that helped him get through the time where he was on the field against the Lions. The Vikings play a more traditional offense with tight ends and a fullback. Dallas is going to still have to make a move to add another body to the mix. According to the front office, there is no desire to bring Sterling Moore back but instead look to bringing Micah Pellerin up off the practice squad. 

Where Pellerin can help this squad is in a couple of areas. He has the length and physical size that you don’t get in Claiborne or Webb. Where Pellerin also helps you is that he is a much better special teamer than what you would get from Sterling Moore.

There is nothing wrong with this front office wanting to keep adding quality players in this area because of the dynamic returner that you are going to face this week in Cordarrelle Patterson. Micah Pellerin has been playing well on the scout teams but now with the second defense getting him ready for this move because he is needed.

COWBOYS VS. VIKINGS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson still after Emmitt Smith’s NFL record

COWBOYS VS. VIKINGS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Adrian Peterson still after Emmitt Smith's record

Adrian Peterson is on Emmitt Smith’s pace. Peterson has 9,420 yards seven games into his seventh season. Smith had 9,488 to this point.

But Peterson would have to play five-plus seasons after this one, averaging the 1,475 he has averaged per season in his career, to break Smith’s all-time rushing record of 18,355.

Peterson, a Palestine and Oklahoma product, thinks it’ll be sooner than that. He predicted last summer that he would become the NFL’s all-time leading rusher in Week 16 of 2017.

He stuck by that prediction in the conference call with Dallas media today. 

“I definitely have to keep my game up to par.. and that record can be broken,” Peterson said. “But I’m not focusing on that. I set goals, and I just go out and play and if happens, it happens and if doesn’t, it doesn’t. I don’t harp on it.”

Peterson, 28, nearly set the single-season rushing record last season with 2,097 yards. He is behind that pace this year with 571 yards.

“Coming off last year, MVP, 2,000 yards, guys are coming in to stop the run, and this is how they’ve always played the Vikings for the past seven years — come in and stop the run,” Peterson said, “definitely with a more emphasis on it now. So you’re going to have those. Then again, you’re going to have the opportunity to break the long one, too. I just take them when it comes.”

Here’s the math:

He would need to rack up 8,936 yards over the next 73 games to break Smith’s record. That comes to an average of 122.4 yards a game. Peterson currently averages 98.1 yards a game for his career.


know the enemy - adrian peterson - minnesota vikings vs dallas cowboys - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - button

Know The Enemy: Adrian Peterson (3:12)

Film break down on Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. (Watch Video)

INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings | DeMarco Murray expected to start

INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE  - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings - DeMarco Murray expected to start

IRVING, Texas – As expected, the Dallas Cowboys had some key players missing from today’s practice, including five starters.

DeMarcus Ware (quad) once again is not participating in teams drills, probably meaning his availability for Sunday will be in question. He’s already missed two games and sitting out a third game Sunday vs. Minnesota seems likely.

Miles Austin was also working with the training staff on the side field because of a nagging hamstring injury. Austin and Ware were joined by DeVonte Holloman (neck).

Other players not even on the practice field included safety J.J. Wilcox (knee), Danny McCray (toe), Morris Claiborne (hamstring) and guard Brian Waters, who is expected to go to injured reserve this week with a triceps injury. Claiborne will likely miss the next two games, although Wilcox might have an outside shot to return Sunday.

As for players actually on the field, running back DeMarco Murray was on the field despite missing the last two games with a knee injury. Jason Garrett said he’s hopeful Murray can play Sunday.

The same goes for safety Barry Church, who missed the last two drives of the game last Sunday with a hamstring injury. Church practiced on Wednesday and appears in position to play this weekend against the Vikings.

Also, the Cowboys welcomed newly-signed defensive end Everette Brown, who practiced Wednesday, wearing No. 71.

NFL SCOUTING REPORT: A closer look at your newest Dallas Cowboy | DE Everette Brown

NFL SCOUTING REPORT - A closer look at your newest Dallas Cowboy–DE Everette Brown

The Dallas Cowboys continue to add defensive linemen who were former highly regarded draft picks.

Defensive end Everette Brown, a former second-round pick in 2009, was signed by the Cowboys, who released defensive end Jason Vega to make room on the roster.

Brown, a former Florida State defender, appeared in 28 games and made three starts during his two years with the Carolina Panthers, who drafted him. He recorded 35 tackles, six sacks, an interception and three forced fumbles before going to the Chargers in 2011.

He was released in March 2012 and signed with Detroit later that month, but he was released at the end of training camp and spent that year out of football. Brown was released by the Eagles during final camp cuts this year.

The Cowboys had brought Vega up from the practice squad for two games, and he posted two tackles in those appearances.

The team also released practice squad running back Davin Meggett.


SCOUTING REPORT: A closer look at Everette Brown:

    6-2, 263 pounds with a 4.65 40-yard dash out of Florida State. Had 13.5 sacks his junior year for the Seminoles.

    Drafted in the second round by the Carolina Panthers in 2009. Released two seasons later. Spent time in San Diego, Detroit and recently Philadelphia.

    Report based on games studied from Philadelphia’s 2013 preseason: New England, Carolina, Jacksonville, New York Jets.

    • Played as an outside linebacker for the Eagles in their 3-4 scheme. Had some rushes where he put his hand on the ground and was used as a nickel rusher.
    • Will play as a defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys in their 4-3 scheme.
    • Physically, he has some length to his body, long arms, doesn’t look like he is carrying 263 pounds and doesn’t look overly big or thick.
    • Was a much better player with his hand on the ground than he was playing in a two point stance. He showed some surprising power walking the tackle back for Carolina. When put his head down, got his hands inside the framework and pushed, he made some things happen, but he’s not going to make a living walking tackles back. He will need to play on the edge and not attack blockers down the middle. When he loses his momentum, he can have some issues. 
    • Has the quickness to get to the edge, stays active, showed a quick inside move, can be used on twist stunts to make something happen, will sharpen the corner on his rush.
    • Will run the play down from the backside, can dip his shoulder, then work around the blocker, doesn’t give you much hitting surface on his rush when he dips his shoulder, will chase the ball when he is free.
    • Can use a spin move going a couple of different ways to try and free himself from blockers.
    • Doesn’t always play strong. His biggest problem was getting rid of blockers more quickly in the running game. He’s much better playing off tight ends and fullbacks than he is tackles. Does not play with enough strength to go toe-to-toe with a tackle and expect to be productive – he needs to beat them quickly before they get their hands on him. 
    • Best work is as a pass rusher — had some really nice edge rushes against the Jets, showed a burst getting around the tackle and slapping the ball out of the quarterback’s hand. He can cause some problems when he is near or around the quarterback.
    • When he was in position to make a tackle, he was able to wrap up and get his man on the ground.

    Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout

    2013-2014 COWBOYS ROSTER: Dallas RG Brian Waters is out for the season; Mackenzy Bernadeau back in lineup

    2013-2014 COWBOYS ROSTER - Dallas RG Brian Waters is out for the season; Mackenzy Bernadeau back in lineup - Dallas Cowboys injury update

    Dallas Cowboys offensive guard Brian Waters is out for the year, owner Jerry Jones confirmed on his radio show today.

    Waters, 36, had started the past five games at right guard. Waters injured his knee and his ribs during Sunday’s loss to the Lions, but it was a triceps injury that had concerned the Dallas Cowboys the most. As it turns out, they were right to be concerned.

    Mackenzy Bernadeau will return to the starting lineup, and Jones said the Cowboys will look to their practice squad for depth. They released guard David Arkin on Saturday and signed him back to the practice squad yesterday.

    “[Bernadeau] started for us the entire year last year and played well, came in and played about 20 snaps and played well yesterday,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “Then, we’ll look to what we do with depth off our practice squad.”

    Bernadeau started 19 consecutive games after signing a four-year, $11 million deal with the Cowboys during the 2012 off-season. But he lost his job to Waters in Week 4 after Waters got back into football shape.

    Now, it’s Bernadeau’s turn again.

    “It’s an adjustment just for the fact that you go from being in the game all the time to being on the sideline and waiting around,” Bernadeau said Monday. “You never want anybody to go down and get hurt. At the same time, when your number is called, you’ve got to be prepped, and that’s how I’ll be.”

    Waters missed the 2012 season and all of training camp this year. He signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys on Sept. 4, the week of the season opener against the Giants.

    The Cowboys have been pleased with Waters, not only for his play on the field, but for how he has taken their young offensive linemen under his wing.

    “He’s done a lot,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “Maybe as much as anything else, it’s his demeanor. He’s a guy that plays the game the right way. He’s physical. He’s tough. He knows what to do. He plays with a little bit of an edge to him, and that’s a positive thing, and I’ve talked to our team about it. It’s contiguous. You get a guy like that who can do it again and again and again, always kind of making an impression, trying to break their will, and other guys see that it’s OK, and it’s a good thing to do. It’s good for your team. He’s good for the offensive line, and he’s good for everybody on our team. He’s had a real positive influence.”

    NEXT MAN UP: With Morris Claiborne out, Dallas Cowboys counting on rookie B.W. Webb to play in the slot

    Dallas Cowboys rookie cornerback B.W. Webb fumbles punt - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

    B.W. Webb got his feet wet on special teams. He played 75 snaps on special teams the first seven games, but the Cowboys didn’t need him on defense, limiting him to only 31 of 504 defensive snaps.

    Now, the Dallas Cowboys need their fourth-round draft pick.

    Morris Claiborne will miss the next two games with a hamstring injury. Claiborne watched from the sideline at the end of Sunday’s game as Webb played 39 of 80 snaps.

    Webb was thrown into the fire against Calvin Johnson, who set the single-season record for receiving yards in 2012 and had the second-biggest receiving day in NFL history against the Cowboys on Sunday.

    “I tried not to think about it too much,” Webb said. “It didn’t bother me too much. It’s just another guy out there. I mean, I understand it’s Calvin Johnson and everything, but I try not to focus on the person too much when I’m playing.”

    Webb, a William & Mary product, caused the Cowboys to use a timeout coming out of a TV timeout at the start of the fourth quarter when he wasn’t on the field.

    “That was on me,” Webb said of his rookie mistake.

    He ended up with three tackles.

    Webb said he is ready for his opportunity to play more. He will play in the slot in the Cowboys’ nickel packages, with Orlando Scandrick staying outside.

    “It’s a huge opportunity just to get on the field and showcase what I really can do,” Webb said.

    Webb led the team with three pass breakups in the preseason, and he also contributed an interception. It got him ready for what he’s about to face this week against the Vikings.

    “I think I showed a little bit,” Webb said. “I’ve been working on my craft since then, and I think I’ve gotten a lot better. …I think I’ve come a long way.”

    COWBOYS VS. LIONS GAME TAPE: Jason Garrett press conference | Gameday film study

    GAME FILM REVIEW - COWBOYS VS. LIONS - Jason Garrett press conference - Gameday film game tape review - button

    Jason Garrett press conference: Gameday breakdown after game film review (18:57)

    Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media after having a chance to review the tape of Sunday’s Cowboys vs. Lions game (Watch Video | Play Audio)

    Garrett discussed:

    • Evaluating physical matchups vs.schematic issues in the loss
    • Assessing the execution issues on defense
    • Brandon Carr vs. Calvin Johnson
    • Addressing Stanford’s fake spike that resulted in a QB sneak TD*
    • What team learned about Dez Bryant from sideline passion expressed
    • What they were trying to accomplish on last play of the game
    • Decision process on 2nd to last possession; close to 2 min warning stage
    • Clock situation due to the Tyron Smith holding call; 45 seconds*
    • Variation from run play called and how it contributed to the holding penalty
    • Staff evaluation on how to counter passrush better with this OL
    • Importance of giving guys like Dez more chances in a game to make plays
    • Finding ways to get the ball to double-covered players, without turnover
    • Continuing to capitalize on single-coverage opportunities
    • Carr’s comment about not expecting DET game to effect his confidence
    • Brian Waters rib, knee, and tricep injuries during the game
    • Brian Waters MRI and status going forward
    • Morris Claiborne hamstring injury, MRI results
    • DeMarco Murray start expectation and last minute decision to sit him out
    • How DeMarco Murray practice reps took away from other backs
    • Assessment on how Randle and Dunbar ran in DET game
    • DeMarco Murray expected to start vs. MIN
    • Miles Austin evaluation and status going forward
    • Declining efficiency issues with offense over past three weeks
    • Desire to be more consistent and execute better offensively in coming weeks
    • Addressing third down conversion issues; keeping drives alive
    • Addressing and learning from large number of mental errors made in game
    • Barry Church injury

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    CHANNELING THE X-FACTOR: Jason Garrett has talk with Dez Bryant; team appreciates his passion and emotion (Special Feature)

    CHANNELING THE X-FACTOR - Jason Garrett has talk with Dez Bryant; team appreciates his passion and emotion - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys - Dez watching Dallas defensive players

    Jason Garrett talked to Dez Bryant after Sunday’s game, encouraging the receiver to put his passion and emotion to better use than with sideline outbursts.

    “You talk to him very direct, man-to-man and you just say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get locked in on what’s happening,’” Garrett said on his weekly radio show on KRLD-FM 105.3. “We appreciate the passion, the enthusiasm. That’s what we want from all of our players. The great players have that, the great teams have that, but you just have to focus it and channel it. He understands that.” 

    Since Bryant received national headlines for his behavior on the sideline Sunday, including criticism from analyst Brian Billick during the telecast, the Cowboys repeatedly have defended Bryant, insisting his emotional outbursts are not a distraction.

    TV cameras twice caught sideline rants by Bryant. In the third quarter, Bryant appeared to be expressing his displeasure at not getting the ball more. Tony Romo targeted Bryant six times in the game, with Bryant catching three passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns.

    After the Lions scored with 12 seconds left, Bryant had a heated exchange with teammates Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware, who said they were trying to calm down Bryant and get him focused for the final play.

    “I know everybody wants to read into Dez’s emotion on the sidelines, but contrary to popular belief, he’s not as negative as you would think over there,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said on his radio show on KRLD-FM 105.3. “He’s not every time that happens, saying, ‘Give me the ball! Give me the ball! Give me the ball!’ He’s encouraging in his way. Obviously, everyone has their opinion, and they’ll have that. But Dez will be fine.

    “…It’s not an issue. The only thing Jason Witten was telling him, ‘Get your mind right here. We may have to get back out and try a Hail Mary.’ …Dez is highly competitive. He really wants to win the game. Winning is important to him.”

    Editors note: Bill Billick was selected in the 11th round of the 1977 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers but was cut by the 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys, and never played in the NFL. Billick coached for the Minnesota Vikings from 1992-1998, and was the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens from 1999-2007.

    RELATED: Dez Bryant explains his sideline emotions

    CHANNELING THE X-FACTOR - Jason Garrett has talk with Dez Bryant; team appreciates his passion and emotion - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys - Dez with coach

    Dez Bryant wants to make it perfectly clear: He is a team player who wants nothing except to win.

    Bryant talked for some 15 minutes Monday, explaining his sideline behavior that drew national attention during the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-30 loss tot he Lions. He said he is misunderstood outside the locker room.

    “I think for the most part, all of my teammates, they know,” Bryant said. “They know how much I love this game. They know we compete; we battle; we go hard. It’s all about wanting to win. But I honestly feel – me speaking for myself – that’s the kind of attitude you have to have to try to get where you want to go.”

    The Cowboys have defended Bryant, whom TV cameras caught ranting on the sideline twice.

    The first came in the third quarter after a Tony Romo incompletion on a pass intended for Dwayne Harris on third down, leading to a field goal and a 13-7 lead. Bryant yelled at Romo, receivers coach Derek Dooley and head coach Jason Garrett, none of whom seemed to pay him much attention.

    Bryant said he was not demanding the ball, though he had only two catches for 22 yards to that point.

    “It wasn’t directly to [Romo],” Bryant said. “It was like, ‘Our defense, they’re getting turnovers. We’ve got to help them out.’ I’m saying that to everybody, including myself. We’ve got to help them out.”

    After the Lions scored to take the lead with 12 seconds remaining, Bryant and tight end Jason Witten were seen yelling at each other with defensive end DeMarcus Ware stepping in calm Bryant. Witten and Bryant both said the tight end was trying to get Bryant to focus on the task at hand, which was a final offensive play.

    Bryant said his relationship with Romo and Witten remains solid.

    “All Witt was doing was trying to get me focused and get me ready for the next play,” Bryant said. “I was just kind of heated, because they scored. As far as Romo, I know you all got sound bites and stuff on these cameras, I mean, or whatever, if you go back and look at it what I was saying to Romo, Terrance [Williams] just scored a touchdown and I was like, ‘They’re going to play him like that, keep throwing him the ball.’ From all the good stuff that was going on, go look at it. I had the same demeanor, the same demeanor. It was just one of those guys to where you know, we’ve got to win this game.”

    Jason Garrett talked to his fourth-year receiver about Bryant better channeling his emotions.

    “We love the passion,” Garrett said Monday. “We love the enthusiasm. Just got to keep the focus. We addressed it with him during the game. We addressed it with afterward. And he is going to be ready to go.”

    Bryant said he has no regrets and will continue to wear his emotions on his jersey. 

    “No regrets,” he said. “It’s all love. Like I said, I know it looks crazy, but I promise you all it’s not.”

    RELATED: Dez Bryant passionate about winning

    CHANNELING THE X-FACTOR - Jason Garrett has talk with Dez Bryant; team appreciates his passion and emotion - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys

    Dez Bryant is not going to apologize for his antics on the sidelines. He’s a passionate and emotional player who is driven to win. Something, he said, that has been going on since he first stepped on a football field.

    So, yes, he’s going to get into animated and sometimes heated conversations. He had a couple with quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten in the second half of the Cowboys’ 31-30 loss to the Lions on Sunday afternoon at Ford Field.

    And there will be more throughout his career.

    “I love this game. I love my teammates,” Bryant said. “That’s what it is. It’s going to forever remain the same. It started in Pop Warner, went to middle school, went to high school, went to college, and it’s here. It’s going to stay that way. It won’t change.”

    Nobody in the Cowboys’ locker room has any issues with Bryant wearing his heart on his sleeve. Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett and his teammates all approved of it in a positive light, saying passion is necessary to succeed in the NFL.

    Here’s some reaction on Bryant’s sideline antics:

    Jason Witten: “He has more passion than anyone I’ve ever played with. That’s a good thing to have. With 12 seconds left, we were all upset but there was still time left. I tried to communicate that. There was more football to play. We were going to get the ball back and the play we had drawn up, he was a big part of that play. We were trying to get him to calm down because we were going to try to get him the ball on that play.”

    Tony Romo: “He’s a competitive guy. … He’s never complained to me about getting the ball. He knows the ball is going to where it’s supposed to. He knows that. I think more than anything it’s about him willing the team. When you guys see emotion sometimes from Dez, it’s just rah rah more than it is being a me guy. That’s not who Dez is. I think that would be completely out of character for him for it to be a me situation. He does a great job…sometimes, it’s come on guys, we’re better than this, really emotionally. But he’s never a selfish guy.”

    Jason Garrett: “Dez is a very passionate player. He is a very competitive player. He gets a lot of attention from the opposing defenses. He wanted the football. We want guys who want the football. Dez has never been a distraction to our team. He is a really positive asset to our team on the field and off. The way he works. The passion for the game. That is good stuff.”

    Jerry Jones: “That’s emotion and I don’t place any issue on his demeanor or his sideline activity. He’s a very emotional player and this was a tough game for him to compete in because he wanted to really contribute and do everything he could for the team and to win. I have no issue at all in terms of criticizing him for sideline demeanor or sideline behavior.”

    CHANNELING THE X-FACTOR - Jason Garrett has talk with Dez Bryant; team appreciates his passion and emotion - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys - Dez one handed catch


    Related: Dez Bryant sideline audio (1:53) – (Watch Video)

    Want to find out what Dez Bryant says during his sideline appeals vs. the Detroit Lions? Watch and listen as he interacts with quarterback Tony Romo, players, and Dallas Cowboys coaches.

    Related: Dez offers further explanation of sideline emotions (11:51) – (Video | Audio)

    Dez Bryant spoke to the media on Monday for an extended period of time to try to clear up what happened on the sideline on Sunday.

    Original reports:

    MOTOWN MELTDOWN: Detroit Lions roar past Dallas Cowboys in final seconds; Dez Bryant flips out

    HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS: Gameday perspectives from Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions

    THE TEXAS-2-MUCH SCHEME: Despite turnovers, Dallas Cowboys defense on pace to be worst in NFL history

    THE TEXAS 2-MUCH SCHEME - Despite turnovers, Dallas Cowboys defense on pace to be worst in NFL history - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys defense

    DETROIT — The Dallas Cowboys defense has improved in the turnover department.

    They forced four turnovers Sunday and have 18 on the season, two more than they had all of last year. But those turnovers weren’t enough to get them a victory, as they became the second team in NFL history to lose a game when having a plus-4 turnover margin.  

    “That’s a shame,” defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. “We talk about turnovers and we did what we needed to do. We just didn’t make things as tough as we should have and of course we didn’t stop the pass. You can’t give up big chunks like that, gosh darn it.”

    The turnovers were nice and are usually the difference maker in the outcome, but the yardage allowed by the Cowboys’ defense is staggering this season. 

    They allowed 623 yards Sunday and are now on pace to give up 6,760 yards on the season, which would be a team record and one of the worst in NFL history. They are also on pace to give up 5,062 passing yards, which would set an NFL record.

    Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson had 329 receiving yards, the second most all-time in a single game. More troubling, though, is that the Cowboys’ defense allowed the Lions to march 80 yards in 50 seconds in what proved to be the game-deciding drive late in the fourth quarter. Earlier in the fourth quarter, they allowed two eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drives.

    “When it matters most, when it’s time to get off the field, when it’s time to put a dagger in them in the last drive of the game, we weren’t able to do that,” cornerback Brandon Carr said. “That’s what cost us in the end.”

    Said defensive tackle Jason Hatcher: “I put it on the defense. We should have closed the game out and we didn’t.”

    OFFENSIVE SLUMP CONTINUES: Last three games not pretty for Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys offense

    OFFENSIVE SLUMP CONTINUES - Last three games not pretty for Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys offense - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys

    In Detroit, the Dallas Cowboys had 134 yards in the first three quarters. They had 134 in the fourth quarter.

    “Give them credit,” Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said. “That was a very good front we just played against. It felt eerily similar to the Minnesota game up in the dome in the playoffs, scheme-wise and a little bit with the way they were able to rush the passer. If you can rush the passer like that in this environment, it’s going to be a very tough place to play. You’re not going to be able to get to your progressions, and you’re not going to be able to get the ball to certain spots. I thought the guys did a good job as the game went on, giving us a little more time to get to the second and third reads. We were able to exploit that a little bit more.”

    In the past three games, Tony Romo has completed only 56.1 percent of his passes for 693 yards – an average of 231 a game – with five touchdowns and three interceptions.

    The Cowboys went 2-1 the past three games, averaging only 283 yards in them. And it’s not like the Cowboys have played some great defenses.

    The Redskins were 32nd in total defense when the Cowboys played them three weeks ago. The Eagles ranked 32nd in total defense when the Cowboys played them two weeks ago. The Lions entered this week ranked 31st.

    POSTGAME INJURY UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions | MO down; Church praying; and we’re wondering about Waters

    DALLAS COWBOYS INJURY UPDATE - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys injury report - nurse button

    Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne and safety Barry Church both left with hamstring injuries Sunday. Executive vice president Stephen Jones said today that Church’s isn’t serious, and he should be back this week.

    But Jones was more pessimistic about Claiborne’s injury. He said Claiborne could miss a couple of games, which would point toward Claiborne’s return after the bye week in a Nov. 24 game at the Giants.

    “Church, his injuries kept him out there a little bit at the end,” Stephen Jones said on KRLD-FM 105.3. “I do think he can recover and get back for the Vikings. Claiborne, on the other hand, has a soft tissue injury there with his hamstring that is a real deal, and probably more than likely we’re looking at him missing the next couple of weeks.”

    Claiborne has had a tough season. He dislocated his shoulder in the season opener against the Giants and has played with a harness. He temporarily lost his starting job to Orlando Scandrick, though the Cowboys have started several games in the nickel, including Sunday’s at Detroit, with three cornerbacks in the starting lineup.

    In three games, Claiborne has come off the bench. He played 33 of 80 plays Sunday, missing the end of the game with his hamstring injury. Church played 64 of 80 plays, with Jakar Hamilton replacing him late in the game because of his hamstring injury.

    Jones was not asked about Brian Waters‘ injury, but a source said the Cowboys do not have an update on the offensive guard yet. Waters left with knee, rib and triceps injuries, playing 32 of 57 snaps.

    2013-2014 COWBOYS ROSTER: Dallas guard David Arkin returns to the practice squad

    2013-2014 Dallas COWBOYS ROSTER - Dallas guard David Arkin returns to the practice squad

    IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys made the decision to cut David Arkin on Saturday because they needed the roster spot. But they haven’t completely given up on their three-year investment.

    The Cowboys decided to bring back Arkin on the practice squad today. Arkin has only been active for eight games in his career but has yet to play a single snap, which gives him practice-squad eligibility despite this being his third season with the club.

    The Cowboys cut Arkin to make room for rookie safety Jakar Hamilton, who played because of an injury to J.J. Wilcox. Hamilton will likely stay up on the roster with Wilcox’s status uncertain and now Barry Church has a hamstring injury.

    “We got to the point where we needed a safety based on our safety situation,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “And that was the one we felt we could make that move on the 11th hour and hopefully he can get past through and we can bring him back and put him on our practice roster and we’ve invested in him and we do like him.”

    Garrett was asked if he was disappointed in Arkin’s progress, considering he was a fourth-round pick in 2011 and has yet to contribute in the regular season.

    “There’s probably nobody on our football team who works harder and is more committed than David Arkin,” Garrett said. “He’s the right kind of guy and he’s working at it and he’s getting better. I think he has improved over the last couple of years and that’s why we’re happy to get him back and put him back on the practice roster and continue that development.”

    During the last two training camps and preseasons, Arkin received more practice reps than any other linemen the last two years. With an abundance of injuries on the line, Arkin has played both at guard and center. This past summer, he was mostly at guard. He started the first preseason game at right guard, then started the third and fifth games at left guard.

    The year before, he started the first three preseason games at center.

    MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: Five plays to think about

    MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK - Five plays to think about - Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions - Dallas Cowboys 2013 schedule

    DETROIT – Early, when the Dallas defense was hot the offense was not. Late, when Dez was hot, the defense was not.

    With all of the fourth quarter scoring, it’s easy to forget a few plays that changed the course of the game. Here are five, of many, plays that helped determine the game winner:

    1. Incomplete to Harris after fumble – Late in the third quarter, the Cowboys led 13-7 and had a first down at the Lions’ 35 following a fumble recovery by Brandon Carr and a penalty on Detroit. Still, the Cowboys never gained a yard and settled for a field goal. On third-and-10, Romo seemingly had Cole Beasley darting over the middle, but went for Dwayne Harris, who also had a step on his defender. The pass went right through Harris’ hands around the 10-yard line, forcing the Cowboys to kick a field goal and keep it a one-score game.

    2. Pass interference on Scandrick – The Cowboys led 20-10 with the Lions driving with 10:13 to play. This is a play that really bothered the team’s coaching staff, probably more because of what happened in the first quarter. But Scandrick’s feet got tangled up with receiver Kris Durham, who fell to the ground as the ball passed by. The pass interference penalty resulted in 21 yards to the Cowboys’ 36. Earlier in the game, the Lions were flagged for the same call on a pass to Terrance Williams. However, the officials met and decided to wave off the flag for incidental contact. While Detroit was scoring quickly, an incomplete pass there sets up a must-have third-and-1, and the Lions likely run the ball. Even if they pick up the first, that’s even more time off the clock and Detroit is not at midfield yet.

    3. A 54-yarder to Calvin Johnson – Take your pick on big plays to Johnson, who was there all day long. And while this was likely his best catch, it still might be forgotten considering the big plays that occurred afterward. But the Cowboys had just scored again on a 50-yard pass to Dez Bryant. The Lions were down 10 with 6:45 left. Stafford heaves it up for Johnson, who is double-covered by Carr and Heath. But it doesn’t matter, as Johnson hauls in the 54-yarder that puts the Lions in great position again. Detroit used that big play to score with 3:37 left. And with two timeouts, they can kick the ball away and play defense.

    4. Incomplete pass to Beasley – If you’re watching close, this play shouldn’t be forgotten. This was arguably the play of the game. The Cowboys have a 20-17 lead with 2:38 remaining and have third-and-12 at their 23. The Lions have just called their first timeout on the previous play. Instead of a draw play or another run that would’ve forced Detroit into taking its second timeout or letting the clock run down to the 2-minute warning, the Cowboys call a pass. Romo rolled to his right after heavy pressure and flung a pass to Beasley, which landed closer to the front row of the seats. Even taking a sack there might have been better off for the Cowboys, who were able to stop the Lions on the next possession. Had they gotten the ball back with 1:24 remaining and Detroit had just one timeout, the game is over with three kneel-downs.

    5. Holding on Tyron Smith – The Cowboys lead 27-24 and it’s third down on the 35 of Detroit. At this point, the Cowboys are thinking a safe run to keep the clock rolling. The snap started at 1:14 and without any stoppage, it would’ve rolled down to under 30 seconds. The Cowboys considered punting the ball and try to pin Detroit around their 10 yard line. The Lions had no timeouts and needed to get into field-goal range.  But on the third-down run, left tackle Tyron Smith was flagged for holding. Even though Detroit declined the penalty, the stoppage of play kept the clock from starting. Instead of punting, the Cowboys kicked a field goal to extend the lead. The Lions got the ball back, needing a touchdown with 1:02 to play.

    HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS: Gameday perspectives from Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions

    This is a new feature from The Boys Are Back website. After each game, we’ll provide gameday perspectives from both teams … the winner and the loser. Oddly enough, each team can find highlights and lowlights, win or lose! So, here we go …

    FROM THE DETROIT LIONS:

    HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS - Detroit Lions postgame press conference - Head coach Jim Schwartz - watch video - button

    Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz postgame press conference (9:57)

    Jim Schwartz on team’s 31-30 win over the Dallas Cowboys. (Watch Video | Play Audio)

    HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS - Detroit Lions postgame show - watch video - button

    Detroit Lions postgame show (36:38)

    Detroit Lions postgame show with Tom Leyden and Rob Rubick. Includes coverage from Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Reggie Bush.  (Watch Video | Play Audio)

    FROM THE DALLAS COWBOYS:

    HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS - Dallas Cowboys highlight video - watch video - button

    Cowboys vs. Lions Highlights (4:35)

    Calvin Johnson catches 14 balls for 329 receiving yards and a touchdown to help the Detroit Lions defeat the Dallas Cowboys 31-30 in thrilling fashion (Watch Video | No Audio)

    HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS - Dallas Cowboys Jason Garrett postgame press conference - Head coach Jason Garrett - watch video - button

    Jason Garrett Postgame Press Conference (8:33)

    Jason Garrett speaks to the media following the Cowboys loss at Detroit (Video | Audio)

    HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS - Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo postgame press conference - Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo - watch video - button

    Tony Romo Postgame Press Conference (6:28)

    Tony Romo speaks to the media following the Cowboys loss at Detroit. (Video | Audio)

    HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS - Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones postgame interview - Jerry Jones Dez Bryant - watch video - button

    Jerry Jones reacts to Dez Bryant’s sideline frustration (:49)

    Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talks about wide receiver Dez Bryant’s frustration during today’s game against the Detroit Lions. Jerry Jones addressed Bryant’s tirade following the game.

    Watch Video | Play Audio


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    COWBOYS RIVAL HEADLINE: Detroit Free Press | Lions QB Matthew Stafford’s 1-yard TD caps improbable comeback

    COWBOYS RIVAL HEADLINE - Detroit Free Press - Lions QB Matthew Stafford's 1-yard TD caps improbable comeback

    Matthew Stafford was yelling, screaming like his house was on fire, and figuratively it was.

    Riley Reiff was 30 yards downfield celebrating what he thought was a game-winning touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson as the precious final seconds ticked off the clock in a game the Detroit Lions couldn’t afford to lose.

    Twenty-two, 21, 20 …

    Stafford waved his arms maniacally for his starting left tackle, the one playing through a hamstring injury, to get to the line of scrimmage. He motioned with his right arm to spike the ball and told his offensive linemen — everyone within earshot, really — that he was about to do just that.

    As Reiff raced into his three-point stance — “I think he probably ran a 4.3,” Reggie Bush said — Stafford surveyed a Dallas Cowboys defense trying to catch its breath, called for the snap from Dominic Raiola, climbed over his center’s back and extended his arms across the goal line as a few stunned linebackers made a last-ditch effort to swat the ball away.

    The clock froze at 12 seconds and Stafford booked around left end into the middle of the end zone where he celebrated a touchdown so unexpected he had to explain what happened to several linemen in the locker room after the game with the most ferocious spike you’ve ever seen.

    Ballgame. Lions win 31-30. Another amazing comeback complete.

    “I told everybody I was spiking it,” Stafford said. “I was screaming clock, I was going to spike it. It was a feel thing. I was yelling, ‘Spike.’ They knew I was yelling spike. I saw linebackers kind of standing like this (back off the line of scrimmage). Our guys didn’t fire off, they just stood up but I looked down and we were that far, shoot I’m going to figure I’ll get that. So I just need to go — shoot, I don’t know, I was making a play, man. I was trying to help my team win and sure am glad I got across.”

    Stafford, who now has nine fourth-quarter comebacks in his career, completed 33 of 48 passes for a season-high 488 yards and got plenty of help from Johnson and a costly Cowboys holding penalty that left the Lions enough time for the game-winning drive.

    Johnson caught 14 passes for a Lions record 329 yards, the second-highest single-game total in NFL history, and had his way with Dallas’ $10-million-a-year cornerback, Brandon Carr.

    He opened the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown catch and made another of his signature jump-ball grabs amid two defenders, but until the final minute it looked like his heroics might be lost in a crush of Lions turnovers.

    Dallas led, 27-24, with 1:24 to play and had a chance to run out the clock after stopping the Lions (5-3) on fourth-and-12 at their own 31.

    But DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch stuffed Joseph Randle for a 3-yard loss on first down, Travis Lewis dropped Phillip Tanner for a 1-yard loss on second down, and after the Lions used their final timeout, Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith grabbed Devin Taylor for a holding penalty on third down that stopped the clock with 1:14 to play.

    The Lions, who would have got the ball back with about 25 seconds left if not for the penalty, gave up a field goal and started their final drive at their own 20 with 1:02 on the clock.

    “Our emotions, we were a little down, we were a little up. I think I experienced just about every emotion possible today,” Bush said. “Guys just keep fighting and then defense gave us a chance. When they got that holding penalty it stopped the clock and that gave us a chance. … Sometimes it just works out that way.”

    Stafford completed 4 of 5 passes for 79 yards on the game-winning drive with one spike, and took advantage of a Dallas defense that lost starting safety Barry Church to a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter and played the entire day without its other starter at safety, J.J. Wilcox.

    Kris Durham caught a 40-yard pass down the Lions sideline when backup safety Jakar Hamilton, who signed off the practice squad earlier in the week, was late helping Orlando Scandrick, and one play later Johnson split Hamilton and Carr down the right seam for a 22-yard gain to the Dallas 1.

    Church said he felt “helpless” watching the final drive, and Lions coach Jim Schwartz said few quarterbacks other than Stafford could have engineered the series.

    “We know what we got in him,” center Dominic Raiola said. “I just said earlier, Calvin had a huge day, player of the game and everything, but for Matt to come back and do what he did after what he went through early in the game it’s crazy. … I mean, what can you say about the guy? Love his toughness, love his moxie.”

    Stafford threw two interceptions, both to Sean Lee, and all four of the Lions’ turnovers came in Cowboys territory.

    Tony Romo completed just 14 of 30 passes for 206 yards for the Cowboys and threw second-half touchdowns of 50 yards to Dez Bryant and 60 yards to Terrance Williams.

    Johnson’s 329 yards were the most ever by a receiver in regulation in NFL history. Flipper Anderson had 336 yards receiving in 1989, but 40 of those yards came in overtime.

    Courtesy: Dave Birkett | Detroit Free Press

    COWBOYS RIVAL HEADLINE: The Detroit News | What a finish! Lions outgun Cowboys

    COWBOYS RIVAL HEADLINE - The Detroit News - What a finish - Lions outgun Cowboys

    Detroit — Just another game, huh coach? Just one of 16? Not this one.

    “Yeah, I might rethink my mantra on this one,” coach Jim Schwartz said after the Lions staged a thrillingly improbable 31-30 comeback victory against the Cowboys. “This was a big win for us. Going into the bye week at 5-3 instead of 4-4, I don’t care how you look at it, 5-3 is a successful first half of the season.”

    The Lions were down 30-24 with 62 seconds left. They were 80 yards away from the winning score with no timeouts.

    “People were leaving the stadium,” Calvin Johnson said. “Nobody thought we could pull it off in one minute. But we’ve got some firepower over here.”

    Indeed. Quarterback Matthew Stafford (33 for 48, 488 yards and one touchdown) shook off two earlier interceptions and started dissecting the Cowboys’ injury-depleted secondary.

    Stafford connected with Johnson for 17 yards, Kris Durham for 40 yards and then Johnson again, splitting two defenders, for 22 yards to put it at the 1 with the clock ticking down inside 15 seconds. Here’s where it got interesting.

    First left tackle Riley Reiff, thinking Johnson had scored, was 40 yards behind the play celebrating as Stafford hurried to set the offense.

    “He about gave the head coach a heart attack there,” Schwartz said. “He’s going to pay for that somewhere down the line.”

    Once set, Stafford called out “spike, spike,” meaning he was going to clock the ball. Everybody on the field, offense and defense alive, thought he was going to spike the ball. Stafford didn’t spike the ball.

    “It was a feel thing,” he said. “I was yelling spike. They knew I was yelling spike. I saw their linebackers standing still. Our guys didn’t fire off (the line). They just stood up. But I looked down. We were that far (inches); shoot, I’m going to get that. Just trying to make a play to help us win.”

    Stafford stuck the ball over the goal line and for good measure rolled off the stack and ran it in. Replay upheld the winning score.

    “He kind of caught us off-guard,” Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher acknowledged.

    “This is an amazing win today,” said running back Reggie Bush, who had 92 yards rushing. “It’s a testament to the character of the guys on the team. We kept fighting. I think we made about every mistake possible in that game, but we kept fighting until the end. We just kept telling each other to keep fighting, keep going. Matt was amazing today.”

    The Lions became the first team since 2007 to win a game with a minus-four turnover ratio. All four turnovers came in Dallas territory. Stafford threw two interceptions early, both to linebacker Sean Lee. Lee returned the second one 74 yards to set up a 5-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant.

    Bush fumbled. Johnson fumbled.

    The Lions gave up a 60-yard touchdown pass to Terrence Newman and a 50-yard touchdown pass to Bryant – in the fourth quarter.

    “Our team has been resilient through a lot of things, and they needed to be today,” Schwartz said. “We certainly didn’t make it easy for ourselves.”

    The Lions responded to every punch the Cowboys threw. Johnson caught 14 passes for 329 yards — the second most in a single game in NFL history.

    “He had his way,” Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr said of Johnson. “And, we couldn’t find a way to keep him from rolling.”

    “Just wait until he’s 100 percent,” Schwartz joked.

    Joique Bell scored on a 1-yard run. Bush had a 1-yard touchdown run set up by a 54-yard pass to Johnson.

    Still, with 1:07 left in the game, the Lions looked dead in the water. They were down 27-24. Their previous drive had stalled at their own 31. The timeouts had been exhausted. The Cowboys were called for holding rookie defensive end Devin Taylor on a third-and-14 run play.

    That holding call probably saved the day for the Lions because it stopped the clock.

    “If we don’t get called for a penalty, I think they probably had 20 seconds or so left,” Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said.

    “We had 40 more seconds than we were planning on at that point,” said Schwartz, who declined the penalty and allowed kicker Dan Bailey to make it 30-24 with a 44-yard field goal. “I thought that was a really key point in the game. Any time you got a minute, you got our offense, we like the odds that we can go put that ball in the end zone.”

    Never a doubt, joked Stafford.

    “I know it’s a tall order,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I was sitting there comfortable in my boots like, ‘Oh, here we go, no timeouts and we got to go 80 against that defense.’ But there’s always a chance. Our guys believed, they battled, they made some great catches and plays.

    “We won the game and that’s all that matters now.”

    Courtesy: Chris McCosky | The Detroit News | Associated Press contributed

    2013 COWBOYS GAME 8 RECAP: Detroit Lions send Dallas Cowboys back to .500

    VIDEO - First Take - Postgame video recap and highlights - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys - Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions

    First Take on 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions (2:56)

    Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, and Rowan Kavner bring you First Take from the sideline following the Dallas Cowboys loss in Detroit. (Watch Video | Play Audio)


    2013 COWBOYS GAME 8 RECAP - Detroit Lions send Dallas Cowboys back to .500

    DETROIT – The initial reactions following the Cowboys 31-30 loss to the Lions.

    David Helman:  

    We called the Kansas City and San Diego losses missed opportunities at the time, but they pale in comparison to this. I could talk about the turnover margin or the inability to stop Calvin Johnson. But my biggest impression is that the Cowboys had the ball and the lead at the end of the game and couldn’t seal the deal. The play calling was incredibly conservative for a team whose defense surrendered a record day to Megatron, and I think it was the difference. As soon as the Cowboys put the game on their defense, I figured it would end poorly. Now it’s back to .500.

    Rowan Kavner:

    It took until the fourth quarter for it to be the shootout we all expected, but it came in a massive way late in Sunday’s loss. The Cowboys benefitted from the long ball tremendously, with Terrance Williams still defying at least my expectations by scoring in his fourth straight game. Otherwise, it was Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson trading blows with two touchdowns for the former and an unreal 329 receiving yards for the latter.  I thought they’d both surpass the 100-yard mark, though only Johnson did. In the end, the Cowboys did settle for more field goals than the Lions, whose last-minute touchdown sealed the deal. Never before this year have the Cowboys let one slip like this, and all the talk of mediocrity and .500 football will be back on the table again as they dropped to 4-4.

    Bryan Broaddus:

    Without looking at the film, I thought that Jeff Heath held up well. There were a couple of angles on some routes that he could have taken better and in the 4th quarter in a ball down the middle of the field, to Calvin Johnson, I thought he was in good position to make the play but didn’t. With Heath, you are going to get a player that is always around the ball and will be a physical tackler. I thought he was that today even causing a fumble on Reggie Bush in the open field. He showed some burst and range on the play which is all you can ask from your safety.

    Nick Eatman:

    I thought the Cowboys would win this game earlier in the week. Once it started, it was clear to me Detroit was better. You can say the Lions stole a game here but I think it would’ve been miraculous for Dallas to pull that out. Of course they had no answer for Calvin Johnson but you didn’t think it’d be a 329-yard day. Then again if you had told me BW Webb, Jeff Heath and Jakar Hamilton would play most of the game, we might have predicted this. Tony Romo wasn’t bad but he wasn’t good. And if your defense is average against the pass and you have no running game, your quarterback can’t be average. Speaking of, that’s your team once again – sitting at 4-4. Halfway home to consistency.

    Here we’re the gut feelings for writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, David Helman and Rowan Kavner, posted Saturday afternoon.

    MOTOWN MELTDOWN: Detroit Lions roar past Dallas Cowboys in final seconds; Dez Bryant flips out

    MOTOWN MELTDOWN - Detroit Lions roar past Dallas Cowboys in final seconds; Dez Bryant rants for rally - Calvin Johnson Brandon Carr

    DETROIT – This one’s going to hurt for a while. The Dallas Cowboys blew a great opportunity to pull two games above .500

    Here are five thoughts on the Cowboys’ 31-30 loss today at Ford Field.

    1.) It was going to be the biggest Dallas Cowboys victory of the season. But then Matthew Stafford took over and the Lions made one of the more improbable comebacks you’ll see in a while. It’s tough to win on the road back-to-back weeks and the Cowboys almost accomplished that. Jason Garrett always talks about putting the last game behind you and moving forward. That’s going to be easier said than done with this loss.

    2.) It’s a broken record but Dez Bryant has to be more involved early in games. If not just for his playmaking ability, to at least keep him from flipping out on Tony Romo on the sidelines. Bryant was very animated in the third quarter after the Cowboys failed to capitalize on the Lions’ fourth turnover. He was visibly frustrated during the final minute as well. Bryant was single-covered on several occasions today and only was targeted four times during the first three quarters. In the fourth, he obviously showed why he needs to be more involved, quickly turning a short pass into a 50-yard touchdown.

    3.) Yes, it was a devastating loss, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some positives to take away. For one, Sean Lee was outstanding. If you ever had any doubts about the Cowboys giving Lee a contract extension, Sunday’s performance should be enough to answer all your questions. Lee was fantastic in pass defense, intercepting two Matthew Stafford throws in the first-half. Lee now has 11 interceptions in his short career, which is amazing for a linebacker. As long as he stays healthy, Lee, who also had a team-high 10 tackles, should easily prove to be worth his new deal. And that 2010 draft is looking pretty good for the Cowboys.

    4.) Positive No. 2: Terrance Williams has a chance to be really special. And with Miles Austin’s constant hamstring injuries, that’s probably a very good thing. Williams was Romo’s favorite target Sunday. He went to the rookie 10 times. Romo might have to listen to Bryant complain from time-to-time, but the franchise has to like the young playmakers he has on the outside.

    5.) Detroit was sloppy with the ball throughout but there’s no doubt that Monte Kiffin’s style has greatly improved this team’s ability to force turnovers. The Cowboys have forced 19 takeaways this season. They had 16 all of last season. Those four takeaways were the biggest reason Dallas should’ve won this game.


    MOTOWN MELTDOWN - Detroit Lions roar past Dallas Cowboys in final seconds; Dez Bryant rants for rally - Tony Romo Jason Witten Jason Garrett

    Dez Bryant visibly emotional on sideline in Detroit (:53)

    Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant went on multiple tirades on the sidelines during the team’s game against the Detroit Lions. (Watch Video | No Audio)


    MOTOWN MELTDOWN - Detroit Lions roar past Dallas Cowboys in final seconds; Dez Bryant rants for rally

    Dez Bryant explains heated tirade (5:26)

    Dallas receiver Dez Bryant speaks to the media following the Cowboys loss at Detroit and talks about what happened on the sideline. (Watch Video | Play Audio)

    LISTEN LIVE–RIGHT NOW: Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions postgame show

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    NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions

    Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions - Dallas Cowboys 2013-2014 schedule - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys - NFL helmets

    After victories over Washington and Philadelphia in consecutive games, the Dallas Cowboys head to Detroit alone in first place in the NFC East. A victory over the Lions on Sunday will give Dallas its first winning record at the midpoint of the season since 2009, which also happens to be the last time the Cowboys made a run to the playoffs. This game will be appointment viewing because of the receiver battle that will take place between Detroit’s Calvin Johnson and Dallas’ Dez Bryant. Here is a look at how both teams match up:

    When the Cowboys run

    It’s been a long time since the Cowboys have had a reliable rushing offense. Lineup changes and a wavering commitment to the run have prevented Dallas from consistently producing yards on the ground. The knee injury suffered by DeMarco Murray and the promotion of rookie Joseph Randle to a starting role hasn’t helped. But Murray, who is listed as questionable, could be back. And if he is he will face a Detroit defense allowing 5.13 yards per carry, the highest average in the NFL.

    Edge: Cowboys

    When the Cowboys pass

    Since throwing for 506 yards against Denver, Tony Romo’s combined output in victories over Philadelphia and Washington has fallen short of that single-game total. But if he can stay upright against Detroit’s strong front, he should be able to pick apart the Lions’ pass defense that is surrendering 282 yards per game, the fifth-highest average in the NFL.

    Edge: Cowboys

    When the Lions run

    Reggie Bush was one of the key acquisitions the Lions made this off-season. But the running back has rushed for more than 100 yards in game just once in 2013. Injuries along the offensive line and the Lions’ pass-heavy philosophy have hindered Detroit’s ground game. The Lions will have their work cut out for them if the Dallas Cowboys’ defense can duplicate their performance against Philadelphia, when it held the Eagles’ potent rushing attack to 84 yards on the ground.

    Edge: Cowboys

    When the Lions pass

    Through Week 7, no player had attempted more passes this season than Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Highland Park (Dallas) alum has thrown for 2,129 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has also been sacked only nine times. The Lions will move the ball through the air. After all, they have the league’s premier receiver, Calvin Johnson. The Dallas Cowboys’ defense, which has looked shaky against accomplished passers, will be challenged to stop Stafford and his favorite target.

    Edge: Lions


    Special teams

    Dwayne Harris has established himself as one of the premier returners in the NFL this season. He is second in the league in both punt and kick return average. Harris is a weapon and he gives the Dallas Cowboys an advantage against the Lions, who haven’t given up much yardage when they’ve had to punt. In a game in which kickers Dan Bailey and David Akers are evenly matched, Harris may make the difference on special teams.

    Edge: Cowboys


    Intangibles

    The Dallas Cowboys are riding high after defeating two divisional opponents in consecutive weeks. Another victory this weekend will ensure Dallas a winning record in the first half of the season. The Cowboys can make a statement if they go on the road and beat Detroit, a quality team with a potent passing attack. Dallas will be motivated to get the job done.

    Edge: Cowboys

     


    GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Trackers and Scoreboards

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    GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Sounds of the game

    Listen to the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Brad Sham on KRLD in Dallas.

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    GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Watch the game

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    Out of market? Click HERE to watch online (NFL Sunday Ticket)

    When: Sunday, October 27th, 2013 at high noon (Dallas time)

    Where: Ford Field | Detroit, MI

    Watch on TV: Local FOX affiliate | DirecTV

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    Note: The pregame show starts about two hours before kickoff. The postgame show starts approximately 30 minutes after the game is over.


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    NFL TRADE DEALINE APPROACHING: Dallas Cowboys VP Stephen Jones open to a trade, but it’s got to fit salary cap

    stephen jones - dallas cowboys

    The Dallas Cowboys are open to making a trade before the Tuesday deadline, but making it work with their salary-cap situation is another matter entirely.

    Executive vice president Stephen Jones said the defensive line is the obvious spot the Cowboys would be willing to listen to offers.

    “We’re certainly open to it,” Jones said Friday. “I know our guys are working back there. I’m working. If the right situation presented itself, we would certainly do something. I mean, it’s no secret we’re moving a lot of guys in and out in our defensive line and that will probably continue to be the case. I think we already have some workouts scheduled for Monday. We’re just taking a look at guys. [Defensive line coach] Rod [Marinelli] is doing a heck of a job. I admire our young guys that are in there playing hard. To some degree, it’s a good situation. The guys know it’s week to week, and they’ve got to play hard and give it their best and play the right style of defense. You’ve got to admire what that group is getting accomplished. But we certainly would look at any type of situation there if the right deal was there, but we also can’t, for a quick fix, do something that would hurt long term.”

    The Dallas Cowboys are only $2 million under the $123 million salary cap. They are projected to be $31 million over next year’s cap.

    “At the end of the day it’s got to fit our cap, and that’s another thing,” Jones said. “It would have to really just fit right to sacrifice our cap some, because it will be an issue for us next year, and we certainly manage our salary cap hand in hand with ’13, ’14 and ’15 all side by side as we manage and we see how that affects each year.”

    The player also would have to be the right fit on the field. A new player, no matter how talented and experienced, enters as a rookie in terms of his knowledge of the team’s playbook.

    The Colts recently made a splash by trading for former first-round pick Trent Richardson, but in four games with Indianapolis, Richardson has rushed for 228 yards on 75 carries and has lost a fumble.

    “You have to measure everything,” Jones said. “You have to measure the cap but I think people are getting more and more skilled at that in terms of how they look at it and know that if you trade for a guy he’s got to fit. He’s got to fit under the cap. He’s got to fit under improving your team and I think teams are understanding that and that’s why you’re probably seeing more trades but it’s certainly not as easy as it would be if you didn’t have a salary cap but I don’t think we’re ever going to have to worry about that again. As far as I’m concerned it looks like we’re going to have a salary cap for a long time.”


    NFL TRADE DEALINE APPROACHING - Dallas Cowboys VP Stephen Jones open to a trade, but it's got to fit salary cap - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys roster
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    Stephen Jones on NFL Trade Deadline options and Jay Ratliff 

    Stephen Jones spoke with the media about the legal issues involving Jay Ratliff, and what the team is looking at heading into the NFL Trade Deadline.

    BACK TO THE FUTURE: Dallas Cowboys guard Brian Waters hasn’t missed a beat since week 4

    TALKIN’ TEXAS TRENCHES - Veteran Brian Waters gives Dallas’ young linemen a solid mentor

    Brian Waters had not played football in a year and a half when he signed with the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 4. It took him a couple of weeks, but playing guard apparently is like riding a bike for him. He has not missed a beat since taking over as the starting right guard in Week 4.

    BACK TO THE FUTURE - Dallas Cowboys guard Brian Waters hasn’t missed a beat since week 4 - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys roster

    “He’s pretty darn close to being back to himself,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Friday. “There’s no question about that. That was a concern, or something we talked about a lot, in bringing him back, understanding that he hadn’t played last year and didn’t go through training camp. We have a tremendous respect for the game and the level of competition that goes on every Sunday afternoon. So guys have to be ready to do that. He’s done it really well for a long time. So he had to get back in football shape and just move around and really get his feet underneath him, get his hands back, all that stuff that came so naturally to him for a long time. If you haven’t done it, it just takes you a little bit to get it back.

    “I think conditioning, as much as anything else, was an issue for any player in his position. He was surprisingly in very good shape, wasn’t overweight when he first came back. He had to lose a little bit of weight, but more than anything else just get comfortable playing ball again. I think he’s done that over the last few weeks.”

    BACK TO THE FUTURE: Dallas Cowboys guard Brian Waters hasn’t missed a beat since week 4

    Waters, 36, sat out the 2012 season, returning to football when the Dallas Cowboys signed him to a one-year, $3 million deal. The six-time Pro Bowler has allowed two sacks, according to STATS, and has one holding penalty.

    Dallas Cowboys Brian Waters - 6-Time Pro Bowl Guard Returns to Where Career Started - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys roster

    “I’m working just like everybody else,” Waters said. “I’m trying to get better and better. There are some things in my game that I really feel like I need to fix. But I think that’s everybody. We’re Week 7. It’s a long season still yet, and hopefully we’ll have an extended part of our season. I’ve always said you want to be at your best at the end of the season, not at the beginning of the season, not in the middle. We definitely have a ways to go and individually I have a ways to go as well.”

    Waters has no regrets about returning. He already lived in Dallas, so it was coming home in a way.

    “I’m excited about that,” Waters said. “I’m still ecstatic.”


    Button - Inside the locker room
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    Offensive Line Ready To Face Their Biggest Test

    Go inside the Dallas Cowboys locker room to see how the offensive line feels about their toughest test of the season so far.

    EXCLUSIVE: The Great Robbini’s predictions for Game #8-2013 Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions

    The GREAT Robbini's Crystal Ball - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

    Regular readers already know that The Boys Are Back website features the ALMOST WORLD FAMOUS predictions from The GREAT Robbini. Last week, our “exalted one” predicted a big win … and was correct!

    This week, The GREAT Robbini is on a heavy dose of Marinelli sauce and excitement this week! He even boosted his pregame commentary about this game. Last week, the GREAT ONE was distracted by a house full of women, clamoring for his mystical tunic, scarves, and head wrap. This weekend, he was able to escape their advances and sit down long enough to pound his thumbs on the keyboard for a little longer.

    EXCLUSIVE - The Great Robbini’s predictions for Game #8-2013 Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions - Happy Halloween

    After putting a world-class rub on his magic pumpkin, he was able to conger up visions of a Dallas Cowboys Hallowin.

    Overwhelmingly psyched about the Dallas Cowboys – Detroit Lions incoming vibe… and ready to share his prognostications that we all count on from week-to-week. Without further delay, it’s time for The GREAT Robbini’s predictions. OK, here we go …

    The GREAT Robbini’s – 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys game #8 predictions:

    Dallas Cowboys win. Players will be dinged up on both the Lions and Cowboys. A well played offensive game comes back for Dallas. Don’t turn away from this game before the clock stops ticking.

    Predictions for the Texas 2 Defense …

    • 3 takeaways (2 INTs/2 FFs)
    • 4 team sacks
    • 1 1/2 sacks Hatcher (had 1, close enough)
    • 2 sacks Selvie
    • Lee/Carter lead tackles (Carr/Church)
    • Hatcher fumble recovery (Church/Heath had 1 each)
    • Carr interception (Lee had 2)
    • Claiborne secures a takeaway
    • Reggie Bush injured (shoulder stinger, came back in)

    Predictions for the offense …

    • Romo 330 yards (206 yards, completed 14 of 30 passes)
    • Romo 4TDs (3 TDs)
    • Dez TD (Had 2 TDs today)
    • Witten TD
    • Randall TD
    • Williams TD (Dallas rookie record, 1 TD four consecutive games)
    • Rushing committee 90 yards (62 yards combined)
    • Dez 100 yards (3 catches for 72 yards)
    • Williams 110 yards (2 for 64 yards, plus 5 rushing (on the reverse)
    • Witten 65 yards (2 catches for 15 yards)
    • Beasley 45 yards (1 catch for 8 yards, last catch of the day)
    • Cowboys receive second half kick

    The GREAT Robbini

    Remember, you read it here! The Great Robbini predictions for game #8. Leave your final score or predictions in the comment section.


    Stats and predictions confirmed by:

    button - Dallas Cowboys Box Score - NFL Box score - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys

    WHEELS DOWN IN MOTOWN: Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions Pregame Preview Primer | Pregame Scouting Report

    Button - Dallas Cowboys Today - Dallas Cowboys Pregame comments - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule

    Dallas Cowboys On The Road – Pregame Preview (3:03)

    Dallas Cowboys beat writers check-in from Detroit Lions turf. (Watch Video | Play Audio)


    Dallas Cowboys Detroit Lions

    Their Nemesis: DeMarcus Ware

    Last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, DeMarcus Ware sat out of the game with a quad injury, which was the first time he had missed a game in his career. Management may opt to hold him out one more week. If he’s not ready to go, Kyle Wilber will step into the spotlight, along with Jason Vega.

    In five games against the Lions during his career, Ware has notched 64 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 3 tackles for loss. He will be battling Riley Reiff, who is in his second season as the starter at left tackle. Reiff is the type of tackle who Ware tends to have his most success against.

    Reiff is not a powerful setter and tends to catch blocks, which allows the defender to get some push on him. Against the Rams, Jake Long set soft and Ware had a field day with him. Reiff is very athletic, which will help him against Ware when he tries to take him wide around the edge. But like we saw with Long, Ware can hit him with a straight bull rush, then play off that. If Reiff feels like he is going to have to deal with power all day, it should help him in other areas of the game.

    Our Nemesis: Calvin Johnson

    On Sunday, two of the best receivers in professional football will be on the field when the Lions face the Cowboys. As tough as this matchup will be for the Lions to have to cover Dez Bryant, the Cowboys are going to have their own issues dealing with Calvin Johnson.

    Both these receivers are so similar in the way they play, you could put Bryant in a Lions uniform and Johnson in a Cowboys uniform and you would not be able to tell the difference. Johnson is as dynamic as it comes for a receiver. He can run his routes anywhere and at any level to find a way to get open. He can separate with his stride, and, no matter where the ball is thrown, he will find a way to make a catch.

    He is a powerful player who plays well in the air. Any opportunity to catch a jump ball, it is his. The Lions can line him up either on the outside or in the slot, and he is productive. The closer he gets to the goal line, the more physical he gets. He likes to use his hands to push and shove to by space, and he will not just run fade routes in the red zone — you will see him run the slant as well. He’s one of those receivers that just keeps coming after you down-after-down.

    Our Weapon: Dez Bryant

    These Lions corners have had to deal with some outstanding receivers this season: Larry Fitzgerald, Pierre Garcon, Brandon Marshall and A.J. Green. They practice every day against Calvin Johnson, which is a chore in itself, but Dez Bryant will present a different set of challenges for them.

    Unless you have lined up and faced Bryant, he is a different cat. Of the two starting cornerbacks for the Lions, I thought that Chris Houston was the better of the two. If Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan decide they want to attack one side of the field, Rashean Mathis is that guy. Mathis does have quickness to run with anyone that he faces, but he is not the most physical of cover guys.

    Opponents have had success attacking him inside on routes, and he has done little to fight them from doing that. Naturally, the way that Bryant plays during a game will give him a great deal of problems. When Bryant gets into the flow of a game, and he is out to prove a point, like he will be in this game, physically he will be too much for Mathis to handle.  In two career games against the Lions, Bryant has caught six balls and three of those catches resulted in touchdowns. Expect the same on Sunday.

    Their Weapon: Reggie Bush

    Bush is a mismatch player in every sense of the word, and he will line up all over the field in order to find the best way to attack the defense. He’s come a long way since his days with the Saints in terms of being a more complete back.

    You will see him carry the ball in normal down-and-distance situations with a great deal of effectiveness, and he is not afraid to hammer the ball inside but is better when he can run it off the edge or on a sweep or reverse.

    The Lions coaches are creating ways for him to get the ball, because he has more explosive quickness and burst than what the Cowboys faced last week against LeSean McCoy. Where Bush and McCoy are similar is how they are able to catch the ball in space, whether on the screen or the inside “Texas” route.

    Bush is one of those players that can score from anywhere on the field at any time, so the Cowboys have to be alert when he is in the game. He’s going to be a handful for Sean Lee and Bruce Carter to have to deal with because of the way he is able to play in space. He’s a very natural football player that has the ability to breakdown a defense in a flash.

    Under Their Radar: Drake Nevis

    On the game film I was able to study on the Lions, I liked the matchup with DeMarcus Ware vs. Riley Reiff, but also keep an eye on Drake Nevis as a nickel rusher.

    Nevis has finally worked himself into shape and has become a solid rotational player for this defensive line. Nevis is playing with far more technique than when I saw him with the Colts this summer. He really only had one move and that was the strong club move that would knock the blocker off balance, then he would rush up the field.

    Now you see him doing a better job of using his hands and feet, working together. Where Nevis will have an advantage is working against guard Rob Sims. In watching Sims play, he is all about power and not quick movement. If Nevis is smart, he will not try and rush Sims down the middle but try and play him on the edges and see if he can attack his shoulder.

    Nevis and the other Cowboys defensive tackles need to stay active against Sims and make him have to match their movement. The more that they can get him to have to move, the more he will struggle to sustain his blocks. I have seen inside pressure affect Stafford in a big way.

    Under Our Radar: Ziggy Ansah

    One of the most difficult players to get an idea of where he was going in the 2013 NFL Draft was BYU defensive end, Ziggy Ansah.

    When the Lions selected Ansah with the fifth overall selection, there were those that were surprised of how high he went and others that thought the selection was the right one. Ansah is very raw but you can see the talent on tape. 

    He is really playing on more natural ability than anything at this point. He is explosive and can quickly get the edge. He is doing a much better job of using pass rush moves as he is working to the quarterback. That has helped him post three sacks this season, and there were times where he was close to getting more. He is a long, rangy player that can play with some surprising power.

    Ansah really wants to get up the field as fast as he can, then try and retrace his steps to handle the run. The Detroit Lions have some special packages where he lines up as a defensive tackle, while Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley play as defensive ends.

    Ansah will line up across from Tyron Smith in this game, and Smith will need to be ready to handle his up field rush. If Smith is going to have success against Ansah, it will be by getting his hands on him quickly.

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