The NFL wanted a better Pro Bowl. And it got it.
Criticized in recent years for players not giving full effort and for the games getting too high-scoring and too different from the regular product we see each Sunday, this year’s Pro Bowl was a different story.
Whether it was the unconferenced format, which pitted regular-season teammates against each other for the first time, or the competitive draft from alumni captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, or maybe just the threat from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last year that the players needed to pick it up or the game could be discontinued, the 2014 Pro Bowl was a lot more entertaining.
In the end, Team Rice defeated Team Sanders 22-21 with a late touchdown from DeMarco Murray with just 41 seconds to play. A two-point conversion run Carolina’s Mike Tolbert gave Team Rice the lead. A 67-yard field goal attempt by Baltimore’s Justin Tucker fell short, giving Rice the win.
Eagles QB Nick Foles was named Offensive MVP and Kansas City linebacker Derrick Johnson took home the Defensive MVP honors.
The Dallas Cowboys originally had only two players – Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant – voted into the game. But in the last two weeks, three players were added as alternates. The Cowboys had a total five on the field tonight.
Here’s a quick look how each player fared in the game.
Dez Bryant – Playing in his first Pro Bowl, the receiver wasn’t a huge factor for Team Sanders. He had two catches for 12 yards but did have a chance to score in the third quarter but dropped a fourth-down pass right at the goal line.
Jason Witten – For most of the game, Witten was a non-factor but he did have two catches – his only two – in the final minute of the game as Team Sanders drove for the win. Although he did start, he gave way to Cleveland’s Jordan Cameron, who ultimately caught the game-winning score late in the fourth. Witten has now played in nine Pro Bowls in his 11-year career.
Tyron Smith – The first-time Pro Bowler started for Team Rice but played the entire game at right tackle after playing the season on the left side. Smith had a false start penalty early in the game but clearly had some issues blocking Houston’s J.J. Watt and a stiff pass-rush by Team Sanders, which had four sacks and four turnovers. Smith played most of the game without much substitution.
Jason Hatcher – Also a starter for Team Rice, Hatcher had a fourth-quarter sack on Eagles QB Nick Foles on third down. Hatcher also had an offside penalty but played fairly well, coming up with a huge QB pressure in the final seconds in what could be his final game with a Cowboys helmet.
DeMarco Murray – The third tailback for Team Rice, Murray wasn’t much of a factor until the final drive. Murray caught a dump-off pass from Alex Smith and scurried in for 20-yard touchdown to pull his team within one point. A two-point conversion by Tolbert on the next play gave Team Rice the win. Murray had four carries for 25 yards and four catches for 37 yards.
DeMarco Murray scores game winning TD in 2014 NFL Pro Bowl (WATCH)
Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray scores for Team Rice with less than a minute to play, and alumni captain Jerry Rice makes the bold decision to go for the game winning 2-point conversion.
Team Jerry Rice
Team Deion Sanders
Team Jerry Rice | Team Deion Sanders
|Total First Downs||24||Total First Downs||14|
|By Rushing||7||By Rushing||4|
|By Passing||16||By Passing||10|
|By Penalty||By Penalty|
|Third Down Efficiency||6/16 – 37%||Third Down Efficiency||2/11 – 18%|
|Fourth Down Efficiency||2/4 – 50%||Fourth Down Efficiency||1/2 – 50%|
|Total Net Yards||384||Total Net Yards||285|
|Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks)||78||Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks)||56|
|Average Gain per Offensive Play||4.9||Average Gain per Offensive Play||5.1|
|Net Yards Rushing||114||Net Yards Rushing||62|
|Total Rushing Plays||20||Total Rushing Plays||17|
|Average Gain per Rushing Play||5.7||Average Gain per Rushing Play||3.6|
|Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards)||1–1||Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards)||1–3|
|Net Yards Passing||270||Net Yards Passing||223|
|Times Sacked (Number-Yards)||4 – 21||Times Sacked (Number-Yards)||5 – 41|
|Gross Yards Passing||291||Gross Yards Passing||264|
|Pass Comp-Att-Int||26 – 54 – 4||Pass Comp-Att-Int||20 – 34 – 2|
|Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks)||4.7||Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks)||5.7|
|Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks)||0 – 0 – 0||Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks)||0 – 0 – 0|
|Punts (Number-Average)||4 – 49.0||Punts (Number-Average)||5 – 49.2|
|Net Punting Average||47.0||Net Punting Average||38.0|
|FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked||0 – 0||FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked||0 – 0|
|Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs)||56||Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs)||109|
|Punt Returns (Number-Yards)||5 – 56||Punt Returns (Number-Yards)||3 – 8|
|Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards)||0 – 0||Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards)||0 – 0|
|Interception Returns (Number-Yards)||2 – 0||Interception Returns (Number-Yards)||4 – 101|
|Penalties (Number-Yards)||4 – 20||Penalties (Number-Yards)||2 – 10|
|Fumbles (Number-Lost)||2 – 1||Fumbles (Number-Lost)||3 – 1|
|Kickoff Returns||0||Kickoff Returns||0|
|Fumble Returns||0||Fumble Returns||0|
|Punt Returns||0||Punt Returns||0|
|Extra Points (Made-Attempted)||3 – 3||Extra Points (Made-Attempted)||3 – 3|
|Kicking (Made-Attempted)||2 – 2||Kicking (Made-Attempted)||3 – 3|
|Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted)||1 – 1||Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted)||0 – 0|
|Field Goals (Made-Attempted)||0 – 1||Field Goals (Made-Attempted)||0 – 2|
|Red Zone Efficiency||2/4 – 50%||Red Zone Efficiency||2/3 – 66%|
|Goal To Go Efficiency||2/3 – 66%||Goal To Go Efficiency||1/2 – 50%|
|Final Score||22||Final Score||21|
|Time of Possession||32:47||Time of Possession||27:13|
NFL Pro Bowl 2014
The NFL is starting over with the Pro Bowl.
The NFL originally announced radical changes to the format of the All-Star game back in May, eliminating the traditional AFC vs. NFC matchup in favor of a fantasy draft-like roster selection.
Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will serve as alumni captains, choosing two rosters with the help of two NFL.com fantasy users.
The NFL and NFLPA distributed a joint press release, explaining that the changes are designed to make the Pro Bowl “the ultimate fan-friendly celebration of the game.”
“As players, we wanted to keep the Pro Bowl to honor excellence in individual performance and connect with the fans in a different environment,” said NFLPA president Domonique Foxworth, who proposed the changes to the game. “To do that, I worked with a group of players to map out new ideas.”
Under the new format, players will be selected without regard to conference in voting by fans, coaches and players.
Players will be assigned to teams through the Pro Bowl Draft, which will air (tonight) on Wednesday, Jan. 22, on NFL Network.
The 2014 Pro Bowl will be held on Sunday, Jan. 26, at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
- Game within the Game: A two-minute warning will be added to the first and third quarters and the ball will change hands after each quarter. This will increase the opportunities for quarterbacks to direct “two-minute drills,” which are especially exciting for fans.
- No Kickoffs: The coin toss will determine which team is awarded possession first. The ball will be placed on the 25-yard line at the start of each quarter and after scoring plays.
- Rosters: The rosters will continue to consist of 43 players per squad. The kick return specialist will be replaced by an additional defensive back.
- Cover Two and Press Coverage: The defense will be permitted to play “cover two” and “press” coverage. In previous years, only “man” coverage was permitted, except for goal-line situations.
- Stopping of the Game Clock: Beginning at the two-minute mark of every quarter, if the offense does not gain at least one yard, the clock will stop as if the play were an incomplete pass. This rule will make the team with the ball attempt to gain yardage toward the end of each quarter.
- Game Timing: The game clock will start after an incomplete pass on the signal of the referee, except inside the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half.
- Play Clock: A 35-second/25-second play clock will be adopted instead of the typical 40-second/25-second clock.
- Sacks: The game clock will not stop on quarterback sacks outside of the final two minutes of the game. Currently, the game clock stops in these situations outside of two minutes of the second and fourth quarters.
Check out the new NFL Pro Bowl page for much more detailed information about the NFL’s All-Star game!
COWBOYS HEADED TO HAWAII: DeMarco Murray becomes fifth Dallas Cowboy added to 2014 NFL Pro Bowl roster
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys initially had just two Pro Bowlers heading to Hawaii. Now they have five.
The latest addition is yet another first-timer as running back DeMarco Murray has been added, replacing San Francisco’s Frank Gore, who was injured in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Seahawks.
Murray makes his first Pro Bowl trip of his three-year career after enjoying his first 1,000-yard season. He rushed for 1,124 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns during the 2013 season. He also scored six of his nine touchdowns in the second half of the season.
Murray becomes the first Cowboys running back since Marion Barber in 2007 to make the Pro Bowl and just the second since Emmitt Smith’s eighth and final selection in 1999.
Murray joins a running back group of Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, and LeSean McCoy, who were all initially selected. Adrian Peterson was also picked but won’t play because of injury and Marshawn Lynch is out because of the Super Bowl. Eddie Lacy and Alfred Morris have been added as replacements for those two but Murray now replaces Gore.
Originally, the Cowboys only had two Pro Bowl selections – Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith, a pair of first-round picks who are going for the first time. Last week, Jason Hatcher was added to the roster as a replaced for Baltimore’s injured nose tackle Haloti Ngata. And on Sunday, Jason Witten made it to the Pro Bowl after Denver’s Julius Thomas had to be replaced after the Broncos advanced to the Super Bowl.
The first ever “Unconferenced” Pro Bowl will be played Jan. 26 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, airing on NBC at 6 p.m. (CST). The first-ever NFL Pro Bowl draft will be nationally-televised on NFL Network Wednesday, Jan. 22 (7 p.m. CST) as alumni captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will pick the teams.
RELATED: TE Jason Witten fourth Dallas Cowboy added to 2014 NFL Pro Bowl
MOBILE, Ala. – Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten will now be heading to his ninth career Pro Bowl.
Witten was added to the 2014 NFL Pro Bowl on Sunday to replace Broncos tight end Julius Thomas, who’s now Super Bowl bound.
Wide receiver Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith were initially the only two players selected to the Pro Bowl from the Dallas Cowboys, but Jason Hatcher (and now Witten) were additions this week. Witten’s ninth Pro Bowl appearance ties him with Randy White for the fourth-most in team history, behind only Bob Lilly, Larry Allen and Mel Renfro.
Jason Witten started all 16 games this year for the Cowboys and played in all 16 games for the 10th straight season. He finished with 73 catches for 851 yards and eight touchdowns, which marked his second-highest touchdown total of his career behind only the nine he scored in 2010.
He finished the 2013 season placing fifth in catches and yards and tied for fourth in touchdowns among all tight ends around the league.
Witten made the Pro Bowl every year from 2004-2010 and made the Pro Bowl after the 2012 season, in which he recorded a career-high 110 catches. All the other three Cowboys will be going to the Pro Bowl for the first time.
IRVING, Texas – With the Dallas Cowboys 2013-2014 NFL season in the books, let’s take a look back at the best and the worst of a rather familiar 8-8 record.
Helman: Tony Romo – This is such a cliché, but I just don’t think this team has playoff ambition without Romo. The Dallas Cowboys were competitive in the season finale without him, it’s true. It’s also worth pointing out the game-breaking mistakes – bad interceptions against Denver and Green Bay. Romo hasn’t been able to get the Cowboys over the hump and into the playoffs, but I don’t think they even get close without his 3,828 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Broaddus: Tyron Smith – Could probably say the entire offensive line after what they went through last season and the questions that were leading up to the 2013 season. With that being said, Tyron Smith would be my selection. Every week he battled the opponent’s best defender and did his job with the upmost skill and talent. It was rare that Smith was put in a poor position both run or pass. It started with his domination of Jason Pierre-Paul, Tamba Halli, Robert Quinn and ended with shut outs of Julius Peppers, Brian Orakpo and Trent Cole. Smith was honored with his first Pro Bowl honor and it should be the first of many to come.
Kavner: Dez Bryant – I would have said Tony Romo to start the year, and that’s not a wrong answer, but I’m going with Dez Bryant. Kyle Orton can still give the Dallas Cowboys a chance to win any single game as a backup, but the Cowboys simply have no reliable, game-changing receivers other teams have to worry about if Bryant were to go out. Terrance Williams had an outstanding rookie season and could be a productive player for a while, but they’re a different team without Bryant.
Eatman: Dez Bryant – The best player on this offense was Dez Bryant. When they needed a big play, they could go to him. Never was that more of an example than the New York Giants win when he willed them to a win. He also had a clutch TD against Philly in the last game. They nearly won without Romo and won games without Murray. I don’t want to see them try without Dez.
Helman: Sean Lee – Lee probably wasn’t the difference between wins and losses this year, as the Dallas Cowboys went just 5-4 in games he played in their entirety. There’s no denying the impact he had on a lousy defense, though. Lee was second on the team in tackles, and led the team in interceptions despite appearing in just 11 games. In the first game against Philadelphia, Lee helped limit the Eagles to 84 rushing yards and no touchdowns. In the second game, without Lee, the Cowboys surrendered 137 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Broaddus: George Selvie – When Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli took this job with the Dallas Cowboys, their projected starters at defensive line were DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher, Jay Ratliff, and Anthony Spencer. When the season opened, a journeymen named George Selvie was the starter at strong side defensive end. For Selvie it was his first time starting in five NFL seasons. In 2013, Selvie would not only start that game against the Giants but 15 other ones. He would finish the season with one more sack than Ware with seven and be a stable, reliable player at the point of attack against the run. As bad as the defensive line situation was, George Selvie was a there when they needed him the most.
Kavner: Jason Hatcher – The Dallas Cowboys needed Jason Hatcher if they were to get a pass rush, and for that reason he’s my pick here. When the front was able to bother the quarterback, this defense had a chance. Otherwise, quarterbacks would pick them apart. Typically if that rush was coming, it was through the middle from Hatcher, who put together a remarkable double-digit sack season as a defensive tackle. The Cowboys may be losing their defensive MVP.
Eatman: Jason Hatcher – He really had a great season, especially considering we thought he was the one player who could be the weak link on that starting line – only because he had never played a 4-3 and seemed out of position. He wasn’t. And when he missed the Saints game, it left a huge void in the middle. He’ll probably be gone but give him credit for playing so well in a contract year.
Most Significant Injury:
Helman: Romo – Plenty of players missed more time. Sean Lee missed five games, DeMarcus Ware missed three games – Anthony Spencer missed a whopping 15 of 16 games. But the Dallas Cowboys lost Romo with a chance to make the playoffs – a chance for him to put last year’s late-game gaffe against Washington behind him. This team was probably never going to make the Super Bowl – Romo or no Romo. But you had to like their odds to make the tournament with Romo playing at home against Philadelphia.
Broaddus: Anthony Spencer – When the Dallas Cowboys decided to make the switch from the 3-4 to the 4-3, I believed that Spencer would have been an impact player rushing off that left side. Coming into the season, I even predicted that Spencer would have ended up with more sacks than DeMarcus Ware. In the previous two seasons, it appeared that Spencer was finally getting it and the talent that we had seen in flashes during his career was being fully used. When he missed all of training camp, then tried to play that game in Week 2 against the Chiefs without success, I knew it was a bad situation. There were points during the season where they could have used his pass rush ability to create pressure when teams were having success. It was a shame that a player with his skill set, had to sit a watch.
Kavner: It’s tempting to take Sean Lee here, but to me it has to be Tony Romo’s back. Who knows what the result would have been had Romo been able to play in the season finale. Orton stepped in admirably, but it’s impossible not to wonder how the result would or could have changed with Romo behind center. This is also an injury that may never completely vanish, as the Dallas Cowboys are left to wonder how long it’ll take Romo to return to form.
Eatman: Anthony Spencer – This team missed his pass rush in a major way. I think you saw it with the cornerbacks who had trouble covering for a few seconds longer. Brandon Carr is a better player than he showed and I think not having a consistent rusher like Spencer was huge. D-Ware was banged up and that made Spencer’s loss even more of a problem. Selvie was a good pickup but I’d like to have seen him as the third rusher and not a starter.
Helman: Jason Hatcher – It’s easy to lose sight of the fact in retrospect, but there were plenty of questions about Hatcher’s transition to the 4-3 scheme. At training camp, we weren’t sure exactly which role he would play on the defensive line. In one season as a three-technique tackle, he had the best year of his career and led all defensive tackles with 11 sacks – he was one of just two defensive tackles to notch double-digit sacks. He definitely wasn’t expected to have the best season among Cowboys’ defensive linemen, but he ran away with that accomplishment.
Broaddus: Kyle Wilber – There is a reason that front offices and coaches don’t give up on players. Kyle Wilber is that example for this 2013 season. For Wilber it has been a difficult two years in trying to find a position for him. He was drafted as an outside linebacker, then the scheme change. Coaches tried him at weak side defensive end, then on the strong side. Wilber played with nice awareness and surprising toughness when it appeared that he at times lacked both. With his play at linebacker along with the development of DeVonte Holloman, there should be some nice competition at the Sam linebacker in 2014.
Kavner: George Selvie – That George Selvie finished the year with the second most sacks on the team behind only Hatcher, ending the season with one more sack than DeMarcus Ware. Selvie joined the group during training camp but demonstrated quickly he was more than just a camp body. With another year left on the contract, Selvie at least provides some depth at defensive end going forward and a little more stability at the position, which will likely be addressed in the draft.
Eatman: Travis Frederick – While I wasn’t down on the pick like most fans and media seemed to be, the rookie center performed better than I thought. He wasn’t just a solid rookie, he was a good center by any standards. I think he also impressed people with his poise and leadership qualities. He just “gets it” and I think Frederick will be an anchor to this line for many years to come.
Helman: Bruce Carter – The preseason storyline on Carter was that the transition to 4-3 would be smooth, as he excelled in that scheme at North Carolina. His superb play during Lee’s absence in 2012, combined with his experience as a 4-3 linebacker, made it seem like an obvious call for Carter to take the next step. That didn’t happen, though, as the third-year player struggled with coverage and confidence. His poor play against the Chargers and Saints stand out, although he did finish the season with 96 tackles.
Broaddus: Morris Claiborne – Probably unfair to do this to Claiborne because I could have said the secondary in general with the exception of Orlando Scandrick and Barry Church and I would have been right. After watching Claiborne play in that final Philadelphia game and how well he played, it was a huge disappointment to not see him play the entire season. Say what you want about his lack of confidence but it really is the lack of health that has robbed him of any opportunity to be a successful cornerback in this league. Having followed Morris Claiborne’s career in college at LSU, he is a much better player than what we have seen from him these first two seasons of his young career but he has to get these health issues behind him.
Kavner: DeMarcus Ware – The obvious answer is a third straight 8-8 season, but on an individual basis, I have to look at the production of DeMarcus Ware. I don’t think we realized how much pain he was in throughout the year, mostly because he denied he was in any. But the unstoppable force we saw during camp and the first few weeks of the season never returned. It’s possible with an offseason to get healthy we can see that again, but a career-low six sacks wasn’t to be expected.
Eatman: Jay Ratliff – I think the way that went down was just a really rough situation – and one we still don’t know all the details of. But the fact that a four-time Pro Bowler was able to just leave the team disgruntled and then sign on with another team, although we were told he had a serious injury. Just something wasn’t right about that. The Dallas Cowboys really could’ve used him in the middle this year and for it to end like it did, was a shame.
Most Improved Player:
Helman: DeMarco Murray – A gigantic second half turned 2013 into a banner season for Murray. The Oklahoma product had to answer questions all offseason about his durability, as he missed a combined nine games in his first two seasons. It’s true Murray didn’t manage a full season this time around, but his 14 appearances were a career best. Everything else was a career-best, too. Murray toted the rock 217 times in 2013 – 53 more times than his prior best – and his rushing total of 1,124 yards was a career high by 227 yards. He scored nine touchdowns, which is more than his totals from 2011 and 2012 combined.
Broaddus: Ronald Leary – Give Bill Callahan and Frank Pollack a great deal of credit for getting Ron Leary ready to play an entire 16 game season after spending the majority of his rookie season on the practice squad working on the scout team every day. While paired next to Tyron Smith, the left side of that Dallas Cowboys offensive line averaged over 6.2 yards a carry, which ranked them 4th in the NFL. Ronald Leary’s best trait is his power and you see this in both areas of run and pass. There is some shock in his upper body and you see him get push in the lower body. He was a steady, consistent and reliable performer at a position where there were huge question marks coming into the season.
Kavner: Terrance Williams – It’s odd to say this considering he’s a rookie, but from the start of the year to where he’s at now, I’d go with Terrance Williams. Obviously, this isn’t a year to year thing since he was in college last year, but he ended the year looking leaps and bounds better than the player we saw in camp. The jump was tremendous and he became an accountable deep threat, finishing with 736 yards, a 16.7 yards per catch average and five touchdowns.
Eatman: Orlando Scandrick – I really wanted to go with Tyron Smith here, but as a first-round pick, getting to the Pro Bowl and making All-Pro teams was expected by his third year. As for Scandrick, he really has developed into a solid player. He didn’t let Morris Claiborne get his job back and he’s played very well in a demanding spot. Yes, he can make more plays and interceptions but for his size and being a fifth-round pick, I think Scandrick should get a lot of credit. He’s a student of the game and he really played well from the start of camp to the end of the year.
Helman: Doug Free – I’m not trying to suggest Free should have made the Pro Bowl. But after the 2012 season, he was seen as a liability who could only be counted on to accrue false starts and allow sacks. He was far from perfect, but after taking a reduced salary in the offseason, Free performed admirably on the right side of the Dallas Cowboys line this season. After the beating he took in the court of public opinion last year, a little recognition seems justified.
Broaddus: Dwayne Harris – There is not a player on this team that does more for the overall benefit of the team than what Dwayne Harris does. We all see his ability as a returner and a tackler on special teams. Where Harris doesn’t get enough credit is his ability as a receiver but also the way that he blocks. This group of wide receivers did a much better job of point of attack blocking as the season wore on which allowed DeMarco Murray the space that he had to run the ball. When you build a football team, you try and find as many players as you can like Dwayne Harris.
Kavner: Sometimes we lose sight of just how valuable Dwayne Harris is. He led the team in special teams tackles, despite missing nearly a month toward the end of the season. He’s a complete special teams stud, leading the way as a cover guy and a returner, finishing second in the league in kick return average (30.6) and third in punt return average (12.8), while also securing the game-winning touchdown catch against the Vikings.
Eatman: Dan Bailey – Maybe this isn’t the right spot for him, but he’s got to go somewhere. Kickers are always unsung. And yes, he’s been heroic. So he gets my unsung hero vote. Bailey is just unreal how steady he’s been. Not only as a kicker, but a kickoff specialist, too. But the fact the Cowboys have confidence in him from the 40-50 range says a lot about
Top Offseason Need:
Helman: Defensive Tackle – The Dallas Cowboys’ first priority this offseason needs to be a defensive lineman, as far as I’m concerned. Whether that should be defensive tackle or defensive end is up for debate, but I’m going with the interior. My line of thinking is that DeMarcus Ware probably returns, and Anthony Spencer could very well re-sign. George Selvie is back, as well. Meanwhile, if Jason Hatcher leaves in free agency, which looks likely, the Cowboys are looking at Nick Hayden, Corvey Irvin, and Frank Kearse as their only current defensive tackles. Yikes. That needs to be addressed somehow – whether in free agency or the draft.
Broaddus: Defensive Line – I thought that this defensive line needed to be retooled last season even with DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Jay Ratliff and Jason Hatcher in the mix. Now there is a good possibility out of that group that you will only have Ware. The challenge for Jerry and Stephen Jones along with Will McClay is to dig those guys out that can come in and play from the word “Go” much like they have with Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick. There will be no time for sitting around and learning on the job. How they work on this position will once again have a huge impact how they go forward in the coming years.
Kavner: The Dallas Cowboys need defensive linemen, particularly tackles who can rush the passer. With the return of Hatcher unlikely, the Cowboys need to find a player that can cause some havoc in the middle. Getting Tyrone Crawford back from injury will help, though they could decide to keep him as an end. They need to find a way to affect the quarterback more consistently in this 4-3, and that starts with some pressure from the front four.
Eatman: Deee-fense! Just like they went offense the first three picks last year, they should go defense with the first three, if not four or five next year. This offense seems to be in good shape. But they need help on the defensive line and maybe more depth at linebacker and safety. The top need for me is a pass-rusher on the edge. Even if Spencer returns and Ware returns to form, you still need to get a young, hungry pass-rusher.
IRVING, Texas – Two Dallas Cowboys players will be heading to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.
Bryant recorded his second straight 1,000-yard receiving year this season, and it’s also his second straight season with 12 receiving touchdowns.
He’s hauled in 85 catches for 1,134 yards through 15 games and would need seven catches and 248 yards in the finale to tie his numbers from last season. But Bryant’s been more efficient and rarely seemed out of sync or out place with Tony Romo’s passes.
His 12 receiving touchdowns this season tie him with Brandon Marshall and Demaryius Thomas for most in the NFL among wide receivers. Tight end Jimmy Graham leads all players with 15 receiving touchdowns.
Bryant’s recorded three games this season with at least 140 receiving yards and four games with at least 100 receiving yards. He’s also got a touchdown in each of his last four games.
Smith began as a right tackle before switching over to the left side last season, and his play dramatically increased toward the middle portion of the 2013 season, turning quickly into the elite player the Dallas Cowboys envisioned when they used their first-round pick on him in 2011.
This is the first time since DeMarcus Ware’s rookie season he hasn’t been named to the Pro Bowl. Jason Witten, who’s made eight Pro Bowls, including every year from 2004-2010 and another last season, also didn’t make it this year.
This marks the first time since 2010 the Dallas Cowboys have sent a receiver to the Pro Bowl, when Miles Austin went. It also marks the first time since 2010 the Cowboys took an offensive lineman to the Pro Bowl, when they sent Andre Gurode. It’s the first time since 2008, when Flozell Adams made the Pro Bowl, that a Cowboys offensive tackle was selected.
Unlike previous years, this year’s Pro Bowl offers something much different. There’s no more AFC lined up against the NFC. The all-stars will be drafted without conferences, but it will be back in Hawaii on Jan. 26, 2014, at Aloha Stadium.
The Pro Bowl players were determined by the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches. Each group’s vote counted a third toward determining the Pro Bowl selections announced today. Two additional “need” players will be chosen by each head coach and must be long snappers.
The “unconferenced” Pro Bowl player draft will be held Jan. 22 in Hawaii. Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will be team captains. Once again, players competing in the Super Bowl won’t be involved and more Cowboys could be asked to join the event as alternates in the future.
The Chiefs and 49ers sent a league-best eight players each to the Pro Bowl. Dallas and Philadelphia, which sent LeSean McCoy and Jason Peters, were the only two NFC East teams to send two players to the Pro Bowl. In all, 27 teams had at least one player selected and 22 had multiple players selected.
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick had arguably the best game of his career Sunday against the Vikings. Five tackles, four pass deflections and an interception. Most importantly, he made plays on an astonishing nine of ten opportunities in the game.
He was given a defensive game ball by the Cowboys. He also graded as the second-best cornerback in NFL for his play this week by Pro Football Focus.
“He played really well,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Probably his best game. He got the defensive game ball. He showed up in a lot of different ways. There are a lot of different ways that we evaluate and grade our players. One of them on defense with the defensive backs is there were 10 chances that went his way and he won nine of them. He had three pass breakups, an interception, a critical tackle at the end of the ballgame. He was very active throughout the game.”
It was the continuation of what has been a strong season by Scandrick who has been one of the team’s most consistent defensive performers along with linebacker Sean Lee, defensive tackle Jason Hatcher and cornerback Brandon Carr.
Scandrick attributes his strong play to being named a full-time starter for the first time in his career. The six-year veteran replaced a struggling Morris Claiborne in Week 2 and has not looked back.
Scandrick said there is a certain freedom in your play when you don’t have to look over your shoulder every time you make a mistake. Starting has only boosted his already sky-high confidence and allowing him to play loose and focus only on making plays.
NO “I” IN TEXAS-2 DEFENSE: Sean Lee believes other teammates more deserving of Defensive Player of the Week Award
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee doesn’t think much of being named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Philadelphia Eagles. He led the team with 11 tackles and recorded an interception.
Lee said it didn’t have a perfect game and that other teammates were more deserving. Mostly, his focus on helping the Cowboys continue to improve defensively rather than an individual award, while pointing out that they are just two games removed from giving up 51 points in a loss to the Broncos.
“I think there are guys on our defense who played better than I did who probably could have gotten that award instead of me,” Lee said. “It was a great team effort and great win. The key for us is to continue cause you look back two games ago and we gave up 51 points. We still have room to improve.”
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys’ top tackler of the season earned the team’s first NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors this year for his performance in last weekend’s 17-3 win against the Eagles.
Sean Lee was given the honor after recording one of three Cowboys interceptions in the win and leading the team with 11 combined tackles, including one for a loss, marking the fifth straight game he’s led the team in tackles.
The interception was Lee’s second of the year, and it’s also the second time in Lee’s career that he’s been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. He last was given the honor his rookie season for his performance against the Colts on Dec. 5, 2010, in an overtime win against Peyton Manning. Lee recorded two interceptions that game, including one for a touchdown.
That 2010 season included three NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for Cowboys players. DeMarcus Ware and Bryan McCann were both named defensive players of the week, in addition to Lee.
The last Cowboys player to take home NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors before Lee this week was Brandon Carr last season for his performance against the Steelers. No Cowboys player won the award in 2011.
Dwayne Harris is the only other player to be given player of the week honors this year. He’s been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week twice this year, once for his returning skills and once for his coverage skills.
In the least suspenseful announcement of the week so far, Dallas Cowboys kick returner Dwayne Harris was named NFC special teams player of the week.
It is the second time this year and the third time in his career that Harris has won the award.
The third-year receiver had an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 90-yard kickoff return against the Washington Redskins Sunday night. The punt return was the fifth-longest in team history and his second punt return for a touchdown. He finished the game with 109 punt return yards, seventh-most in team history.
The 90-yard kickoff return, to the 15-yard line to set up a touchdown that put the Cowboys ahead 21-9, was the 10th-longest in team history.
He finished the game with 222 combined return yards, fourth-most in team history.
He also had two tackles on special teams and leads the 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys in special teams tackles.
RELATED: Harris takes home NFC special teams award for 2nd time
IRVING, Texas – For the first time in 10 years and just the third time in franchise history, a Cowboys’ player has won NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time in a season.
To no surprise, Dwayne Harris won the weekly honor for his performance in Sunday’s 31-16 win over the Redskins. Harris’ 222 return yards outgained the Cowboys’ entire offense by nine yards.
His 86-yard punt return for a touchdown broke the game open in the second half and his 90-yard kickoff return led to another touchdown.
Back in Week 1, Harris won the award for his coverage skills in a win over the Giants. He had three tackles and was involved in a fumble recovery on the punt team. The last time a Cowboys player won this award twice in one season was Billy Cundiff in 2003, when he had two big games against the Giants, kicking a combined 11 field goals. Cowboys kicking coach Chris Boniol also won the award twice in the 1996 season, although the second award was for his performance occurred in the Wild Card win over Minnesota.
Along with this weekly award, Harris also achieved some milestones as well. He now has 623 punt return yards to move into ninth place in Cowboys history.
The 86-yard return was the fifth-longest in franchise history and he became just the third player in club history to have a 90-yard kickoff return without scoring a touchdown.
And his 222 total return yards ranked fourth in club history for a single-game. Mel Renfro holds the club record with 273 against Green Bay in 1964.
FedEx winner for Tony Romo
So Tony Romo knocked off Peyton Manning in something this week. Although he came up short in the game, the fans voted Romo ahead of Manning (and Drew Brees) for the FedEx Air & Ground Players of the Week award.
Romo threw for a franchise-best 506 yards in the epic 51-48 loss to Manning’s Broncos. Romo had a 140.0 quarterback rating and five touchdowns.
Manning was stellar himself, passing for 414 yards and four touchdowns.
On the “Ground” side of the award, Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles won the honor, besting Frank Gore and Denver’s Moreno.
Miles Austin returns
Miles Austin said he’s not in control of the number of reps he will receive Sunday night, but did have an answer for his playing status.
“I’m playing in the game,” he said Friday. “I’m excited. Ready to go.”
Austin has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury he sustained in the Rams game on Sept. 22. Last week, the Cowboys racked up 506 passing yards, including a career-high 151 yards and a score from rookie Terrance Williams, who has started in Austin’s place. Cole Beasley also had four for 47 yards and a touchdown.
In the first three games this year, Austin had 15 catches for 125 yards, including 10 for 72 in the opener with the New York Giants.
Six different players have caught touchdowns from Romo this year, but Austin has yet to find the end zone.
Offensive Game Ball: Offensive Line
It would be real easy to hand the ball to DeMarco Murray for his effort in this game, but without those guys up front, Murray would not have had the day that he did. Murray received his share of blame for his lack of production last week against the Chiefs, but he alone should not have shouldered the criticism. This Cowboys offensive line was outstanding today both in the run and pass. Murray had more than enough room to operate and Tony Romo was hardly touched as he sat in the pocket. Head coach Jason Garrett and his offensive staff have strived for balance, and they got it today from a line that hasn’t always been given the credit that it deserves.
Defensive Game Ball: Jason Hatcher
Going into this game, the Rams offensive line was expected to have problems handling the Cowboys defensive tackles. For the third straight game, Jason Hatcher was outstanding. For a player who had questions about staying consistent in this scheme, he has more than proved himself. Hatcher played with explosive quickness and power. He was disruptive on the move and was relentless in the way he attacked the pocket. His play did not allow Rams quarterback Sam Bradford any room to step up and make a throw. Hatcher was quick to shed blocks, and he was technique-sound the entire day. His play overall caused this Rams’ offensive scheme huge issues.
Coaches Game Ball: Rod Marinelli
The Rams were going to have trouble running the ball, which meant that defensive line coach Rod Marinelli and his troops were going to have to play the majority of the game rushing the passer. Bradford put the ball up 49 times for St. Louis with an average gain of only 3.6 yards per completion. Bradford was never comfortable in the pocket, and it started on the opening series and did not end until the final whistle. Despite playing shorthanded without Anthony Spencer, Marinelli’s group put on quite a show. There was a slot blitz or two mixed in from Orlando Scandrick, but the majority of the pressure came from a four-man rush. Marinelli has always preached quickness off the snap and to get up the field as quickly as you can. He did an outstanding job of rotating his defensive line, and they rewarded him with a dominating performance against a Rams club that has some explosive offensive weapons, totally holding them in check. Today, it started up front with his guys.
IRVING, Texas – Dwayne Harris was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time in his career after his performance against the New York Giants in the opener.
Most of Harris’ contributions throughout his career on special teams have come as a return man, but Harris led all players with three special teams tackles and was all over the field tracking down Giants return man Rueben Randle throughout the night.
Harris also served as the Dallas Cowboys’ punt returner, averaging 9.5 yards per return on two returns. He was also a vital part of helping recover a fumble on a muffed punt in the third quarter, as he dove for the ball and helped it squirt out to DeVonte Holloman.
Not all of Harris’ contributions came on special teams, as he also had two catches for 12 yards, but he was most noticeable on the coverage teams.
Harris also won the special teams honor in 2012 for his Nov. 11 performance against the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s the first player since Sam Hurd in 2006 to win the honor for his coverage more so than his kicking or returning.
Kicker Dan Bailey was the only other player to win the award for the Cowboys last year, earning it for his performance against the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 18.
IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett spoke extensively Monday evening following his team’s season-opening win on Sunday night.
Garrett answered questions for roughly a half hour, both about the Cowboys’ performance against the Giants and the upcoming trip to play the Chiefs.
The storyline of six defensive takeaways has dominated much of the discussion of the young season since the Cowboys cemented their 36-31 victory against the Giants. Garrett said it was refreshing to see such a large point of emphasis come to fruition in live action.
“What you preach and what you practice and what you drill is not your team – it’s what shows up on Sunday,” he said.
Having acknowledged that, Garrett admitted there was plenty to work on, as the defense allowed 450 passing yards and four touchdowns to Giants quarterback Eli Manning and his receivers.
“They did make some big plays – they had six pass plays of 20 yards or more – so we have to get better in that area,” he said. “We’ll continue to work with our guys individually on that and also from a scheme standpoint – making sure our guys are standing where we want them to.”
Garrett said the Cowboys secondary needs to work on defending tighter in passing situations.
Here are a few more notes from Garrett’s Monday press conference:
- Garrett was asked about the availability of several players who missed the Giants game for Week 2 against the Chiefs. He said he had “no idea” about what to expect from defensive end Anthony Spencer, though he hopes to see Spencer practice this week.
- He also reiterated that guard Brian Waters has a strong week of work in his first days with the team, and the coaching staff will evaluate his availability going forward.
- Much was made of the Giants’ apparent practice of faking injuries in order to slow down Dallas’ no-huddle offense on Sunday. Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones addressed it following the game. Garrett addressed the issue, by saying, “Our officials do such a great job with handling all those situations, and that’s a challenge for the league,” he said. “What you have to do as an offense is just go play.”
- Garrett was asked about the Cowboys’ use of the pistol formation, which puts a running back behind the quarterback in a slight tweak of the shotgun formation. Garrett said the formation gives defenses less of an idea of what the offense plans to do with its running back. “We probably started running it about five years ago, but we’ve never used it as extensively as we did last night.”
- With eight tackles and a fumble return for a touchdown, safety Barry Church earned the Cowboys’ weekly boxing glove award, given to the game’s outstanding player.
- Regarding Dez Bryant: “He got a lot of attention from their defense, and he has to understand that’s the world he’s going to live in for the rest of his career.
Jason Garrett speaks to the media from Valley Ranch about the win over the New York Giants and upcoming game vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Coach Garrett discussed:
- Six takeaways vs. big plays given up
- OL grade vs. very good NYG defensive pressure
- Tony Romo’s injury, x-rays, and going back in to play
- Explanation of secondary in this scheme, angles, anticipated help
- Attitude of players that fight thru injuries (Romo, Claiborne, Bryant)
- Barry Church came in as free agent, impact on team, young leader
- New York Giants faking injuries to slow down no-huddle
- Player of the Game awards and recognition
- Extensive information on the ‘pistol formation’
- Lessons on last years week-1 win followed by week-2 loss
- Respecting KC’s win (vs. JAX) and Andy Reid’s track-record vs. Cowboys
- Wants more balance from OC Callahan
- Romo2Williams INT breakdown and DeMarco Murray stopping TD
- Murray’s stop vs. last years stop with Tyron Smith, allowed goal-line stand
- Dez Bryant drawing attention and respect from defenses
- Trend of No-Huddle around league, Cowboys implementing similar
- OG Brian Waters progress towards upcoming Kansas City game
- Running No-Huddle at home vs. road stadiums
- Gameday execution and relation to meetings, practices, drills, and coaching
- Continually moving playmakers into different looks and fronts
- Young starters Frederick and Leary grade vs. NYG front
- Special Teams production and Bailey’s impact with deep kickoffs
- Recent roster additions impact on Special Teams
- Harris’ playing complete game as receiver, ST tackles, and ST returns
- DeMarco Murray production running and catching the ball
- Jason Hatcher and rotation of linemen to gain experience, provide relief
- Offseason planning for week 1 vs. short prep times for remaining games
- Gameday preparation for familiar coach Andy Reid and his system
- Miles Austin rise from past and his first start vs. Kansas City few years ago
- Big school vs. small school analysis of players coming into league
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NFL LIVING LEGEND: Dallas Cowboys lineman Larry Allen inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame (Special Feature)
Larry Allen chases down an interception (watch Video | listen to Audio)
“This guy’s got a rocket booster strapped to his back!”, proclaimed Dan Dierdorf (puke) as 325 lb. Larry Allen chased down a Troy Aikman tipped interception during his rookie year.
Larry Allen bench presses 700 lbs. (watch Video | listen to Audio)
Watch as Dallas Cowboys guard Larry Allen works his way up to a 700 lb. bench press during the spring of 2001.
Dallas Cowboys legends speak about what made Larry Allen so great, as he is announced as a member of 2013’s NFL’s Pro Football Hall of Fame class.
SPAGNOLA: In the beginning of this remarkable L.A. story
OXNARD, Calif. – Here is exactly what we know about Larry Allen.
He will become the 14th true Dallas Cowboys member inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in Canton, Ohio, and just the second offensive lineman in the expansion franchise’s 53-year history.
While playing for the Cowboys from 1994-2005, he was named to the Pro Bowl 10 times (seven consecutively), one short of the team’s all-time record of 11 held by Bob Lilly, a Hall of Famer himself, and as many as Hall of Famer Mel Renfro but more than the likes of Hall of Famers Randy White, Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Tony Dorsett.
Twice he was named to the NFL All-Decade Team, in the 1990s and the 2000s, quite a feat to have played so long at such a high level during his 12 years with the Cowboys and final two seasons with San Francisco, which included his 11th Pro Bowl selection.
He was a member of the Dallas Cowboys’ 1995 Super Bowl championship team and played in consecutive NFC title games his first two seasons in the NFL.
He had the speed to once run down a New Orleans linebacker from way behind who certainly thought he was taking his interception to the house, and yet strong enough to bench press 700 pounds one day at The Ranch.
Allen, along with Charles Haley and Drew Pearson, were the last inductees to the Dallas Cowboys’ 20-member Ring of Honor.
Whew, that’s a ton, appropriately so since he was a ton for opponents to handle during his career.
But for the rest of the story, or maybe it’s the first of the story, we have to know how in the world a guy who went to Butte Junior College in Oroville, Calif., and then to Sonoma State, a Division II school, winds up getting drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, who at the time were the two-time defending Super Bowl champs.
You will discover a lot of luck and tireless research by many were involved.
Current director of scouting Tom Ciskowski first turned the Cowboys on to this massive offensive lineman. At the time, the Cowboys were members of BLESTO, the national scouting combine service teams used around the league which had written a report on this Allen guy.
“I was the West Coast scout,” Ciskowski said of his role back then with the Cowboys, “so was responsible for all the schools in that area.”
Even tiny Sonoma State, north of San Francisco, past Petaluma, and east of the 101 that runs right through the current Cowboys training camp site. Yet, it’s hard to evaluate players like Allen because of the level of competition he’d been playing against. You just don’t know if he’s throwing guys around because they are two levels below Division I.
Ciskowski made his dutiful school call, and the coach set up a meeting with Allen. “He was fighting for him,” Ciskowski said, a scouting term for endorsing. Then once he had the meeting and put the tape on, he gained enough confidence to recommend Allen to the Cowboys’ higher-ups because “you could see he had something.”
The Cowboys, and many other teams, could see Allen had something, too, when he was invited to play in the East-West Shrine All-Star Game.
“Sure you are concerned,” Ciskowski said of evaluating his play against other D-II schools, “until you saw him against the Penn States, Ohio States, Michigan States in that game.”
That is where then scouting director Larry Lacewell first got a glimpse of this guy going like 6-4, 330 pounds, who was strong as a bull.
“Frankly, looking at a guy from Sonoma State is not real exciting,” Lacewell says, “until you saw him practicing against Division-I guys.
Lacewell, still around at training camp these days, remembers seeing Allen in a pass-rush drill, the first guy trying to rush around him.
“He punched him,” said Lacewell, meaning reaching out and pass blocking with two hands to strike the guy in the chest, “and you could hear ka-baam.”
Then in a full-speed team drill Allen drilled a linebacker, “and I saw him rolling on the ground,” Lacewell said. “Just stuck him. I just remember how strong he was.”
That convinced the Cowboys to push him up the draft board. Ciskowski, Lacewell and offensive line coach Hudson Houck saw what they thought could be, because as Lacewell said after watching film of Allen playing at Sonoma State, “It was unfair,” L.A. against those D-II opponents.
Even at that, there still was another hurdle to overcome. Somewhat of a defective shoulder was discovered at the NFL Combine, or as Cowboys trainer Jim Maurer, then an assistant to then Cowboys trainer Kevin O’Neill, remembers, a rotator cuff problem. As the story goes, there was another problem: Allen was so wide across the chest he couldn’t fit into the MRI chamber, so whatever doctors were worried about couldn’t be confirmed by an imaging picture.
Also there was this: Scar tissue from multiple stab wounds in the shoulder sustained during his formative years growing up in Compton, Calif.
“It was a pretty significant issue as I remember,” Maurer says of the shoulder, “a lot of questions about it.”
Bryan Broaddus, then working in the Green Bay scouting department, remembers Allen, and remembers the Packers were so worried about the shoulder that he was taken off their draft board for medical reasons.
But O’Neill didn’t take the easy way out he could have when the Cowboys front office came to him for an opinion. You know, cautiously downgrade Allen just to cover himself if the shoulder curtailed Allen’s career.
Ciskowski remembers O’Neill saying “the shoulder could be rehabbed” instead of needing surgical repair.
So the Cowboys had Allen on the on board, so on board Lacewell says that they had a first-round grade on the man-kid from Sonoma State. But on draft day, Allen began falling, falling, falling. Look, guys like Heath Shuler, Trent Dilfer, Shante Carver (Cowboys), Eric Mahlum, Kevin Lee, Bruce Walker, Marcus Spears (seriously, an OT) and David Palmer already had been drafted in the first and early part of the second. But Allen? Still was on the board.
“So we’re sitting there, and you know you hear rumors, you heard about the shoulder problems,” Lacewell said, “and we’re asking ourselves, ‘What are we missing?’”
So Lacewell, Ciskowski and Houck went into the room next to the Cowboys war room with the draft in progress and Allen falling out of the first round and into the second. They put the film of Allen on one more time “to make sure we were seeing the right thing,” Lacewell says. “Maybe we were wrong, and you just don’t do that or have the time (during the draft).
“But Hud, Tom and I, particularly Tom – I give him all the credit in the world, because it’s easy to waffle or lose your guts on a guy from Sonoma State – we were confident he was the guy. No doubt we were holding our breath (when he was falling) until he got to us.”
And with the 17th pick in the second round, 46th overall, the Dallas Cowboys select offensive guard Larry Allen, Sonoma State.
Who? What? From where? Thought they produced wine out there in Sonoma not football players?
Oh, and there was one more flashback for Lacewell. When time came for the rookie Allen to take his conditioning test, Lacewell says, “He was pitiful. He couldn’t finish anything.”
But brother, could he finish a block, and as the stories go, finish a guy’s career, too, Cowboys COO Stephen Jones remembering how one opponent lambasted by Allen retiring from football the very next day and how several opponents would develop what became known as the “Allen flu,” turning up sick/hurt the day they would have to take on the Cowboys offensive lineman.
And Saturday, Larry Allen, the man of few words, from tiny Sonoma State will officially finish his NFL career with a bronzed bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame preceded by potentially the shortest acceptance speech in the history of the Hall’s enshrinement ceremony. But that’s OK. They don’t judge these guys on words, just production.
“Over my years I like to name the few really great ones,” said Lacewell, who’s been around a whole lot of great ones, first starting his coaching career under Bear Bryant at Alabama and having then coached at Oklahoma, Iowa State, Arkansas State (head coach for 11 years) and Tennessee before spending 13 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys (1992-2004) in their college and pro scouting departments.
“And Larry Allen is the very best offensive guard I’ve ever seen, phenomenal. I’ve known Cortez Kennedy for quite some time. Recruited him. Cortez Kennedy told me once when Larry would hit you, he said, ‘It felt like a boulder had.’ I remember a linebacker once trying to run from him, he’d punch the guy and the linebacker started rolling on the ground.”
Imagine that. Imagine all of this.
And then you have the rest of this L.A. story.
Seven new legends were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 in New Orleans, La. The group – Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Curley Culp, Jonathan Ogden, Bill Parcells, Dave Robinson, and Warren Sapp – will be formally inducted during a memorable Enshrinement Ceremony at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 3.
LARRY ALLEN Guard/Tackle … 6-3, 325 … Sonoma State, Butte Junior College (CA) … 1994-2005 Dallas Cowboys, 2006-07 San Francisco 49ers … 14 seasons, 203 games … Selected by Cowboys in 2nd round (46th player overall) of 1994 draft
Versatile, played every position on offensive line except center during 12 seasons with Dallas … Led way in second season for Emmitt Smith who set Cowboys’ franchise record with 1,773 yards … Started at right guard in two NFC championship games and Super Bowl XXX victory … Named NFL Alumni’s Offensive Lineman of the Year in 1997 and the NFL Players Association NFC Lineman of the Year twice (1996-97) … Named first-team All-Pro seven straight years … First-team All-NFC six times, second-team once … Moved to tackle late in 1997 and entire 1998 season, earned All-Pro honors at position … Signed as free agent with San Francisco in 1996 … First season with 49ers led way for Frank Gore who set team single-season rushing record (1,695 yards) … Elected to 11 Pro Bowls … Named to NFL All-Decade Teams of 1990s and 2000s … Born November 27, 1971 in Los Angeles, California.
SONOMA STATE OF MIND
Allen played for four high schools and then Butte College for two years. He then sat out a year before playing at Division II Sonoma State in California. Allen caught the eye of the Dallas Cowboys, who selected him in the second-round of the 1994 NFL Draft.
Allen set a club record with 10 starts during his rookie season. He even admirably filled in for the injured Erik Williams in the 1994 NFC Championship Game in San Francisco as Allen himself played on a hurt ankle for most of the game.
Larry Allen earned the first of seven consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl in 1995. He was one of four Cowboys’ offensive linemen to be selected to the Pro Bowl for the season.
SUPER BOWL XXX
Larry Allen helped the Cowboys beat the Steelers 27-17 in Super Bowl XXX. It was the first Super Bowl ring for Allen, but the third for the 1990s Cowboys and fifth in club history.
Larry Allen broke his right hand during 2000 training camp, but he played every game that season for the Dallas Cowboys to earn a sixth-consecutive Pro Bowl spot.
Larry Allen missed most of the 2002 season with injuries that required surgery. He returned in 2003 to earn his eighth Pro Bowl nomination, and he helped lead the Cowboys to the playoffs.
Allen played his final two seasons with the 49ers and again continued to pile up Pro Bowl nominations. He would be selected to 11 Pro Bowls and was a member of the All-Decade Teams of the 1990s and 2000s.
INTO THE SUNSET
Larry Allen signed a one-day contract with the Dallas Cowboys in 2008, so he could retire with the team that drafted him.
This year’s Minnesota Vikings are in goal-setting mode.
Pass rusher Jared Allen says Michael Strahan’s single-season record of 22.5 sacks is “absolutely reachable,” and Adrian Peterson repeatedly has talked about running for 2,500 yards.
Peterson didn’t stop there. Fresh off his dominant 2,097-yard campaign, Peterson is thinking long-term: Specifically, Emmitt Smith’s NFL record of 18,355 rushing yards. (Watch video HERE)
Peterson is 9,506 yards away, and Dan Wiederer of The Star Tribune has done the math. If Peterson stays on his career pace of 98.4 yards per game, he’ll top Smith in Week 4 of 2019.
Peterson says he’ll get there sooner.
“I’ve been in the league seven years,” Peterson told Wiederer. “I’m already right around (9,000). Calculate it out … Let’s think. Maybe get a couple 2,000-yard seasons … I’ve got … Hmmm … 2017.”
Drilling down, Peterson targeted Week 16 of that campaign, which charts out to 120.3 yards per game without a hiccup.
Emmitt Smith Rushing Stats:
Adrian Peterson Rushing Stats:
NFL MAN OF THE YEAR: Dallas Cowboys Jason Witten wins prestigious Walter Payton and Bart Starr awards
Jason Witten’s offseason of recognition continues.
The veteran Dallas Cowboys tight end was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year on Saturday. The award recognizes community service and playing excellence.
The announcement was made during the NFL Honors presentation, which will air on CBS at 9 p.m. Saturday.
Also this week, Witten was presented the Bart Starr Award for outstanding character and leadership in the community, at home and on the field. Last weekend, he made his eighth Pro Bowl game appearance.
“I am extremely flattered to be chosen the 2012 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year from such an esteemed group of nominees,” Witten said in a statement released by the Cowboys. “I work hard every day not only to be a success on the football field and a credit to my team – but to be a good husband, father, son, grandson, teammate, to be the kind of man that is as respected as Walter Payton was.
“Like others before me, I have a great opportunity as an NFL player to make a difference in the lives of others. It is honestly humbling to be recognized in such a manner for simply doing what I feel is right and human. I am fortunate to have a great support system in my family, the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL which allows me to make an impact in the communities and with people who love our game.”
Jarrett and Brittney Payton, the son and daughter of the late Payton, will recognize Witten’s award on the field before the kickoff of Super Bowl XLVII.
Witten, who finished his 10th season last year with the Cowboys, set an NFL record for catches in a season by a tight end last year. Off the field, he has served as the Cowboys’ spokesman for NFL Play 60 and has his own charity, Jason Witten’s SCORE Foundation, which has started many programs and funded building projects in Texas and his native Tennessee.
The Witten SCORE Foundation’s SCOREkeepers program has placed full-time, trained male mentors in six battered women’s shelters throughout Texas in an attempt to stop a cycle of family violence. The foundation’s latest domestic violence prevention program, “Coaching Boys Into Men,” trains high school coaches to educate their players on the dangers of dating violence.
The Witten’s also involve their children in serving a Thanksgiving meal to the clients at the Salvation Army in Dallas, underwrite the Dallas Cowboys Women’s Association’s Christmas of Giving, and Witten’s free football camp in Tennessee draws some 1,200 campers each year.
Recent winners of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award include Matt Birk of the Baltimore Ravens, Madieu Williams of the Minnesota Vikings (2010) and Brian Waters of the Kansas City Chiefs (2009). Seventeen Hall of Fame players have won the award.
All 32 team nominees received a $1,000 donation from NFL Foundation to the charity of their choice. The three Man of the Year finalists received an additional $5,000 donation in their name. As the winner, Witten receives an additional $20,000 donation.
The selection panel was comprised of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Connie Payton, Pro Football Hall of Fame members Frank Gifford and Anthony Munoz, 2011 winner Matt Birk and Sports Illustrated football writer Peter King.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is a finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year for the second time in his career. Witten also was a finalist in 2007 when Jason Taylor won.
Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Browns tackle Joe Thomas are the other finalists, announced at halftime of the AFC Championship. The NFL will announce the winner Feb. 2, the night before Super Bowl XLVII, during its NFL Honors prime-time special.
Witten is involved in a number of charities, but his passion is The Jason Witten SCORE Foundation. SCORE, which stands for Support, Community, Overcome, Rebuild, Educate, supports families affected by domestic violence.
He has funded several building projects in Texas and his native Tennessee, and the SCOREkeepers program is a unique initiative placing full-time, trained male mentors in battered women’s shelters throughout Texas. The mentors demonstrate positive male behavior to the children in these shelters in an effort to break the cycle of violence that plagues families affected by abuse. JWSF has placed SCOREkeepers in six shelters across Texas, and Witten hosts children from these shelters for special events throughout the year. The foundation’s newest domestic violence prevention program, “Coaching Boys Into Men,” trains high school coaches to educate their players on the dangers of dating violence.
Witten set two NFL records this season for most catches by a tight end in a game (18) and most catches by a tight end in a season (110).
The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which is based on a player’s community service as well as excellence on the field, is given annually. The Cowboys have had two winners in the 43-year history of the award: Roger Staubach won it in 1978 and Troy Aikman in 1997.
The Man of the Year’s designated charity receives a $20,000 donation in his name. Charities selected by the other 31 team finalists each receive a $1,000 donation. The three finalists for the award also receive an additional $5,000 each.
RELATED: Payton Award finalists: Fitzgerald, Thomas, Witten
NEW YORK (AP) – Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals, Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns and Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys are finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.
The award will be presented in New Orleans, when The Associated Press announces the winners of its annual NFL honors, including Most Valuable Player, in a two-hour prime-time special on Super Bowl eve.
The show, “NFL Honors,” will be broadcast on CBS on Feb. 2 at 9 p.m.
The only league award that recognizes a player’s community service as well as his playing excellence, the Walter Payton winner will have a $20,000 donation made in his name to his favorite charity.
Fitzgerald, Thomas and Witten were chosen from among the 32 team nominees, all of whom receive a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice. The three finalists will receive an additional $5,000 donation in their name.
The selection panel includes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Connie Payton, widow of the Hall of Fame running back.
Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Anthony Spencer was named today to the Pro Bowl roster, replacing Green Bay’s Clay Matthews, who will not participate because of an injury. It marks the first Pro Bowl appearance for Spencer, whose presence will give the team three Pro Bowl honorees this season.
Spencer’s selection also will up the financial ante as he heads toward free agency following a season when he led the team in tackles (95) and set a career high in sacks (11). The Cowboys must decide if they will put the franchise tag on Spencer for a second consecutive season, sign him to a long-term extension or let him go in free agency.
Spencer is joined on the NFC roster by tight end Jason Witten and outsider linebacker DeMarcus Ware, although Ware will not play in the Jan. 27 contest in Hawaii because of post-season surgery.
Receiver Dez Bryant might get to the Pro Bowl yet, but he’ll have to have one of the four players named Wednesday to pull out to get the chance to go to Hawaii. Bryant said earlier Wednesday he would be "happy, who wouldn’t be" with a Pro Bowl nod.
Instead, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Julio Jones, and Victor Cruz were the choices on the initial list released Wednesday night. Players whose teams make the Super Bowl do not play in the Pro Bowl, which is the week before the Super Bowl.
Linebacker DeMarcus Ware and tight end Jason Witten were the two Cowboys named to the Pro Bowl. Ware made his seventh all-star team and Witten his eighth.
Bryant was left off despite ranking third among NFC wideouts with 88 catches and fourth in yards with 1,311. His 12 touchdowns ranks second among NFC wideouts. Balloting for players and coaches took place last week, though, before Bryant had nine catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints.
Witten and Ware were the only Cowboys who ranked in the top five in fan balloting. Witten was third and Ware second at their respective positions.
Witten has set the NFL record for most catches in a single season for a tight end with 103. Witten was left off the Pro Bowl roster last season, passed over by Tony Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham.
“It is always an honor to get voted, especially when a portion of the vote comes from your peers around the league," Witten said in a statement released by the Cowboys. "I have a lot of respect for this league and the players that make up this league. I know how many great players there are around the NFL, and to be selected is very humbling.”
Ware has only 11.5 sacks this season, tying him for third in the NFC. He might not play in the game, because of injuries he has played through this season.
“What an honor and privilege it is to be voted to the Pro Bowl by the fans, coaches and players around the league," Ware said in a statement released by the Cowboys. "I know how difficult it is to make it to the game, and I appreciate the support from everyone. I look forward to not only representing the NFC, but also the entire Dallas Cowboys organization.”
Outside linebacker Anthony Spencer and kicker Dan Bailey were the other Cowboys deserving of the honor.
NFL 2012 Pro Bowl Roster – By position
Aloha, Honolulu! The NFL is back in Hawaii for the 2013 Pro Bowl. The annual contest of the AFC and NFC’s best will take place Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013 at Aloha Stadium.
Who do you think should be headed to Hawaii at season’s end?
Make your voice heard by casting your vote for your favorite NFL players with the official Pro Bowl voting widget.
Editors Note: None of the Dallas Cowboys Defensive Ends or Special Teamers are listed in the 2013 Pro Bowl ballot. However, 25 players are eligible.
IRVING, Texas – We’re at the halfway point in the regular season and obviously the Dallas Cowboys aren’t happy with a 3-5 record. The talk of head coach Jason Garrett’s future has been a topic, albeit one that owner Jerry Jones has dismissed.
The Cowboys haven’t been able to close out games this season, but the schedule might turn in their favor for the final eight games, where only one team with a winning record exists.
The DallasCowboys.com staff of Bryan Broaddus, Rowan Kavner and Nick Eatman weigh in with their assessment of the season’s first half.
Bryan: The victory on the road against the Giants on opening night. It was a game that nobody had them winning. Might be the only time they have really played a complete game.
Rowan: Winning the opener in New York. The Cowboys felt a victory against the Super Bowl champion Giants might be a statement win and one that could propel them going forward. It turned out to be one of the few positive moments from the first half of the season.
Nick: There’s only been three wins and it’s not going to be beating Tampa Bay or Carolina. Has to be the opener against the Giants when they took it to the defending champs from start to finish. Kevin Ogletree had a career night and the Cowboys kept answering the bell.
Bryan: The last 5:21 of the game against the Falcons. If the defense gets a stop there, Tony Romo has a chance to once again try and score with a no-huddle offense that had previously moved the ball well for their only touchdown of the day. Instead, the offense gets the ball with 22 seconds left and no chance to win the game.
Rowan: When Dez Bryant was called out of bounds on a miraculous catch in the back of the end zone at home against the Giants. Not only would that have given the Cowboys a winning record at the time, and their biggest comeback in franchise history, but it would have also been one of the few breaks for both Romo and Bryant, who’ve had their struggles at times.
Nick: Without a doubt, hearing the referee say, “After review, the receiver’s hand landed out of bounds” following Bryant’s near catch against the Giants. That was a killer for this team. They could’ve had the biggest comeback in Cowboys history from two players, Dez and Romo, who needed a boost like that. While it was still a classic, it would’ve probably been the best game I’ve ever covered had it not been for a few inches.
What They Do Best:
Bryan: Cover punts. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Chris Jones or Brian Moorman, Joe DeCamillis has this unit ranked among the best in the NFL. Rarely do you see their gunners out of position and when given an opportunity to make a tackle, they get the job done. It’s a sound group.
Rowan: Stop teams from driving the field. The defense has played significantly better than the offense this season, particularly in limiting teams from gaining chunks of yardage. The offense continually puts the defense in rough spots with turnovers, and for the most part, the defense has held its own.
Nick: Other than find creative ways to lose games? This team is pretty good at defending the pass. What’s really frustrating is if you would’ve heard two weeks ago that neither Eli Manning nor Matt Ryan would throw a touchdown against the Cowboys and their offenses would only get one each, you never would’ve thought the Cowboys would go 0-2 in those games. But, the Cowboys have had a good pass rush and played well in the secondary, ranking fifth overall on defense.
Where They Struggle The Most
Bryan: Finishing games. Look at the way this team has lost games and that will tell you all you need to know.
Rowan: In the red zone. Not a lot of teams will be able to score in there with a rushing attack as feeble as the Cowboys’, which ranks 30th in rushing average. Dallas scores a touchdown only 44 percent of the time it reaches the red zone and 50 percent of the time it gets inside the 10-yard line.
Nick: It’s the offensive line. That hasn’t changed really since last year, other than probably regressing some. Romo is always running for his life and they can’t run the ball in the red zone, a sure sign this offensive line can’t generate a good enough push when needed.
Best Offensive Player:
Bryan: Jason Witten. Nobody has played with more toughness and skill than him.
Rowan: Witten. The man who is now the team’s all-time leader in receptions has been one of the few reliable targets for Romo this year. After a slow start coming back from a spleen injury, Witten has recorded at least six catches in the last five games, including a 13-catch performance and a record 18-reception outing.
Nick: The wording of this category is tricky. The football player might be Dez. The most valuable is probably Romo because when he’s on they always have a chance, and when he’s not, they have none. But the best offensive player through eight games has to be Witten. Who would’ve said that after those first three games when he wasn’t 100 percent? But, he’s been fantastic of late. Then again, when your best player is a tight end, it’s hard to be successful on offense.
Best Defensive Player:
Bryan: Week in and week out, Brandon Carr has been asked to cover the opponent’s best receiver, plus line up at safety. Carr has been a stable, steady player, which is something you need when trying to match up against different schemes.
Rowan: No player on this defense would cause the kind of commotion and alterations needed after Sean Lee was lost for the year. He had about as productive a start to the season as anyone could ask for and will continue to be the leader of the defense for years to come.
Nick: Sure, I’d like to be cute here and find another worthy selection, but you really can’t. DeMarcus Ware has been the most productive and most durable defensive player on this team for a while. Ware has played in all 120 games of his career, missing just one start, and that was the Saints game in 2009 when he was heroic in a huge upset win. He’s been great again this year and gets my vote.
Editors Pick: Bruce Carter
Best Special Teams Player:
Bryan: It’s amazing that Danny McCray’s special teams play hasn’t suffered because of all the time he’s seeing with the defense as a starting safety. His ability to read schemes, beat blocks and finish plays gets him noticed a lot on tape.
Rowan: It’s Dan Bailey. The only area he’s not automatic is over 50 yards, which is understandable for any kicker. When the Cowboys get in legitimate field goal range, he’ll put it through almost every time.
Nick: It’s too easy to go with Bailey, but what about the snapper L.P. Ladouceur, who has been virtually perfect again this year. He’s the most consistent player on the team. With so many players shuffling in and out of the special teams units, they’ve had little consistency, but Ladouceur is the normal exception.
Don’t Forget About …
Bryan: As much as I wanted to get rid of Phil Costa, he does play on his feet in securing blocks and getting on the second level. Is he great? No, but he is able to do things that Ryan Cook can’t scheme-wise.
Rowan: All the injuries this team has endured. The Cowboys lost their two best young players at different points and for different durations in Lee and DeMarco Murray, not to mention their starting safety in Barry Church and nose tackle Jay Ratliff for the beginning of the year. Health going forward will be crucial.
Nick: The Cowboys have been a different team when DeMarco Murray is in the game, and if he can return soon, possibly even this week, the offense has a chance to turn things around in a hurry.
Bryan: The way this team loses games. It really has been a throw here, a catch there or a key stop not made that’s kept the Cowboys from having a much better record.
Rowan: There have been quite a few disappointments, from a meager rushing attack to a shaky offensive line to a hoard of penalties every other week. But turnovers, particularly interceptions, have kept this Cowboys team from being above .500.
Nick: Since I was preaching back in June how important the Seattle game would be, I’ll stick with that. After winning in New York, the Cowboys simply got manhandled against the Seahawks in Week 2, which gave us a preview of how they would lose the physical battle up front in other games, too.
Bryan: Need to focus and find a way to get on a little four-game winning streak, the game at Philadelphia and then three in a row at home. If this team is going to do anything productive this second half of the season, it starts against the Eagles on Sunday.
Rowan: While the lousy start wasn’t expected after a win in New York, it should get easier for the Cowboys the rest of the way. They only play one team with a winning record, so there’s no excuse to go 3-5 again in the second half of the season.
Nick: We knew all along the Cowboys might have an easier road in the second half of the season than in the first, and that should be the case. But the question was always the same: Will it be too late? The Cowboys are 3-5, and although just one of their last eight opponents currently has a winning record, it’s hard to think they will be consistent enough to make a serious playoff run. I still think 8-8 will be the final verdict.
Here are the historical notes compiled after todays game with the New York Giants:
The Dallas Cowboys had three receivers top 100 yards tonight (Jason Witten, 167; Miles Austin, 133; and Dez Bryant ,110) for just the second time in franchise history. The first was at San Francisco (11/10/63) as Frank Clarke (190), Lee Folkins (112) and Billy Howton (107) were the first Cowboys trio to accomplish the feat.
Dallas finished the game with 415 net passing yards – the sixth-most in a game in franchise history:
Single-Game Passing Yards (team history)
Miles Austin finished second on the team with nine catches for 133 yards today. His 133 yards marked his third 100-yard outing of the season and the 14th of his career. His 133 yards today were the ninth-most in a game in his career:
Austin’s Single-Game Yardage Total
Austin’s nine catches today upped his career total to 245 to pass Kelvin Martin (237) for 13th in franchise history.
Austin’s 133 yards today upped his career total to 3,855 to pass Doug Cosbie (3,728) for seventh in team history.
Dez Bryant finished third on the team in both receptions (five) and yards (110) today. His 110 yards marked a career-high, his second 100-yard game of the season and the third of his career.
Bryant upped his career receptions total to 149 to pass Don Perkins (146) for 29th in team history.
Bryant improved his career receiving yards total to 1,977 to pass Timmy Newsome (1,966) for 28th in franchise history.
Bryant had a career-long 55-yard catch today.
Lance Dunbar had a 44-yard kickoff return today for the longest kickoff return of the season to date.
Dwayne Harris tied his career-long punt return of 14 yards today.
Felix Jones rushed 13 times for 19 yards and touchdown today. He now has 507 career rushing attempts to become the 12th Dallas Cowboy with 500 rushes.
Jones’ rushing touchdown today was the 10th of his career to make him the 18th Dallas Cowboy with 10-or-more rushing scores.
Danny McCray picked off his second career pass today.
John Phillips notched his second career touchdown reception – the first was also against the N.Y. Giants (12/11/12).
Tony Romo finished today’s game 36-of-62 for 437 yards. His 62 attempts established a club record while his 437 passing yards were a single-game career-high and good for third in club history:
Single-Game Passing Yards (Team History)
|Don Meredith||460||@SF (11/10/63)|
|Troy Aikman||455||MIN (11/26/98)|
|Tony Romo||437||NYG (10/28/12)|
Romo’s 437 yards was his second career 400-yard game (first was 406 vs. Tennessee, 10/10/10) and his 34th career outing with 300-or-more passing yards.
Romo also rushed for his fifth career touchdown today.
DeMarcus Ware’s sack today was his fifth straight game with at least a half sack – the fourth such streak in his career.
Ware has 13.5 career sacks against the Giants – the second-most against any team in the league (Philadelphia, 15.5). He also has 13.5 sacks of Eli Manning – more than any other quarterback he has sacked in the league.
Ware now has 107.0 career sacks to take sole possession of third place on Dallas’ all-time unofficial (pre-1982) sack list:
Jason Witten led the team with a club-record 18 catches for a team-best and career-high 167 yards. Witten now owns the top-three and is tied for fourth for receptions in a single-game in club history:
Dallas Cowboys Single-Game receptions
|Jason Witten||18||NYG (10/28/12)|
|Jason Witten||15||@Det (12/9/07)|
|Jason Witten||14||@NYG (12/6/09)|
|Lance Rentzel||13||WAS (11/19/67)|
|Jason Witten||13||CHI (10/1/12)|
|Dez Bryant||13||@Bal (10/14/12)|
Witten’s 18 catches tied for the third-most in a game in NFL history (Brandon Marshall, 18, vs. San Diego, 9/15/08) and were the most by a tight end in NFL history.
Witten’s 167-yard performance tied for the 20th-best single-game total by a league tight end and was a club tight-end record.
Witten also extended his club tight end record of 100-yard outings to 16.
Witten upped his season catch total to 51 to give him his ninth career and ninth consecutive season with at least 40 catches. He is now tied with Jeremy Shockey for the third-most 40-plus catch seasons and the third-most consecutive 40-catch seasons among tight ends in NFL history.
40-Plus Catch Seasons by a Tight End
|Shannon Sharpe||11||7||1992-98, 00-03|
Witten’s 51 catches thus far also marked his ninth career and ninth consecutive 50-catch season for the second-most by a tight end behind Tony Gonzalez (14 total and 14 consecutive) in NFL history.
Witten now has 747 career receptions and trails Michael Irvin by only three for tops in team history.
Offense: Tony Romo
The numbers for Romo were fine, but I want to focus on his ability to take the different personnel groups that head coach Jason Garrett was using and making it all work.
Romo knew he was going to get some soft coverage on the outside, and with Panthers cornerback Chris Gamble out of the game, there were going to be some opportunities for him to make throws. In the first half, he was able to find tight end Jason Witten for some key catches, before turning around in the second half, and getting wideout Miles Austin going again after he had the fumble that led to Carolina’s points late in the second quarter.
What I think Romo has done a much better job of in his career is when one of his receivers makes a mistake, he gets that player going right back into the game. It’s a really nice trait to have.
Defense: Anthony Spencer
From my view both in the press box seat and on field level, it was a really nice game for Anthony Spencer. Without much work the last several weeks, he was able to shine when his teammates needed him the most. There was a lot talk over the offseason about whether the Cowboys had done the right thing by putting the franchise tag on Spencer, but today he proved that he was worth every penny that the front office is paying him. Spencer has always been known as a run stopper, but defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has told anyone who was willing to listen that Spencer was just as effective rushing the passer. Against Carolina, Spencer proved him right. For a team that has been struggling to finish out games, Spencer’s play was just what they needed. You can bet that Ryan is happy to have him back.
Special Teams: Punt Coverage Unit
I could have selected Dan Bailey and the job he was able to do getting those field goals home, but you have to give Brian Moorman and this punt coverage team a ton of credit. Moorman was a master at directional punting today. In four opportunities, the Panthers managed only four total yards on returns. Moorman averaged 49.3 yards per punt with a net of 48.3. There were plenty of times where he was able to flip the field position, which forced the Panthers offense to take the ball a long way down the field. In a backup role, Moorman has more than done his job and was a big reason why the Cowboys were able to successfully win this game.