COWBOYS VS. EAGLES GAME 16 VIDEO RECAP: Dallas Cowboys turnovers contribute to heartbreaker | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys Highlights video | 5:16
The Philadelphia Eagles make a crucial stop late in the game clinch the NFC East and a playoff berth in a 24-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17 of NFL action. (Watch this Video)
Jason Garrett Postgame Press Conference | 12:32
IT’S OVER … FAT LADY SINGS: Philadelphia Eagles end Dallas Cowboys 2013 season | Trifecta complete: All NFC East teams sweep Cowboys playoff hopes
ARLINGTON — Unexpectedly, drama filled AT&T Stadium. Hope – and the Cowboys — were alive with less than two minutes remaining in tonight’s season finale.
But backup quarterback Kyle Orton, subbing for injured Tony Romo, threw an interception with 1:43 left, clinching Philadelphia’s 24-22 NFC East-clinching victory over the Dallas Cowboys before a sellout crowd of 91,166.
The game was closer and more thrilling than expected, but result was all-too-familiar for the Cowboys. For the fourth straight year, they’ll watch the playoffs from home.
For the third straight year, Dallas lost a win-or-stay home regular-season finale and finished 8-8. Philadelphia, not Dallas, is the NFC’s No. 3 seed and will host New Orleans next Saturday in the first round of the playoffs.
The 25th season of Jerry Jones’ ownership, like so many others since the early ‘90s Super Bowl glory years, ended with a thud. The past 17 seasons have produced seven playoff appearances and one solitary postseason victory.
The current playoff drought is the third-longest in the franchise’s 54-year history, behind those incurred during the franchise’s first six seasons (1960-1965) and the five-year drought of 1986-1990.
Before this season, Jones hired a 73-year-old defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Head coach Jason Garrett ceded play-calling responsibilities to Bill Callahan, but the Cowboys remained on a treadmill of mediocrity.
The Cowboys pulled within two points with 3:50 remaining when, on fourth and nine, Kyle Orton found Dez Bryant over the middle for a 32-yard touchdown pass.
NFL Sound FX: Dez Bryant Mic’d Up vs. Green Bay Packers | 5:11
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant during the Dallas Cowboys 37-26 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Witness, through Bryant’s mic, some of the events that led to the last minute defeat. (Watch this Video)
IRVING, Texas – Games like this last one against the Packers just feed the monster. It’s out there and it loves to jump on Tony Romo and Jason Garrett and of course, Jerry Jones.
Anytime the Cowboys blow a second-half lead or Romo throws a pick or two late, it ignites a wave of criticism from coast to coast. As Jason Garrett says, “it comes with the dinner.”
I just did a segment on NFL AM on the NFL Network for about five minutes and answered questions about Tony Romo’s decision-making, Dez Bryant leaving the field early and Jason Garrett’s job security.
But no one is asking about the real issue of this team. The issue that led to Dez walking off the field or Tony having to make those decisions or the fact Garrett hasn’t won enough games this year and why his job is in question.
Let’s be honest, the real issue about the 2013 Dallas Cowboys is the defense. This defense is one of the worst in NFL history.
They rank dead-last in the NFL, yielding 427.3 yards per game. They are the worst against the pass at 297.4 yards per game.
And that’s really the root of this whole mess.
I had one Cowboys assistant coach tell me Monday that “if Aaron Rodgers would’ve played, he would’ve thrown for 500 yards.” The same coach also said Kirk Cousins of the Redskins is better than Matt Flynn, who lit them up in the second half.
This team scored 36 points on Sunday. And it wasn’t enough. Sure, the offense had chances to get more touchdowns and settled on five Dan Bailey field goals. Yeah, if they get one more touchdowns instead of a field goal, they probably win.
I get that. Still, 36 points should win you a game in the NFL.
The Cowboys rank fourth in the NFL in scoring at 28.1 points per game. That trails only Denver (38.2), Chicago (29.0) and Kansas City (28.5). All three of those teams are either leading their division or clinched a playoff spot. And all three teams have beaten the Cowboys, too.
But 28 points per game is good enough to be atop the NFL leaders in scoring.
Yet, when the Cowboys actually score 28 points this year, their record is only 4-4. That’s ridiculous that a team can lose four games when they score 28 points or more. Two of those losses occurred with more than 35 points, including the one Sunday.
Yeah, Romo threw a pick he shouldn’t have when he checked out of run. I’m not absolving him from that. It was a bad decision and one that makes no sense. But why did he feel the need to do so? He knew he couldn’t give the ball back to the Packers, because they would score and win the game.
He gave the ball back to Detroit and the Lions marched the field and won. He knew he couldn’t do the same with Green Bay.
Again, I don’t agree with Romo’s decision to throw it. I would’ve been OK punting the ball back to Green Bay with no timeouts and under the 2-minute warning and needing about 85-90 yards to the end zone. I say you take your chances.
But most teams and quarterbacks in the NFL would’ve done that. Then again, they probably have more faith in their defense.
That’s just how bad things have gotten here in Dallas. This defense is shredded because of injuries. And the players who are on the field aren’t always performing to the level we have grown accustomed to.
So take your shots at Garrett, Romo and Dez and whoever else. But the real issue is this defense is as bad as we’ve ever seen.
Courtesy: Nick Eatman | DC staff writer
COWBOYS PACKERS GAME 14 RECAP: Dallas Cowboys mystified by meltdown | Postgame injury update | Dan Bailey
ARLINGTON, Texas – Every Dallas Cowboys defender had the same mystified expression on his face – and understandably so.
The Cowboys’ much-maligned defense went into halftime having allowed three points and 132 yards of offense Sunday against Green Bay. Two hours later, they were addressing the issue of how they had allowed 301 second half yards and 34 second half points to the Matt Flynn-led Green Bay offense.
“Anytime you have a meltdown like that in the second half…you’re always asking what happened,” said Brandon Carr. “But we’ll know tomorrow, watching film. At the end of the day, you have to find a way to win your matchup — you have to find a way to get the job done.”
The Dallas defense dropped the ball in that regard just six days after surrendering 45 points to Chicago. The adjustments the Cowboys hoped to make after that blowout seemed to have taken effect in the first half, but they fell by the wayside as the Packers roared back.
Few will take more heat for that than the Cowboys’ veterans. While the Dallas linebacker corps completely reshuffled as a result of injuries, veteran players failed to step up. Jason Hatcher failed to post a tackle, while DeMarcus Ware finished with one assisted tackle.
“The quarterback threw the ball pretty quick, which was a good thing, but we’ve got to figure out a way to get DeMarcus in there more,” said Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones. “I would have thought he would be more of a factor in the game tonight, as well as Hatcher.”
Ware said during the week he needed to regain his typical form after what has been a disappointing season. Faced with such a disappointing performance, he said the Cowboys can only hope to correct the issues for the last two games.
“I’m always the same person. I go out there and play…I made some effective plays,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we need to get out, get off on third down, and we didn’t do that.”
For the time being, the Cowboys can only hope to push past another setback and try to find some answers.
“One of the toughest losses in my short NFL career — it was tough, man,” said Barry Church.
Assessing the Damage
Just what the Cowboys don’t need, and exactly what they’re already familiar with – more injury problems.
The defensive line couldn’t stay healthy in the opening weeks of the season, and now it’s the linebackers’ turn. Sean Lee missed the loss to Green Bay with the neck injury he suffered against Chicago. Fellow starter Bruce Carter also missed with a hamstring injury of his own.
That in itself is bad enough, but the Cowboys lost two more linebackers to injury against Green Bay, when Justin Durant aggravated his hamstring and Ernie Sims injured his hip.
“Honestly, I’ve never seen this before – that’s four top linebackers that’s out of the game,” Durant said.
Durant seemed primed for a big day after making a few nifty plays in the early going. But he was relegated to the bench before the end of the first quarter when he tweaked the same hamstring that’s been bothering him since the Nov. 10 loss to New Orleans.
Sims was the next to go when he appeared to hurt his hip tackling Eddie Lacy on the final play of the first half. He received X-Rays during the second half and will undergo an MRI on Monday.
“They told me I’m going to find out more tomorrow when I get the MRI,” he said.
The injuries left the Cowboys with two rookies, DeVonte Holloman and Cameron Lawrence, along with first-year linebacker Kyle Wilber. The trio combined for nine tackles in the loss.
“Those young guys went in there, they played hard,” Durant said. “I thought they did a solid job, we just couldn’t get it done at the end.”
The late-game collapse overshadows what would have been a leading storyline had the Cowboys won – another huge performance from Dan Bailey.
The Cowboys kicker had his best performance of the season, as he nailed five field goals – three of them from 47 yards away or further – to help the Cowboys build a formidable lead. The five field goals gave him 85 for his career, which pushed him past Chris Boniol (81) for second-best in team history.
“Obviously today points were a premium. It’s just too bad we didn’t have more than they did at the end of the game,” Bailey said.
No one could blame Bailey for that fact. With five field goals and 18 total points against Green Bay, he upped his point total on the season to 97. More impressively, he improved his accuracy rating on the season to 19-of-21 – 90 percent.
In fact, Bailey hasn’t missed since the Sept. 29 loss to San Diego, which was a 56-yard kick. That track record is enough to given anyone confidence Bailey might have had a game-winner in him, had the Cowboys gotten him into position.
“There’s a minute and a half left and we had a chance to win the game, so we’ve been in those situations before,” Bailey said. “I had all the confidence in the world that we were going to go down and put the final points on the board. Sometimes it doesn’t work out your way.”
Here are some more notes from Sunday’s loss to Green Bay:
Dez Bryant finished today’s game with 11 catches for 153 yards and a touchdown. His 11 catches marked his third double-digit reception game and were third in a game in his career – 13 at Baltimore (10/14/12) and 12 vs. Cleveland (11/18/12).
Bryant’s 153 yards gave him his 10th career 100-yard game and were good for second in his career. He is the 10th Dallas Cowboy with 10-plus 100-yard games.
For the season, Bryant has 1,061 yards, his second career 1,000-yard season, the 24th season in which a Cowboy reached the 1,000-yard barrier and the 30th time a Cowboys player crossed the 1,000-yard mark. Bryant is the ninth different Cowboy with multiple 1,000-yard seasons.
For his career Bryant has 38 touchdown catches to tie Terrell Owens for eighth in team history.
Murray’s 134 yards gave him his third 100-yard game of the season and the seventh of his career. The 134 yards were sixth in a game in his career.
With his 100-yard outing last week, it was the second time in Murray’s career he had back-to-back 100-yard games.
Murray’s rushing score today was his eighth of the season – the most by a Cowboy since Marion Barber had 10 in 2007.
With his 25-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, Jason Witten broke a tie with Tony Hill to record the third-most touchdowns in team history. He has 52.
ARLINGTON, Texas – Three Dallas Cowboys writers share their initial feelings of the Cowboys’ 37-36 loss to the Packers at AT&T Stadium.
Helman: I thought perhaps Denver or Detroit would wind up being the most brutal loss of the 2013 season. But this one might take the cake, when you consider it was a home game against a backup quarterback and a dinged-up defense. I’m not a football coach, but the fact that the Cowboys handed the ball to DeMarco Murray just three times in the fourth quarter, while holding a lead for most of those 15 minutes, is almost unfathomable. The Cowboys got away from what worked, and it hurt them in the end. That goes for the defense, as well, as a solid performance in the first half was wiped away in the nightmarish second. The good news for the Cowboys is that Philadelphia’s loss to Minnesota keeps them in control of their postseason prospects. But it’s hard to feel great about that after what just happened in AT&T Stadium.
Kavner: The Cowboys lost to a team that was 1-4-1 previously without their starting quarterback, and the Packers looked like that type of team the first half of the game. Then it all imploded in a way that gave national pundits all the talking points they could possibly want to talk about, from late Tony Romo interceptions to questionable play-calling to a defense that couldn’t stop anything late. I said in my gut feeling the Cowboys shouldn’t lose this game, and they shouldn’t have. But they did, even with Dez Bryant going for 153 yards and DeMarco Murray going for 134 yards. It was as big as a collapse as a game can be when squandering a 23-point lead, emphasizing all of the many flaws this team has experienced in recent years. It’ll take a massive answer to get over the loss this week and the next for the Cowboys, who, despite the enormity of this loss, still have their playoff hopes alive after the Eagles lost to the Vikings.
Eatman: Until about 5:00 (CDT) it was looking pretty good. The Eagles lost, the offense was rolling and the defense was playing lights out with one pick already. Then, the Cowboys woke up and realized what they are – incredibly average. I mean, there’s no way they could be 8-6 right? They have to get back to the 7-7 level. Well, they did. And I don’t really care what Matt Flynn did or how he is. To me, the backups were a complete wash. What the Cowboys were rolling out there on defense is something you’d see in the fourth quarter of the fourth preseason game. So yeah, Flynn should be able to carve them up. But the Cowboys have no excuse for what happened on offense. They lost this game with about three minutes to go when they didn’t run the ball to the 2-minute warning. Instead, they tried to get greedy and it cost them. Tony Romo apparently checked out of the pass for the first interception. If that’s the case, then that’s inexcusable. He’s got to be smarter than that. Getting the Packers to use their timeouts and run out some clock is the top priority at that point. You don’t check from a run to a pass and throw a side-arm pick over the middle. But he did. He deserves blame for that and not getting the job done earlier to put this thing away.
CHICAGO – Dallas Cowboys writers share their initial feelings of the Cowboys 45-28 loss to the Bears at Soldier Field.
Eatman: I couldn’t have been more wrong. I knew better. I just thought or wanted to think this team was better. Honestly, I thought when the Cowboys marched down and scored like that on the first drive, I had a sense this could be a blowout. Well, it was. The defense was simply awful from the coaching, to scheme to execution to tackling to making plays on the ball. The weather might have been a factor for one team, but not both.
Kavner: This wasn’t at all the game most of us expected. Rather than the sloppy offensive performance I anticipated with a subzero wind chill, the Bears’ offense picked apart the Cowboys through the air. I thought DeMarco Murray would run well and he exceeded those expectations, but as the Bears’ lead expanded, the Cowboys’ success running the ball mattered less and less, and at no point did they seem to stand a chance without a pass rush to affect Josh McCown or his mammoth receivers who continued to snag most passes thrown their way. The Cowboys pride themselves on resiliency and playing through the whistle, but that was far from the case on Monday night. Dez Bryant did come up with a touchdown but finished with just two catches. The Cowboys also had two interceptions fall through their hands, as nothing went their way in Chicago and the Eagles kept sole possession of first in the division.
David Helman: To some degree, I had a pretty good grasp on what was going to happen at Soldier Field. I said the Cowboys backs would run the ball well. I said the Bears’ balance would be hard to deal with. I even correctly predicted a Joseph Randle touchdown run. Of course, I also said the game would be competitive — which was way off the mark. It’s one thing to look utterly helpless against Drew Brees in an air-conditioned dome, but against Josh McCown in adverse conditions? The Cowboys defense has a lot of work to do and not much time to do it. The playoffs look like a long shot if this team can’t rebound in a big way.
First Take | Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears | NFL 2013 Game 13 of 16 (3:34)
Here were the gut feelings posted Monday afternoon:
CHICAGO – A share of the NFC East lead left the grasp of the Dallas Cowboys a day ago as the Eagles took care of business and went to 8-5 as snow poured down Sunday against the Lions.
COWBOYS VS. BEARS POSTGAME: Press conferences and NFL highlights video | Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears | 2013-2014 NFL Season – Game 13 of 16
Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears Highlights (3:53)
Backup quarterback Josh McCown destroys the Dallas Cowboys defense as he passes for four touchdowns and runs for another to lead the Chicago Bears to a dominant 45-28 victory in Week 14 of NFL action. (Watch this Video)
Jason Garrett speaks to the media following the Dallas Cowboys 45-28 loss in Chicago.
Tony Romo speaks to the media following the Dallas Cowboys loss at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
Cold, cold cold … and so was the weather.
The Dallas Cowboys defense looked frozen at times, simply no match for a Bears offense that came into the game ranked eighth in the league. Chicago scored on all eight of its possessions, aside from a kneel down at the end, on their way to a dominating 45-28 victory.
Bitterly cold, the game-time temperature was just 8 degrees with a wind chill of minus-7. In fact, it was the coldest regular-season game in Dallas Cowboys history, second only to the famed Ice Bowl in the 1967 NFL Championship when Dallas played at Green Bay with the thermometer reading minus-13.
Of course, it’s hard to tell if that played much of a factor in the Cowboys’ ineptness. Dallas has seen a patchwork defense of no-name free agents and rookies hold their own recently, the team winning three of its last four games, but it all caught up to them tonight.
The Bears had their way with the Cowboys, racking up 490 yards of total offense to just 328 for Dallas, also owning the time of possession, 36:38 to 23:22.
Chicago Bears backup quarterback Josh McCown completed 27-of-36 passes for 348 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery torched the Cowboys secondary, finishing with 100 and 84 receiving yards, respectively.
Running back Matt Forte was virtually unstoppable as well, rushing for 102 yards on 20 carries, while adding another 84 receiving yards off of five catches.
The Cowboys ground game actually enjoyed a stellar night, the team rushing for 198 yards overall with DeMarco Murray carrying the ball 18 times for 146 yards. But, it just wasn’t enough with the defense unable to do its part. In the air, Tony Romo was good on 11 of his 20 pass attempts, three of which went for touchdowns, but totaled just 104 yards. No Cowboys receiver caught more than two passes in the game.
Making matters worse, two players the Cowboys were happy to have back in the lineup were unable to finish the game. Return man extraordinaire Dwayne Harris reinjured his hamstring while Sean Lee suffered a neck injury, both leaving in the third quarter.
The first quarter was dominated by extended scoring drives for each team with Dallas actually looking strong on its opening possession. After Harris returned the kickoff out to the Dallas 25, Murray carried his team down the field in 12 plays, running the ball six times for 52 yards, before Romo eventually capped the drive with a 2-yard pass to Bryant for a 7-0 lead.
But the Bears answered, reeling off a 12-play series of their own, traveling 78 yards mainly through the air. McCown had connections of 11, 15, 7 and 14 yards with Forte rushing three times for 20 yards. Chicago finally scored when McCown found a wide open Earl Bennett in the end zone to even things ups, 7-7.
The second quarter saw more of the same as each team again exchanged long drives, although the Bears were next on the board after a 10-play, 65-yard series that saw McCown provide all the damage needed. After hitting Marshall on passes of 20 and 15 yards, as well as an 11-yarder to Jeffery, the quarterback scrambled 10 yards for a first down to the Cowboys 10-yard line, then three plays later, went the final 7 yards with a run up the middle, diving into the end zone for the 14-7 advantage.
Dallas responded with a seven-play, 68-yard drive that evened the score again, Murray running five times for 33 yards with Witten stiff-arming his way across the goal line on a 10-yard touchdown pass. The grab marked his seventh of the year, which ties the second most for his career in a single season, equaling his 2007 effort. He recorded nine scores in 2010.
Unfortunately, the Cowboys could do little to stop the Bears passing attack. Chicago kicked a 27-yard field goal on its next possession, then when Dallas couldn’t run out the clock with 1:27 left in the first half, the Bears got the ball again with 47 seconds to play.
That was plenty of time. McCown hit Forte for nine yards, Jeffery for seven and then Marshall for 19 to set Chicago up with first-and-10 at the Dallas 25-yard line. With 17 seconds left, McCown threw pass to the back, right corner of the end zone, where Jeffery made a sensational catch, hauling in the toss over B.W. Webb and Jeff Heath while keeping both feet in bounds for the score.
Chicago then had the luxury of the first series of the second half and quickly added another three points, Robbie Gould splitting the uprights from 34 yards out.
That drive saw Orlando Scandrick drop a potential interception in the end zone, which was then followed on the next Bears possession by Bruce Carter not taking advantage of a pick opportunity as well. Then, even worse, Sterling Moore did actually corral a bobbled ball for what appeared to be an interception, only to have it called back when Brandon Carr was called for defensive holding.
Given those gifts, Chicago took advantage and tacked on another touchdown, as Forte caught a pass from 4 yards out. The Bears then went for 2 with Marshall catching McCown’s offering to up the lead to 35-14.
Which soon enough became 42-14. The Cowboys, having driven to the Chicago 41, decided to go for it on fourth down, the first time they’ve done so all year, only to have Romo have to throw the ball away almost immediately when a defender came in untouched.
Chicago then needed only three plays to reach paydirt, Michael Bush taking a pass from McCown 17 yards for the score, their run of consecutive possessions putting points on the board up to seven.
The Cowboys managed to reach the end zone again, as Dallas went 69 yards in eight plays, doing so primarily on the ground, even though they faced such a deficit, content to let the clock run. Romo threw a pass to Cole Beasley, who made a nice catch for the touchdown, but it was far too little, too late.
Chicago tacked on another field goal, just because they could, the Cowboys then officially throwing in the towel by sending out Kyle Orton to play quarterback for his first action of the year. The backup did manage to lead the team to another touchdown, rookie Joseph Randle earning his second score of the season.
Finally, the chilly night came to a merciful end, Dallas losing 45-28. Because the Eagles defeated the Lions, Dallas dropped into second place in the NFC East and will now face the 6-6-1 Packers at home next Sunday.
COWBOYS VS. SAINTS WRAP-UP: Postgame interviews and NFL video recap | Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints | 2013-2014 NFL Season – Game 10 of 16
Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints Highlights and Lowlights – (4:04)
First Take on 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Saints game from Superdome (2:29)
First impressions of the Dallas Cowboys 49-17 loss at New Orleans in Game 10 of the 2013-2014 NFL season from the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Includes partial locker room interview with Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee and short clip from Jerry Jones. (Watch Video | Play Audio)
INSIDE THE LOCKER ROOM: Jerry Jones postgame reaction to loss (5:07)
Jason Garrett Postgame Press Conference (9:24)
Tony Romo Postgame Press Conference (4:45)
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NEW ORLEANS – It was a given that Dallas Cowboys owner-general manager Jerry Jones would be reminded he fired the man who helped bring down his team last night on NBC’s nationally televised Sunday Night Football.
The Saints vaunted offense lived up to its reputation in a 49-17 demolition of Dallas. But in an equally dominant performance, the New Orleans defense stymied the Cowboys’ offense into a mere 193 total yards and 17 points.
“I thought that we would hang in real good with them, and you might have a game comparable to what we played with Denver,” Jones said. “A game like that, I think we were ready to put some offense out there. But to their credit, they saw to it that we couldn’t.”
As if he needed insult added to injury, Jones was asked how he felt about the decision to replace Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who coached for the Dallas Cowboys at this time last year.
“We thought it was best for us to go in the direction we are, and it doesn’t look good right now,” Jones said. “Hopefully we can make it look good, but I have all the feelings you have any time you look back at a decision, and I realize when some of them work you have to have a few things go along with it.”
Ryan’s extensive makeover of the Saints’ defense has paid dividends for head coach Sean Payton, who hired him after New Orleans finished last in the league in defense last year. The Saints are currently ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, in total defense and scoring defense this season.
“We had our reasons for making our change, and Sean did a good job of getting Rob down here,” Jones said. “He’s as smart as he can be, from an outstanding football bloodline. That’s why we hired him two years ago with the Cowboys.”
The Dallas Cowboys’ defense, now under the management of defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, was gashed for 625 total yards by Drew Brees and an aggressive Saints running game. It was the fourth time the Cowboys have surrendered 500 yards of offense and the second time they have surrendered 600 yards this year, further solidifying their No. 32 ranking in the NFL.
Injury again played a role in that, as Jason Hatcher missed the game and Sean Lee was lost for the night in the second quarter with a hamstring injury. Jones acknowledged the extent of the team’s injury problems, but he said he didn’t want to make an excuse of it.
“I thought we were certainly compromised, relative to our defense, where we are right now with personnel,” he said. “That’s not an excuse, because we still didn’t play as well as they played.”
The Saints allowed the Cowboys to run just 43 plays on the night, and they didn’t give up a third down conversion in nine different attempts. What success the Dallas Cowboys had on the ground, with 89 yards on 16 attempts, was offset by a complete inability to throw.
“I thought Rob’s defense was outstanding. They got after us good,” Jones said. “This is not only a tough place to play, but we know, where we are right now with our personnel on defense, we’ve got to go out and score. We’ve got to get in there and score some points. To their credit, they didn’t let us keep our offense out there.”
Jones remained optimistic, however, despite being handed the most lopsided loss of the year. He said the Dallas Cowboys need to use the bye week to regroup and recuperate.
“It’s embarrassing to lose, it’s embarrassing to not be representative, not be competitive – all of those things. But more importantly, the real issue, can we do something about it,” Jones said. “Can we get in here and use this time off, get some of our guys back, get a little healthier, come up with some ideas of how to go against the rest of the schedule and see if we can have a happier day this year – not next year, but this year.”
COWBOYS VS. SAINTS GUT-CHECK REVIEW: Dallas offense shut down; Saints rip Cowboys defense in 49-17 loss
NEW ORLEANS – Initial thoughts following the 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys’ 49-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Kavner: No one predicted the massacre that occurred Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Dallas Cowboys established a strong running presence early on and took a quick 3-0 lead, but that’s about the only positive thing to say about a team that got smashed the rest of the way. Tony Romo only had three completions for 20 yards at the half, and the Saints offense continued to move the ball at will against the Cowboys defense, particularly after Sean Lee went out with an injury. I thought we’d see a back-and-forth shootout in New Orleans. It turned out this one was over early in the third quarter, when thoughts shifted more to the Cowboys’ immediate future without Lee than it did the game, which was already wrapped up.
Helman: The popular saying around this team is that they play to their level of competition, but that was far from the case Sunday night. The offense, aside from one short drive in the third quarter, couldn’t find any rhythm or consistent production. It was nice to see the Cowboys commit to the run and find some early success, but was it worth it at the cost of such a poor passing performance? This team lives and dies with Tony Romo, as far as I’m concerned, and his inability to find even 100 passing yards when the game was still in the balance just wasn’t going to cut it. Once again we saw the defense fall well short of top-notch competition, as the Saints racked up both points and yardage. Obviously, injuries play a role in that, as Jason Hatcher was inactive and Sean Lee left the game early. But that doesn’t excuse the poor tackling or the dozen penalties. The Cowboys have dealt with their fair share of disappointment this season, but this is the first time in 10 weeks we’ve seen them get definitively outplayed.
Eatman: I really thought we’d see an old-fashioned shootout. The Saints were certainly down for it, although Rob Ryan wasn’t having it. The Cowboys just weren’t good enough on any side of the ball to stay with the Saints. Cole Beasley wasn’t really a factor like I thought. Then again neither was Dez Bryant or Jason Witten or anyone Tony Romo was throwing to. To me, the game changed completely when Sean Lee went out with a hamstring injury. That’s when the Saints just ripped the Cowboys’ defense up to no end. Drew Brees did anything he wanted and was rarely challenged. Injuries for this team aren’t excuses anymore, it’s just reality. This team was average before these injuries and now it’s even worse. The bye week just couldn’t come at a better time.
Editors note: This article relates to the pregame predictions made by the Dallas Cowboys writers on Saturday.
NEW ORLEANS – The Saints went marching in … again and again and again.
With injuries continuing to decimate the Cowboys defense and the offense unable to do much of anything, Dallas was simply dominated by New Orleans, losing 49-17 in front of a primetime national audience on Sunday Night Football.
“That did not feel good,” said owner/general manager Jerry Jones. “Anything that would go along with losing that you can say, it’s embarrassing when you lose. It’s embarrassing to not be representative, not be competitive, all of those things.”
The Dallas Cowboys started this game with a slew of injuries already hampering the defensive unit, this time Jason Hatcher, who is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season, unable to go due to a stinger suffered last week against Minnesota.
“It hurt me not being out there tonight,” Hatcher said. “Not that I say things would have been different, but I really think I could have helped my team. It hurt sitting over there just seeing my team get beat on.”
But things would only get worse for the unit, as the last person the team could afford to lose would leave the game. Early in the second quarter, Sean Lee, the quarterback of the defense, was sent to the locker room with a left hamstring injury and did not return, the severity not immediately known.
Lee plans on getting an MRI on Monday to get a better idea of the severity of the injury.
“Don’t know the severity, but obviously it’s not good,” Lee said. “So we’ve got to figure it out, and I’ll do whatever I can to rehab and get back as fast as possible.”
He was followed in the third quarter with fellow starting linebacker Justin Durant also being sidelined with a hamstring injury. And while DeMarcus Ware did come back, he was still hobbled by his right quad injury, obviously not 100 percent.
At some points during the night, especially at the end when Ware was rested, only three of the eleven projected defensive starters going into training camp (safety Barry Church, cornerback Brandon Carr and linebacker Bruce Carter) were actually in the game for the Cowboys.
So, the fact that Drew Brees and the Saints offense basically had their way with the Dallas defense probably shouldn’t have come as any surprise. The Saints finished with 625 yards of total offense, and set a new single-game NFL record with 40 first downs.
“They were able to move the ball both by running it and throwing it,” said head coach Jason Garrett. “It’s well documented we have a lot of different guys playing for us, we understand that, but we didn’t get the job done and they did.”
Brees finished the night with 392 passing yards and four touchdown tosses, narrowly missing out on becoming the fifth quarterback this season to throw for 400 yards against the Cowboys defense. Nine different players caught passes for New Orleans, with Marques Colston leading the way with 107 yards off seven grabs.
Unfortunately, the Saints didn’t just do their damage in the air, as they also rushed for 242 yards, Mark Ingram having a field day against the depleted Cowboys, running for 145 yards on 14 carries.
“There just were very few plays that we stopped,” Garrett said. “They did a lot of different things. They ran the ball when they wanted to run it. I thought Drew Brees did a fantastic job reading the coverage and finding the right guy.”
With the injury issues affecting the Dallas defense, the Cowboys needed a big game from their offense. They didn’t get it.
Facing Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who served in the same capacity for Dallas the previous two seasons, Tony Romo and Co. could do nothing, Ryan getting his revenge on his former team.
The Dallas Cowboys quarterback finished with just 128 yards on 10-of-24 passing, the second time in the last three games that he has failed to complete at least 50 percent of his passes. Backup tight end James Hanna led all Dallas receivers with three catches while Dez Bryant hauled in only one.
“We didn’t do a good enough job just finding the other guys and making them pay with the other guys who were getting isolated,” Garrett said. “We weren’t able to drive the ball the way we wanted to. We didn’t do a very good job on third down to sustain drives.”
Also not helping was a plethora of penalties. The Cowboys rushed for 89 yards, but had 11 penalties for a total of 82 yards. In all, Dallas only totaled 193 yards of offense in the game, running just 43 plays. Again, New Orleans had 40 first downs alone.
The Cowboys had the opportunity to make an early statement when Dwayne Harris beat his man on the punt coverage and then recovered a muffed punt by Darren Sproles to set Dallas up at the New Orleans’ 22-yard line. But the offense could muster only three yards, hurting themselves again with a false start penalty. On came Dan Bailey for a 37-yard field goal, the surefooted kicker good on his attempt to stake the Cowboys to an early 3-0 lead.
That didn’t last long, though. Starting at their own 20, the Saints marched right down the field, going 80 yards in nine plays with Breese hitting Colston from 22 yards out for the score and a 7-3 advantage.
Dallas then faced a scary moment when on the ensuing kickoff, Harris broke loose down the left sideline for a nice 34-yard return to the Cowboys 28. But already out of bounds, Harris was then pushed by linebacker Kevin Reddick, falling headfirst into a Saints player who was standing on the sidelines. The play was clearly a late hit, but no flag was thrown.
Harris, perhaps the best special teams player in the NFL, suffered a neck injury and went to the locker room, but did return to the game.
Undaunted, the Cowboys did something they’ve failed to do with any regularity in recent games – run the ball. As the drive pushed into the second quarter, Dallas handed the ball off to Murray seven times during the possession, his biggest gain coming on a 35 run around the left end which set the offense up at the Saints 32.
Murray then capped off the drive with another scamper around the left end from 7 yards out, diving into the end zone to give Dallas back the lead, 10-7.
Again, though, New Orleans had an answer. And this time it came at an even bigger cost to the Cowboys.
With the Saints starting at their own 20, Brees threw a short pass over the middle to running back Pierre Thomas. The linebacker Lee was in on the tackle, but in the process injured his hamstring, lost for the game.
CALLAHANDOFF QUESTION: Why does the Dallas Cowboys stop trying to run before you can even establish a run game?
Why do the Dallas Cowboys abandon the run? DeMarco Murray looks healthy, and he got 4 carries in the game. They stopped trying to run before they could even establish a run game.
Nick: Did they abandon the run or could they simply not run the ball and so they scrapped it? I think it’s somewhere in the middle. This team hasn’t been able to run it effectively for about two years. I think Brian Waters’ injury was bigger than we thought it’d be. All of a sudden Doug Free looked bad? I think Waters has helped him just by being in the lineup. But yes, there are times the Cowboys don’t run it enough. I think this was one of these games.
Rowan: I was all for spreading it out and tossing the ball around, but I’ll admit nine runs in a game that was this tight throughout is kind of shocking. More than that, the backs never really had a chance to get going as they took a whole lot of delayed runs in shotgun and were met in the backfield. The backs actually had some success with four runs for 25 yards in the first quarter. Then, we never really saw them again.
David: I don’t mind that the Cowboys don’t commit to the run in a strict sense. But I do mind that they talk often about balance and controlling the game, and then they throw 51 times compared to nine total runs. Either accept that you can’t or don’t want to run, or actually make the effort to run. Murray was averaging eight yards per carry, but he disappeared.
ARLINGTON, Texas – Dallas Cowboys beatwriters share their initial feelings following the Dallas Cowboys 27-23 win over the Vikings.
The coaches and the players on this team are never going to minimize their own success – regardless of record, they got a win against an NFL team. I don’t have the same obligation, however, so it’s fine for me to look into the future and say Dallas absolutely could not have afforded to lose this game. It might have been a season-sinker. With the NFC South leader, two tough NFC North teams and three divisional rivalries still to play, the Cowboys would have been up the creek with no paddle had they lost to this less-than-stellar Vikings team. It wasn’t pretty, and it doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, but now the Cowboys are at least guaranteed to be .500 or better when they get to their much-needed bye week.
Not exactly the easy win anyone predicted. As mediocre as this team’s been, it was still somewhat stunning to see the Cowboys trailing by three points with a minute left. The entire soap opera had played out, with Dez Bryant drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Adrian Peterson wearing down the defense and Tony Romo throwing a late pick, but Romo silenced many with his game-winning, 90-yard drive. I thought the offense should have opened it up, but I didn’t expect them to run just nine times in such a close game. I predicted a big day and a score for Jason Witten, who went for more than 100 yards and a touchdown, but I didn’t predict Terrance Williams’ streak ending. The Cowboys offense continued its inconsistency before finally showing up late. If they wait that long to get going next week against a Saints team coming off a loss, it’ll be too late.
Man, I was doing well with my first two and then tanked. Jason Witten did a have a big game and Terrance Williams didn’t score, but yikes, this was far from a blowout win. And out-rushing the Vikings? That was a horrible prediction. I had this feeling the Cowboys would take an early lead and get to run the ball while the Vikings were forced to pass. Nope. And Brandon Carr didn’t have a pick, but Orlando Scandrick got a big interception. He certainly played a great game, one of the best I can remember from him. Overall, no one really played great for the Cowboys. They had some guys step up, especially at the end. But this team looked like it was sleepwalking for too long. However, the Cowboys had a beautiful loss to Denver and no one cared. So they’ll take whatever this kind of win was against the Vikings.
Jason Garrett likes to talk about players learning from experience. Today was that type of day for Tyron Smith against Jared Allen. I said earlier, that Smith was drafted by the Cowboys to block rushers like Jared Allen. When you face a player like Allen, you have to be ready for all his moves. This guy is not a one trick pony and I felt like that there were times where Allen put him on the edge, but Smith was able to hang in there and make things work. In the 2nd half, I thought Smith was at his best and when the Vikings really needed a pressure, it wasn’t coming from Allen. The final numbers will say that Allen had one tackle with no sacks, so that tells you a lot about the day that Tyron Smith had.
Editors note: This article relates to the pregame predictions made by the Dallas Cowboys writers on Friday
This was supposed to be an easy one. The 4-4 Cowboys against the lowly 1-6 Vikings? At home? Favorites across the board? Bring on the Saints.
In a game that wasn’t always pretty – face it, downright ugly – the Cowboys sent 85,360 fans home perhaps more relieved than happy with a 27-23 triumph over the Vikings. The Dallas Cowboys offense struggled to find any kind of consistency, but came up big when they needed to, as Tony Romo led the team on a game-winning drive, reaching the end zone with only 35 seconds left.
Despite the Cowboys running game totaling only 36 yards, the offense still finished the day with 350 total yards, thanks to Romo dinks and his 34-of-51 passing for 337 yards and two touchdowns. His main connection was tight end Jason Witten, who hauled in eight passes for 102 yards and a score, while Cole Beasley and Dez Bryant each caught six attempts for 68 and 64 yards, respectively.
Defensively, well, Adrian Peterson did what Adrian Peterson does, racking up 140 yards on 25 carries with another 37 yards on three catches. But overall, Dallas kept the Vikings aerial attack in check, quarterback Christian Ponder completing 25-of-37 passes for just 236 yards.
The first quarter was largely uneventful, as the two teams traded field goals, Dan Bailey kicking a 41-yarder for Dallas and Blair Walsh splitting the uprights from 23 yards to even the score 3-3.
Still, Dallas seemed to be building a little momentum in the second frame. Things got going with Minnesota on the move, the Vikings set up with great field position on the Cowboys’ 37-yard line after a 26-yard punt return by Marcus Sherels. But the visitors elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the Dallas 16-yard line, only to have Peterson stuffed for no gain.
The Cowboys then marched right back down the field on a 12-play, 58-yard drive that ate up 6:56 of the clock, the series eventually resulting in a 44-yard field goal by Bailey and a 6-3 lead.
But that momentum was temporarily lost before the half could end. Starting at their own 21-yard line, the Vikings mixed in a dose of runs and passes before Ponder scrambled in from the 6-yard line to give Minnesota the advantage at the break, 10-6.
Temporarily, however, was the key word. When the second half got underway the Cowboys immediately grabbed back said momentum in a big way. Taking first possession of the third quarter, Romo threw passes to Beasley for 11 yards, a short one to Terrance Williams for 4 and then back-to-back 26-yard strikes to Witten, the latter seeing the tight end rumble into the end zone of the score to take the lead, 13-10.
That was then followed on the ensuing kickoff by Vikings return man Cordarrelle Patterson muffing the ball out of bounds at the Minnesota 5-yard line. On the very next snap, Ponder dropped back to pass and was stripped of the ball by defensive end George Selvie with teammate Nick Hayden then pouncing on the fumble for the score. Dallas suddenly had a 20-10 lead less than four minutes into the second half.
But things never seem easy for the Cowboys. After seemingly having things well in hand, the defense couldn’t keep the Vikings from coming right back with a 77-yard drive of their own. This time Minnesota did their damage in the air, as Ponder completed passes of 27 and 12 yards during the series before finding tight end Kyle Rudolph down the right seam for a 31-yard touchdown, narrowing the score to 20-17.
The Cowboys had their chances to expand the lead, first when the team drove into enemy territory, reaching the Minnesota 34-yard line. But on third-and-15, Bryant was called for offensive pass interference. What made matters worse, though, was he pulled off his helmet to argue the call, an automatic unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. With the loss of 15 yards, any hopes for a lengthy field goal by Bailey were quashed.
Then, as the clock ticked over into the fourth quarter, the Dallas defense produced its second turnover of the game when Orlando Scandrick intercepted a deep attempt by Ponder down the left sideline. But set up at their own 47-yard line, Dallas managed to reach the Vikings 38 before another offensive pass interference call, this time on Witten, pushed them back to the 46. Once again, they were forced to punt.
This time, the Vikings’ workhorse took momentum into his own hands. Peterson first broke loose on a 52-yard scramble down the right sideline, then after Minnesota moved down to the Dallas 11, the future Hall of Fame running back kept churning, carrying a whole pack of Cowboys defenders – who seemed more intent on stripping the ball, than actually getting the man on the ground – into the end zone. Walsh somehow missed the extra point, but Minnesota had the lead, 23-20 with just over five minutes left in the game.
The Vikings then had a chance to salt the game away themselves when cornerback A.J. Jefferson stepped in front of a pass intended for Williams and tiptoed the sidelines for an interception at the Dallas 41. Thankfully, the Cowboys defense stood strong forcing a three-and-out, the offense taking over at its own 10-yard line after the punt with 2:44 remaining on the clock.
That was plenty of time for Romo, who hit Witten for 11 yards, Dwayne Harris for 6, and Beasley for 18. Then on second-and-10 at the Dallas 45, the quarterback found Bryant streaking across the middle, the wideout turning upfield for a big 34-yard gain to the Minnesota 21.
Three plays later, Romo stepped up in the pocket and darted one into Harris who lunged across the goal line for the game-winning score, 27-23.
With the victory, the Cowboys pushed their record back above .500 for the season, and assured their NFC East counterparts could gain no ground in the division race. They’ll now travel to New Orleans to face Drew Brees and the Saints in primetime next Sunday night.
2013 COWBOYS GAME 9 RECAP: Dallas Cowboys offense does just enough to avoid embarrassing loss against Minnesota Vikings
IRVING — The Dallas Cowboys did what they needed to do today, they beat a bad team.
The Cowboys weren’t very impressive but they got the job done, improving to 5-4 with a 27-23 victory at AT&T Stadium.
Here are five thoughts on today’s game.
1.) Not many folks probably left the stadium feeling like they got their money’s worth. The Cowboys played to the level of the one-win Minnesota Vikings and barely pulled it out. Every week it becomes more apparent that this is nothing better than a .500 team. Enjoy the victory. But expect nothing more than a “win one- lose one” product the rest of the way.
2.) Dez Bryant was showing his passion again. This time it cost the Cowboys 15 yards. Bryant was called for offensive pass interference in the third quarter and then took off his helmet to argue with an official. Bryant was booed after dropping his second pass of the game a few minutes after he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. He’s the team’s best playmaker, so you have to take the good with the bad. Bryant made a key play later in the game.
3.) So that’s why the Detroit Lions doubled Jason Witten so often last Sunday. The Pro Bowl tight end was the Cowboys’ best player against the Vikings. Witten caught eight passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. He dropped a pass early but Witten remained Romo’s favorite target. When he didn’t get the ball, Witten was still making an impact by attracting double teams, which is exactly what led to Dwayne Harris’ game-winning score. The 31-year-old won’t wow you with his athleticism but he’s still as consistent as they come.
4.) Dallas rushed nine times for 36 yards.
5.) The defensive meetings this week will be about missed tackles. Jeff Heath, Barry Church and Ernie Sims all were abused multiple times. The offensive meetings will emphasis dropped passes. Dallas receivers dropped eight, which included Witten, Bryant and Terrance Williams.
ARLINGTON, Texas — A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys’ 27-23 win against the Minnesota Vikings:
What it means for the Cowboys: They didn’t make it look easy, going down to the final minute before dropping the one-win Vikings.
Tony Romo’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Harris won the game with 35 seconds to go and kept the Cowboys in first place in the NFC East with a 5-4 record. They also continued a trend of beating teams .500 or worse under Jason Garrett. The Cowboys are now 17-1 since 2011 against the bad teams.
The win was the Cowboys’ fourth at AT&T Stadium, matching their home win total from a year ago.
It was an ugly win, but Garrett will undoubtedly say winning in the NFL is a hard thing to do. It’s even harder when you let bad teams stick around.
Stock watch: After an ugly :58 minutes, and with the game on the line, Romo responded with a game-winning drive after throwing what could have been a crippling interception. Romo completed 7 of 9 passes on the 90-yard drive.
Forget the ground game: The return of DeMarco Murray was supposed to bring some sort of renewed emphasis of the running game, but it never happened.
The Cowboys chose to attack through the air against the 29th-ranked defense, but it’s not as if Minnesota has a great run defense. In the second quarter, the Cowboys got to the Vikings’ 12 and did not even give a pretense of running the ball with back-to-back plays out of an empty set and a three-wide receiver formation. The result was a drop and two sacks, forcing the Cowboys to settle for a Dan Bailey field goal.
Murray, who was playing after a two-game absence with a knee injury, finished with four carries for 31 yards and the Dallas Cowboys had just nine carries for the game.
Seeing stars: Last week the Dallas Cowboys couldn’t stop Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who had 329 yards. This week it was Adrian Peterson.
It wasn’t a historic day for Peterson, but he had some vintage moments when it mattered most on his way to 140 yards rushing. He busted free for a 52-yard run at the Minnesota 28 and then scored the go-ahead touchdown with 5:40 to play when he ran through safety Jeff Heath and linebacker Justin Durant for an 11-yard score on fourth-and-1.
What’s next: The Dallas Cowboys travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints next week. This was a game New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has had circled since he joined the Saints after he was dismissed as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator last January. The Cowboys have lost seven of their eight games to the Saints. Their only victory came at the Superdome in 2009, 24-17, when New Orleans was undefeated.
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:
Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz postgame press conference (9:57)
Detroit Lions postgame show (36:38)
FROM THE DALLAS COWBOYS:
Cowboys vs. Lions Highlights (4:35)
Jason Garrett Postgame Press Conference (8:33)
Tony Romo Postgame Press Conference (6:28)
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.
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First Take on 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions (2:56)
DETROIT – The initial reactions following the Cowboys 31-30 loss to the Lions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dez Bryant visibly emotional on sideline in Detroit (:53)
Dez Bryant explains heated tirade (5:26)
ARLINGTON — At Joseph Randle’s locker, where he was surrounded by reporters, a football was tucked in his stall. It was a little memento from the first touchdown he scored in the same game he got his first NFL carry.
“That’s the rock, right there,” he said. “I’ve got to keep that one.”
Of course, Randle’s 1-yard dive into the end zone during the fourth quarter of Dallas’ 31-16 victory didn’t come without assistance. Randle, while in a crowd of Redskins defenders, was pushed across the goal line by rookie center Travis Frederick (photo below). As a way of acknowledging Frederick’s contribution, Randle asked Frederick to autograph the football that is now his souvenir.
“I told Travis to sign it for me,” said Randle, who finished with 17 yards and the touchdown. “But he was like, ‘Nah, I can’t do that. I can’t sign your ball.’”
Randle laughed along with the reporters near him. He seemed surprised by the attention he received.
“We wanted to see him play in a real game, get him a couple of snaps,” Dallas Cowboys running back coach Gary Brown said. “And he responded well…I’m looking forward to seeing him practice some more.”
Randle, meanwhile, will savor his first touchdown, and that rock, as long as he can.
ARLINGTON, Texas — A wry grin broke out on Tony Romo’s face when asked to describe what happened on his spectacular touchdown pass Sunday night.
“I would normally ask you which one,” Romo joked after the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-16 win over the NFC East rival Washington Redskins, “but I think I know.”
Yep, there was only one, just a lone flash of brilliance from Romo. And the Cowboys won anyway.
After a week of discussion about how much blame he deserved for a loss in which he threw for five touchdowns and broke the franchise record for passing yards, Romo didn’t need to be a superhero to give the Dallas Cowboys a chance to beat the Redskins.
Not with a defense that had been dreadful the previous two weeks bending but not breaking, giving up 433 total yards but only allowing Washington into the end zone once. Not on a night that Dwayne Harris produced more yardage on returns than the Cowboys did on offense, scoring on an 86-yard punt return and setting up a touchdown with a 90-yard kickoff return.
Dwayne Harris returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown and also had a 90-yard kickoff return.
“Dwayne did a great job and almost allowed us to kind of just sit over there as an offensive unit and rack up all his yards as if we did it without doing much work,” Romo said.
Romo’s work for the night: 18-of-30 for 170 yards and a touchdown with an interception. For his fantasy football owners, it was Romo’s worst performance of the season, not that any of the Dallas Cowboys were complaining.
Maybe the football gods owed Romo one after he ended up being the goat despite one of the greatest statistical performances in NFL history during the previous week’s shootout loss to the Denver Broncos. The Dallas defense definitely owed Romo one.
“Last week, the defense lost the game by not being able to get a stop,” said linebacker Sean Lee, who led the Cowboys with 10 tackles, including a touchdown-saving stop of Robert Griffin III on the Redskins’ first series. “When your offense plays as well as it does, putting up 48 points, and Tony plays as well as he did, you have to win those games if you want to be a good team, if you want to win Super Bowls. The defense let everybody down. We knew it, and we knew we had to find a way to bounce back this week.”
The reality is this kind of win is rare. The Cowboys usually need their franchise quarterback with the nine-figure contract to play up to his paycheck to be in position to pull out a victory.
That could be especially true over the next few weeks if injuries that knocked running back DeMarco Murray and defensive end DeMarcus Ware out of the game linger. Murray suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee; Ware strained his quadriceps. Their statuses for next week’s game in Philadelphia are uncertain.
The Dallas running game is a rumor without Murray. That’s evident by the 19 yards on 12 carries the other tailbacks generated against the Redskins.
The pass rush had been a problem even with Ware coming off the edge. The Cowboys managed to get three sacks and pressure Griffin several other times Sunday night, but it’s a stretch to see that happening consistently if Ware isn’t a major factor.
All of which means the Cowboys could be asking Romo to put up big numbers without the benefit of a balanced offense.
With road trips to Philadelphia and Detroit coming up, it’s probably a safe assumption that the Cowboys will need the spectacular version of Romo to return back home over .500.
They’ll need more plays like the only pass he completed in the third quarter, when he somehow made a clean-blitzing cornerback miss before perfectly dropping the ball to Terrance Williams in the back corner of the end zone for a 15-yard score, stretching Dallas’ lead to double digits.
“He shows that ability really on a consistent basis, week in and week out,” coach Jason Garrett said. “But I tell you what, that was a heck of a play.”
Added owner/general manager Jerry Jones: “That throw he made to 83 in the end zone after getting flushed out, that’s his A game.”
On this night, a flash of that was enough for the Cowboys. That’s reason to smile, an exception to the rule.
ARLINGTON, Tex. — If the Washington Redskins thought their bye week would cure what ailed them in the season’s early stages, they were mistaken. They emerged from their time off resembling the same struggling team they’d been beforehand. Breakdowns on special teams proved particularly costly and the Redskins lost to the Dallas Cowboys, 31-16, here Sunday night.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III had his best running game of the season, rushing for 77 yards. Tailback Alfred Morris had a long third-quarter touchdown run. But the Redskins too often settled for field goals by place kicker Kai Forbath and their record plummeted to 1-4.
The Cowboys gave owner Jerry Jones a victory to celebrate on his 71st birthday and evened their record at 3-3, putting them in a first-place tie with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East. Dwayne Harris had a touchdown on an 86-yard punt return in the second quarter, and added a 90-yard kickoff return in the third quarter to set up a touchdown pass from quarterback Tony Romo to wide receiver Terrance Williams.
Tailbacks DeMarco Murray and Joseph Randle had rushing touchdowns for the Cowboys, with Randle’s one-yard run all but sealing the outcome with just less than nine minutes remaining after Griffin lost a fumble on a sack at his 3-yard line. Griffin threw an interception to end the Redskins’ next drive.
Romo threw an interception and managed a relatively modest 170 passing yards for the Cowboys. But that was enough for a win one week after he passed for 506 yards and five touchdowns in a 51-48 loss to the Denver Broncos. Romo threw a late interception in that game that led to the Broncos’ winning field goal and that, to some observers, raised all of the old, familiar questions about his ability to produce in crunch time.
The start was not particularly promising for the Redskins, as their defense had no answers for Romo and the Cowboys on the game’s opening drive. Romo had a key third-down completion to tight end Jason Witten and Murray got the touchdown on a four-yard run.
Griffin was sharp at the outset, with a 19-yard completion to wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and a 15-yard run on a scramble on the Redskins’ first two offensive plays of the night. Rookie tight end Jordan Reed had a pair of catches on the Redskins’ opening drive and they moved quickly into scoring position. But Griffin was stopped two yards shy of the end zone on a third-and-goal run on a quarterback draw from the Dallas 9-yard line — a play call from which the team seemed to shy in the season’s first few games as Griffin worked his way back from knee surgery in January — and the Redskins were left with the first of Forbath’s three field goals.
The Redskins generated a second-quarter turnover when blitzing cornerback Josh Wilson batted a pass by Romo into the air and linebacker Rob Jackson, playing in his first game of the season after serving a four-game suspension for a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, grabbed the ball on the deflection for an interception. But the Redskins failed to convert, punting on each of their next two possessions.
The second of those punts resulted in Harris’s touchdown. The Redskins initially had the Cowboys backed up in their own territory but had to re-punt because of an illegal-motion penalty on their first attempt. This time, Harris caught Sav Rocca’s punt at his 14-yard line, weaved his way through would-be tacklers and sprinted along the sideline to the end zone as the Redskins’ Darryl Tapp and Jerome Murphy collided with one another while in pursuit. The Redskins also received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when special teams coach Keith Burns, standing on the sideline, made inadvertent contact with one of the officials who was running to try to keep up with the play.
The Redskins regrouped and used Griffin’s 29-yard completion to Reed to set up Forbath’s 32-yard field goal as time expired in the first half. Forbath connected again, this time from 33 yards, after Griffin’s 26-yard run on a scramble, plus 15 additional penalty yards for absorbing a late hit out of bounds, early in the third quarter.
No matter. Harris took the kickoff after that field goal and, from five yards deep in his own end zone, sprinted practically the length of the field before being knocked out of bounds by the Redskins’ E.J. Biggers at the 15-yard line. On second down from there, Romo eluded the blitzing Wilson and lofted a pass in the corner of the end zone to Williams, who made the grab and stayed in bounds for the touchdown.
Morris, given little running room to that point, had a swift reply by cutting across the field on his way to a 45-yard touchdown dash. But Forbath missed from 49 yards early in the fourth quarter and the Cowboys got a 30-yard field goal by their kicker, Dan Bailey.
Courtesy: By Mark Maske | The Washington Post