DALLAS COWBOYS CALENDAR: NFL announces 2015 offseason workout dates | Dallas 2015 OTA dates | Cowboys voluntary & mandatory camp calendar 2015
The mover & shaker mode of free agency is winding down. Super Bowl XLIX is in the rearview mirror. That means it’s almost time for all 32 teams to start their offseason programs.
Below are the key offseason dates to know for your 2015 Dallas Cowboys and their evil NFC East rivals. Continue reading →
AROUND THE NFC EAST: Tracking The Evil Empire | The 2014-2015 division pre-training camp watch | Assessing the biggest issues facing the Dallas Cowboys rivals
IRVING, Texas – It’s a bit hard to believe, but football is here – the makings of football, at least.
It would have been too easy and too boring for the Dallas Cowboys if DeSean Jackson had disappeared off to Oakland or Cleveland.
Instead, he’ll turn the spotlight back on Washington — which is precisely where it was for much of 2013, if you’ll remember. Jackson agreed to terms with the Redskins last night.
DeSean Jackson has never been a fan of the Cowboys. The receiver once famously declared “we gonna sting they ass’’ when he played for Philadelphia.
Jackson didn’t do a lot of stinging against the Cowboys the last three seasons. Will he have a better chance now that he’s with Washington?
It almost seemed like the inevitable conclusion to Jackson’s release from Philadelphia last week. In keeping with the NFC East’s penchant for drama, the move not only keeps him within the same division as his old team, the Eagles, but also his old nemesis, the Cowboys.
The news brings a strange story to an end, as it had only been five days since the Eagles released Jackson for no definitive reason. It was widely speculated the three-time Pro Bowler would find a new home relatively quickly, and Washington wasted no time after visiting with Jackson on Monday night.
As if the storied Cowboys-Redskins rivalry needed any more juice, it certainly has picked up a bit this offseason. Washington signed lifelong Cowboys and 2013 Pro Bowler Jason Hatcher just three days into free agency, and now the Redskins have added Jackson — a favorite target of Dallas fans during his career in Philadelphia.
In truth, Jackson’s success against the Cowboys has been lacking when compared to his impressive six-year career. He has played 11 games against Dallas, tallying 39 catches for 688 yards and just two touchdowns. That’s an average of 3.5 catches for 62.5 yards per game.
There are two obvious outliers there: Jackson torched the Cowboys for 210 yards and a touchdown on four catches in 2010, and he was also limited to just six catches for 49 yards in two games last year.
That said, the addition of one of the league’s best deep threats is an undeniable boon for Washington. The Redskins have been lacking explosiveness in the passing game for what feels like ages. In fact, Pierre Garcon’s 1,346-yard effort in 2013 was the team’s first 1,000-yard season by a receiver since 2010, and it was just the team’s fourth 1,000-yard receiving season since 2004.
Combining Garcon and Jackson is undoubtedly going to open up the passing game for Robert Griffin III, who hasn’t had a true No. 1 receiver during his brief NFL career. It should also decrease the focus on Alfred Morris and Washington’s vaunted ground game, which was already plenty successful when the Redskins didn’t have a deep threat like Jackson.
On paper, at least, this is Washington’s most intimidating offense in some time. If Griffin returns to his 2012 form, and the offensive line can keep him on his feet, the Redskins should have no problems scoring points.
Of course, the offense scored plenty last season. The bigger problem was a leaky defense — something every team in the NFC East can likely relate to. The Redskins have taken some steps toward fixing that, headlined by the addition of Hatcher.
But there’s no doubt that adding Jackson is the first truly blockbuster move an NFC East team has made this offseason. The Cowboys and Redskins had both already added Pro Bowlers to this point — but Hatcher is turning 32 and Henry Melton is coming off ACL surgery.
The Eagles made waves by trading for Darren Sproles, but he is more of a complimentary piece. The Giants have added several good-not-great players, but no bonafide stars.
The Jackson deal is sure to put the Redskins in the limelight during Jay Gruden’s first season as coach. It’s hard to imagine high expectations for a team that finished 3-13 and doesn’t possess a first-round draft pick, but that’s what it’s looking like.
Signing an All-Pro, hot button target can do that for you — especially in this division.
BACK TO THE 3-4 DEFENSE: Jason Hatcher departs 4-3 system; signs 4-year deal with rival Redskins | Dallas Cowboys Free Agency 2014
IRVING, Texas – A third Pro Bowl player has now departed Valley Ranch in as many days, as defensive tackle Jason Hatcher signed with the Washington Redskins on Thursday afternoon.
Hatcher, who was the NFL’s sack leader among defensive tackles with 11 last season, signed a four-year deal worth roughly $27.5 million with the Washington Redskins – the Dallas Cowboys oldest rival.
The news ends days (actually months) of speculation about the veteran’s future, as Hatcher made several visits around the NFL to potential suitors. Hatcher visited with the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders earlier in the week, and he reportedly had visits with the Redskins and the Tennessee Titans lined up.
“My hard work paid off. I just left a great organization and now I’m with a great organization,” Hatcher said. “Things change. I just have to take it all in stride.”
Hatcher said he didn’t close the door on returning to the Dallas Cowboys, but said it was clear to him he wouldn’t be returning.
“Once me and my agent met and they didn’t show no signs they wanted me back,” Hatcher told 105.3 The Fan Thursday afternoon. “So I know the fans are upset, they should be. But I made the right decision for me. If we could’ve made it work out, we could’ve, but I’m in a great place with the Redskins, a great organization.”
Hatcher was a third round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2006 NFL Draft, going No. 92 overall out of Grambling State. He played in at least 13 games in every year of his career, from 2006 to 2013. He didn’t start his first game until 2010, and he didn’t become a regular starter until 2011.
In 2012 and 2013, Hatcher became a full-time starter for the Cowboys, starting in 31 of a possible 32 games. He featured primarily as a 3-4 defensive end in the final year of Rob Ryan’s tenure as defensive coordinator. Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli made Hatcher the three-technique defensive tackle in their 4-3 scheme upon arriving in Dallas last spring.
It’s safe to say Hatcher flourished in that role.
Prior to 2013, Hatcher had 16 career sacks with his career highs being 4.5 in 2011 and 4.0 in 2012. He nearly tripled that during the 2013 campaign, earning his first-ever Pro Bowl selection in the process. He posted two-sack performances in three different divisional games – Oct. 13 against Washington, Nov. 24 against New York, and Dec. 29 against Philadelphia.
Hatcher said during the season he planned to test the market when the NFL’s free agency window opened in March. He played the final years of his Cowboys career on a three-year $6 million contract he signed following the 2011 NFL lockout.
“I’m going to test the market – I’m going to test the market. But you guys just leave me alone about my contract. I just once to focus on – I’m a Cowboy,” Hatcher said in December. “I’ve got a star on my helmet. I’m not trying to think about that. I’ll let it take care of itself when it happens. I’ve got four games to play, to be the best three-technique in the league and help my team go to the playoffs. That’s my approach.”
That clearly won’t be the case going forward, as the Dallas Cowboys have now parted ways with their all-time sack leader in DeMarcus Ware and their 2013 sack leader in Hatcher. New free agent acquisition Jeremy Mincey is now the team’s sack leader with 20 career sacks. George Selvie is behind him with 10 career sacks, seven of those coming last season.
RELATED: Career stats for former Dallas Cowboys DE Jason Hatcher
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP: Seahawks parlay 49ers mistakes into Super Bowl trip
SEATTLE — All season long, the Seattle Seahawks’ defense carried them at times the offense sputtered. Its biggest challenge yet will come in Super Bowl XLVIII.
The Seahawks forced turnovers on the San Francisco 49ers’ final three drives, the last an interception by Malcolm Smith on a deflection by Richard Sherman in the end zone with 22 seconds to go that sealed a 23-17 victory in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.
Next up: a title date with Peyton Manning and the high-powered Denver Broncos on Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Colin Kaepernick fumbled and threw an interception on the 49ers’ previous two drives. But the Seahawks scored only one field goal off those turnovers, keeping the game alive.
Given the ball once more with 3 minutes, 15 seconds to go, Kaepernick completed four consecutive passes, including a fourth-and-2 strike to crossing Frank Gore as the 49ers drove to the Seattle 18.
But Sherman got a piece of Kaepernick’s jump-ball throw to the corner of the end zone and Smith corralled the ball in bounds, allowing Seattle to run out the clock and set off a celebration during which Sherman leaped into the stands at CenturyLink Field.
It’s the second George Halas Trophy and Super Bowl trip in the 38-year history of the Seahawks, who also won the NFC title after the 2005 season before losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL.
No players remain from that team, and no one on Seattle’s roster has appeared in a Super Bowl. Neither has coach Pete Carroll, who did take the University of Southern California to two BCS championship games before becoming the Seahawks’ coach in 2010.
Sunday’s win was the Seahawks’ third straight against the 49ers in Seattle, where they rolled 42-13 on Dec. 23, 2012, and 29-3 on Sept. 15 before San Francisco won this regular season’s rematch 19-17 on Dec. 8 at Candlestick Park. This one was far tighter.
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP: Peyton Manning passes Broncos past Patriots into Super Bowl
DENVER — Two years ago, the NFL world was wondering if Peyton Manning might ever throw another pass. Even he wasn’t sure.
Yet there were a gaggle of Mannings in a jubilant Denver Broncos locker room on Sunday, celebrating the Broncos’ 26-16 win in the AFC Championship Game and Manning’s third trip to the Super Bowl. Manning has a chance to win a second Super Bowl ring — his first with the Broncos and his first since having four surgeries on his neck.
“One of my favorite things to tell him is, ‘Enjoy the journey.’ I tell him that all the time. And it’s been a good journey,” Manning’s father and former NFL quarterback Archie Manning said.
Archie was joined by his other two sons, New York Giants quarterback Eli, who made the trip to Denver to surprise his brother, and Cooper, whose two sons scampered around the locker room in their orange No.18 jerseys, taking pictures of the AFC championship memorabilia and posing in their uncle’s locker.
“Oh, we’re proud. Obviously we’re proud of Peyton, but we’re just like all the other parents of Broncos that are going to the Super Bowl,” Archie said.
Peyton Manning was brilliant in leading the Broncos to their first Super Bowl since his boss, John Elway, retired after the 1998 season. Manning threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns, both at the end of drives lasting more than seven minutes. He was clearly the best player on the field in his 15th meeting with longtime nemesis Tom Brady.
Manning will be joined in East Rutherford, N.J., at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2 by a suddenly stout defense that held the New England Patriots to 320 yards. The Broncos shut down the Patriots running game (64 yards) and held Brady to 277 passing yards. Brady was sacked twice, including a 10-yard loss on fourth-and-3 from the Broncos 29-yard line in the third quarter with Denver leading 20-3. That sack, by defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, killed the Patriots’ 13-play drive and drew some of the loudest cheers of the day from a sold-out crowd at Sports Authority Field.
“We knew it would take a dominant performance on defense. We knew our offense was going to go out there with a rhythm. I knew Peyton would throw for all that, and we just wanted to do our part,” Knighton said. “We didn’t want to be the missing link.”
Fans relished the Broncos’ first AFC title game since the 2005 season (when they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers), and the resurgence of a team that was 4-12 three years ago. But the brief and disastrous tenure of coach Josh McDaniels, now New England’s offensive coordinator, led to the hiring of Elway as executive vice president of football operations. Elway has rebuilt the team and was a key element to the signing of Manning in March 2012.
Denver has gone 13-3 in the two seasons since, while Manning and the offense shattered records this season with 55 passing touchdowns and 606 points scored. But none of that would have really mattered without a trip to the Super Bowl.
The Broncos, the preseason favorites to win the AFC, did not get here easily. They played the first six games of the season without their star pass rusher as Von Miller served a suspension, lost all-pro left tackle Ryan Clady in Week 2, lost defensive starters Miller, defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson, defensive end Derek Wolfe, safety Rahim Moore and cornerback Chris Harris to season-ending injuries and played four weeks without coach John Fox, who had heart surgery in early November.
“Every Super Bowl team that has held up that trophy has been through some type of adversity,” Knighton said. “We just wanted to respond.”
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have lost another coach. Tight ends coach Wes Phillips is heading to the Redskins after meeting with the club in Washington on Thursday.
Club officials at Valley Ranch have confirmed Phillips is leaving. Phillips even changed his Facebook profile picture to a Washington Redskins logo.
Phillips joined the Cowboys in 2007 on his dad’s first staff in Dallas. Wade Phillips made his son a quality control coach but Wes eventually worked his way up to assistant offensive line coach and then tight ends coach this past offseason, long after Wade Phillips was fired as head coach in the middle of the 2010 season.
Wes Phillips’ contract expired after the 2013 season so he was technically a coaching “free agent.” He will likely become the Washington Redskins tight end coach after Sean McVay was promoted from that position to offensive coordinator by new head coach Jay Gruden.
Phillips’ seven years with the Cowboys will likely be a great asset to a new coaching staff unfamiliar to the NFC East. Not only does Phillips know the Dallas Cowboys offense inside and out, along with most of the defensive personnel, but he’s also studied the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles closely as well in his preparations to play these division rivals twice a year.
So far this offseason, the Cowboys have lost four coaches whose contracts had expired – assistant special teams coach Chris Boniol, offensive assistant Dave Borganzi, and assistant coach Mikal Smith. Borganzi and Smith, the son of new Bucs coach Lovie Smith, both went to Tampa Bay. Boniol said it was a “mutual decision” to part ways with the Dallas Cowboys.
Other coaches whose contract have expired include Ben Bloom, Joe Baker, and Keith O’Quinn, who could be a candidate to replace Phillips as tight ends coach.
It happens a lot in the NFL: The dazzling revolutions of September and October — the promise of a new-fangled Wildcat or read-option or run-and-shoot paradigm that will change everything — often fall by the wayside in the bitter rain and snow and cold of January, when football returns to the eternal verities of truth and reality.
So it is this year.
In a season during which passing and scoring records fell, all four Championship Sunday participants (including the one that set those records) relied on the timeless formula last weekend: run the ball effectively, control the clock, play solid defense and make the other team earn every point it scores.
You could see evidence of the back-to-basics approach in every divisional-round game:
- Russell Wilson’s passing was mostly grounded, and the oft-injured Percy Harvin was knocked out of the action with a concussion, but the Seahawks still took down the Saints. Seattle won behind tackle-breaking machine Marshawn Lynch (in postseason Beast Mode, evidently) and a suffocating defense that rattled New Orleans’ top weapon, Jimmy Graham.
- New England, decimated by injuries on both sides of the ball (along with, it has to be said, the murder charge against tight end Aaron Hernandez), has fewer difference-makers than it has had at any time in recent memory. But LeGarrette Blount was the blunt force that the Patriots used to pound the Colts’ defense into submission. Meanwhile, the Pats’ myriad defensive looks frustrated Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, who threw four interceptions.
- San Francisco won its second road playoff contest in eight days, thanks in large part to a defense that stonewalled Carolina’s running game (Cam Newton was the only Panther to eclipse 20 yards rushing) and snagged two interceptions. Offensively, the 49ers employed a balanced attack: Frank Gore led the charge on the ground while Colin Kaepernick made some timely plays through the air, leaning heavily on veteran gamer Anquan Boldin.
- Denver used San Diego’s own formula from the regular season — control the ball, shorten the game, manage the clock (35:27 of possession) — to keep the Chargers on their heels all day long. Denver’s defense missed Von Miller’s havoc-wreaking presence but stiffened enough to allow the Bolts just 65 yards rushing, less than half of what the Broncos churned out in a winning effort.
Each one of the four divisional-round winners exceeded 125 yards rushing. After setting the single-season record with an astounding 5,477 passing yards, Peyton Manning threw for just 230, with the other three winning quarterbacks failing to reach 200. Glamour QBs Tom Brady and Wilson didn’t even throw a single touchdown pass.
There is, of course, a long tradition of returning to the run game in the postseason. Go back 45 years to the New York Jets’ memorable defeat of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. New York was led by Joe Namath, who was one season removed from becoming the first quarterback in pro football history to throw for 4,000 yards, but the Jets ran more than they passed on that day (logging 43 carries and 29 throws), to control the clock and the Colts. (A year later, the Kansas City Chiefs — another team known for offensive daring and innovation — rushed the ball 42 times for 151 yards to dominate the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.)
These things were true 45 years ago, and they still might be true 45 years from now.
In recent years, we’ve seen running backs de-emphasized on draft day. Yet, by the time the playoffs roll around, the best teams almost always have a solid run game in place.
The star of the divisional weekend, Blount, went undrafted out of college and was pawned off by the Buccaneers this past offseason — yet he’s been unstoppable for the Patriots of late. Marshawn Lynch was a first-round draft choice, but the Bills gave up on him before the Seahawks recast him as their most reliable offensive threat. Knowshon Moreno’s demise had been rumored for years in Denver, but this season he’s been a steady all-around back who doesn’t fumble (and a strong blocker, to boot). Frank Gore is a former third-round pick — thanks in part to some injury baggage from college — who has developed a reputation as a tough inside runner, and his efficiency boosts both the passing game and Kaepernick’s devastatingly effective keepers.
So why does this happen so often? Why do the gaudy passing numbers of the regular season frequently get supplanted by the meat and potatoes of old-school football in the new year? Simple reasons, mostly:
Better defense: Playoff teams are generally more accomplished defensively, meaning each opponent has a formidable pass rush. The best way to neutralize this is to have a running game that the defense has to take seriously.
Weather: So Peyton Manning isn’t as good in cold-weather games? Guess what: He’s not alone — not by a long shot. Show me a quarterback who consistently overperforms in freezing temperatures and snow, and I’ll show you an anomaly. Cold weather leads to numb hands, making it very difficult to execute the touch throws that separate the great quarterbacks from the good ones. And while receivers enjoy a slight advantage over defensive backs in terms of footing — because they know where they’re going — it’s much harder to catch a rifled pass in sub-freezing weather than it is on a room-temperature day. (If you’ve never tried it, just trust me.)
Dangerous opposing quarterbacks: You can get away with a quick, drive-killing string of incompletions — or even a turnover — when the quarterback on the other side is an untested rookie/journeyman who lacks pocket presence. But do that in a playoff game against a Manning or Brady, and you’re going to get burned. That’s why it’s all the more important to control the football and minimize mistakes.
Throwback football will be on full display in the NFC Championship Game, as the style fits the personalities of the coaches very well. A physical running game is a large part of the DNA both Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh used to build their respective teams.
It’s a bit different on the AFC side. New England’s commitment to the run is simply Bill Belichick’s adaptation to a roster that’s currently short on difference-making receivers and tight ends. The Pats very well could go back to being a top-five passing attack and the league’s top-ranked offense next season if they can come up with the right group of receivers for Brady. On the other hand, Denver is only committed to the run as long as you stay in a loose shell defense that begs the Broncos to use it.
In each game, though, both teams will look to assert their will by establishing a ground attack. And the ones that do so best will likely meet in New Jersey in February.
The Dallas Cowboys missed the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop watching NFL games.
Can home-field advantage can be established this year?
In the NFC, the 49ers and Saints are considered better teams than their home opponents, but both teams travel into tough weather conditions. In the AFC, the Colts were 6-2 at home in the regular season, but they’ve shown signs of being vulnerable.
And then there’s Green Bay. Since 2002, the Packers are 3-4 at Lambeau Field in the playoffs. That mark was 13-0 before ’02.
|KANSAS CITY CHIEFS||INDIANAPOLIS COLTS|
|NEW ORLEANS SAINTS||PHILADELPHIA EAGLES|
|SAN DIEGO CHARGERS||CINCINNATI BENGALS|
|SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS||GREEN BAY PACKERS|
So how wild will this weekend’s wild-card playoff games be?
A high-scoring game is expected Saturday night when the New Orleans Saints visit the Philadelphia Eagles. An Ice Bowl-like game is expected when the San Francisco 49ers visit the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Can the Indianapolis Colts repeat their 16-point win from Week 16 over Kansas City on Saturday in Lucas Oil Stadium? Anything can happen in the San Diego-Cincinnati game Sunday.
Which teams will survive the first hurdle in the race toward Super Bowl XLVIII?
The Dallas Cowboys schedule for next season is mostly set. Only one date — the team will travel across the pond to face Jacksonville in London on Nov. 9 — is known. The dates and times for the other 15 games will be announced in the spring.
The Cowboys have to face the AFC South and NFC West next season. Only four of their opponents won fewer than seven games this season.
The full 2014-2015 NFL schedule with times and dates will be released in April.
|Dallas Cowboys 2014 home games:||Dallas Cowboys 2014 road games:|
|New York Giants (7-9)||New York Giants (7-9)|
|Philadelphia (10-6)||Philadelphia (10-6)|
|Washington (3-13)||Washington (3-13)|
|Arizona (10-6)||St. Louis (7-9)|
|San Francisco (12-4)||Seattle (13-3)|
|Houston (2-14)||Jacksonville (4-12) — at London|
|Indianapolis (11-5)||Tennessee (7-9)|
|New Orleans (11-5)||
Here’s a look at the entire NFC East home and away opponents for the upcoming 2014-2015 NFL season:
This website keeps the DALLAS COWBOYS schedule information continually updated. When you visit, click on the NFL SCHEDULES button for the latest schedules and calendar announcements.
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 GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles | The Cowboys Eagles rivalry continues | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys NFL Game 16
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Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
NFL Films previews the 2013-2014 NFL Season Week 17 matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles. (Watch the Preview)
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When: Sunday, December 29th, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. (Dallas time)
Where: Cowboys AT&T Stadium | Arlington, TX
Watch on TV: NBC | DirecTV
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COWBOYS VS. EAGLES GAMEPLAN: NFC East rivals clash tonight in Big D for division title | Pregame Scouting Report | Eagles @ Cowboys 2013 2014 regular season finale
Their Nemesis: DeMarcus Ware
In 16 career games against the Philadelphia Eagles, Ware has been a one man wrecking crew. He has accounted for over 90 tackles, 16 sacks, eight tackles for loss, 32 quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. There has been twice in his career where he has had 11 tackles in a game against the Eagles with the last one coming in 2011.
Ware also recorded four sacks in a game and that also came in 2011. Ware has also faced the Eagles in the playoffs, with five tackles, three quarterback pressures, a pair of sacks and a fumble recovery. Ware missed the game the first time that these two teams met earlier this year in Philadelphia, which was the first time that he missed a game.
Without Ware in the lineup that day, the Cowboys had their best defensive performance of the season in a 17-3 victory. But make no mistake about it, this Cowboys defense needs Ware this time around to attempt to slow down this Eagles offensive attack with Nick Foles at quarterback. Ware will get some opportunities to rush from both sides in this matchup.
I do feel like that he can break down Jason Peters, if the secondary can make him hold the ball a second or two longer. Where I really like Ware is on the opposite side in dealing with rookie Lane Johnson who on tape has had his share of troubles in trying to handle those power rushers.
Our Weapon: Orlando Scandrick
What Monte Kiffin and this defensive staff has shown the that they are not afraid to match their best corners on the opponents best threats. The way that DeSean Jackson has been playing this season, the Cowboys will need to match him with a corner that can play with quickness and straight line speed, Scandrick is that guy.
Where the Eagles might work their way around this is try and keep Jackson out of the slot which is where Scandrick does the majority of his work but Kiffin is in much better shape corner wise, then he was the last time these two team met. Morris Claiborne should be back and active but Sterling Moore is also in the mix and that will help. I believe that Jackson is too quick for both Brandon Carr and that presents a big problem when you match him on the outside.
With Jackson, there is that fear that he can score from anywhere on the field and that is why you need to match him with a player that has the ability to function under that pressure. He has been the best player in the secondary for Monte Kiffin and this defense despite having a couple of games against the Bears and Packers where I didn’t feel like he was at his best.
Orlando Scandrick also has faced DeSean Jackson enough in his career to understand how he needs to play him and that is very important when you are trying to match a player with this much talent, because he goes all over the field.
Under Their Radar: Jeff Heath
This will be a critical game on a couple of different fronts for these Cowboys safeties, especially Jeff Heath. Monte Kiffin with Sean Lee out of the lineup, is once again going to have to bring Barry Church down to help in the running game on LeSean McCoy.
That means that we are going to see plenty of single high safety and that is going to fall in the lap of Heath as that deep defender. Where Heath is going to need to be at his best is with all these routes that also go down the field in helping these corners. The Eagles like to get their receivers down the field on the outside and work their tight ends inside.
I expect that Kiffin is going to try and match his secondary on these receivers, so that will mean plenty of man coverage and that is the way he should play them. The more you can be physical with them, the better chance you have the chance to survive. It is going to be important that Heath is able to play with his eyes but also anticipate where the ball is going to be.
In the pocket, Foles will try and move the secondary with ball fakes, so Heath has to really be careful that he doesn’t get thrown off by this. Heath will need to make sure that he is in the proper position in routes but also in the running game because there will be plays that the Eagles break with McCoy or Jackson and a stop needs to be made right there.
Our Nemesis: DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson currently leads the Eagles in receptions with 79 and is tied with LeSean McCoy in touchdown with nine. Jackson is a perfect fit in the Chip Kelly offense because how Kelly likes to use his personnel all over the field in different formations either getting the ball on the move or vertically down the field.
There have been some times this season where Kelly lines him up in the backfield and runs him on routes from there. What makes him so difficult to deal with is the speed and quickness in which he plays with. Jackson is one of those players that if you play off coverage on him, he is going to eat up your cushion in a hurry.
He is on you right now and if he is on you, he is by you. There have been days though where Jackson has been his own worst enemy with drops. As many times as I have seen him catch the ball on the move, there have been times where he has appeared to hear footsteps and drop ball of two that he should have made a play on.
I would not say that he has the most consistent hands and there are times where they have let him down. Jackson still is an unique talent that has rare ability. I expect Monte Kiffin’s answer to dealing with him in this game will be to walk Orlando Scandrick up on him and let him carry him all over the field.
Their Weapon: LeSean McCoy
Nervous as this Cowboys defense is about playing against DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy presents an even more difficult problem. This Chip Kelly offense is perfectly tailored to his running style. McCoy is one of those backs that can take simple plays and make them into huge gains. Did doesn’t matter if it is a hand off out of the read option or a screen pass in the flat, he is going to be hard to handle. He has the unique ability to make the first man miss, then get in the open field and make others miss.
He is an explosive runner that when he can turn his shoulders and go downhill, he can be tough to bring down. The best way to slow him down, is get him going sideways and not allow him to turned up the field.
Makes some violent cuts in the way he runs the ball. Can plant his foot in the ground and explode off it. Will take the ball off the read option, allowing the line to get into their blocks, then hitting it to the back side as the defense over runs the play.
Unique talent that has that ability to make you miss. Plays with outstanding hands, rare to see him drop a pass. Has a feel for how to work himself open, secure the catch and head up the field. Hard player to completely shut down.
Cowboys did a really nice job of getting off blocks the last time these two teams played and were able to get to McCoy before he was able to get going.
Under The Radar: Mychal Kendricks
The Eagles have several good, young players on their defensive roster, but one guy that really caught my eye was linebacker Mychal Kendricks. He was a 2nd round selection by the Eagles in 2012 and right now, he looks like a quality pick. The first thing you notice about him is how quick he plays. He is very active and is a difficult guy to block when he is on the move.
Looks like a nice scheme fit for this 3 – 4 defense because he can get away from blocks. Is physical short, but does play with some pop at the point of attack. Will be used on blitzes to attack the pocket. Can be a relentless guy when it comes to rushing the passer.
Does a really nice job of chasing the ball. Strong enough to play off blocks. Can be physical when he needs to be. Is a very good tackler in space. Hard guy to get away from when he has the ball carrier wrapped up. Can really close when he sees the ball, has a burst and some explosive traits.
Showed the ability to carry the back out of the backfield. Moves with ease and it able to stay in position while playing the route. Is one of those defensive players you have to be aware of and make sure you get a hat on him at all times.
KEY GAMEDAY MATCHUPS: Cowboys have to pressure Foles | Rookies in trenches
Cowboys C Travis Frederick vs. Eagles NT Bennie Logan
This will be an interesting matchup between two rookies that are both helping their teams with a high level of play.
Travis Frederick has been rock solid in the middle for the Cowboys since he was put in the lineup as a Day 1 starter. He has not always been perfect, but for a young guy to handle all the things that have been thrown his way speaks volumes for the type of player that he is.
He will be battling one of my favorite players from the 2013 NFL Draft in Bennie Logan. There have been plenty of questions about the lack of drafting defensive linemen on this team, and I have to admit I was surprised that Logan didn’t get more consideration from this scouting and coaching staff. LSU has put several defensive linemen in this league with some with mixed success, but in my view, Logan was different.
Where Frederick has improved over the season has been against the 3-4 nose men that play with power. Logan will be a strong test in this area for Frederick because he does play with power and can be difficult to handle on the move. Where Frederick is going to have to be at his best is when the ball is stretched to the edge, that he maintains his position throughout the block and not allow Logan to penetrate and be disruptive to the play.
Frederick must find ways to finish his blocks both run and pass.
Cowboys Defensive Line vs. Eagles Offensive Line
The last time these two clubs met in Philadelphia, I thought the game was won up front for the Cowboys with the amount of pressure that they were able to apply — not only in the passing game but how they were able to handle things in the running game.
For this squad to get a victory Sunday night, they are going to need that same kind of effort, and they’ll need to find ways to play on the Eagles’ side of the line of scrimmage. As bad as Nick Foles was in that game last time, it was the defensive line that caused him the issues.
Monte Kiffin and this defense need to attack this Eagles offensive line and make them have to scramble to sustain their blocks. To this point in time this season, that was the best game that they’ve played as a group when it came to getting off blocks and being where they needed to be with their responsibilities.
They are going to need that same kind of effort again on Sunday night. For the Eagles, it is real simple: they have to do a better job of not allowing this Cowboys defensive front control the game like they did last time out. The Eagles have some talented players on their offensive line and it is going to be a battle up front.
Jason Kelce, Evan Mathis, Jason Peters are quality players, with rookie Lane Johnson improving. Keep an eye on how this matchup progresses throughout the night because I believe this is where the game is going to be won or lost once again.
EAGLES @ COWBOYS GAMEDAY GUT CHECK: Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles | 2013-2014 NFL Game 16 regular season finale
IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys and Eagles … winner takes it all.
That’s where we are once again. The Dallas Cowboys are no strangers to this game, having faced the Giants and Redskins the last two years in Week 17 finales with the NFC East title on the line. We know how the Cowboys fared in those games but even without Tony Romo and Sean Lee, can the Cowboys turn the tide this year?
Here are the gut feelings for insiders Nick Eatman, David Helman and Rowan Kavner.
Helman: The one thing I’ve learned about the Dallas Cowboys this season is to expect the unexpected. I’ve seen too many crazy things to write this game off just because Tony Romo is missing. In fact, I think the Dallas offense is going to be just fine with Kyle Orton in charge. Orton’s going to throw three touchdowns and an interception, and if the Cowboys are smart they’ll lean on DeMarco Murray – who certainly has another 90-yard game in him. Unfortunately, it’s going to be the defense that sinks the upset bid. The Cowboys might slow down LeSean McCoy, or they might make life difficult for Nick Foles, but I don’t think they can do both without Sean Lee. Philadelphia is going to have 500 yards before it’s over, and they’ll clinch the division in a 42-28 win.
Kavner: There’s never been more question marks about this team, and it just so happens that it’s in Week 17 of a third straight win-or-go-home season finale to decide the NFC East. For that reason, it’s difficult to pick the Dallas Cowboys in this one with any confidence. It’s a shame Tony Romo doesn’t even have the chance to reverse his legacy after getting the Cowboys in with a game-winning drive, but this will be Kyle Orton’s ship to sail the rest of the way. There are worse options around the league that a team would have to turn to. The loss of Sean Lee, who was instrumental in the teams’ first matchup, can’t be stressed enough. I don’t believe anyone saying the Cowboys just have no shot, but they’ll need to find a pass rush if they’re to survive. I think Orton looks to Jason Witten a ton, DeMarco Murray goes over the 100-yard mark for the third time in four games and a Dallas safety gets a pick, but the Cowboys fall by a touchdown late.
Eatman: Glad the Romo news came out when it did, because my gut would’ve said something about Romo finding a way to play. All week I had a hunch he would at least try to play. So right there, I’ve already admitted my gut is a little off. Or, maybe I’m due to even it out. So Romo is out, Sean Lee is out. Those are your offensive and defensive quarterbacks. Ware didn’t practice, Dez has a back issue, too. Kyle Orton hasn’t started in two years and the Eagles just scored over 50 points on a team that whipped the Cowboys two weeks ago. So … give me Dallas in a wild, crazy game that makes no sense. I don’t have great logic here. But personally, come Monday morning, I don’t think the season will be over. I think there is still stuff for this team to do. I think the defense gets turnovers and finds a way to slow down the train. Jason Witten will be Kyle Orton’s best friend and catch 10 passes and DeMarco Murray, who didn’t play the first game with the Eagles, has another big-time performance. The Cowboys will win this game 38-34 and will face … San Francisco in the playoffs next week.
WORLDWIDE EXCLUSIVE: The Great Robbini’s predictions for Game #16 regular season finale | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Regular readers know that The Boys Are Back website features the ALMOST WORLD FAMOUS predictions from The GREAT Robbini. Our “exalted one” predicts the fate of America’s Team with unprecedented precision and accuracy from week-to-week. Kinda!
Last week, eerily donning his old Jon Kitna jersey and a handful of Doan’s back pills, The GREAT Robbini correctly predicted a Dallas Cowboys win over the NFC East division cellar dwelling Washington Redskins. It was a close game … full of dramatic Cowboy mystic on the back (literally) of Tony Romo grit and determination. That rematch was a must-win game and ended with a Romo last minute do-or-die drive! It set up this NFL flexed Sunday Night primetime showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Kelly green bunch from Philadelphia are full of confidence and strutting like the only cock in a packed hen house. Well, let’s just say … it’s yet to be determined just WHO will be circling WHO in this final battle! Dallas does have the philanthropic math teacher from Washington back on the roster, in case there is a true blue quarterbacking emergency!
Tonight, The GREAT Robbini has eagerly stroked his balls and envisions a complete Viking-like transformation behind the leadership of Kyle Orton, the X-Factor Dez Bryant, and Marinelli’s Misfits anchored by world-class sackmaster DeMarcus Ware. Let it be known, the aging Robbini is drawing on decades (maybe centuries) of crystal ball and leather ball waxing and rubbing. Do NOT take his predictions lightly! As you can see from his glaring-eyed, younger than Monte Kiffin’ish reflection above, he’s drawing on some serous vibes (and possibly indigestion or constipation issues)!
The GREAT ONE was able to shoot me an email with some astonishing sights and stats. His glossy ball emitted images of a very determined Jason Garrett lead Dallas Cowboys team and supportive home crowd sportin’ some Christmas and New Year playoff magic. Jerry Jones’ five dollar Miller Lite’s will help.
Obviously, he’s psyched about the Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles rematch with Chippy the Hippy… and ready to share his prognostications that we all count on from week-to-week. Without further delay, it’s time for The GREAT Robbini’s predictions …
The GREAT Robbini’s – 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys game #16 predictions:
The 2013 Dallas Cowboys become the unlikely division winner. If that isn’t enough don’t forget that the Cowboys now have the distinction of twice sweeping the division. Something no other team in the NFC East has ever pulled off.
Do you wanna know how they do it? Its quite simple.
Without Tony Romo, the tattered Dallas defensive unit comes in ready to play. Knowing they now have to force stops, make tackles, and take away balls. In a measure of self-preservation, the NFL’s worst ranked D steps up to the challenge.
In the absence of Tony Romo this offensive line goes into beast mode. For the sake of Romo (and the season) and in a showing for Kyle Orton and D Murray, these guys play precision football. Dez and Co. dedicate an All-Star showing to their fallen general by lighting an offensive fire before the home crowd’s eyes. Jason Garrett’s Dallas Cowboys rise up on Sunday night and make a statement.
These guys play as a team. They have to. The only shame is having to wait until now. That it had to come to this. With plenty of excuses, this team very well could’ve ended it 12-4 and clinched a birth weeks ago. Missing personnel, bad planning, and premature celebrations. We’ve seen it all. Well, on Sunday Night Football you’ll see something else. Something you can be proud of.
Predictions for the Texas 2 Defense …
- 2 takeaways
- 3 sacks on Foles
- Foles fumbles the ball
- 2 sacks Hatcher
- 1 sack Ware
- fumble recovery Church
- D gives up 310 in the air
- D gives up 110 on the ground
- Foles rushes for 20yds
Predictions for the offense …
- Orton 300 yds.
- Bryant Touchdown
- Beasley Touchdown
- Witten Touchdown
- Murray Touchdown
- Austin Touchdown
- Murray/Randall 155 all purpose yards
- Dez 150yards
- Witten 50yards
- Cowboys receive second half kick
The GREAT Robbini
Remember, you read it here! The Great Robbini predictions for game #16 regular season finale. Feel free to leave your final score or predictions in the comment section.
Stats and predictions to be confirmed by:
IRVING. Texas – The sun was shining brightly late morning on Friday, Dec. 27, out here at The Ranch.
But that menacing cloud seemingly hanging over the Dallas Cowboys’ heads since the start of training camp this 2013 season, similar to that ubiquitous dirt cloud over the head of Peanuts character Pig-Pen, still was there during this final regular-season workout.
No Tony Romo, done for sure following what seemingly was becoming inevitable back surgery all week long, performed sooner on Friday morning rather than later, like after the game if he could possibly play.
No Sean Lee, a sprained neck ligament doing him in, knowing he cannot take any chances until fully healed.
The two most important players for their respective units definitely out for what becomes the most important game of the season, Cowboys-Eagles, 7:30 p.m. Sunday at AT&T Stadium, the winner claiming the NFC East and the automatic playoff berth that comes along with it. The loser left to contemplate one too many losses over the course of the 16-game season – the Cowboys, in particular, having lost three of four one-point decisions, not to mention the three-pointer to Denver after scoring a 33-year-high 48 points way back in October, the most points ever scored in a loss.
Not only that, no DeMarcus Ware, having suffered a hyperextension on Thursday to the same elbow he hyper-extended last year, though he vows to play just the same after having an MRI.
And, even defensive line coach Rod Marinelli was hobbling around practice with the use of a crutch.
You’d have thought the Dallas Cowboys were preparing to cross the Delaware on Sunday instead of bumping into the Eagles (9-6), backs to the wall and staring down the common sense barrel of fate from the wrong end.
So there they were on Friday, the 8-7 Cowboys, quietly going through their pre-practice passing drills, the only voice heard over there on the field with the offense being that of head coach Jason Garrett during the skeleton passing drills, imploring them to keep the ball off the ground.
And in front of him, throwing the passes for the drill just three days before the next biggest game in a season seemingly loaded with big games were …
Kyle Orton, who has not started a game in the NFL since 2011 and has thrown only 15 passes this year, all during mop-up time, and …
Jon Kitna, who has not played a game of NFL football since that 2011 season himself, last throwing to his high school scout team back in Tacoma, Wash., this football season.
What a sight to see.
Now, you go win me a football game.
Talk about dabbling in next-man-up extreme.
Of course, the easy, most logical thing for the Dallas Cowboys to do going up against the Philadelphia Eagles, who have won six of their past seven games, is to feel sorry for themselves, just throw in the towel like most everyone else. Yet such logic has no room in a competitor’s mind.
There did not seem to be any towels strewn on the practice field Friday, nor wet ones dampening enthusiasm in the locker room afterward. The only inordinate sight was those blue T-shirts hanging in everyone’s locker after practice, inscribed with white lettering “Deep In The” and then, under the symbolic state of Texas white outline which included a Cowboys Star right in the middle, “Of Texas.”
The subliminal message being “Heart.”
Brother, the Cowboys will need all they have of this organ of fortitude.
“This is why we do it, starting a long time ago, to be in this opportunity,” says Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, never one to let down his guard, and especially not now with everything on the line.
The Eagles, well, see they’re doing some talking, right, running back LeSean McCoy runnin’ his NFL leading-rusher mouth, saying to the Philly fans on WIP, “Sunday night just relax. Turn on the channel, watch your Birds manhandle the Dallas Cowgirls. Let’s go. Merry Christmas,” another indication the Eagles are feeling full of themselves after putting that 54-11 beating on the Chicago Bears this past Sunday. Sort of like the Giants before them when facing a Cowboys team that had beaten them, too, the first time around.
The Cowboys, well, there is nothing wrong coming in with a little quiet humility, flying under the radar, with everyone else giving up on them now that Romo and Lee are definitely out of this game, combined with sporting the league’s 32nd-ranked defense and 31st-ranked pass defense.
But to me, out at practice Friday there seemed to be this quiet focus, understanding something big was about to take place; understanding they were without their general; understanding each and every one of them had to be at their best, no matter if it’s rookie DeVonte Holloman about to start only his second game at middle linebacker or Dwayne Harris returning after missing the past three games or Orton starting his first game for the Cowboys in the two years he’s been here or Morris Claiborne finally getting back on the field after a month’s injury absence or Kyle Wilber starting just his fifth NFL game at strong-side linebacker.
Hey, if Romo can play nearly a full half of football with a back in need of surgery five days later to win GMAC’s Never Say Never Moment of The Week Award, no excuses.
“Everyone just needs to do their jobs as well as they can do it,” Garrett says.
Now, of course, all of this is fine and dandy, but you have to be good enough to win, something the Cowboys were not the past two years they were in this same exact win-and-you’re-in predicament, losing in order to the Giants in 2011 to finish 8-8 and to the Redskins in 2012 to finish 8-8.
Although, this time there is something extremely different: The Cowboys are playing an NFC East opponent in the final game of the season that they have already beaten once this year – heck, they’ve won all five of their NFC East games this season – at home, at The AT&T.
With a friendly roof over their heads and what’s expected to be 90-some-thousand towel-waving, screaming fans surrounding them, likely popping some goose-flesh and maybe some Eagle eardrums – can you hear me now? – since those folks will have all day to get ready for the game, if you know what I mean.
A difference? Hmmm, got any other logical reason why the Eagles, winners of five straight, went under the dome in Minneapolis two weeks ago and got spanked, 48-30, by the now 4-10-1 Vikings who were playing with basically their third-string quarterback and third-string running back?
“We know how difficult it is to play on the road when the crowd is into it, and it’s loud,” Garrett pointed out, likely remembering the playoff loss at Minnesota following the 2009 season or being told of the playoff loss following the 1991 season to the Lions at the Silverdome just before he got here as a player.
Hey, it’s the NFL, right? The Nothing Furshur League, and this is a playoff game, no? This is it.
Now common sense suggests the Dallas Cowboys have no chance in this game, and that is OK for you or even me to believe. But for this team, these players who somehow have muddled through this season of heartbreak, injury and resurgence, showing uncommon resiliency all season long, to stand 8-7 with a shot at the division title, they must keep the faith, gotta believe as former Cowboys safety Charlie Waters once told Cowboys long-time radio voice Brad Sham during the broadcast – Charlie was out with a broken leg – when the Cowboys trailed the Redskins 34-21 in the final minutes of the final game of the season, the Cowboys needing to win – they did in the final seconds – to claim the East title over Washington.
There is this line from the movie Miracle On 34th Street. You know, the one about the guy who believed with all his might he was Santa Claus: Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to.
Well, who is to say a national TV audience won’t be witness to The Miracle on Randol Mill?
IRVING, Texas – Dez Bryant’s going to play tomorrow night.
That was his message as the receiver, who was limited two days in practice this week and missed another day with a back injury, stood in front of his locker room and discussed how the team has to play for injured quarterback Tony Romo.
“Look how I’m standing,” Bryant said, as he stood straight up at his locker. “That should tell you enough. I’m ready to go. I’m good. I’m ready.”
For the first time this season, Bryant will be hauling in passes from a quarterback not named Romo. Bryant said everyone else has to step their game up more with Romo out.
“This is for everything,” Bryant said. “We’ve got to go out there and fight. We’re going to go out, lay it all out on the line and get this ‘W’ for Tony.”
Bryant said coach Jason Garrett’s rule is the next man up has to step up, and he’s confident the Dallas Cowboys will rally around Kyle Orton and do their best to get a victory and get into the playoffs, but he added that he feels for Romo, who’s his guy right now and will always be his guy.
“I want him to hurry up and get well, hope he has a speedy recovery, which I know he is,” Bryant said. “I’m going to try to get this W for him.”
Orton and the players around him have all expressed their confidence in his ability to get the job done. Bryant said he’s comfortable with Orton at quarterback and it shouldn’t be a huge issue.
With Bryant’s back, Sean Lee’s neck, Ernie Sims’ groin, DeMarcus Ware’s various injuries and a number of hamstring problems throughout the team, the Cowboys once again find themselves in a tough spot health-wise for their season finale.
Bryant said of course he’d like to be going into this one full strength, but this situation’s a reality the group has to accept and move on from.
“It’s something we have to deal with,” he said. “Just get in that treatment room and get better and come back on Sunday and get ready to play.”
COWBOYS AT&T STADIUM GAMEDAY EXPERIENCE: Dallas Cowboys hope to capture division title vs. Philadelphia Eagles in final home game of 2013-2014 season
WHAT: Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) at Dallas Cowboys (8-7)
WHEN: Sunday, 7:30 p.m. (CST)
WHERE: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
TELEVISION: NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya)
If you’re planning to attend Sunday’s game, here are some other things to look for before, during and after the game.
Did You Know:
The roof and the doors are expected to be closed for this game. Please note that this can change up to 90 minutes prior to kickoff.
The key times for Sunday’s game include:
Parking Lots open at 1 p.m.
Plazas open at 4:30 p.m.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
To create an intimidating atmosphere for the game, rally towels will be placed on every seat in the stadium.
Pregame ceremonies will be held to commemorate the following awards: High School Coach of the Year, Community Quarterback Award and Bob Lilly Award.
There will also be a commemoration of the United Way’s 40th anniversary in Dallas-Fort Worth.
On the Plazas
Other forms of entertainment will abound at AT&T Stadium on Sunday.
Dallas-area rapper Dorrough will perform on the East Plaza from 6:35 p.m. until 6:55 p.m.
East Texas country band Westbound 21 will perform on the West Plaza from 6:30 p.m. until 7 p.m.
Starting at 4 p.m., Randy Lann, the Official Grill Master of the Dallas Cowboys, and Joe Cahn, the Commissioner of Tailgating, will be heading out into the parking lots with the Tailgate Nation crew. Find out where they’re at by following @CowboysTGN on Twitter or liking them on Facebook at Dallas Cowboys Tailgate Nation for updates.
Rhythm & Blues Dance Team, Rhythm & Blues Drum Line and Rhythm & Blues Break Boys will each perform on both East & West plaza before the game.
There will also be a free Kids Zone, complete with mechanical bull, rock climbing wall and zip line. There will also be NFL Play 60 games, face painting and balloon animals.
There will also be giveaways like official game-used merchandise, CD’s, and much more on each stage in the plazas for games like Karaoke Contest, Ladder Golf, Bag Toss and Dance Contest
There will also be Plaza food and beverage discounts: $2 12oz. soda & bottled water; $5 12oz. Miller beer, as well as discounted hot dogs, burgers and sausages.
Trumpeter Freddie Jones will once again perform the national anthem Sunday, as he is scheduled to do for every home game this fall. Jones’ instrumental anthem was wildly popular at the Cowboys’ season opener.
The night’s halftime entertainment will be a show by the Kilgore Rangerettes.
The Cowboys will honor their 2014 Pro Bowl selections with a video during the game.
Looking For 20
All season long, Cowboys fans attending home games will be hoping for at least 20 points. This year, Papa John’s has partnered with the Cowboys for the ultimate fan promotion. Any game in which the Cowboys get at least 20 points, all fans in attendance will get 50 percent off their entire order the following day at papajohns.com with promo code COWBOYS20. Offer valid for regular-priced menu items and only at participating stores.
New Bag Policy
Fans are reminded to remember the NFL’s new bag policy which will be in effect Sunday night and at every Cowboys home game.
Only hand-held purses will be allowed into the stadium, along with clear plastic tote bags that do not exceed 12”x6”x12” inches.
Items such as backpacks, coolers, large purses, camera bags, diaper bags, fanny packs and seat cushions are not allowed into the stadium under the new NFL safety rules.
Traffic and Parking
Fans are recommended to use the Dallas Cowboys interactive parking site for all travels to AT&T Stadium. This website provides the best route from point of origin to the pre-purchased or selected cash parking lot.
The I-30 HOV lane is being converted to a managed toll lane. As a result, HOV lanes from west of downtown Dallas to the Tarrant County line will not be available. However, you can access the HOV lane that serves the left exit to Legends/AT&T Way, as it will continue to be open for in-bound and out-bound needs.
Lamar Avenue in Arlington is under construction and has been reduced to one lane from Collins to Ballpark Way.
Tailgating is permitted in designated tailgating spaces located along the perimeter of each of the AT&T Stadium and Rangers parking lots. The spaces are available on a first come, first served basis.
There will be no early admittance into parking lots.
Parking privileges can be revoked at any time for failure to follow parking guidelines.
With quarterback Tony Romo sidelined with a back injury and backup Kyle Orton set to start in his place, there is no question the Dallas Cowboys will lean heavily on the running game in Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Running back DeMarco Murray, who is in the midst of the best stretch in what has already been the best season of his career, said he is ready and willing to carry a bigger load.
“If they do, then great,” Murray said. “If they don’t, then so be it. I’m preparing like I do any other week. I’m working hard, making sure I know my assignments and knowing my keys and things of that nature, so I’ll be ready.”
Murray has 1,073 yards in 13 games, becoming the first Dallas Cowboys running back to top 1,000-yard mark since 2006.
He has rushed for 376 yards the past three games combined, averaging a whopping 6.4 yards carry during those contests.
“We’ve been really jelling together,” Murray said. “I think the offensive line, they’re doing a great job of blocking and I’m doing a great job of running and making guys miss …. Since I’ve been here this is the best [it’s been].”
Coach Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan are both on record saying they are not going to change up the offense much with Orton at helm. But both acknowledge that balance is important and being successful on the ground would be a great help to a new quarterback, especially one with only five pass attempts this season and just 15 the past two seasons combined.
Again Murray said he is ready for whatever. His only goal is a successful game plan to win the game and reach the playoffs.
“I just want to win, run the ball or not,” Murray said. “I just want to win the game.”
LANDOVER, Md. – There wouldn’t be any excessive dancing and celebrating from quarterback Tony Romo after his game-winning touchdown pass, given how he looked physically at the time.
Romo, who gingerly jogged back to the Dallas Cowboys sideline after a brief moment of jubilation following the successful fourth-down pass to DeMarco Murray, had been fighting through a back injury throughout the final quarter.
“I tweaked it in the game,” Romo said. “For whatever reason, just the twist or whatever that was, definitely just made it not feel comfortable.”
Romo’s back wasn’t 100 percent entering the game, but he said he didn’t feel like it was going to be a major problem going in.
The injury was noticeable and looked more like a leg problem than a back injury, as he limped around following one of his patented spin moves to evade a sack. It appeared his back injury was at its worst after he made the move, threw an 8-yard pass to Miles Austin and converted a crucial third down in the fourth quarter.
Romo said he took a hit earlier in the game that first triggered the back pain, and then late in the game had that play which aggravated it worse.
“I felt it after that play the rest of the game,” Romo said. “You just play through it just like anything – it’s football.”
Even simple handoffs to DeMarco Murray looked painful as the quarterback struggled to meet the running back in the backfield. Romo said it didn’t feel comfortable, but the bright side is the pain is in a different spot than the back problems he had last year.
Head coach Jason Garrett said it looked as if Romo got leg-whipped or kicked somehow.
“He certainly was hobbling around a little bit and you just suck it up, pull your sock up, spit on it and keep going,” Garrett said.
Romo didn’t leave the game. In fact, the quarterback played better than he had all game after the injury, as the Cowboys put up 10 points in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys scored just seven points in each of the first two quarters and went scoreless in the third quarter.
Though the pain was noticeable, Romo was still able to maneuver around the pocket and buy enough time for Murray to get open along the sideline on the game-winning touchdown pass.
“We knew Tony was hurt, but he got right back in there the next play,” said Dez Bryant. “He never went over there to the trainers or anything. He knew how important that drive was and we went down there, executed and scored.”
Owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Romo’s getting “special treatment” for the back, and it won’t keep him from playing going forward.
“We think it’ll be OK, but it was a tightening – it wasn’t a contusion,” Jones said. “It was a little tight, but they’re working on him and we’ll work on that all week. He really had a little of it in practice, to give you an idea, this past week – just a little tightness.”
DALLAS COWBOYS SCHEDULE UPDATE: NFL flexes Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys to SNF for NFC East title game
The Dallas Cowboys are headed back to “Sunday Night Football” for another win-and-in Week 17 showdown.
The NFL announced Sunday night that the game between Dallas and the Philadelphia Eagles to decide the NFC East title was flexed into prime time. This is the third consecutive season that the Cowboys have played in the Sunday night regular-season finale, and this will be their third different divisional opponent. The host Cowboys are looking for their first division title since 2009.
The Eagles and Cowboys played in a similar do-or-die game to make the playoffs in 2008, with Philadelphia coming out on top.
The league also announced that both the Buffalo Bills-New England Patriots matchup and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers-New Orleans Saints game were moved to 4:25 p.m. ET. The NFL tries to ensure there are no competitive advantages based on time of game in Week 17, and thus, attempts to create a situation where every team has something at stake.
The Patriots game’s change means that the Denver Broncos can’t clinch home-field advantage in the AFC until they face the Oakland Raiders in the late afternoon. The final NFC playoff wild-card spot also will not be decided until the 4:25 p.m. ET games end.
As a result of the Bears’ loss to the Eagles on Sunday, Chicago’s Week 17 game against the Green Bay Packers will also move to 4:25 p.m. ET. The Bears-Packers clash will decide the NFC North.
No division titles have been clinched in the NFC.
COWBOYS REDSKINS GAME 15 RECAP: Dallas Cowboys come from behind win full of surprises | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins
What surprised you most on the final offensive drive?
I watched it from field level and I am looking forward to catching it on tape as we head home, but just the confidence that Tony Romo continued to show in Terrance Williams surprised me most. Give both Williams and Romo a great deal of credit. There was no doubt that the Redskins were not going to allow Dez Bryant or Jason Witten to beat them in that situation, so working the ball in the direction of Williams was the smart play throughout the drive.
Even if Romo would have gone in the direction of Cole Beasley, I would have expected it. What was even more amazing about it was how poised Williams was in the way he ran his routes, which allowed Romo to find him. It would have been very easy for Williams to allow the moment to be too big and be lazy or not committed to what he needed to do on the drive. He executed well and he rewarded his quarterback with some big time plays.
By the coaches playing Williams early in the season and giving him responsibility, it made him ready for this type of moment. It was nice to see that Romo trusted him as well.
How much does DeMarco Murray mean to this offense?
You have heard me say this a bunch: When you have a running back that is a complete player, you have a chance in this league to move the ball with success.
Murray has played this season with a chip on his shoulder. There were those that doubted his ability, whether he could be a difference-maker as a running back, and that he was too injury prone to have any long-term success. What Murray did today was nothing short of amazing. Other than the run on the final drive where he made the mental mistake and loss nine yards on the carry, he ran the ball with toughness and determination.
He stood tall in the pocket on blitz pickup and refused to give an inch, but he also was once again outstanding in having the awareness to find space underneath in routes. From my angle on the sideline, I wasn’t sure that Romo saw him, but he was able to get him the ball. What was impressive about the catch was Murray’s ability to secure the ball and then keep his balance in order to fight his way into the end zone.
There are plenty of important players on this team, but if you don’t think DeMarco Murray is one of them, you really are not in tune with the game.
How confident were you that the defense could get one final stop?
This defense has had its share of problems this season. They have struggled with pressure, they don’t always play the run well enough, and when it comes to handling a receiver on third down to get off the field, they are far from perfect.
But give Monte Kiffin and this defense a ton of credit on the final two Redskins drives. It was evident that Washington was interested in trying to protect a lead and was committed to trying to do just that. Although offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan slammed Alfred Morris into the line time and time again, the defense did not allow the Redskins to get in a manageable third-down situation and despite a pass to Aldrick Robinson, they were able to bow their necks and make a stop with Orlando Scandrick playing against Pierre Garcon in the middle of the field, forcing a punt.
When the Redskins took the ball over on their final drive, the Cowboys defense went in lockdown mode. The coverage from field level was airtight and it was difficult for any of the Washington receivers to find any space. Scandrick, Sterling Moore, Brandon Carr, Jeff Heath and Barry Church were at their best when this defense needed them the most.
I kept my eyes down the field and I never witnessed the open receivers that at times we had seen earlier in the game. The coverage and pressure made Kirk Cousins look like the young, inexperienced quarterback that he was. With their season on the line, this Cowboys defense did something I am sure none of us believed they could do – made two stops and gave this squad a shot to play for a division title next week.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Dallas Cowboys Analyst/Former Scout
LANDOVER, Md. – Three Dallas Cowboys writers share their initial feelings of the Dallas Cowboys dramatic comeback win over the Washington Redskins.
Helman: I’m running out of ways to express how I can’t explain what I just saw. For what feels like the 12th time in 15 games, the Dallas Cowboys took it to the wire in an exasperating, exhilarating finish. It’s hard to know who to focus on between DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo, Terrance Williams or the defense. But they all combined to keep the season alive. You could probably argue it shouldn’t have come down to such an insane situation. But with this team, that’s just the way it’s going to be. The roller coaster continues at least one more week.
Kavner: This was vintage Dallas Cowboys. Expect the unexpected with this group, which never makes anything easy. That’s both positive and negative, as the consistent inconsistency always makes for dramatic finishes. That’s a reason many fans become apathetic watching them, because they can’t take the emotional back and forth that’s sure to occur week in and week out. The Cowboys found a way to pull through and keep everyone on that rollercoaster yet another week. It wouldn’t happen any other way with this team, setting up yet another Week 17 showdown for the division. They’ll need to diverge from the past if the third time’s a charm and they finally pull off the NFC East title coming off as big a win as the team’s had since Jason Garrett’s tenure began, complete with an ironic finish on a passing touchdown to the guy everyone clamored to run the ball more often. Expect another nail-biter in yet another win or go home game. It can’t happen any other way.
Eatman: I really didn’t see them getting out of this place with a win and there were countless times when that appeared to hold true. But this team wouldn’t die and they deserve credit for that. Nothing was pretty except the final score. I applaud this defense for gutting it out like they did in the second half. And what else can you say about Romo? Every time he’s counted out he bounces back. He drives fans crazy but that’s who he is. The only thing I really got right about the initial gut was the season wouldn’t be over today and it’s not. Crazy game with twists and turns but more importantly, they’re still alive and will probably be favored to make the playoffs.
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COWBOYS REDSKINS GAMEDAY GUT CHECK: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins | 2013-2014 NFL Game 15