NFC BEAST OF THE EAST: Review of the Dallas Cowboys division at the halfway point in the 2013-2014 NFL season (Special Feature)
The focus of this article is on the NFC East as a whole. Outside of the enormous popularity of the Dallas Cowboys, the division features some pretty prominent, popular franchises in their own right – and there’s the undeniable truth that all three are in the way of a Dallas Cowboys playoff berth.
NFC East: Analyzing The Importance Of November
It’s not October anymore. When the ball kicks off this Sunday for our three fair NFC East contestants, we’ll be into the second half of the season. The temperatures are starting to drop, and the games that determine the playoff picture are about to begin.
With that in mind, lets take a look at a stat that Dallas Cowboys fans should be well-familiar with by now, considering it’s one of Tony Romo’s most impressive numbers. As it’s been documented, since he took over starting duties for the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 29, 2006, Romo has a staggering 21-4 record in the month of November.
That’s a statistic the Cowboys would desperately love to keep in line with. Dallas has four games sandwiched around a bye week this month – Minnesota tomorrow, at New Orleans in a week, at New York after the bye and home for Thanksgiving against Oakland.
That’s a combined record of 12-17, with the Saints comprising 50 percent of that win total. Take the current NFC No. 2 seed out of the equation, and the other three opponents are just 6-16. With outdoor road trips to Chicago and Washington, not to mention a home date against Green Bay, looming in December, a winning mark in November would be huge for Romo and Co.
It’s even more important when you look at the upcoming slates for the rest of the division.
The Redskins, captained by Robert Griffin III, actually begin their six-game win streak and eventual march to the playoffs in November last year. They’re going to need him to improve on his 2-1 November mark to remain in the hunt, as they host the white-hot Philip Rivers this weekend before making back-to-back road trips to Minnesota and Philly, and then finishing the month off with a Monday night game against San Francisco.
Philadelphia has the last bye week in the league, with the final weekend of November the goal for a much-needed rest. In the meantime, they also have back-to-back road trips, to Oakland and Green Bay, before facing the Redskins at home. Nick Foles is winless in November, with an 0-2 mark. The Eagles would love to have Michael Vick back – though his career November record of 12-12-1 is hardly awe-inspiring.
Expect the upcoming month to sink both Washington and Philadelphia’s playoff hopes. Ironically enough, however, this 11th month of the year just may give a fighting chance to the once-buried Giants.
The much-needed bye week falls on the Giants this weekend. After a reprieve and a chance to get some guys healthy, they don’t have to leave the confines of MetLife Stadium until Dec. 1. During the three-game homestand, they’ll host the Raiders, Packers and Cowboys.
Despite the Giants’ run of postseason success, Eli Manning’s November record sits at just 13-19. In fact, New York is just 2-6 in November since 2011.
Does any of that mean anything? It’s hard to say for sure. It’s hard for some to take Romo’s winning ways in November too seriously when he hasn’t guided a team to the playoffs since 2009.
We didn’t decide much in this division in the first eight weeks – other than the fact that there isn’t a dominant team among the four.
Whoever manages the best over the next four or five weeks may find themselves in an enviable position when December starts.
NFC East: Burning Questions At The Halfway Point
Can we just chuck the first half of the season out the window? Is there a fan base in the NFC East that would really mind?
The array of mediocre traverses the entire spectrum among the NFL’s most volatile division. This is a group that’s had four different champions in the past four years, and it’s certainly playing up that moniker of parity.
Division leader Dallas has four wins – just two games ahead of cellar-dweller New York at the halfway point of the season. What’s the worst predicament?
Cowboys fans will tell you they should probably be 6-2, but you could make an easy argument the team has come painstakingly close to winning all eight games – refer yourself to the total margin of defeat of 14 points.
The Giants, continual contenders in the NFC with two Super Bowls in the last six seasons, plummeted to an 0-6 start – their worst such start to a season in 37 years. The division’s middling middle, Philadelphia and Washington, will go the way of their dynamic but injury-riddled quarterbacks.
It has all combined to give the NFC East the worst win total among the NFL’s eight divisions – 11-20. That’s one win more than the AFC South, which boasts a 10-19 mark thanks to hapless Jacksonville, but it’s also one more loss.
Go figure, the league’s western half – the AFC and NFC West, which boast four of the best teams in football in Denver, Kansas City, San Francisco and Seattle – are running away with collective records of 22-8 and 20-12, respectively.
In those divisions, and in several others, things are beginning to settle. We have a good idea of what’s going to happen in four or five of the league’s divisions.
But that’s not so in the NFC East, where the first half of the season hasn’t determined much other than that all four teams are equally flawed.
So what storylines are going to dictate the stretch run and the eventual division champion?
Dallas Cowboys: How well can they weather the injuries?
It sounds like a copout, because there’s a lot to be said about the shakiness of the Dallas offense, not to mention late-game decisions in all four Cowboys losses.
But as of Monday, they have lost starting right guard Brian Waters, likely for the year. Starting cornerback Morris Claiborne is also out for at least a handful of games with a bad hamstring. Starting safety Barry Church may also be iffy with a hamstring.
Don’t forget to factor those injuries in with the prior ones suffered by starters DeMarco Murray, DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin and J.J. Wilcox. All four players are expected back soon, but as of yet, we don’t know for sure when that will happen.
Don’t count on many teams stringing together wins with as many as six or seven starters missing from the lineup. The Dallas Cowboys need the bye week to get here, and quickly.
Philadelphia Eagles: What is Michael Vick’s status for the last eight games?
Michael Vick tried to give it a go on his injured hamstring last week against New York. It didn’t work out quite as well as he’d hoped – he completed 6-of-9 passes for 30 yards and a pick before exiting prior to halftime.
It doesn’t look likely he’ll be ready for this weekend’s trip to Oakland, and that’s a problem for the Philadelphia offense. Yes, the Eagles romped over winless Tampa Bay with Nick Foles at the helm. But it’s becoming increasingly more evident that as Vick goes, so goes the Philly attack.
In the four full games that Vick played before injuring the hamstring in the first game against the Giants, the Philadelphia offense was averaging 458 yards per game. In the three games since the injury, the average has plummeted to 300 yards per game.
Yes, the Eagles’ defense is atrocious, and it has cost them opportunities at a better record. But Chip Kelly’s offense has not hummed without his starting quarterback behind center. With a bad defense, they’ll need a strong offense to earn wins.
They need Vick.
Washington Redskins: Can RG3 rediscover his mojo?
It’s a pretty similar situation in D.C. as it is in Philly. The Redskins are an average team with a bad defense. They need a strong performance from their leader and pace-setter of a quarterback if they’re going to match last season’s division championship.
It seemed like Griffin had turned a corner after a slow start to 2013. He threw for a combined 544 yards in Weeks 6 and 7, and he led the Redskins to a last-minute victory against Chicago.
More notably in that, he rushed for a combined 181 yards in those two games after totaling just 72 yards on the ground in the first month of the season. He was beginning to look comfortable using both of his skillsets.
That all derailed in Sunday’s blowout loss to Denver. Griffin managed just seven rushing yards on five attempts, and he completed 50 percent of his passes for just 132 yards. He left the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent knee injury, though he has since been declared OK.
The fact of the matter is that Griffin is slumping across the board in his sophomore season. His completion percentage after seven games is at just 59 percent. He’s actually on pace to throw for 1,000 more yards than his 3,200 yards last season, but he already has eight interceptions in seven games, where he threw just five picks his entire rookie campaign.
The running issues are well-documented. Griffin is averaging roughly 34 yards on the ground to this point, and he hasn’t found the end zone as a runner yet.
These are the pressures that go with being a No. 2 pick. The Redskins need to win at least six of the last nine games, and they won’t do it unless Griffin’s play improves.
New York Giants: Can the lines continue to improve?
Sunday’s win against Philadelphia was not pretty, but it saw two significant improvements for the New York Giants.
Firstly, the offensive line won the day. The Giants weren’t great running the ball, with just 88 total yards, but they outrushed an Eagles rushing attack that has been tops in the league for most of the year. It also gave Eli Manning time to the make decisions, which allowed him to put together his second-straight interception-free game.
The Giants are 2-0 in games where Manning hasn’t thrown a pick. In their previous six, all losses, he threw 15 balls to the other team.
Secondly, the Giants’ defense managed four sacks against the Eagles after notching six combined sacks in the seven previous games. It’s a long way to go before anyone believes New York has re-discovered its pass rushing reputation, but it’s a start.
No team has ever started 0-6 and reached the playoffs. But in this division, the Giants now just sit two games out of first. If they can keep people away from their quarterback, and keep finding ways to reach opposing quarterbacks, they have a chance.
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WHAT: Minnesota Vikings (1-6) at Dallas Cowboys (4-4) WHEN: Sunday, Noon (CST)
WHERE: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas TELEVISION: Fox
The Dallas Cowboys fifth home game of the 2013 season will feature the reigning NFL MVP in Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson.
While the Cowboys will be looking to get back over .500 with a win tomorrow, there will be several festivities taking place long before the kickoff, which is scheduled for Noon. (Don’t forget to set the clocks back for Daylight Savings).
Here are some things to look for:
New Style Lounge
This Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys are hosting the NFL’s style lounge on the Ackermann platform near the escalators on the 400 level. This pop-up store will feature a variety of fashion and accessories, targeted the female football fan.
This year’s lounge is sponsored by Covergirl, who will provide complimentary fanicures, featuring team-nail art.
Other items at the lounge include a wide range of products such as hand bags, glitzed-out watches and affordable vintage style t-shirts and chic jewelry.
Did You Know:
- The roof and the doors are expected to be open for this game. Please note that this can change up to 90 minutes prior to kickoff.
- Dr Pepper is pleased to provide Dallas Cowboys Bandanas to the first 50,000 fans to the game.
- Dallas Cowboys Alumni will be signing autographs in the club areas one hour prior to kickoff.
- Main Club Home : Preston Pearson
- Main Club Visitors : Walt Garrison
- Silver Club Home : Pettis Norman
- Silver Club Visitors : John Gesek
On the Plazas
Other forms of entertainment will abound at Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium on Sunday.
- On the West Plaza around 11: 25 a.m., the Cowboys are giving away a free Harley Davidson motorcycle to one fan. Three lucky contestants will get the keys, but only one will get to drive away with their new ride.
- Also on the West Plaza at 11 a.m., the Air Force will conduct an enlistment ceremony.
- Former tight end Billy Joe DuPree will be the featured guest for the alumni interview.
- The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders will split their squad in half for pregame performances on both the East and West Plazas at 10:35 a.m.
- 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 discounts1: $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 Dallas Cowboys’ season opener.
- During the anthem, a full-field American flag will be presented by the US Army 470th Military Intelligence Brigade, ROTC cadets and personnel from the Wounded Warrior Project.
- Sunday’s halftime show will feature a Dr. Pepper Tuition Toss, where two lucky fans have a chance to win a $10,000 scholarship. And in honor of Military Night, Dr. Pepper will match this donation for two military representatives as well.
Looking For 20
All season long, Dallas 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 at every Cowboys home game this season.
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 & Parking:
- It’s recommended to use the Dallas Cowboys interactive parking site for all travels to AT&T Stadium. This website provides the best routes from point of origin to the pre-purchased or selected cash parking lot.
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys are 4-4, halfway to their regular-season record of the past two years. With the Saints coming up next week, this matchup with the Vikings seems crucial for the Cowboys to get back over .500.
Here are the gut feelings for beat writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, David Helman, and Rowan Kavner.
A home game against a 1-6 squad with a struggling defense and no clear answer at quarterback. Basically, this is the easiest game remaining on the Dallas Cowboys’ schedule, in my humble opinion. It’s not must-win in an immediate, win-or-go-home sense, but they certainly can’t afford to drop a game to a team that will be in contention for the top pick in the draft. And I don’t think they will. The Cowboys have been excellent at starting well this season, and I think they’ll have 10 or 14 points by the end of the first quarter. An early deficit will make it hard for Minnesota to pound the rock with Adrian Peterson, and it should lead to more pass attempts. Pass attempts mean interceptions. I think the Cowboys get two, with one of them coming from Jeff Heath. It’s not going to be a high-flying beatdown, but I think Dallas works its way to an efficient, one-sided, 27-13 win.
The Dallas Cowboys should win this one. It’s the first and last time I’ll say that this year, given the rest of games on their schedule. I don’t call it a “must-win” like some games have been labeled before. They just should win it against a one-win team that doesn’t know their starting quarterback on any given week and boasts a struggling defense. The Cowboys’ defensive injuries could make this interesting, though. I think after a couple down weeks, Jason Witten finds the end zone, as does Terrance Williams to give the rookie five straight scoring games. DeMarco Murray also adds another, while either B.W. Webb or Micah Pellerin picks off a pass en route to a two-score win.
This is one of the games where we won’t really find out if the Dallas Cowboys can be contenders. But we’ll find out for sure if they aren’t. If they lose to the Vikings or even play down to their level, it won’t be a good sign, considering they’ve got some tough games coming up. I see this one playing out like the Rams game a few weeks ago. The Cowboys are that much better and they’ll show it. I see a big day from Jason Witten, who hasn’t done much in recent weeks. I don’t see Terrance Williams extending his streak of touchdown grabs, but he’ll play well. I do see the Cowboys out-rushing the Vikings, but in a collective effort. And Brandon Carr bounces back this week with at least one interception, but I’m thinking he might get two. I’m seeing a 17-point win by the Cowboys at least.
When you team is 1 – 6, not much is going right for you but if there is a bright spot on this Vikings defense, it is the play of Jared Allen. No matter what the score or situation, Allen is going to give you everything he has. He is a relentless player in every sense of the word and there is no quit to his game . Tyron Smith was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys to play against guys like Allen and keep them from being that disruptive player. Despite what happened with the holding call last week against the Lions, Smith has brought his “A” game each week. He has been consistent with his technique and finish which has allowed him to be rock solid on that left side. My gut tells me that Tyron Smith finds a way to pitch a shutout in his matchup with Jared Allen this Sunday.
NFL Films Preview: Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys (2:01)
NFL Films previews the 2013-2014 week 9 matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the Dallas Cowboys. (Watch Video | No Audio)
COWBOYS VS. VIKINGS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson still after Emmitt Smith’s NFL record
Adrian Peterson is on Emmitt Smith’s pace. Peterson has 9,420 yards seven games into his seventh season. Smith had 9,488 to this point.
But Peterson would have to play five-plus seasons after this one, averaging the 1,475 he has averaged per season in his career, to break Smith’s all-time rushing record of 18,355.
Peterson, a Palestine and Oklahoma product, thinks it’ll be sooner than that. He predicted last summer that he would become the NFL’s all-time leading rusher in Week 16 of 2017.
He stuck by that prediction in the conference call with Dallas media today.
“I definitely have to keep my game up to par.. and that record can be broken,” Peterson said. “But I’m not focusing on that. I set goals, and I just go out and play and if happens, it happens and if doesn’t, it doesn’t. I don’t harp on it.”
Peterson, 28, nearly set the single-season rushing record last season with 2,097 yards. He is behind that pace this year with 571 yards.
“Coming off last year, MVP, 2,000 yards, guys are coming in to stop the run, and this is how they’ve always played the Vikings for the past seven years — come in and stop the run,” Peterson said, “definitely with a more emphasis on it now. So you’re going to have those. Then again, you’re going to have the opportunity to break the long one, too. I just take them when it comes.”
Here’s the math:
He would need to rack up 8,936 yards over the next 73 games to break Smith’s record. That comes to an average of 122.4 yards a game. Peterson currently averages 98.1 yards a game for his career.
Know The Enemy: Adrian Peterson (3:12)
Film break down on Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. (Watch Video)
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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Dallas Cowboys Postgame Show
Dallas Cowboys Radio Network
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WHEELS DOWN IN MOTOWN: Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions Pregame Preview Primer | Pregame Scouting Report
Dallas Cowboys On The Road – Pregame Preview (3:03)
|Dallas Cowboys||Detroit Lions|
Their Nemesis: DeMarcus Ware
Last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, DeMarcus Ware sat out of the game with a quad injury, which was the first time he had missed a game in his career. Management may opt to hold him out one more week. If he’s not ready to go, Kyle Wilber will step into the spotlight, along with Jason Vega.
In five games against the Lions during his career, Ware has notched 64 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 3 tackles for loss. He will be battling Riley Reiff, who is in his second season as the starter at left tackle. Reiff is the type of tackle who Ware tends to have his most success against.
Reiff is not a powerful setter and tends to catch blocks, which allows the defender to get some push on him. Against the Rams, Jake Long set soft and Ware had a field day with him. Reiff is very athletic, which will help him against Ware when he tries to take him wide around the edge. But like we saw with Long, Ware can hit him with a straight bull rush, then play off that. If Reiff feels like he is going to have to deal with power all day, it should help him in other areas of the game.
Our Nemesis: Calvin Johnson
On Sunday, two of the best receivers in professional football will be on the field when the Lions face the Cowboys. As tough as this matchup will be for the Lions to have to cover Dez Bryant, the Cowboys are going to have their own issues dealing with Calvin Johnson.
Both these receivers are so similar in the way they play, you could put Bryant in a Lions uniform and Johnson in a Cowboys uniform and you would not be able to tell the difference. Johnson is as dynamic as it comes for a receiver. He can run his routes anywhere and at any level to find a way to get open. He can separate with his stride, and, no matter where the ball is thrown, he will find a way to make a catch.
He is a powerful player who plays well in the air. Any opportunity to catch a jump ball, it is his. The Lions can line him up either on the outside or in the slot, and he is productive. The closer he gets to the goal line, the more physical he gets. He likes to use his hands to push and shove to by space, and he will not just run fade routes in the red zone — you will see him run the slant as well. He’s one of those receivers that just keeps coming after you down-after-down.
Our Weapon: Dez Bryant
These Lions corners have had to deal with some outstanding receivers this season: Larry Fitzgerald, Pierre Garcon, Brandon Marshall and A.J. Green. They practice every day against Calvin Johnson, which is a chore in itself, but Dez Bryant will present a different set of challenges for them.
Unless you have lined up and faced Bryant, he is a different cat. Of the two starting cornerbacks for the Lions, I thought that Chris Houston was the better of the two. If Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan decide they want to attack one side of the field, Rashean Mathis is that guy. Mathis does have quickness to run with anyone that he faces, but he is not the most physical of cover guys.
Opponents have had success attacking him inside on routes, and he has done little to fight them from doing that. Naturally, the way that Bryant plays during a game will give him a great deal of problems. When Bryant gets into the flow of a game, and he is out to prove a point, like he will be in this game, physically he will be too much for Mathis to handle. In two career games against the Lions, Bryant has caught six balls and three of those catches resulted in touchdowns. Expect the same on Sunday.
Their Weapon: Reggie Bush
Bush is a mismatch player in every sense of the word, and he will line up all over the field in order to find the best way to attack the defense. He’s come a long way since his days with the Saints in terms of being a more complete back.
You will see him carry the ball in normal down-and-distance situations with a great deal of effectiveness, and he is not afraid to hammer the ball inside but is better when he can run it off the edge or on a sweep or reverse.
The Lions coaches are creating ways for him to get the ball, because he has more explosive quickness and burst than what the Cowboys faced last week against LeSean McCoy. Where Bush and McCoy are similar is how they are able to catch the ball in space, whether on the screen or the inside “Texas” route.
Bush is one of those players that can score from anywhere on the field at any time, so the Cowboys have to be alert when he is in the game. He’s going to be a handful for Sean Lee and Bruce Carter to have to deal with because of the way he is able to play in space. He’s a very natural football player that has the ability to breakdown a defense in a flash.
Under Their Radar: Drake Nevis
On the game film I was able to study on the Lions, I liked the matchup with DeMarcus Ware vs. Riley Reiff, but also keep an eye on Drake Nevis as a nickel rusher.
Nevis has finally worked himself into shape and has become a solid rotational player for this defensive line. Nevis is playing with far more technique than when I saw him with the Colts this summer. He really only had one move and that was the strong club move that would knock the blocker off balance, then he would rush up the field.
Now you see him doing a better job of using his hands and feet, working together. Where Nevis will have an advantage is working against guard Rob Sims. In watching Sims play, he is all about power and not quick movement. If Nevis is smart, he will not try and rush Sims down the middle but try and play him on the edges and see if he can attack his shoulder.
Nevis and the other Cowboys defensive tackles need to stay active against Sims and make him have to match their movement. The more that they can get him to have to move, the more he will struggle to sustain his blocks. I have seen inside pressure affect Stafford in a big way.
Under Our Radar: Ziggy Ansah
One of the most difficult players to get an idea of where he was going in the 2013 NFL Draft was BYU defensive end, Ziggy Ansah.
When the Lions selected Ansah with the fifth overall selection, there were those that were surprised of how high he went and others that thought the selection was the right one. Ansah is very raw but you can see the talent on tape.
He is really playing on more natural ability than anything at this point. He is explosive and can quickly get the edge. He is doing a much better job of using pass rush moves as he is working to the quarterback. That has helped him post three sacks this season, and there were times where he was close to getting more. He is a long, rangy player that can play with some surprising power.
Ansah really wants to get up the field as fast as he can, then try and retrace his steps to handle the run. The Detroit Lions have some special packages where he lines up as a defensive tackle, while Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley play as defensive ends.
Ansah will line up across from Tyron Smith in this game, and Smith will need to be ready to handle his up field rush. If Smith is going to have success against Ansah, it will be by getting his hands on him quickly.
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IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys are a game over .500 and in sole possession of first place in the NFC East as they travel to Detroit to play another 4-3 team. Both teams have been able to create a lot of turnovers this year and score with the best of them, each sitting in the Top-10 in the league in scoring average.
A Dallas win would give the Cowboys an early stranglehold on the division and get them out of their .500 funk, while a win for the Lions could vault them from second to first in the NFC North.
Here are the gut feelings from beat writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, David Helman and Rowan Kavner.
Like I’m sure the other guys have, I’ve been back and forth with this one. You see Calvin Johnson highlights and remember plays Reggie Bush has made in the past, and know how tough Ndamukong Suh can be in the middle and it’s hard to think the Dallas Cowboys can win on the road. And it will be hard. But ultimately, I just think (or want to think) this Dallas team will turn the corner and move away from averageville. Something tells me it’s going to happen this week. I think the Cowboys will have to score a lot of points, but against this defense it’s possible. Jason Witten had a big day the last time they played here and I see it happening again. This game will have a lot of fireworks and big plays, but I think the Cowboys will make a few more, including a defensive touchdown, probably from one of the former Lions – Ernie Sims or Justin Durant. Give me Dallas in a fourth-quarter win.
As well as J.J. Wilcox has been playing the last couple of weeks and at times during his rookie year, I feel that Jeff Heath will play well as his replacement this week against the Lions. I am not worried about Heath being prepared or the stage being too big for him. He will be aware of his assignments and he will be physical when he is asked to make a play. Where this game will be tough for him is that he plays on the majority of special teams and will be asked to play an entire game. The coaches have confidence in his ability and so should you.
The shootout most people predicted the last two weeks never came to fruition. That finally changes this weekend in Detroit. I expect the teams to total more than 60 combined points this week, with Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson giving everyone the offensive back-and-forth they hoped they’d see. That means both of those players go for at least 100 yards and both get in the end zone. The Cowboys should be more prepared for a back like Reggie Bush after seeing LeSean McCoy, but I think Bush still does more damage in the passing game. I also think Terrance Williams’ three-game scoring streak ends there, but he does come up with a couple momentum-shifting plays. The Cowboys have been great recently in the red zone, but they haven’t proven they can get out of the .500 funk or put together a streak on the road. They end up settling for too many field goals, which makes the difference in a game decided by three points or fewer.
This game feels like a carbon copy of last week’s. The Dallas Cowboys are going on the road to face an average team with a good quarterback, an elite wide receiver, a dynamic, game-changing running back and a lousy defense. Last week against the Eagles, I predicted the Eagles’ offensive weapons would make up for their bad defense, and they’d get the win. So have I learned my lesson? Not yet. This is a game the Cowboys should win if they’re serious about making the playoffs, but they haven’t done enough to dispel my misgivings. The Lions are good but not great, as they’ve shown in several games this year, but they have home field advantage and the ability to score points. I see Dallas dropping this one largely because of mistakes – maybe a fumble by one of the running backs? If they prove me wrong and grab the win, I’ll be ready to believe they could grab a playoff spot.
X-FACTOR VS. MEGATRON: Comparison of Dallas’ Dez Bryant and Detroit’s Calvin Johnson | The Best Receivers in the NFL
Both players on the rise, but Dez hasn’t declined at any point in his career
While both stats are impressive, Dez Bryant has three years to top Calvin Johnson on this one.
Both receivers are among the top echelon in the NFL. Dez Bryant belongs in this discussion.
Recent player quotes from Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant and Lions receiver Calvin Johnson
The Jason Garrett Show – Megatron vs. X-Factor; Detroit Lions weapons (2:43)
|Film Breakdown Of Ndamukong Suh||Film Breakdown Of Calvin Johnson|
|Watch Video | Play Audio||Watch Video | Play Audio|
Jim Schwartz – Monte Kiffin will make life tough for us
Calvin Johnson – Dez Bryant is pretty good, besides route running
HOMECOMING DEBUT: Dallas Cowboys safety Jeff Heath returning to Lions country with a star on his helmet
IRVING, Texas – Not long after Jeff Heath signed with the Dallas Cowboys, he noticed they were actually playing this season in Detroit, which is located just 39 miles from his hometown of Lake Orion, Mich.
His first thought was how great it’d be if he were on the team and traveling to the game.
But now, it looks like Heath will be doing even better than that. Because of a sprained knee injury to rookie safety J.J. Wilcox, there is a good chance Heath will make his first NFL start on Sunday against the Lions, a team whom he grew up following.
And better yet, he’ll have quite a contingent of family and friends there to see him. Heath said this week he’s in the neighborhood of 80 tickets, and that number could grow now with his possibility of starting.
“It’s just a weird coincidence if it happens this week with me going back home,” Heath said. “But you never know when it’s going to be your time and your number gets called. I’m excited about the opportunity.”
While head coach Jason Garrett wouldn’t rule out Wilcox to play, Wilcox himself said it’s unlikely he would play this week and maybe not even next week against the Vikings. Garrett did have some positive things to say about Heath, an undrafted rookie from Saginaw Valley State in Michigan.
“We certainly like him. He’s done a lot of nice things for us,” Garrett said. “He’s a college free agent who came in and said ‘I’m going to make your football team.’ He first showed up on [special] teams but he’s been a solid performer on defense.”
Garrett was asked to name his best attribute but he didn’t come up with just one.
“He has a lot of good traits. Physically, he has a lot of tools,” Garrett said of Heath. “He’s big enough to play the position. He runs well. He has good ball skills. He’s physical. He just finds a way to get away from people and gets to the football.”
Last week, the Cowboys rotated Heath into the game on defense in the first quarter. While it was perceived at first that Wilcox was getting benched, it was simply a way to rotate Heath into the game.
“I think that really helped me and my confidence,” Heath said. “I know if I start this week, I’ll be more prepared for it because of I’ve gotten to play a little more.”
In the Eagles game, Heath was credited with a tackle on defense and another on special teams. He currently has five tackles and ranks second on the team with seven special teams stops.
Last week in Philly, Heath did come out of the game with a sore right forearm, which required an MRI on Monday. He downplayed the injury, though, and said it’s nothing that would keep him out of playing this week.
“I might wear something on it but it won’t be anything major,” Heath said of a possible brace. “It’ll be more like a tight wrap.”
It sounds like it’s going to take a lot more than a bruised forearm to keep Heath out of Sunday’s game, which has a chance to be a homecoming and his first NFL start, rolled into one.
The Detroit Lions aren’t the same team without running back Reggie Bush on the field. We learned that in Week 3, when Detroit’s ground game withered up in a tight win over the Washington Redskins as Bush watched from the sideline with a left knee injury.
On Friday, an injury to Bush’s right leg kept him out of practice ahead of Sunday’s tilt with the Dallas Cowboys, the team announced.
The Detroit News described it as an upper leg tweak, and Bush was seen with the leg wrapped after not being listed on Thursday’s injury report. Also missing the session were offensive tackle Corey Hilliard (knee), safety Louis Delmas (knees) and wide receiver Nate Burleson (arm), but Bush’s absence comes out of nowhere.
We don’t expect him to miss Sunday’s game — not until we hear something more dire — but if he can’t handle a full workload, Joique Bell will be in for a busy day. Bell has shown well in limited snaps, but no one can replace Bush’s playmaking ability in Detroit. We’ll keep an eye on this one.
Editors update: The story above, as reported by the drama queens at NFL.com, implies that Reggie Bush might miss the matchup with the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Here’s an update from the Detroit Free Press …
Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush sat out practice today with a right leg injury, but Bush said his absence was “precautionary” and he’ll be fine for Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.
“Feel good,” Bush said. “Just taking a day off, getting ready for the game on Sunday.”
Lions coach Jim Schwartz has said several times this year that it’s important for players to practice midweek and that some guys will get maintenance days on Fridays.
Safety Louis Delmas (knee), tackle Corey Hilliard (knee) and receiver Nate Burleson (arm) also missed practice for the Lions today. Hilliard and Burleson are out, while Delmas will play against the Cowboys.
Detroit Lions injury report (10-24-2013)
|Name||Position||Injury||Practice Status||Game Status|
|Louis Delmas||S||—||Limited Participation in Practice||—|
|Theo Riddick||RB||—||Full Participation in Practice||—|
|Brandon Pettigrew||TE||—||Limited Participation in Practice||—|
|Corey Hilliard||T||—||Did Not Participate In Practice||—|
|Rashean Mathis||CB||—||Limited Participation in Practice||—|
|Andre Fluellen||DT||—||Limited Participation in Practice||—|
|Nate Burleson||WR||—||Out (Definitely Will Not Play)||—|
|Jason Fox||T||—||Limited Participation in Practice||—|
|Ashlee Palmer||LB||—||Limited Participation in Practice||—|
|Calvin Johnson||WR||—||Limited Participation in Practice||—|
|Riley Reiff||T||—||Limited Participation in Practice||—|
Dallas Cowboys injury report (10-24-2013)
|Name||Position||Injury||Practice Status||Game Status|
|Lance Dunbar||RB||—||Limited Participation in Practice||—|
|DeMarco Murray||RB||—||Limited Participation in Practice||—|
|DeMarcus Ware||DE||—||Did Not Participate In Practice||—|
|Miles Austin||WR||—||Limited Participation in Practice||—|
|Nick Hayden||DT||—||Did Not Participate In Practice||—|
|Ronald Leary||G||—||Full Participation in Practice||—|
|DeVonte Holloman||LB||—||Did Not Participate In Practice||—|
|George Selvie||DE||—||Limited Participation in Practice||—|
|Dez Bryant||WR||—||Full Participation in Practice||—|
|Morris Claiborne||CB||—||Did Not Participate In Practice||—|
|J.J. Wilcox||S||—||Limited Participation in Practice||—|
|Jason Hatcher||DT||—||Limited Participation in Practice||—|
|Dwayne Harris||WR||—||Full Participation in Practice||—|
Another battle between two even teams, as the 4-3 Cowboys prepare for the 4-3 Lions. They may not have played Detroit since 2011, but the Cowboys still probably have a taste of that defeat in their mouths. They squandered a 24-point third quarter lead and lost the last time the two teams played, and Tony Romo has to remember the two interceptions he threw that were returned for touchdowns. His three interceptions that day are just two fewer than he has all season this year.
Romo’s hot start this year has a lot to do with why the Cowboys are sitting atop the NFC East through seven weeks. He’s got a 3-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio and is tied for second in the league in touchdown passes with 15, with rookie Terrance Williams catching at least one each of the last three weeks. He’s also got his own version of Calvin Johnson in Dez Bryant, who’s bested Johnson in every major category other than touchdowns, which they’re tied in with six apiece. But Romo hasn’t really been needed a whole lot the last couple weeks.
The Cowboys’ maligned defense early on has now allowed 19 combined points its past two weeks to two division foes. That defense features a new face every week on the defensive line, and somehow it’s working. Jarius Wynn was signed last week, suited up and contributed with half a sack. They added former second-round pick Marvin Austin to the defensive tackle mix. Six current players on the defensive line weren’t with the team when training camp began, but they’ve still gotten pressure on the quarterback, thanks in large part to the consistency of Jason Hatcher (six sacks) and George Selvie (4.5).
The improved play in the secondary has helped the pressure on the quarterback. The corners will need to continue that if they want to stop Johnson, who, after injuries slowed him early on, went off for 155 yards and two touchdowns last week. Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick combined to hold DeSean Jackson to just three catches and 21 yards last week. They’ll need to keep that up, and the Cowboys’ could use a second straight game with 100 yards from Bryant. They may also get another jolt if either DeMarcus Ware or DeMarco Murray can return from injuries.
A 4-3 record goes much further in the NFC East than it does in the NFC North. The Cowboys and Lions are tremendously similar. Going past the obvious in their records, the Lions and Cowboys both have exactly 49 penalties, a plus-five turnover margin and are in the top 10 in the league in scoring average. Unfortunately for Detroit, the Lions play in a division where 4-3 is only good for second place. They’re one of two four-win teams in the NFC North, along with Green Bay and Chicago.
There are only two quarterbacks in the NFC with at least 2,000 passing yards, and they’ll both be playing this weekend. Matt Stafford leads the NFC with 2,129 passing yards, totaling 119 more than Romo. He hasn’t been quite as accurate, however, as Romo’s competing 68.3 percent of his passes compared to just 61.4 percent for Stafford. It will help for Stafford that he has a healthier star receiver to throw to now in Johnson, who missed a game earlier this year. Johnson’s still accumulated six touchdowns in six games and three 100-yard receiving games despite playing banged up.
The Lions have been needing to put up a ton of points to win their four games this year. Every game they’ve won, they’ve scored at least 27 points. They’ve allowed at least 20 points in six of seven games this year and currently sit 31st in the league, allowing 397.1 yards per game (the Cowboys’ defense isn’t much better, allowing 393.9 a game). Despite putting Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in the middle of their line, the Lions are just 27th in the league in sacks. They are, however, getting enough pressure on the quarterback to get 10 interceptions, which is good to tie them for third in the league.
The plus-five turnover ratio has put the Lions’ offense in better position, and Stafford and company are delivering. The Lions are No. 8 in the league in scoring average (26.6) and No. 7 in total offense per game (386.4). They feature more explosion at running back, as Reggie Bush joined the team and is fourth in the league in total yards from scrimmage (731). The Cowboys faced the toughest in the league in LeSean McCoy and took care of business, but if they take a breather this week, Bush and Johnson will make them pay. Bush’s backup, Joique Bell, also works in and has 478 yards from scrimmage.
NO SHAME IN NO-NAME: Dallas Cowboys Texas-2 Defense holds NFL’s third-ranked offense out of the end zone
PHILADELPHIA – With his game-sealing pick, Brandon Carr waved goodbye to the departing Eagles’ crowd and the shared division lead all at once.
The Dallas Cowboys’ defense, including a horde of “no-name” linemen who were forced into action with DeMarcus Ware out, held the league’s top rusher in check and forced three interceptions against the Eagles as they soared past Philadelphia for sole possession of first place in the division with a 17-3 win.
Just two weeks removed from the 51-points yielded to the Broncos, the Cowboys have allowed just 19 combined points their last two weeks to the Redskins and Eagles. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin believes seeing less can be a good thing and contributed to those performances.
“When you become a good defense, you play fast and you know what you’re doing,” Kiffin said. “Like I say, see a little or see a lot. When you see a lot, you see nothing, and we were seeing a lot earlier in the year. When you just see a little bit and you read your keys, you’ve got a chance.”
The defense gave the Cowboys more than just a chance. They solidified the win by holding the league’s third-ranked offense out of the end zone entirely.
“It’s very encouraging to see our defense play as well as it played today and fundamentally that was the plan from the word, ‘Go,’” said owner/general manager Jerry Jones. “We played well. There wasn’t a lot of confusion out there.”
The victory moved the Cowboys to 3-0 in the NFC East for the first time since 2007 and marked their first road win of the season. They did it all without their all-time sack leader, who missed the first game of his career with a thigh injury.
With Ware battered up, the Dallas Cowboys needed all the help they could get on a defensive line comprised of players no one would recognize before the season began, outside of Jason Hatcher. The Cowboys signed defensive end Jarius Wynn this week and made him active. They brought up defensive end Jason Vega from the practice squad and made him active, as well.
The line already featured a defensive tackle in Drake Nevis who was signed just weeks prior, and a defensive end in Caesar Rayford who came to the team after the preseason.
At least on Sunday, none of that mattered, thanks in large part to tremendous coverage on the back end that allowed consistent pressure from the front four.
“It’s what football’s about,” said defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. “At the end of the day, it’s still a blue collar game. The men who want to go out and work, fight, compete get opportunities.”
The Cowboys bothered Nick Foles all day, led by a player who joined the team in training camp. George Selvie finished with 1.5 sacks to notch the first multi-sack game of his career. He shared a sack with Wynn on the last play of the third quarter, which knocked Foles out of the game.
Hatcher also added a sack in his dominant start to the year, giving him six now for the season. He said he didn’t even think the defense played as well as it should, yet the Cowboys still held the Eagles to three points. Hatcher credited Marinelli for having the ability to plug and play new people the last couple weeks without any ill effects.
“He cares about you, unlike some coaches that just care about their job, he cares about you as an individual,” Hatcher said. “He’s an awesome guy to play for.”
It helped that Foles was wildly inaccurate, completing just 11-of-29 passes for the Eagles before going down. It only got worse for Philadelphia’s offense later, as Matt Barkley came in and threw three interceptions in the fourth quarter, with Sean Lee, Barry Church and Carr all securing one apiece.
Carr’s pick sealed the deal, and the corner was stellar throughout, giving DeSean Jackson fits on the outside. He helped to hold the speed threat to just three catches and 21 receiving yards on eight targets, and he finished with an interception, two passes defended and a tackle for loss.
“Me and Orlando (Scandrick) had the task of following him around the field,” Carr said. “It’s just one of those matchups where you’ve got to stay on him for 60 minutes. A guy with that speed, it’s easy for him to slip past you. You don’t want to be in a foot race with him.”
Perhaps even more impressive was what the defense did to the Eagles’ other primary playmaker, LeSean McCoy, who led all NFL running backs by 99 rushing yards entering the game. McCoy averaged just 3.1 yards per carry, running 18 times for 55 yards, and averaged 4.3 yards per catch Sunday.
It wasn’t always pretty football for either team. The vaunted Eagles offense was forced to punt nine times after going 4-for-18 on third down. The Cowboys also punted nine times but took advantage when they moved down the field, scoring both times they got inside the 20. The Eagles went 0-for-2 in red zone efficiency.
Despite scoring just 17 points, the Cowboys’ offense still included three players with at least six catches and 50 yards apiece. Dez Bryant led all players with eight catches for 110 yards and had a game-high 16 targets.
There were major contributions from Terrance Williams, whose fourth-quarter touchdown reception gave the Cowboys a 14-point lead and marked the rookie receiver’s third straight game with a touchdown, and Cole Beasley, who was a mismatch once again in the slot with six catches for 53 yards.
Rookie running back Joseph Randle got his first start of his career, rushing for 65 yards on 19 carries and catching three passes for 28 yards. Phillip Tanner went in at the goal line to bowl in for the Cowboys’ only rushing touchdown and first score of the game.
That touchdown by Tanner in the third quarter alone would have been enough to win the game on a day where the Dallas defense dominated to put the Cowboys atop the division. Still, Hatcher isn’t yet satisfied.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Hatcher said. “We didn’t play as well as we should tonight, but we held them to three. It’s kind of scary when you look at it. We’ve just got to be more consistent.”
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The Eagles fell to the Dallas Cowboys, 17-3 (Watch Video | No Audio)
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Photo: The Cowboys’ Terrance Williams dives in for a touchdown as Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher defends on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. (Matt Rourke/AP)
Opportunities to take first place in the NFC East and for Nick Foles to push to become the Eagles’ starting quarterback were both spoiled in a 17-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Eagles’ offense struggled in the team’s ninth consecutive loss at Lincoln Financial Field, and Foles appeared overmatched before leaving the game with a head injury at the end of the third quarter. Matt Barkley replaced Foles and proceeded to throw three interceptions.
Foles started in place of Michael Vick, who missed his second consecutive game with a pulled left hamstring. Vick never looked so good as he did when compared to the performances of Foles and Barkley.
One week after Foles starred in a win over the Buccaneers, Foles went 11 of 29 for 80 yards. Barkley finished 11 of 20 for 129 yards and three interceptions.
The running game did not help, either. LeSean McCoy was limited to 55 rushing yards. DeSean Jackson was held to three catches for 21 yards, shut down most the game by Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr and the ineffectiveness of the Eagles’ quarterbacks.
The offense’s issues overshadowed a relatively impressive game from the defense. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw for 317 yards and one touchdown. He also had two interceptions. But most of his damage came in the second half, and the Eagles’ defense kept the team in contention.
The first quarter served as an insult to offensive football. Neither team could find the end zone, and there were six combined punts.
It didn’t get much better in the second quarter. There were seven more punts in that period, with the only score a 38-yard field goal by Dan Bailey as Dallas took a 3-0 lead.
The Eagles drove the ball to the Cowboys’ 42-yard line with 20 seconds remaining when Foles tried throwing a deep ball on third-and-1. It was incomplete, and Kelly elected to attempt a 60-yard field goal instead of going for fourth down. The Eagles had one timeout at the time. Alex Henery missed the field goal.
The Cowboys opened the second half by going 66 yards on 10 plays to take a 10-0 lead. On third-and-goal from the 4-yard line, cornerback Bradley Fletcher wrapped up Dez Bryant and was flagged for the pass interference to give the Cowboys a new set of downs. They scored on a 1-yard rush one play later.
The Eagles could not gain any momentum until late in the quarter, when DeMeco Ryans intercepted Tony Romo’s pass at the Eagles’ 34-yard and returned it 36 yards to the Cowboys 30. But Foles struggled throughout the drive, underthrowing a wide-open Jason Avant in the end zone and struggling to make decisions. On third-and-goal from the 9-yard line, Foles was sacked and the back of his head was knocked against the turf.
Foles was examined on the sideline and tried jogging around before he was taken to the locker room and declared out for the game. That’s when Barkley entered the game, and the struggles only continued.
Following a Cowboys touchdown drive to take a 17-3 lead, Barkley threw an interception. On the next drive, he threw another interception. He added his third interception late in the fourth quarter to ensure the Eagles would not score a touchdown.
The health status for Vick and Foles is unknown for next week’s game against the Giants.
Courtesy: Zach Berman | Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer
Photo: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles is sacked by Dallas Cowboys defensive end George Selvie as defensive tackle Jason Hatcher helps on the play. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
The Eagles’ quarterback controversy has turned into a quarterback conflagration. This, on the afternoon when Michael Vick could not play because of a pulled hamstring; Nick Foles could not play, period (and left the game at the end of the third quarter with a head injury, besides), and Matt Barkley finished up the game by throwing three interceptions that counted and another that did not (because of a penalty).
Other than that, things went well.
The Dallas Cowboys played like garbage for much of the afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field and still beat the Eagles, 17-3, which pretty much tells you how the Eagles played. A decent defensive effort against Tony Romo and the fellas was completely wasted by an offense that was neutered by the Dallas Cowboys and by Foles’ ineffectiveness.
Before he suffered the injury, which could conceivably keep him out for next week’s game against the Giants, Foles was indecisive and erratic. On a day when many believed he had a chance to win the starting quarterback job, he played his worst minutes of the season, going back to training camp. The numbers: 11-for-29 for 80 yards and a poor 46.2 passer rating.
Slow on the trigger, missing open receivers — it was Foles’ worst nightmare. This was a clear opportunity for him to make a statement, and the statement he made was an emphatic, “Not yet.”
Others will say that it was, “Not ever.”
Now we prepare for a week in which the injury report will be the most important news. Last week, Vick sounded a bit skeptical about being ready to play next Sunday against the Giants. We will see now how the imperatives of the situation affect the healing process. More than that, though, the conversation about who should be the quarterback when Vick gets healthy has been silenced.
The truth was, Foles had an opportunity against an iffy Dallas secondary — but he needed to grab it. A lot of people, including me, figured it was going to take a big number to beat the Cowboys — but the way the game turned out, as an early punt-fest, ended that thinking. Instead, it was just going to take a good second half. For Foles, the opportunity was still there, even as he struggled. There was risk but there also was reward if he came through.
He did not come through, and he got hurt besides. He held the ball forever on the last play of the third quarter, was sacked and driven into the ground. He got up slowly, tried to shake it off on the sideline, but was eventually led to the locker room by the medical staff. That is how it ended, with a slow, sad walk.
And now, besides the ending of the quarterback controversy, there also will be a pretty significant burial of the talk about winning the NFC East. Because the truth is, the Cowboys did not play very well and still won the game handily. The Cowboys are 4-3 now and the Eagles are 3-4, but the distance somehow seems greater than that.
Courtesy: Rich Hofmann | Philadelphia Daily News
COWBOYS EAGLES GUT-CHECK: Dallas writers review predictions made prior to NFC East division showdown
First Take presented by Nationwide (3:33)
PHILADELPHIA – Beat writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, David Helman, and Rowan Kavner share their initial feelings of the Dallas Cowboys’ 17-3 win at Lincoln Financial Field.
Chalk this up as my most inaccurate prediction of the season — though I doubt anyone is complaining. Simply put, I just did not see that defensive performance coming. The Cowboys completely stifled one of the league’s best offenses and the league’s most dynamic players in LeSean McCoy. It was a sometimes ugly but ultimately satisfying win. The Dallas offense wasn’t always pretty, but their receivers stepped up to make enough good plays to seal the win. Even more important — this team is undefeated through half of the division slate.
For the second straight week, it was not at all the shootout everyone expected. I thought Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy would be much more infallible than they were Sunday. Credit that to heavy pressure from Jason Hatcher and George Selvie, as well as tremendous coverage on the back end. I was on track with Terrance Williams scoring a touchdown for the third straight game and Dez Bryant going off, but was off on the Joseph Randle prediction. Phillip Tanner got it instead. Williams and Cole Beasley continue to offer more than anyone could have imagined. The way the Cowboys’ defense was playing, Tony Romo and his offensive threats didn’t need to do too much. In addition, Dan Bailey wasn’t needed for any late heroics I thought the Cowboys would have to have.
I was about as wrong as one person could be on this one. It wasn’t high-scoring, the defense did play, they did stop LeSean McCoy and Miles Austin was no factor. It doesn’t matter what the opposition did, this is a big win for Dallas. To get to 3-0 in the NFC East having beaten every team in the division now, is a big confidence boost for a team that figured out how to win without their best defensive player and starting tailback. Wasn’t pretty but yet they still found a way to beat Philly on the road.
The stats will not say that he had a monster game but for having to fill the shoes of a monster player in DeMarcus ware, Kyle Wilber did all right. Wilber battled Jason Peters all game long which I had a feeling he would do. Where Wilber was giving up size and weight, he was able to hang in there against this dynamic rushing attack of the Eagles. He got pressure off the edge against Nick Foles and later Matt Barkley. Wilber and his defensive line mates, were outstanding in getting off blocks and rallying to the ball but more importantly, they were able to tackle and prevent the Eagles from pulling off any huge plays. That was the difference in the game today.
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This was Cowboys-Eagles, right? Two of the NFL’s most high-powered offenses against two of the worst defenses in the league? Chip Kelly’s quick pace against Tony Romo’s aerial attack? Air it out, throw it around, go, go, go?
So much for that.
In a game that was far from the high-octane shootout most expected, Dallas came out on top, 17-3, and in the process, improved its record to 4-3 and took sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
The Cowboys came into this affair ranked second in the NFL in points per game (30.5) and 13th in yards per outing (349.8). Likewise, the Eagles owned the fourth-highest average in points (27.7) and were third in yards (499.8).
On the defensive side of the ball, Dallas had surrendered an average of 25.3 points per game, which was 21st in the NFL, its 413.2 yards given up per contest, ranking 30th. For their part, the Eagles defense ranked dead last in yards per game (420.2) and 29th in points (29.8).
All the makings for video-game-type numbers.
Except the Dallas defense, was stellar. With DeMarcus Ware sidelined with an injury, the defensive line held its own, providing continuous pressure and helping limit the Eagles to only 278 total yards of offense. Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles was just 11 of 29 with 80 yards passing, while running back LeSean McCoy was held to 55 yards on 18 carries.
Meanwhile, although the Cowboys struggled themselves to move the ball in the first half, punter Chris Jones keeping plenty busy, in the second half, they did seem to make some adjustments. Spreading the offense out allowed for more movement, and in the end, Dallas finished with 368 total yards.
Making his 100th career start, Tony Romo, who aired it out more as the game went along, posted 317 passing yards and a touchdown. With his performance, he now has more completions and more passing yards than any quarterback in history through his first 100 starts.
The primary beneficiary of all that throwing was Dez Bryant, who surpassed the century mark with 110 yards receiving on a game-high eight catches. The rookie Terrance Williams continued to shine as well, catching a touchdown for the third straight game and finishing with 71 yards on six grabs.
Fellow rookie Joseph Randle, making his first career start, was steady in place of the injured DeMarco Murray, earning 93 yards from scrimmage off 19 carries and three receptions.
Still, it wasn’t a pretty beginning. In fact, midway through the second quarter, the two teams had combined for more punts (11) than first downs (10). And, the only points in the first half came late in the second frame, when Dallas started on its own 36-yard line, and finally worked deep into enemy territory, reaching the Philly 20. Romo had connections of 14, 15 and10 yards to Cole Beasley, Bryant and Williams, respectively, but once the drive stalled, Dan Bailey came out for a 38-yard field, splitting the uprights for three.
On their next possession, the Eagles tried to even things up, crossing midfield to the Cowboys 42. But on fourth-and-1 with 14 seconds left, Philadelphia curiously elected to try a 60-yard field goal rather than go for it and Alex Henery’s attempt, while long enough, sailed wide left.
But after picking up the field goal before the break, the Cowboys gained more momentum as the second half got underway. Things got started when Dwayne Harris brought the ball out of his own end zone and returned it to the Dallas 34-yard line.
From there, Romo kept the offense spread out, and kept Bryant active, as he hit the receiver on passes of 12, 11 and 19 yards during the drive, the last getting the Cowboys down to the Philly 2-yard line. And while Dallas seemed destined for another field goal when a third down pass attempt to Bryant fell incomplete in the end zone, a pass interference call on the Eagles gave the visitors a first down at the 2.
On the very next snap, Phillip Tanner then barreled into the end zone, Dallas jumping out to a 10-0 lead.
The Eagles tried to make a game of it, and after Romo was picked off by linebacker DeMeco Ryans, returning it to the Dallas 30, seemed to be in prime position to narrow the gap. But from there, Philadelphia could muster only 17 more yards and had to settle for a 31-yard field goal as the clock ticked into the fourth quarter, the score 10-3.
But any thoughts of a comeback were quickly squashed by the Cowboys, as Romo marched his team 72 yards in 10 plays. The quarterback efficiently spread the ball around, connecting on passes to Bryant, Randle, Jason Witten and Beasley, capping the drive off with a slant to Williams from nine yards out to up Dallas’ advantage to 17-3.
With Foles leaving the game with concussion symptoms, rookie Matt Barkley made his NFL debut at quarterback, and didn’t fare much better for the Eagles, throwing an interception to Sean Lee on his first possession, and then another one to Barry Church on his second.
On his third drive, the youngster had the Eagles on the doorstep, reaching the Dallas 12-yard line, but with just over a minute left on the clock, cornerback Brandon Carr pulled down yet another interception in the end zone, Romo simply having to take two knees to run out the clock.
With the victory, the Cowboys captured their first road win of the 2013 season, and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC East. They’ll next head to Detroit to take on the Lions, who are also 4-3 after losing today to the Bengals.
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Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter said some of the defensive players might wear wristbands with the calls on them to help get the defense organized against Philadelphia’s tempo offense.
“That’s their scheme, to get guys tired, get them thinking too much,” Carter said Friday at Valley Ranch, after a week of practice in which the Cowboys tried hard to simulate the pace of the Eagles’ offense.
Safety Barry Church said the Cowboys used two scout teams on offense, shuttling in to get snaps off within 15 seconds.
Carter said it made a difference.
“Wednesday, we were kind of rough,” he said. “But as the week went on, we got used to it. … We actually sped it up to where we can get it between 10 and 15 seconds, so when we get in the game, it’ll actually be a lot slower than what we’re used to in practice.”
Carter said there won’t be much time for communication, but the information that does get communicated will come from the linebackers.
“We’ve got to make sure everybody gets lined up and gets the call,” he said. “If we don’t know what the call is, just make sure we all get lined up, cause they run a lot of tackle-over and unbalanced looks. So we got to make sure the line is set and echo the call.
“I doubt we’ll huddle up at all this game.”
Editors note: Just a little food for thought. Since the Dallas Cowboys offense used the Eagles pace to prepare their defense, is it possible they’ll incorporate some of that in the offensive gameplan vs. Philly? After all, what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. Bill Callahan and Jason Garrett hinted at some offensive twists earlier this week. Could be interesting to see the Dallas Cowboys offense use the Philadelphia tempo and turn the tables!
SIMPLIFIED STATS FOR PHILLY FANS: Pictures (and fun facts) for our rival Philadelphia Eagles followers
We wanted to post something easy to understand for the Philadelphia Eagles fans that visit this website. You know the old adage … “a picture is worth a 1000 words”. So, here we go …
Eagles fans, please focus your attention to the photo above, and note … historically, the Dallas Cowboys OWN YOU!
Now, this next one is tricky! Pay attention. Philly averages more yards … but, Dallas scores more points. This will be KEY to the OUTCOME of the game!!! Also note, your team (Philly) allows more yards and more points defensively that the Dallas Cowboys! Again, this is BIG! On a positive note, due to the Cowboys domination of ‘time of possession’, your team will have more time on the sidelines to enjoy cheesesteak, hoagies, soft pretzels, and whatever the hell a Tastykake is!
Ok, welcome back from your nap. I know this has been hard on you! Please stay focused. There are a LOT of numbers above, so lets run through this as quickly as possible. Tony Romo is better than both of your quarterbacks combined! Your running backs have great numbers, because other teams have allowed them to run. Expect this to change on Sunday (that’s tomorrow, after you wake up from your BIG NAP). Your team does an OK job of receiving the ball and making plays. If you had a defense to stop Dallas’ receivers you’d have a shot. Won’t happen. Try to prepare yourself, mentally.
Now, let’s wrap this up. Tony Romo will have his 100th start against your team on Sunday afternoon. Please note, there are NO Philly quarterbacks on these stats (above). Also note, there are no other NFC East quarterbacks on this picture above. I know what you’re thinking … It’s hard to soar like an Eagle when you’re playing with a bunch of turkeys! By the way, it will be 73 and sunny in Big D tomorrow. Enjoy the game (pregame warm-ups).
THERE IS a great Christmas song that proclaims, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” While I love the season from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day because people are actually nice to each other and concentrate on things that are most important – family and friends – it is not the most wonderful time of the year!
That’s actually October, if you are a sports fan.
There is a plethora of football to watch, both college and pro. The baseball playoffs are in full swing, culminating with the World Series and all its tension and excitement. Hockey season has begun in earnest and the NBA launches at the end of the month.
To cite one example of how great October can be, consider if you lived in Boston. Last Sunday was a day you would never forget – unbelievable comebacks by the Patriots and Red Sox in big games. Yes, October is the most wonderful time of the year – the only month all four major sports are going on at the same time.
This year, October is even more special because tomorrow the Eagles play the Cowboys at home with first place in the NFC East at stake. Good god, I hate those Cowboys!
On Wednesday, I was on the train coming back from New York and I was sitting with my cousin Steven, a brilliant psychiatrist, his aide, Marguerite, and two rambunctious women named Sarah and Jennifer. We had a great time as they helped me create the “Top 10 Reasons I Hate the Cowboys.” Though they were my reasons, the crew helped me put them in descending order. It was great fun and I strongly recommend you do it with your friends. We share many of the same reasons, but ranking them as to which make you hate the ‘Boys the most is a hoot.
So here’s my Top 10:
10. The Star – What unbelievable conceit to make a star the symbol of your team and paint it right smack in the middle of the field. How did that star look at the end of the pickle-juice game (the 2000 season opener when the Eagles consumed pickle juice to combat dehydration from the 109-degree game-time temperature and beat the hosts, 41-14)?
9. Jimmy Johnson’s hair – Gelled and lacquered into a steel-like, immovable ‘do, and harder than those obnoxious Cowboy helmets. (I must admit to a tad of envy here.)
8. Cowboy (or AT&T) Stadium – A gaudy, incredibly extravagant mausoleum to Jerry Jones’ ego. Hey, Jerry, with Texas having the highest percentage of people without healthcare coverage of any state in the nation, couldn’t you have thought of a better use for your money?
7. Troy Aikman on TV – This ex-Cowboys QB has never gotten over the physical and scoreboard beating administered to him by the Buddy Ryan-led Birds. He takes it out on the Eagles every chance he gets with his slanted, hateful anti-Eagles commentary.
6. The “Don’t Mess With Texas” attitude – Everything is bigger and better in the Lone Star state, or so they think. Rick Perry as governor? Not so much. Cowboy Stadium is a great example of this. One thing that’s for sure: Everything is more arrogant in Texas, especially if it has anything to do with this football team!
5. Conceited, cocky, arrogant stars, past and present – Michael Irvin, Neon Deion, Tony Romo, Dez Bryant: I can’t stand any of them. (Jason Witten is an exception, but he should have been an Eagle. Remember, we picked L.J. Smith in the draft when Jason was still available.)
4. No cheesesteaks, hoagies, soft pretzels or Tastykakes are sold at Cowboy Stadium – Hard to believe, but true. I went to see the Birds play in Dallas once and sat in Ross Perot’s box. There was white wine, caviar, smoked salmon, Brie and crudités served with nary a soft pretzel to be found. They wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes in the 700 level at the Vet!
3. Jimmy Johnson’s favorite phrase, “How ‘Bout Them Cowboys?” – I’m sick and tired of hearing it! Hey, Jimmy, how ’bout the fact that “Them Cowboys” have only won one playoff game (the dreaded “air guitar” game vs. the Birds, unfortunately) in more than a decade?
2. Jerry Jones – Need I explain? This unbelievably arrogant owner is the epitome of the conceit, braggadocio and excess that makes us hate the Cowboys.
1. “America’s Team” – Aaaaagh!! Who would have the gall to call themselves America’s Team? Who nominated them? Did we get to vote on this? This self-proclaimed title has inspired many faux fans around the nation to claim to be Cowboy rooters, but they all probably think a rollout is what you do with toilet paper and that the wildcat formation is found at the zoo.
So that’s my list. Have fun coming up with yours. To sum it up: “Cowboys suck,” and with injuries to Ware and Murray, the Birds win easily, 34-23.
Courtesy: Edward Rendell | The Daily News
Editors comment: Pretty lame article, granted. Not much creativity in Philly. After all, why remain bitter about Jimmy Johnson (and his hair) 25 years later? Seems like a “if you can’t beat ‘em … bash ‘em” mentality in the City of Brotherly Love (and resentment). Still, take a moment to vote in their poll. As you’d expect, it’s tilted towards a Philly win on Sunday. Let your voice be heard! While we’re at it … how ‘bout serving cheesesteak on Texas Toast with BBQ sauce for your gameday tailgate? Cheesesteak is basically shaved Texas beef brisket! Go Cowboys … hard pretzels, star and all!!
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys are back to .500 and look to take the division lead in the NFC East. Both the Cowboys and Eagles are 3-3 and have lost to the same three AFC opponents. Both are 2-0 in the division. While it’s still early in the race, Sunday’s game will be a big boost for one team.
Here are the gut feelings writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, David Helman and Rowan Kavner.
I keep predicting the Cowboys are going to take advantage of bad secondaries. I said it before the Chargers game, I said it before the Redskins game, and neither prediction came to fruition. But I don’t think they’re going to have a choice this week. We haven’t seen the Cowboys get behind the eight ball too much this season – they’ve had the lead at halftime in five of their six games. But similar to the Denver game, I don’t see Dallas having a lot of success stopping LeSean McCoy and the Philly offense. I think the Eagles take a four-point lead into the break, and I think whoever has the ball last will win a high-scoring second half. My head tells me Dallas is the better team, but my gut feeling is that the Eagles find a way to win.
Gut Feeling: So here we are, back at .500, against an Eagles team that hasn’t won at home this year or in their last eight home contests. These are actually two very evenly matched teams. Philadelphia boasts the best running back in the league this year, a guy that will give the Cowboys problems on the ground and through the air. The latter area is where he will be really dangerous. I think this is more of a shootout than last week. Dez Bryant’s had some words exchanged before with Cary Williams, and I think this is going to be a huge week for the Cowboys’ top wide out. I also think the Cowboys’ Williams, Terrance, makes it three straight games with a touchdown, and Joseph Randle finds the end zone again. In the end, Dan Bailey comes up huge late to put the Cowboys in first place.
Like most of these games, I go back and forth on this one because I see scenarios where the Cowboys will get out to a nice lead because the Eagles will have a hard time stopping this offense. I also think the Cowboys will have a very hard time with LeSean McCoy and Philly’s attack, especially if DeMarcus Ware doesn’t play. I know it’s been a full calendar year since Philly won at home, but something about playing up there is still scary for this Cowboys team, even though they’ve proven they can win there. I don’t see it happening this time. I see Philly outscoring the Cowboys in a game where 31 points won’t be enough to win. For the Cowboys, I see a big game for Miles Austin – over 100 yards with a touchdown. But I see Riley Cooper continuing his hot streak against the Cowboys, too.
There were a couple of different ways I wanted to go here because I feel strongly about Joseph Randle playing well, but I will take the path of Kyle Wilber making his first NFL start against Jason Peters. This Cowboys front is going to need a pressure player in this matchup without DeMarcus Ware in the lineup. Jason Hatcher will see his share of double teams so someone will need to win a battle or two one-on-one. My sources told me that Wilber had a nice week of practice and looked very quick off the ball. My gut tells me, he does provide that pressure and at the end of this game, we are talking about how well he played.