IRVING, Texas – Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin is now a member of the Cleveland Browns.
Austin agreed to terms today with the Browns, who are in need of receiver help, considering the looming suspension of top receiver Josh Gordon.
Cleveland also passed on taking a receiver in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Browns added Nate Burleson and Andrew Hawkins, but many believed they needed more help at the position, and Cleveland hopes Austin can provide that.
Austin’s success will largely be determined by his health, which was the issue in Dallas. The Cowboys designated Austin a post-June 1 cut to free $5.5 million from the salary cap this year, after he was limited to just 11 games and 244 receiving yards in 2013.
The receiver’s recurring hamstring issues limited what Austin, who was a 1,000-yard receiver in 2009 and 2010, could do the rest of his tenure in Dallas. Austin caught 81 passes for 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2009 and 69 passes for 1,041 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010.
He played in every game in 2012, but the Cowboys admitted he was not 100 percent in all of them.
He signed a six-year, $54 million deal with the Cowboys in 2010, but he never reached the 1,000-yard mark again after that 2010 season.
Despite the decline the last few years, Austin, 29, will go down as one of the best undrafted free agents in Dallas Cowboys history. He ranks ninth in team history with 301 catches, seventh with 4,481 yards and 10th with 34 touchdowns. He also had a kickoff return for a touchdown in a playoff game at Seattle as a rookie.
He made the Pro Bowl in 2009 and 2010.
Prior to signing with the Browns, head coach Jason Garrett wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Austin returning to the Cowboys, but it was certainly not a given after the selection of fifth-round pick Devin Street. The Cowboys appeared ready to turn the page after watching the receiver fight through injuries every year toward the end of his time in Dallas.
“The economics of his situation really factored into the decision we made with him, coupled with his injuries,” Garrett said after the draft. “We’ll look at the landscape when we get done. Miles is a guy that we have great respect for as a person and as a player.”
In Cleveland, Austin will be the most experienced of the receivers available for Manziel, the celebrated Texas A&M quarterback drafted by the Browns in the first round last week.
One of four NFL teams without a Super Bowl appearance, the Cleveland Browns finally have a tangible sign of their eight championships prior to the modern era.
Digging through a box in his North Carolina garage as part of the reality show “Garage Gold” on the DIY Network, the grandson of a former team minority owner found a trophy commemorating the 1946 All-America Football Conference championship.
The AAFC did not present teams with trophies, so the 38 players commissioned a pair for owner Arthur B. McBride and minority owner Daniel Sherby.
The 1946 season not only jumpstarted the Browns franchise, but was also the first of 10 consecutive seasons in the title game under Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown.
The Browns won AAFC titles in 1946, ’47, ’48 and ’49, and then won the NFL title in their first year in the league in 1950. The NFL did not hand out permanent championship trophies until 1966.
“We did not know that this one existed at all,” Browns alumni relations manager Tony Dick said after returning from North Carolina this week, via the Chronicle-Telegram. “It’s pretty special that we actually have something that’s physical and you can look and it says that we’ve won a championship.”
The Browns will work with the Pro Football Hall of Fame to decide where the trophy is displayed. If it ends up at the refurbished team headquarters in Berea, the Browns will have a surrogate connection to their halcyon days to overshadow the manufactured motivation that stands as a daily reminder of the “Factory of Sadness” era.
Courtesy: Chris Wesseling | The official NFL website writer
The Dallas Cowboys filled their final coaching staff vacancy with the hiring of former Houston Oiler Gary Brown to oversee the running backs.
Brown spent the past four seasons in Cleveland, where his backs included Trent Richardson, who rushed for 950 yards and scored 11 touchdowns this past season.
A Penn State alum, Brown played eight seasons in the NFL after the Oilers drafted him in the eighth round in 1991, finishing his career with 4,300 yards and 21 TDs. He replaces Skip Peete, who was fired after six seasons with the Cowboys.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys hire Gary Brown as RBs coach
The Cowboys have completed their coaching staff with the hiring of a running backs coach. Dallas has hired Gary Brown.
Brown has spent the past four seasons in Cleveland. Browns running back Trent Richardson was the league’s 18th-ranked rusher and third among rookies, with 950 yards. Richardson also scored 11 touchdowns. Peyton Hillis was Brown’s only 1,000-yard rusher in four seasons, as Hillis gained 1,177 yards in 2010.
Brown replaces Skip Peete, who was not retained after six seasons in Dallas. Peete now is the Bears running backs coach.
Brown played eight seasons in the NFL after being an eighth-round pick of the Houston Oilers in 1991. He rushed for 4,300 yards and 21 touchdowns on 1,023 carries. He started coaching immediately after his playing career ended, starting at Williamsport (Pa.) Area High School in 2000. His first college job was at Lycoming College. He also coached at Susquehanna University and Rutgers before joining the Browns.
It was first from Jerry Glanville during one of those classic NFL Films moments when he uttered the phase to a referee after a call against his Oilers, “This is the NFL which stands for not for long if you keep making calls like that.” Whether you are a front office member like I was for 13 years or a coach in this league, it really can be for not for long. There are so many highs in this profession but there are also gut wrenching lows and you fully understand when you sign up for this job.
Rob Ryan was removed as defensive coordinator of this team Tuesday night by Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett in a move that was described as going in a different philosophical direction. Ryan is a proud man but this is the situation that coaches live with every day. In the case, the general manager and head coach were not happy and this was the best course of action in their minds. Was it the right move? That is up for debate because you can look at Ryan’s side for the number of starters he had to play without for the majority of the season and appalled how they managed to hold his defense together during a difficult time.
For Jones and Garrett, they can point to games where they did have a full squad of defensive players against Seattle and Chicago but were unable to win those games but I think it’s really much deeper than that. When Ryan was in line to take this job, I reached out to friends that I had with the Browns to ask them about Ryan and what he could bring to this team. The majority of the dialog was extremely positive but to a man the one area they focused on was his lack of organization and maybe this is his fatal flaw. There were reasons that Ryan always spoke how fortunate he was to have Matt Eberflus, Brian Baker and Ben Bloom to help him coach and to his credit, he was absolutely correct. They are outstanding coaches.
There is a side of me that believes that Ryan lost this job in the eyes of the general manager and head coach because there simply were times where he tried to do too much with this defense and the lack of organization got him in trouble. The scheme was more important than just lining up and playing. Every game was a track meet from the sideline to the field with Ryan trying to match personnel and I understand that is part of the game but there were times where you saw either too many men on the field or not enough. My gut tells me that the general manager and head coach want a simpler approach in how this team plays defense. It is more about how you can line up in your base front, get off blocks and tackle. It’s fundamental football and not about having seven linebackers on the field. You look at the Chicago Bears and how simple they play defense but also create turnovers. Again, the injury situation limits what Ryan can do but it’s a cleaner approach.
Looking back I will always be thankful for the opportunity to cover Ryan these last two seasons. He was always very honest to me and had time to answer questions about his dad’s “46” defense but this is a bottom line business and he even understands that. The general manager told you he wasn’t happy and no one took this seriously but I guess we will now. I will be interested to see in what direction he and Garrett go, but that is for another story.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout
Black Monday has arrived, and it has brought a lot of change and bad news for many coaches and general managers around the NFL.
We’ll have all the big moves covered, and this post will be a one-stop shop for all the latest news.
Here’s what we right know:
Buffalo Bills: Coach Chan Gailey was let go after three seasons that went nowhere in Buffalo. The defense and quarterback play never improved. It’s unclear if general manager Buddy Nix will remain.
Chicago Bears: In the first mild surprise of the day, coach Lovie Smith was fired after three playoff appearances in nine years. General manager Phil Emery took the job last year and will hire his own man.
Cleveland Browns: The team announced Monday morning that coach Pat Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert are both out. They never had much of a chance once new owner Jimmy Haslam bought the team.
Kansas City Chiefs: Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt announced the team has parted ways with coach Romeo Crennel. The team said it has not made a final decision about GM Scott Pioli’s status.
Philadelphia Eagles: Owner Jeffrey Lurie confirmed Monday morning that coach Andy Reid is out after 14 seasons in Philadelphia. The Eagles won’t waste any time starting a coaching search.
San Diego Chargers: The Chargers announced both coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith have been let go. Ron Wolf has been brought in as a consultant to help search for the next leadership group.
Up in the air
Carolina Panthers: Ron Rivera has struggled to win close games during his tenure and isn’t a natural in game management. A four-game winning streak to end the season could save his job. The Panthers will hire a new GM.
Chances of a change: Strong. The next GM will decide Rivera’s fate.
Detroit Lions: Jim Schwartz and GM Martin Mayhew pulled off one of the best rebuilding efforts of all time after taking over the 0-16 Lions. And then the bottom fell out for a talented roster this year.
Chances of a change: Growing. Multiple outlets said earlier in the week that Schwartz was safe, but Lions ownership is disturbed with the team’s culture, it could make a change. Schwartz is signed through 2015.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Mike Mularkey was hired just last year, but his boss, GM Gene Smith, was fired Monday morning. Mularkey wasn’t able to develop young quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Chances of a change: Good. Mularkey told players in a team meeting that he’s still the head coach after talking with the owner Thursday and Monday. Mularkey’s fate ultimately will be decided by the next GM. Mularkey will have to wait and see.
Dallas Cowboys: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones intimated throughout the process that he hasn’t even thought about changing head coaches. NFL Network contributor Jay Glazer first reported that coach Jason Garrett was safe two weeks ago. Garrett could be asked to hire an offensive coordinator that calls plays.
New York Jets: The Jets announced that GM Mike Tannenbaum was let go Monday morning. But they also announced Rex Ryan will stay on as coach. It’s an awkward arrangement for whomever the Jets hire to run the personnel department.
Tennessee Titans: The Tennessean reported Monday that coach Mike Munchak will keep his job despite a 6-10 record. Personnel executive Mike Reinfeldt is out, though.
Four games went by before he even found the end zone.
And look at him now … Bryant is tied for second in the NFL with 10 touchdown catches, including one in six straight games. He’s scored eight touchdowns here in the last six games.
But that really shouldn’t come as a surprise. If you think about it, six games ago was the start of the second half of the season.
And all 10 touchdowns by Bryant … have occurred in the second half of games.
Bryant has literally been a second-half player this year, both in games and in the regular season.
After the game Sunday, Bryant talked about a never-say-die-attitude and said it stems from his teammates.
“Just don’t quit. When you look in this locker room and you look at the players, if we’re down going into half or we’re just down period, you can never sense it from anyone, that anyone is about to quit,” Bryant said. “It’s all about fighting, fighting, fighting and we’re about to score this drive and play football, and that’s what we do.”
Bryant fought more than just the situation or an opponent, he had to fight through the pain in his fractured left index finger, an injury that jeopardized his chances of playing earlier in the week. But it became clear Bryant was going to do everything possible to play. Even with the injury, he came through with a huge touchdown catch – in the second half of course.
Here’s a quick recap of Bryant’s second-half moments in the second half of the season so far:
Philadelphia, Nov. 11 – After another quiet first half where he had no catches, Bryant came on strong, finishing with 87 yards on three catches, including a diving 30-yard touchdown grab that tied the game late in the third quarter.
Cleveland, Nov. 18 – Bryant was pretty strong from start to finish, grabbing 12 passes for 145 yards. But his clutch moment occurred early in the fourth with a 28-yard touchdown catch in the end zone that gave the Cowboys their first lead. They would need overtime to win.
Washington, Nov. 22 – For the second straight game, Bryant totaled 145 receiving yards, and most of it occurred in the second half. He caught an 85-yard touchdown to get the Cowboys back in the game and then had a spectacular 11-yard scoring catch as well. He just missed catching a third score late in the game that could’ve made a big difference.
Philadelphia, Dec. 2– The Cowboys were again down by two scores and called on Bryant to make the big plays. His 23-yard touchdown catch tied the game in the third quarter and then he gave the Cowboys the lead for good on a 6-yard scoring pass in which he simply ran over the defender to the end zone.
Cincinnati, Dec. 9 – He had just four catches for 50 yards, but half of his production occurred after he suffered the broken finger, which didn’t stop him from a 27-yard touchdown catch midway through the fourth. Bryant had another nine-yard grab on the game-winning drive.
Pittsburgh, Dec. 16 – It took a while for the Cowboys to test Bryant’s finger but in the second half, he started to come alive again. He caught a 24-yard touchdown pass to give the Cowboys a third-quarter lead. He had four catches for 59 yards, but his presence alone made a huge difference.
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Browns have waved off their white-flag giveaway.
Following days of criticism, the Browns have decided to cancel a promotion to hand out white flags to fans before Sunday’s game against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. Because white flags symbolize surrender, the giveaway seemed to imply the Browns were giving up against the Steelers, who have won 16 of the past 17 games between the AFC North foes.
Browns spokesman Neal Gulkis said in a statement on Saturday that the team scrapped the idea "in the best interests of everyone. It is something that was intended to be fun for our fans and that they could rally around, and we regret that some didn’t perceive it that way."
The flag giveaway was poorly received by many Browns fans and even some players.
IRVING – A look at the snaps played by Dallas Cowboys’ offensive players in the team’s 23-20 overtime win over the Cleveland Browns, while analyzing what it means:
RG Mackenzy Bernadeau: 90 of 90
LG Nate Livings: 90 of 90
QB Tony Romo: 90 of 90
RT Doug Free: 90 of 90
RG Derrick Dockery: 90 of 90
TE Jason Witten: 90 of 90
WR Miles Austin: 86 of 90
OL Jermey Parnell: 74 of 90
WR Dez Bryant: 74 of 90
RB Felix Jones: 46 of 90
RB Lance Dunbar: 37 of 90
WR Kevin Ogletree: 30 of 90
WR Dwayne Harris: 26 of 90
WR Cole Beasley: 21 of 90
FB Lawrence Vickers: 20 of 90
LT Tyron Smith: 16 of 90
TE John Phillips: 11 of 90
TE James Hanna: 8 of 90
Takes: For the first time this season Dwayne Harris (26 plays) and Cole Beasley (21) combined for more playing time than Ogletree (30). They also produced four catches on four targets for 28 yards and Harris drew a pivotal 35-yard pass interference which set up the tying field goal that forced overtime.
Ogletree caught one of three passes directed toward him, but did draw a key personal foul late in the fourth quarter. He left and did not return.
Jermey Parnell, seeing extensive action for the first time in his career, struggled. He gave up two sacks and was penalized once for holding. Another was declined.
John Phillips’ playing time continues to shrink, while Hanna sees more action.
Editors Note: Dez Bryant was targeted 15 times, had 12 receptions, including a TD. Also, Lance Dunbar played a significant amount of time vs. Cleveland.
That term does not exactly have a universally accepted meaning. Last Wednesday, when Dez Bryant talked to the media after practice and said, “I think I’m back to being Dez,” it was obvious that he meant it in a positive context.
But due to a controversial young career as a Cowboy, “being Dez” simply means being immature to some people. To just as many, it means being a supremely gifted receiver who can control the outcome of an NFL game.
When Bryant stepped out of bounds rather than fight for the first down on a second-and-16 pass in the second quarter with the Cowboys struggling and down 13 points, it caused a collective eye roll/groan from Cowboy fans everywhere. A “here we go again” sort of feeling.
But Bryant’s mental lapse did not fit either of the common definitions for “being Dez.” Call him what you want, but Bryant is a fighter. Avoiding contact is not one his most common character traits. Asking Bryant to get up for a battle is usually not the hard part. Getting him to calm down afterward is often a little bit tougher.
And Bryant showed the fight in him from that point on in the game. He was basically unstoppable for most of the day, particularly in the second half. All in all, Bryant had his best game of the season. He tallied 145 yards off of 12 catches and a touchdown.
Bryant has let Tony Romo down on his route running in the past, but Romo trusted him against the Browns and it paid off. Bryant was targeted a season-high 15 times. This is tied only by his performance in Baltimore. But the difference between Sunday’s game and the Ravens matchup was that Romo trusted Bryant with the deep ball as well as the short pass.
At a certain point, it became clear that Bryant’s defender (typically Buster Skrine) simply could not guard him. He was too athletic, too skilled and too fast to be contained. When Romo looked to go deep with Bryant, sometimes the only option for the Browns was defensive holding. Bryant caused a number of defensive pass interference calls that kept the Cowboys’ offense on the field.
Which does beg the question of whether or not the Cowboys should throw deep to Bryant more often. With such a talented receiver and the quick enforcement of pass interference penalties in today’s game, the feeling is that Bryant will either come down with the ball or earn a first down through penalty while trying.
With a quarterback who threw a lot of early season interceptions it might not seem ideal to seemingly ask him to just throw the ball up for Bryant to go get. But a few of Romo’s interceptions this season came from Bryant messing up short or intermediate routes so there is risk of an interception, no matter what the route.
As pathetic as it may seem, down by 13 at halftime, it felt like a game in which the Cowboys had no business beating the Browns. They had 68 total yards at the half. They only managed 63 yards rushing for the entire game. The defense was solid except for a few miscommunications, two of which happened to result in Cleveland touchdowns.
And worst of all, the offensive line was banged up and ineffective. Linemen were playing out of position, backups were playing the entire game and a franchise tackle left with an ankle injury. As a result, Romo was sacked seven times for 56 yards. It seemed hard to believe that he would ever get enough time in the pocket to lead the Cowboys to a comeback victory.
But as you know, the Cowboys did come back and win. And they did so by relying heavily on Bryant. He became the go-to guy and it was no secret. The offensive line should receive some credit for playing better in the second half, but Romo was able to get the ball out quicker because he often knew exactly who he was throwing it to: Bryant.
The chemistry that Romo and Bryant developed in the second half was the kind of thing usually reserved for Romo and Witten. But with Bryant, the feeling was that he could explode for a touchdown or huge gain on any given play.
You could say that Bryant has been a knucklehead at times. Maybe accuse him of being unfocused or call him a distraction. But yesterday against the Browns was an example of why the Cowboys are so patient with him. Bryant played like a franchise receiver.
Bryant passed the amateur-viewer test. If someone who knows extremely little about football were to have sat down to watch the Cowboys or Browns, they would have left with the impression that Bryant was one of the most talented and gifted players on the field. They would understand, without the help of the commentators, the impact he had on the game.
The Cowboys still have a lot of things to work on if they expect to make a push for the playoffs, but the production that they got from Bryant puts them on another level as a team in my opinion. If they can fight through the injuries of their offensive line and get more out of their running game (something that might be improved by the return of DeMarco Murray), and still get similar production from Bryant, then the Cowboys might have found the key to their season.
And that’s just letting Dez “be Dez.”
IRVING, Texas – The Browns took down quarterback Tony Romo seven times Sunday after averaging just 2.2 sacks per game entering Cowboys Stadium. They would have finished with eight sacks had defensive back Sheldon Brown not been penalized for illegal contact in the first quarter.
Every sack that counted occurred after left tackle Tyron Smith left the game with an ankle injury, which could keep him out for an extended period of time. Unless Kevin Kowalski works in at center or one of the centers can return from injury to allow Mackenzy Bernadeau to shift back to guard, this is the likely starting group again Thursday against the Redskins.
Eight different Browns players recorded at least half a sack, and none of those players had more than two sacks on the season at the time. Romo still threw for 313 yards despite, not because of, the amount of time he had to throw.
With the Cowboys’ offensive line in a state of flux, it would be easy to simply blame the entire group for the constant pressure from the Browns’ defensive line and linebackers.
But that’s not the reality. Every play, only one or two players missed their assignments.
There were a few trends in the sacks. Four of them occurred in the second half or overtime, when Romo threw the majority of his passes. Five of them occurred in shotgun formation. They weren’t always the fault of the backups, though rarely could guard Nate Livings be pinpointed as the problem.
Both tackles struggled and Doug Free was partially responsible for four of the seven sacks, but no one lineman can shoulder the entire blame. Sometimes, the sacks weren’t on the offensive line at all.
Here’s a breakdown of the seven sacks on Romo:
First sack (9:53 left in second quarter):
On a third-and-12, Romo sets up in shotgun with Jason Witten and Lawrence Vickers to either side of him. Romo sends Kevin Ogletree in motion and the receivers all go deep. They’re all 30 yards downfield before any of them get open. Backup tackle Jermey Parnell gets burned inside by Juqua Parker and doesn’t get any help in the backfield, as Witten and Vickers both ran routes. Romo could have dumped it off to Vickers to avoid the four-man rush, but he didn’t have much time to think before Parker hits him.
Second Sack (5:07 left in second quarter)
It’s the first offensive play since allowing the sack on the previous drive, and again the only routes run fewer than 10 yards were by Vickers and Witten, who were both covered. Dez Bryant ran a deep in, Miles Austin ran a go route and neither of them were open. Defensive end Jabaal Sheard got outside of tackle Doug Free, forcing Romo to move up in the pocket. John Hughes worked around Bernadeau and right guard Derrick Dockery was too late to help. Even if the receivers did get open, Romo wouldn’t have had time to deliver a pass before Hughes got to him.
Third Sack (1:51 left in second quarter)
Later on the same drive, the Cowboys faced a crucial third-and-10 while trailing by 13 points at the Browns’ 41-yard line. In a three-receiver set, Romo took the shotgun snap with Witten and Lance Dunbar to either side of him. Everyone got their blocks except for Free, who Sheard went right around. No receiver got open and Romo was hit before he could even begin his escape attempt. The Cowboys had to punt after driving 32 yards.
Fourth Sack (6:08 left in third quarter)
The Cowboys put themselves in prime position for their first score with a second-and-6 on the Browns’ 19 yard-line. The play was busted from the get go as running back Felix Jones moved left and Romo faked right on what appeared to be a play action pass. Jones couldn’t get over to his right to help in blitz pick up against incoming linebacker Kaluka Maiava and safety Usama Young. Free was also slow to get to Maiava near the line of scrimmage. Romo had some choice words for Jones afterward, as the Cowboys were forced into a third-and-long. Parnell was called for holding on the next play, and the drive resulted in a field goal.
Fifth Sack (7:21 left in fourth quarter)
The sack occurred immediately before Bryant’s go-ahead touchdown reception, and again, it happened at the Browns’ 19-yard line. Romo looks to his left in the shotgun with three receivers on the outside. Had the throw been there, the protection was good enough initially to get a pass off. After his pump fake, he was toast. Free’s man got free inside, forcing Dockery to help. Defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin, the lineman Dockery was blocking initially, went right around Free, who stayed on his man. Rubin then took down Romo on a wide open shot, though the Cowboys salvaged the drive shortly after.
Sixth sack (5:10 left in fourth quarter)
This was the sack most people will remember, causing the Cowboys’ lone turnover of the day on Romo’s fumble.
On a first-and-20 on the Browns’ 28-yard line, Austin got inside his defender down the middle of the field, while Bryant beat his man on a go route by about two or three yards. By the time any of those routes opened up, Romo was in the process of being sacked and stripped.
Seven Browns defenders stayed near the line of scrimmage, matched by seven Cowboys blockers. Parnell didn’t block anyone on the play. Livings stayed with defensive tackle Billy Wynn, while Parnell let defensive end Frostee Rucker move inside untouched on a stunt. Bernadeau was ready for such a move, but he let Rucker go straight by him. Rucker forced the fumble on Romo, allowing linebacker Craig Robertson to corral the football.
Seventh sack (13:53 left in OT)
Nobody was within 10 yards of Witten down the middle of the field on a first-and-10 pass at the Dallas 40-yard line. Romo could have hit the tight end to get near field goal range had he had a split second longer, but the Browns beat Free on the blitz for the sack. Sheard, the defensive end on Free’s side, crashed inside on the play and was picked up by Dockery. The blitzing linebacker, Robertson, then blew past Free on the inside to get to Romo.
These sacks don’t include Robertson’s takedown of Romo in the first quarter after Jones failed to pick up the blitz, as Brown was called for illegal contact on the play.
In addition to Free’s troubles, Dockery and Parnell each had their share of issues in their first extended look of the year and Jones was shaky on a couple blitz pickups. The same crew of linemen will most likely face Washington on Thursday.
The Redskins aren’t one of the best teams in the league at reaching the quarterback, but then again, neither were the Browns. Offensive line coach Bill Callahan might be the busiest man in Dallas with a short week and limited time to figure out what to do to ensure Romo won’t be gobbled up on Thanksgiving Day.
THE DREADED HAIR-COLLAR: Dallas Cowboys tight end John Phillips penalized 15 yards for collaring Cleveland’s horse
The Dallas Cowboys complained about the Cleveland Brown horsecollar tackle that wasn’t really a horse collar at all.
Dallas Cowboys tight end John Phillips was penalized 15 yards for a horsecollar penalty late in the fourth quarter, which led to the Browns scoring a go-ahead touchdown on the next play. But replays showed that Phillips had pulled Josh Cribbs down by Cribbs’ dreadlocks, which is legal.
"It sure looked like he pulled his hair," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We had a pretty good view of it. It was right in front of us. But those guys have to make those judgment calls in a split second. So that is what it is."
The play is not a reviewable play, which is why the replay official never called for Ed Hoculi to go under the hood.
Images courtesy: Steve DelVecchio | Larry Brown
RELATED: JOHN PHILLIPS – "All hair. One hundred percent all hair. All hair."
John Phillips testified Monday at Valley Ranch about his horse-collar penalty.
“All hair,” he said. “One hundred percent all hair.
But, there was no judge in the locker room. No place to appeal. It’s still his penalty.
Still, the fourth-year tight end told reporters he was surprised he actually got flagged on the dragdown of Joshua Cribbs on the fourth-quarter punt return. The penalty put the ball at the 17-yard line, and Ben Watson’s touchdown catch put the Browns up 20-17 with 1:07 left.
“I knew they were probably going to throw it, but i didn’t think they’d actually give the penalty,” he said. “I thought they would talk to each other and realize it was all hair.”
Phillips was afraid he had cost the game.
“Well, it sucks,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, because I put our defense and our team in a compromising situation. We had to punt the ball back to them, and I give them 15 more yards, and then they scored on the next play. Obviously, I felt terrible. I guess it’s not a reviewable play, right? It’s just one of those things.”
Dez Bryant didn’t know exactly where he was when he stepped out of bounds, 1 yard short of the first down in the second quarter. He was trying to do the right thing by following his coaches’ advice to take what he can get and then get down or get out of bounds instead of risking a fumble fighting for an extra yard or 2 against multiple defenders trying to punch out the ball.
"Oh, man, I saw where we was at and I was like, ‘Damn!’" Bryant said after the game. "I didn’t mean to do that. It’s not like me to run out of bounds. I seen like four or five guys coming and stepped out. I didn’t see the first down marker. That’s my bad. I should have known where we was at on the field."
The crowd let him know it was not a smart play, booing him loudly.
"I heard the boos from the crowd. That hurt my heart," Bryant said, putting his hand over his heart.
The Cowboys picked up the first down on the next play — a third-and-one — as Felix Jones got the needed yard (barely). Bryant made it up, too, with 12 catches for a career-high 145 yards and a touchdown.
"I just feel like being focused, just staying focused, not losing composure," Bryant said. "Paying attention to Tony [Romo], paying attention to Miles [Austin], paying attention to everybody. Not only me, but everybody being focused and keeping our head down and playing good football, ain’t no telling where we can go."
Bryant had one play where he broke free and appeared ready to race for a touchdown, but the play had been blown dead. His forward progress had been stopped, according to officials.
"That was too quick," Bryant said of the whistle. "I felt like I broke those tackles, and he blew the whistle too quick. Somebody told me that [the official] fell. Did the guy fall? That’s probably why he blew the whistle. That’s not fair to me, but hey …"
One thing is for sure, it’s never easy with these Cowboys.
Dallas came into this game against Cleveland, the last place team in the AFC North division, expecting a win. On paper, at least, this had the makings for a blowout.
Instead, it turned into an exciting, back-and-forth affair that saw the Cowboys eventually come out on top in overtime, sending 81,936 fans home happy with a 23-20 victory. A win is a win, right?
In defeating the Browns, Dallas won back-to-back games for the first time since winning four straight last November. They also took advantage of the Giants’ bye week, the Cowboys improving their record to .500 (5-5), now just one game behind the 6-4 division leaders.
Where the Cowboys struggled against this upstart Browns group was in the trenches, as the visitors manhandled the Dallas front in the first half and kept Tony Romo scrambling throughout the game. But, the Cowboys came into this contest with Mackenzy Bernadeau, normally a guard, making his first career start at center, both Phil Costa and Ryan Cook out of the game with injuries. That brought in Derrick Dockery to slide into Bernadeau’s spot in the starting right guard position.
Then to make matters worse, left tackle Tyron Smith left the game early in the second quarter with an ankle injury, Jermey Parnell taking over his position. Needless to say, the patchwork group struggled against the Browns defensive front, as Romo was under siege for much of the day, and the running game did little, totaling only 63 yards.
But as the game wore on, Romo only got better, eventually finishing with 313 yards off of 35-of-50 passing with one touchdown and no interceptions. His primary target was Dez Bryant, who set career highs with 12 receptions and 145 yards to lead all receivers. Tight end Jason Witten shipped in seven catches for 51 yards while wideout Miles Austin added 58 yards on six catches.
On the other side of the ball. Cleveland’s underrated offensive line gave quarterback Brandon Weeden time in the pocket and opened holes for rookie running back Trent Richardson, who racked up 144 of yards from scrimmage, including 95 on the ground. Weeden finished with 210 yards passing and two touchdowns, both of which were caught by tight end Benjamin Watson. Josh Gordon and Greg Little finished with 53 yards receiving to lead the team.
Most of that production, though, came in the first half. The visitors let it be known early that they were here to play, as the first quarter was all Browns. In three possessions, the Cowboys managed only 36 yards of offense, failing to get past their own 39-yard line before punting.
On the other hand, Cleveland got something going on its second series of the game. Following a Josh Cribbs 20-yard punt return to the Cowboys’ 48-yard line, the Browns saw Richardson rush five times for 17 yards, plus catch another pass for seven more. Weeden, with plenty of time in the pocket, capped off the drive with a pass to Watson from 10 yards out for the score and a 7-0 lead.
That was then followed with another three points on the Browns’ next drive. Starting at their own 16, they rolled into the second quarter with Richardson again doing most of the heavy lifting. With Weeden camped out in the pocket, the running back drifted out of the backfield and took a swing pass 27 yards down the left sideline.
Three plays later, Gordon made a juggling catch to the Dallas 34, the visitors stopped after gaining one more yard. Kicker Phil Dawson then split the uprights on a 51-yard field goal, the Browns’ advantage now 10-0.
The troubles for Dallas only continued. On their next possession, the already overmatched offensive line was dealt another blow when the left tackle Smith left the game with his ankle injury. With penalties pushing them back to second-and-20, and a sack losing another 10 yards, the Cowboys punted away from their own 20.
Which Cleveland then followed with an 11-play, 47-yard drive that resulted in another Dawson field goal, this time from 47 yards out for a 13-0 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the half.
Dallas actually crossed midfield on their next possession, reaching the Cleveland 41-yard line, but on third-and-10, Browns defensive lineman Jabaal Sheard simply blew by right tackle Doug Free for the sack and a 10-yard loss. Out came the busy Brian Moorman for another punt.
And with that, the half soon came to an end, the Cowboys leaving the field to a smattering of boos, having been outgained in total yards, 177 to 68.
The second half, however, was a different story.
After the two teams traded possessions in the third quarter, Dallas finally put some points on the board. Starting at their own 20, the offense got a 13-yard reception from Bryant with Felix Jones then running for 12 more. Austin caught a pair of passes, his first of the game, for a combined 16 yards with a 15-yard facemask penalty then pushing the Cowboys to the Cleveland 23.
But from there, Romo was sacked for seven yards and Parnell was hit with a holding penalty to force a third-and-23. They made up 10 yards on a pass to Witten, which brought out Dan Bailey for a 44-yard field goal, the score now 13-3.
That little bit of momentum was quickly built upon on the Cowboys’ next series. Forcing the Browns to punt, Romo took over at his own 11 and proceeded to pick apart the Cleveland secondary. He connected with Bryant four times during the drive for a combined 54 yards, Kevin Ogletree adding 10 more plus earning a pass interference call.
Jones eventually punched it in from the 2-yard line with just over a minute gone in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys having narrowed the game to 13-10.
And then, Dallas nearly caught a big break. Last week against Philadelphia, the Cowboys took the lead for good when Dwayne Harris returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown.
This time around, on the ensuing kickoff, the Cowboys special teams appeared to have recovered a fumble by Cribbs, which would have given them the ball deep in Cleveland territory. But, the play was overturned by replay, the Browns maintaining possession.
But that, along with the previous touchdown, seemed to exhilarate the Cowboys defense, and they completely stymied the visitors, forcing another punt with Dallas getting the ball at its own 42-yard line.
Romo went back to work. Facing a fourth-and-1 at the Cleveland 44, he found fullback Lawrence Vickers for three yards to move the flags. He continued to spread the ball around with passes to Lance Dunbar, Witten and, of course, Bryant, a pass interference penalty then taking Dallas down to the Browns 19.
Although sacked on the next play, Romo came back and hit a streaking Bryant in the end zone for a 28-yard score, the Cowboys taking the lead, 17-13 with just under seven minutes remaining.
The Cowboys seemingly then had the game in hand. Weeden dropped back from his own 29, only to be sacked and stripped of the ball by Anthony Spencer, the linebacker also falling on the prize to give Dallas possession at the Cleveland 18.
But just two plays later, Romo himself was sacked by defensive lineman Frostee Rucker and also fumbled, teammate Craig Robertson coming up with it to give Cleveland back the ball at their 35-yard line.
Put right back out on the field, the Dallas defense almost let the game get away from them, as the Browns marched right down the field all the way to the Dallas 1-yard line. But on both third- and fourth-and goal, the Cowboys came up big, first stuffing an attempted dive over the top by Richardson before safety Gerald Sensabaugh defended a jump ball to tight end Jordan Cameron in the left corner of the end zone, the pass incomplete.
But the game wasn’t over yet. With Dallas unable to get the first down, Moorman was forced to punt out of his own end zone and hit a line drive boot to the return man Cribbs, who went around the right end for 21 yards, a horse collar penalty on John Phillips adding another 15 yards down to the Dallas 32.
And on the very next play, Weeden found Watson on a post route in the middle of the end zone for the touchdown and a 20-17 lead with 1:07 left in the game.
Starting at their own 20-yard line with one timeout remaining, the Cowboys got some much-needed help from their opponent. First, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty gave the team 15 yards to the 39, then, after Romo and Austin connected for a 12-yard gain, Harris worked a 35-yard pass interference call on the Browns to give Dallas the ball at the Cleveland 14.
With 23 seconds on the clock, Romo scrambled up the middle for 9 yards, the team calling their final timeout. After a delay of game penalty and an incompletion, Baily came out for a 32-yard field goal, his kick good to tie the game at 20-20 with two seconds left.
The Cowboys won the coin flip and were able to cross midfield, but stalled out at the Cleveland 41. They chose to play the field position game and punted away, pinning the Browns on their 11-yard line.
The strategy paid off as the Dallas defense forced a three-and-out, Harris taking a booming 52-yard punt back 20 yards to the Cleveland 48-yard line.
A quick strike to Cole Beasley on the right sideline went for 9 yards with Dunbar then charging up the middle for seven more. An 8-yard connection to Austin pushed them to the Browns 24-yard line with another Dunbar running picking up three yards for another first down.
Now well within field goal range, Dallas kept things conservative. They tried one more 1-yard run by Dunbar to the 20-yard line before bringing out Bailey for the 38-yard attempt. His kick was good, Dallas taking the game, 23-20.
With the win, the Cowboys improved to 5-5, back at .500 and in the thick of the NFC East hunt. They’ll now wrap up this busy week by hosting the division-rival Redskins just four days from now for their annual Thanksgiving Day game.
Kurt Daniels | Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine
Cowboys showed some resiliency coming back from 13-0 deficit, force overtime and then win on Dan Bailey’s 38-yard field goal
ARLINGTON, Texas — A wild 23-20 overtime win over Cleveland on Sunday afternoon at Cowboys Stadium is an example why there are skeptics whether the Dallas Cowboys are a viable playoff contender.
The standings say that’s the case. With six games left the Cowboys are only one game behind the New York Giants. But inconsistent play and glaring shortcomings raise doubt.
“A Hall of Fame pitcher told me a long time ago, ‘You have to somehow win a game when you don’t have your best stuff,” said Dallas coach Jason Garrett. “I don’t think we had our best stuff today, but we found a way.”
The schedule favors Dallas.
Climbing back to .500 for the first time in a month, the Cowboys (5-5) play four of their final six games at home. Only one team left on the schedule — Pittsburgh — has a winning record.
But against the Browns (2-8) the Cowboys trailed 13-0 at halftime and needed 10 first downs by penalty — nine called against Cleveland’s secondary — to escape with a win in a game Dallas’ beleaguered offensive line allowed quarterback Tony Romo to be sacked seven times.
“I’m not going to make any excuses for winning,” Romo said. “I know it’s hard no matter who you play. At the same time, we need to play better going forward if we’re going to do things we hope to achieve.”
Sparking the second-half rally was wide receiver Dez Bryant, who had a career day. The former Oklahoma State star collected 12 receptions for 145 yards, highlighted by a 28-yard touchdown that put Dallas up 17-13 with 6:46 to play.
That’s when the game, arguably the Cowboys’ postseason hopes, bounced back and forth.
“Anyone who was watching understood how important this win was,” Romo said. “You could feel it, the sense of urgency our team played with.”
A Dallas goal-line stand stopped the Browns three consecutive plays at the 1-yard line to protect the 17-13 lead with 1:42 to play.
The Browns, though, used all three timeouts to get the ball back at the Dallas 17-yard line following a 21-yard punt return and a Dallas horse-collar penalty.
Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden, the rookie from Oklahoma State, fired a 17-yard touchdown to Ben Watson to give the Browns a 20-17 lead with 1:07 left in regulation.
“We continue to battle,” Weeden said. “I don’t know why we’re not getting it done late. That’s the frustrating part.”
After Weeden’s TD pass, Dallas moved quickly down the field, aided by 50 yards on two penalties — a 35-yard pass interference and 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct. The Cowboys settled for a 32-yard Dan Bailey field goal with: 02 left in regulation to tie it.
After both teams failed to score on their initial overtime possession, Romo marched the Cowboys down for a game-winning 38-yard field goal with 6:07 left in the extra period.
Instead of a statement win for Weeden and the young, improving Browns, it was another frustrating loss. Cleveland has lost six games by seven or less points.
“Yeah, we’ve lost our share, but we’ve been in every game,” said Weeden, an Edmond Santa Fe product who had his entire family, numerous friends and OSU fans make the trip to watch him play. “You can’t say we don’t play hard or we don’t fight. We just haven’t been able to finish.”
That’s also been an issue for the Cowboys. But this time they found a way to escape.
Dallas’ owner Jerry Jones’ response was revealing when asked if the win could provide momentum to make a run at the playoffs.
“Well, it gives us a mathematical chance,” Jones said. “As it would turn out, I liked the way we came back today. To get to 5-5 this way, a kind of strange way to earn it, you could look at it negatively. But I hope it will be a doctorate’s degree for us going forward these next six games.”
Considering Dallas’ suspect offensive line suffered another injury (left tackle Tyron Smith), does Garrett feel the Cowboys can find “their best stuff,” facing a short turnaround before they host Washington on Thanksgiving Day?
“You just have to keep grinding,” Garrett said. “We can play better. This is a positive thing for our football team. Hopefully, we’ll get some guys back and get going again.”
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After resuscitating their season last Sunday with a victory over Philadelphia, the Cowboys return home to face Cleveland. The Browns are on their way to posting another poor record. But they have been competitive, losing by single-digit margins in games against Baltimore and Indianapolis. This game isn’t appointment viewing and a Cowboys’ victory won’t cause the masses to change their opinion about where this team stands. But if Cowboys lose the damage will be significant. Here is a look at how both teams match up:
When the Cowboys run
Last Sunday, in the Cowboys’ 38-23 victory over Philadelphia, Dallas enjoyed its best rushing performance since DeMarco Murray suffered a sprained left foot Oct. 14. Against the Eagles, Dallas gained 101 yards on the ground. Despite the good effort, evidence shows Dallas has missed Murray, who is listed as doubtful. In the four games Murray has been sidelined, the Cowboys have averaged only 2.97 yards per carry. That number may increase Sunday against a Browns defense yielding 132.2 rushing yards per game – the sixth-highest average in the NFL.
When the Cowboys pass
This month, Tony Romo has yet to throw an interception. In two games, he has avoided committing any turnovers while posting a quarterback rating of 114.8. Romo’s performance, while unspectacular, has been steady and efficient. If he is given sufficient protection against a Browns defense that has recorded 20 sacks, he should continue his streak of success. Cleveland is allowing 247.9 passing yards per game – the 11th-highest average in the NFL. The Browns have also intercepted 10 passes – tied for sixth-most in the league this season.
When the Browns run
When Cleveland drafted Alabama’s Trent Richardson with the third overall pick last April, they appeared to be picking up a running back that could be a driving force for the Browns’ offense for the years to come. But the Browns are averaging only 89.2 yards per game on the ground and Richardson has been tackled in the backfield on 19 carries this season. The Cowboys haven’t always fared well against physical rushers like Richardson (See Lynch, Marshawn), but they are limiting teams to 105.2 yards per game – the 13th-lowest average in the NFL.
When the Browns pass
Only two NFL starting quarterbacks – Arizona’s John Skelton and Kansas City’s Matt Cassel — have posted a lower quarterback rating than Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden. The 29-year-old rookie has struggled, throwing nine touchdown passes and 12 interceptions while completing only 55.1 percent of his throws. Of course, Weeden’s lack of success isn’t just the result of inexperience. The offense he runs lacks firepower. The Browns’ top receivers — Greg Little and Josh Gordon – are talented but have played a combined total of 34 NFL games. The Cowboys, who have the eighth-ranked pass defense, should be able to corral them.
The Cowboys’ special teams have experienced marked improvement in recent weeks. Last Sunday, Dwayne Harris’ 78-yard punt return for a touchdown was the difference in Dallas’ victory over Philadelphia. Harris has now scored as many return touchdowns as Cleveland’s more accomplished specialist Josh Cribbs has produced in the last three seasons. And Cribbs has already turned the ball over twice this season. While Cleveland’s Phil Dawson is the only NFL kicker who has made all of his field goal attempts this season, making all 17 tries, his performance has only been marginally better than the Cowboys’ Dan Bailey, who has converted 88.9 percent of his 18 attempts.
A noon kickoff and the prospect of facing a lousy opponent may keep the Cowboys’ offense a tad punchy before the start of this game. But the defense should be wide awake. After all, coordinator Rob Ryan gets a chance to exact some revenge against his previous employer. Ryan oversaw the Browns’ defense during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, but his job status was placed in jeopardy when Cleveland fired Eric Mangini and replaced him with current coach Pat Shurmur. Before a move could be made, Ryan left to join the Cowboys. And on Sunday he will face his old team for the first time since leaving.
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Even though Phil Dawson has become the face of the Browns as their longest-tenured player during the expansion era, he will always have a special place in his heart for his first love — the Dallas Cowboys.
Dawson, the Browns’ reliable kicker, grew up a die-hard football fan in Dallas. In the mid-to-late 1980s, Dawson’s father received Cowboys season tickets for a few years in exchange for his services as an accountant. The father-son duo attended virtually every home game when Dawson was in middle school. They were at legendary coach Tom Landry’s final game in 1988 at the old Texas Stadium.
“I can remember taking history books and having to do my homework and claiming I was doing it because I took my book with me,” Dawson said Wednesday after practice. “I have some very good memories. I learned the game of football from my dad and a lot of that was sitting there watching Cowboy games. He taught me a few things and helped me look at things and explain things. Those were some good memories.”
Dawson, 37, is eager for his homecoming Sunday, when the Browns (2-7) visit the Cowboys (4-5). It will be the Browns’ first appearance at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which opened in 2009, and Dawson hopes the retractable roof is closed so he can play in favorable kicking conditions. Since the Browns’ rebirth in 1999, the only time they have played the Cowboys on the road was in 2004.
“It’s fun to share it with family and friends and go back to my hometown,” said Dawson, whose wife, Shannon; sons, Dru and Beau; and daughter, Sophiann, live in Austin, Texas. “I know they’ll all enjoy it, which makes it special for me. But I’m going down on a work trip. I have plenty of time in the offseason to enjoy friends and family and the environment and the cuisine and the whole deal. But when I get off the airplane, it’s all business, and I’ve got a job to do.”
Dawson’s job this week has included playing the role of a ticket agent. He expects more than 30 friends and relatives to attend the game.
“[The list is] growing each and every day,” he said. “I’m about to close down the ticket office. I can’t afford many more.”
Dawson’s family has strong allegiances to the Cowboys. His son, Dru, is not an exception.
“My son, Dru, has a Cowboys room,” Dawson said. “His bedroom is blue, all the Fathead stuff all over the walls. He’s got the star [logo], the NFL emblem. He’s got the stadium. I don’t know if he has any of the players. He has the mural-type stuff all over the place. And then there’s obviously Browns helmets.”
The setting isn’t unlike that of the bedroom Dawson had as a youngster.
“I had a Doomsday Defense poster on my wall,” Dawson said. “I’m kind of dating myself. Obviously, my high school years were the dynasty with the three Super Bowls. I was pretty spoiled as a football fan.”
Dawson was a huge fan of special-teams standout and safety Bill Bates, who played for the Cowboys from 1983-96.
“I loved Bill Bates,” Dawson said. “I didn’t know I’d wind up being a special-teams guy, but I always kind of pulled for the underdog and he was an undrafted guy that was supposed to be too small and too slow but played forever down there, was just a special-teams ace and even when he got in on defense, he did a tremendous job. I’ve always pulled for guys like that.”
When Dawson was an offensive tackle and kicker for Lake Highlands High School in Dallas, he even tried to adopt the style of his favorite player.
“I can remember playing in high school and everyone wanting to look like Bill Bates — the neck roll and the gloves and the wrist bands and the towel, all that stuff,” Dawson said. “… Football is king down there. Unless you grow up in Houston, the rest of the state is Cowboys, and that’s all you did was follow the Cowboys.”
Dawson, of course, won’t be cheering for the Cowboys this weekend. He has made 23 consecutive field goals dating to last season and hopes to keep the streak alive at the expense of his hometown team.
“We’re off to a good start,” Dawson said of his streak. “I certainly don’t want to diminish that, but there’s still seven games to go. So I could screw this whole thing up pretty quick. I like where I am right now, but I’m only as good as my next kick, and the last thing I want to do is to go home to my hometown and poop the bed, so to speak.”
These Cleveland Browns have never beaten the Dallas Cowboys. These Browns – the new Browns, founded in 1999 as a sequel to the historic original franchise. They are 0-2 against Dallas in the regular season heading into today’s important matchup.
The Paul Brown Browns, however, certainly had the Cowboys’ number over the years, beating up on the NFL newcomers for the majority of the 1960s in a series of matchups that bloomed into a classic rivalry, including three playoff games. After the league’s 1970 merger, when Cleveland moved to the AFC, the rivalry unfortunately faded into history, with the teams meeting only sparingly in the regular season until the late Art Modell relocated the club to Baltimore in 1996.
The Cowboys’ luck in their series with the Browns-Ravens lineage has taken a turn for the worse, of course, with Dallas having never beaten Baltimore in four tries, including the heartbreaker earlier this season and the woeful Week 16 matchup in 2008, when the Ravens turned out the lights on Texas Stadium with a 33-24 victory.
These things go in cycles, evidently. The original Browns whipped Tom Landry’s upstart team in each of their first four meetings, beginning with their first game, in Week 4 of the Cowboys’ expansion season, 1960. To that point, the team of undrafted rookies and castoffs from other clubs had acquitted itself fairly well against established NFL competition, having lost to the Steelers, Eagles and Redskins in consecutive weeks, but only by a combined 21 points.
The Browns welcomed the Cowboys into the NFL rather rudely, however, one gorgeous October afternoon at the Cotton Bowl, allegedly in front of 28,500 fans, though many reports suggest the stadium wasn’t nearly as full as the club claimed in those early days. Cleveland scored first on a 46-yard carry by future Hall of Fame runner and receiver Bobby Mitchell in the first quarter, before the great Jim Brown plowed in from five yards out in the second. Mitchell then jaunted 30 yards to make the score 21-0 as the floodgates opened, with the Browns returning an interception for a score before halftime, and Mitchell coasting 90 yards for another touchdown on the opening kickoff in the second half. The Browns led 48-0 before backup quarterback Don Heinrich tossed a garbage-time touchdown to Billy Howton.
It was a sign of things to come that season, as the Cowboys went on to post an 0-11-1 record, managing one tie, late in the season against the Giants, while falling by multiple scores in six of the seven losses to come following the trouncing by Cleveland.
The Browns would repeat the favor twice in 1961, as they joined the Cowboys, Steelers, Eagles, Giants, Redskins and St. Louis Cardinals in the newly formed Eastern Conference. That October, they knocked off a surprisingly 2-0 Dallas team, 25-7, at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, and in December helped eviscerate any hopes of a playoff berth for the Cowboys by beating them 38-17 in Fair Park, in the second of four straight Cowboys losses that sunk their record to 4-9-1.
The Browns won a 19-10 decision over Dallas at home in the teams’ first meeting in 1962, but the second matchup was a different story, seen as something of a pivot point game for the Cowboys franchise and their young quarterback, Don Meredith. Dallas had jumped out to a fine start to the season again, sitting 4-3-1 on the year before losing five of their last six. The lone exception came on Dec. 2, when they tanned the Browns, 45-21, at the Cotton Bowl, in arguably the best performance of the club in its existence to that point.
“You writers and the football public here don’t realize what a fine team you have here in Dallas,” Paul Brown, an admirer of Landry’s, told the assembled media after the game. “You folks just don’t seem to realize this team can give you a championship. They outplayed us all the way … they deserved to win. I congratulate Tom for a fine job.
“Dallas was an inspired team. They’d never beaten us and it had to come sometime, and they did it to us good today.”
The Browns had traded Cowboys-killer Mitchell to Washington the previous offseason (he scored on a 92-yard kickoff return against the Cowboys in his first game with the Redskins) and Dallas managed to hold Jim Brown to only 29 yards on eight carries. Meanwhile, Cowboys running backs Don Perkins and Amos Marsh combined for 209 yards on the ground, while Meredith was 10-of-12 passing for 147 yards and two touchdowns, keeping Cleveland’s defense off balance all day.
Meredith had been struggling in previous games, and hadn’t yet wrestled full-time duties away from veteran Eddie LeBaron, but the fine day against Cleveland was a prelude of what was to come in his career.
“Meredith certainly had better results today,” Landry said after the game he called the Cowboys’ “best showing against a good team at home.”
Still, that impressive day remained the exception rather than the rule in the early years of the series. The Cowboys continued to muddle along in mediocrity while the Browns remained among the NFL’s elite. Cleveland won the next seven games in the series, not to mention an NFL Championship in 1964, while the Cowboys didn’t even experience their first winning season until 1966.
Once Jim Brown retired after the 1965 season, the series turned a bit. Dallas won a measure of confidence that year with a 26-14 home win over a good Browns squad on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys’ debut on the holiday, in what would become an annual tradition. By 1967, the ghosts of Cleveland’s domination had been fully exorcised, or so it would seem. The Cowboys beat Cleveland twice that year, including a 52-14 destruction of the Browns in the Eastern Championship Game, the first playoff win in the club’s eight-year history.
A week later, on New Year’s Eve, the Cowboys lost to Green Bay on a last second Bart Starr sneak in the NFL Championship, the game better known as the Ice Bowl. It was the beginning of the Cowboys’ “Next Year’s Champions” era, though the unwanted legacy was only furthered by playoff slip-ups against … Cleveland.
After beating the Browns convincingly in their run to a 12-2 record in 1968, the heavily favored Cowboys fell to the Browns in the Eastern Championship Game.
“A whole year shot in two-and-a-half hours,” Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm surmised afterward.
It turned out to be the last game of Meredith’s career and a rather disgraced ending. He completed only three of nine passes, connecting with the Browns as often as his own receivers. Meredith’s interceptions led to 17 Cleveland points, and he eventually gave way to Craig Morton under a deafening swarm of boos, the Cotton Bowl crowd en masse deciding their team could never win with Dandy Don, despite the fact he’d posted his best season yet in 1968.
“We needed a psychological lift,” Landry said following the loss. “Morton was the only thing I had that I could use. I took Meredith out not so much for what he was doing, but to try to shake them up. … I hated to take him out. In my opinion, he wasn’t wholly responsible. I don’t know what he will do (in the offseason). I can’t speak for him, but you can bet he feels worse than anybody right now about this game.
“I wouldn’t say (we) got whipped physically – it was more mentally than physically.”
With Meredith retiring after the season, Morton accepted the offensive reins, but his luck against the Browns and in the playoffs was no better. He threw three picks in a 42-10 Week 7 drubbing at Cleveland in 1969, one of just two Cowboys losses in the regular season. Yet again, Dallas was favored in an Eastern Championship matchup with the Browns, and yet again they came up short. Way short.
The Browns jumped out to a 24-0 lead at the Cotton Bowl, and put the finishing touches on the game when Walt Sumner returned a Morton interception 88 yards for a fourth quarter score. Roger Staubach took over for Morton, but the lead was too far out of reach even for “Captain Comeback,” and the Browns advanced with a 38-14 victory.
“We’re not choke-ups,” receiver Bob Hayes said after the game. “There were 40 guys out there and every one of them played his heart out. … I don’t know what happened. Nobody does. It’s a mystery to all of us. We were ready.
“I looked over to our bench and I could see shoulders sag. Guys who had been eager and jumping to get into the game seemed to be saying, ‘Oh no, here we go again. You play hard to get to this game – the playoffs – and you either have it or you don’t have it. We didn’t have it. Why? It’s a mystery to me. We’ve been pointing to this particular game since last September. It’s one we knew we had to win. We have to win a big one to shake off this image. Some day we’re going to do it.”
The Browns had played a huge role in the Cowboys’ earning of the “Next Year’s Champions” moniker. Cleveland had dominated the all-time series to that point, with 14 wins against only five losses, but Dallas has gotten the best of Browns since, winning seven of the 10 matchups between the clubs. None of the games was bigger than 1970, the Browns’ first year in the AFC, when chance pitted the teams in a late season battle once again. The Cowboys had opened the season 5-4, and needed a serious winning streak late in the season to earn a playoff spot. On a muddy, near-freezing day at Municipal Stadium, Dallas triumphed 6-2, the product of two Mike Clark field goals and an excellent day for Landry’s defense, which shut down the Browns running game and recorded four takeaways.
When the Cleveland franchise was reformed in 1999 – four years after the original club moved to Baltimore – their first preseason outing was against the Cowboys in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. It would prove to be a remarkable night, not only for the Browns’ rebirth, but also as the rare preseason contest that reached overtime, something coaches typically try their best to avoid.
Jim Brown, Bobby Mitchell, Don Meredith and Bob Hayes had given way to the likes of Karim Abdul-Jabbar at running back and Tim Couch at quarterback for the Browns, with backups such as Ryan Neufeld and Singor Mobley playing big roles for the Cowboys by the end, when Cleveland’s Phil Dawson decided the game with a field goal.
“It’s good to see the Dawg Pound back in the NFL,” Troy Aikman said afterward, welcoming the return of the new, old Browns, three years after their apparent demise, and some 30 years since they last played the Cowboys for something truly meaningful.
The teams had certainly played bigger contests, but the history behind the preseason opener made it at least noteworthy, just like today’s game, echoes of an all-but-forgotten rivalry.
Photo: Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, Don Meredith, Craig Morton, and Danny White
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First photo: Amos Marsh Jr. (jersey #31), Full Back/Return Specialist, 1961-1964
Amos Marsh Jr. was signed as a rookie undrafted free agent by the Dallas Cowboys in 1961, because they were impressed by his speed. Back then his nicknames were "Moose" and "Forward Marsh".
He started his career as a wide receiver and special teams player. In 1962 to take advantage of his size and speed, he was moved to fullback, playing alongside Don Perkins where he became one of the league top 10 rushers with 802 yards and a 5.6 yards average per carry. That year he also set the franchise record for the longest kickoff return with 101 yards, a record that was broken by Alexander Wright 29 years later in 1991. The play came against the Philadelphia Eagles, when the Cowboys became the first NFL team in history to produce two 100-yard plays in the same game: a 100 yard interception return for a touchdown by strong safety Mike Gaechter and the 101 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Marsh.
Marsh’s production regressed during the following years, leading the Cowboys to trade him to the Detroit Lions in 1965 after the team acquired fullback J.D. Smith
Courtesy: Dallas Star magazine | Cleveland Plain Dealer archives | NFL | Dallas Cowboys
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Photo: Trent Richardson named SEC Player of the Week
BEREA, OHIO — Trent Richardson attended the same high school as Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith. The talented rookie also owned a No. 22 Cowboys jersey with Smith’s name on it.
Photo: Trent Richardson, talking with high school students
On Sunday afternoon, Richardson hopes to play in front of his idol for the first time as a professional when the Browns travel to Dallas.
“I’m one of Emmitt’s biggest fans, so it would mean a lot to me if he’s at the game,” Richardson said Wednesday following practice. “He’s someone who I’ve gotten to know pretty well and he’s a great man.
“We talk probably two or three times a month, and the thing I appreciate the most is he’ll be straight with you. He’ll tell me exactly how I’ve been doing and what I need to do to get better.”
Smith regularly attends Cowboys home games and resides in North Texas, but team officials couldn’t guarantee his attendance this weekend. The Pensacola Escambia High graduate is completing on the all-star edition of “Dancing With The Stars,” which airs live from Hollywood each Monday.
Not surprisingly, Richardson said he is tuning in each week to watch Smith strut his stuff in the ballroom.
“Definitely, he got moves, man,” the third overall draft pick said, laughing. “He’s a champion in all phases; dancing, playing football, everything.”
Smith still sits atop the NFL’s all-time rushing list with 18,355 yards (eight years after his retirement), while Richardson leads Cleveland with 575 yards through nine games this season.
Though Richardson is quick to say he hasn’t earned the right to be compared to his mentor, it’s worth noting that he is on pace to eclipse Smith’s rookie rushing total of 937 yards with Dallas in 1990.
“He’s the person I wanted to be like the most when I was growing up,” Richardson said. “I watched him all the time, just like I go back and watch tapes of Walter Payton and Jim Brown.
“How can you be a great running back if you don’t watch tapes of guys like that to learn from?”
Photo: Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith – NFL’s all-time leading rusher
Richardson added that his ailing ribs feel much better after the Browns’ bye week, but he still isn’t close to 100 percent healthy. The 5-foot-9, 230-pounder suffered torn cartilage during Cleveland’s Oct. 14 victory over Cincinnati.
“He says he’s healthier, but I haven’t like punched him in the ribs or anything to check,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur joked. “But he’s going to be out there practicing and said he feels good. That’s a positive sign for our team.”
Courtesy: Brian Dulik | Chronicle-Telegram (Ohio)
Editors Comment: It should be noted that while Emmitt Smith is his idol and mentor, Cleveland’s stud running back Trent Richardson sports a jersey of another famous Dallas Cowboy … Tony Dorsett.
Dallas Cowboys fullback Lawrence Vickers doesn’t care about his sore knee or that he played 27 plays last week or that he had four touches last week. All he cares about is beating Cleveland.
"Cleveland was home. I was there five years," Vickers said. "I gave that organization a lot. I learned a lot. I got a lot from them. I appreciate them for even drafting me. It’s personal in the sense that it’s like playing your family. Whenever you play against family, you want them bragging rights. So yeah, it’s personal."
Vickers was a sixth-round draft pick of the Browns in 2006. On Thursday, Vickers named the two head coaches, the four offensive coordinators and the seven starting quarterbacks he played for and with in Cleveland before leaving for the Texans as a free agent during the 2011 off-season.
"If you give something five years of your life, and you put all you put into it, it’s going to be personal to you," Vickers said. "Point blank, period. It is what it is. It’s not that, ‘Oh, I’m mad.’ I’m not mad, upset, at all. Cleveland gave me a chance. They were the team that picked me in the draft, so I’ll forever love Cleveland. They gave me the chance to do what I wanted to do, and that’s play football. So it’s no hate thing. It’s I’m going to celebrate."
Vickers’ sore left knee kept him out of practice Wednesday, and he was limited Thursday. But Vickers says he won’t miss Sunday’s game for anything.
"It would take for me to die [to not play]," Vickers said. "Lord bless me, I hope I don’t do that. I ain’t missing this for nothing in the world. It’s personal. Believe that one."
HUMOROUS FLASHBACK: Lawrence Vickers leaves practice with fire ants in his pants
I must start off this post by saying that we’re not making this up.
Dallas Cowboys fullback Lawrence Vickers was forced to leave Wednesday’s OTA practice once he felt the burning sensation of fire ants in his pants.
“Fire ants got in my pants,” Vickers said. “I was freaking out. Oh, ants!”
Fire ants are reportedly a nuisance in the Dallas around this time of year. Vickers was bitten by them about four months ago. At that time he found out he’s allergic to them when he started wheezing and his neck started to swell up. Now he carries an EpiPen with him for cases like today.
MORE ABOUT VICKERS –> PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Dallas Cowboys FB Lawrence Vickers
BEREA, Ohio — Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur minced no words Wednesday afternoon when asked what quarterback Brandon Weeden needs to do better in these last seven games.
"Don’t throw interceptions. Done. End of story," said Shurmur. "I want to be right to the point."
But he still doesn’t want Weeden to lose the gunslinger mentality that he brought with him from Oklahoma State.
"The essence of a quarterback is you have to be a good decision-maker," Shurmur said. "And you decide when it’s important to try to be aggressive with a throw and then it’s also important to then be smart with the football. I’ve looked at all of those interceptions and there are times when he could’ve made better decisions. There’s of course things that have happened where a ball bounces off a guy’s chest. So you look at all of those things. You don’t want to play anxious football, but you also have to be smart."
He said despite Weeden’s chances, he still believes in him wholeheartedly.
"I think he’s got a chance to be an outstanding player. I don’t think there’s any question about it," Shurmur said. "He’s got to lead us to victories and don’t throw interceptions."
He said Weeden sees defenses well and understands concepts.
Shurmur addressed a number of other topics in his press conference Wednesday afternoon:
• On Greg Little addressing the team on Monday about making sacrifices: "I knew he was going to do it. He called me and asked if he could talk in the first team meeting. I thought his comments were very insightful and I was glad he did it. I’ve always appreciated Greg because he’s a competitor. He’s a tough guy. He’s fun to work with because he listens."
• On Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo: "The game is never over when he’s got the ball in his hand. He’s got outstanding weapons to throw the football to. Jason Witten leads all tight ends with 66 receptions, he’s got explosive players on the outside, they run the ball well and he’s proven he can win games in this league. He makes big-time plays and that’s what makes him dangerous."
• He said tight end Ben Watson is the honorary fourth game captain this week.
• On right tackle Mitchell Schwartz: "I expected him to be a very good player from day one because he was the starter. I’m extremely hopeful he’s going to be a good player for a long time."
• He said Trent Richardson told him his ribs feel better after the bye week.
• On whether certain players will get more playing time after the bye-week evaluation: "Maybe yes, maybe no. Probably maybe yes."
• On Josh Cribbs: "We know what kind of an impact he has on special teams, which can’t go unnoticed. He does more than just the average punt returner and kick returner, because he’s involved in all of the coverage units and he’s an outstanding competitor in that phase and I really appreciate it."
• On Cowboys rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne: "We spent a lot of time evaluating him, had him in, he was one of the guys we talked to quite a bit. He’s an outstanding player. He plays very well in bump-and-run. He challenges all the time. A guy that challenges and is very talented has a chance to be successful."
Courtesy: Mary Kay Cabot | The Plain Dealer
Jason Garrett grew up around the Cleveland Browns. His father, Jim, was a Browns assistant coach for seven seasons from 1978-84. The Cowboys coach has fond memories of his time in Cleveland.
"That was the time of the Cardiac Kids," Jason Garrett, 46, said Wednesday. "Sam Rutigliano was the head coach. He did a great job there. Brian Sipe was the quarterback. They really had some great teams, some fun teams."
The Browns went 51-54 in those seven seasons, with two playoff appearances. But those teams set the stage for Cleveland reaching the AFC Championship Game three times in the late 1980s.
Sipe played for the Browns from 1974-83, passing for 23,713 yards with a 74.8 passer rating before departing for the USFL. He played two seasons in the USFL before retiring.
"Sipe was my guy," Garrett said. "He was fantastic. I didn’t really know him. I was a relatively young kid, but I was a huge fan. He was unbelievable."
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media from Valley Ranch as his team begins their preparations for the Cleveland Browns.
PHILADELPHIA — Morris Claiborne remembered the last time he was penalized five times in a game: Never.
In his last year at LSU, Claiborne was penalized just once.
On Sunday afternoon, the Dallas Cowboys’ rookie cornerback was flagged twice for being offsides and three times for holding a wide receiver. He also gave up a touchdown, on an incredible one-handed catch by Riley Cooper in the first quarter.
But Claiborne is a talented player who had a bad day during the Cowboys’ 38-23 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I think that I had a rough game out there and did not play my best," Claiborne said. "I got a lot of penalties called on me and I just have to learn from that. I just need to go back and get it fixed."
When opposing teams watch tape of the rookie, they see he’s pressing receivers and not getting much deep help. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan trusts his rookie corner to make plays in the passing game, and that’s the smart thing to do.
After Claiborne struggled Sunday, you begin to wonder if more teams will take advantage.
The Cowboys can’t afford for Claiborne to lose confidence, and that doesn’t seem to be the case judging from his reaction in the locker room. He was joking with Brandon Carr, who picked up his first Cowboys interception and first career interception return for a touchdown, that he will end the 2012 season with more turnovers.
"I have seen him grow on the field and as a man off the field," Carr said. "I expect big things from him his whole career."
The word "turnovers" is a delicate one around the Cowboys these days. The conversation can quickly take a turn to focus on the word "takeover" instead.
Ryan wants his defense to take over games, and getting turnovers will do it. This team doesn’t get enough of them, but with the season on the line the Cowboys responded with Carr’s pick and a fumble recovery for a touchdown by Jason Hatcher to close the show.
There should have been a few more. Orlando Scandrick let two balls bounce off him that could have easily been picks.
At one point during Claiborne’s day, Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin screamed at the rookie as he laid on the ground after being penalized again for holding.
After Claiborne got up, nose tackle Jay Ratliff said something to the rookie.
It’s all love. Or tough love.
"They were just picking me up and pushing me to just make the next play," Claiborne said. "It lifted me up and I just kept going. I just left it all out on the field. I play good angry and I knew I needed to make up for some penalties and was able to do that."
Claiborne has to fix his issues quickly because the Cowboys have a feeling they can make a run in the second half of the season.
It seems inexcusable to get two offsides calls as a cornerback, but Claiborne is trying to press receivers quickly and redirect their routes.
"I got a little caught up in it," he said. "Just trying to get down and get my hands on [the receiver], and the refs said he was yelling at me, but hell I didn’t hear him."
Three of Claiborne’s five penalties led to scores — two touchdowns and a field goal. There was another costly penalty, in which he was called for holding a receiver on the other side of the field that negated an interception by Anthony Spencer.
"That really kind of dropped me," Claiborne said. "I can’t believe he called it."
Claiborne isn’t going to get benched as the season enters the late stages. He’s going to get chewed out for mistakes, but the confidence is high that he will make plays.
He gets another chance to prove himself next week against the Cleveland Browns.
"I can’t take that as me being a young corner," he said. "Because I have to go out and play. I’m out here with all these veterans and they expect me to go out there and play. The rookie stuff, all of that stuff is overblown. I don’t take it as learning, I got to go out and play if we want to be the best secondary in this league, I can’t go out and play like that.
"You won’t see another performance like that from me."
PHILADELPHIA (105.3 THE FAN) – The best explanation for why Jerry Jones would attempt to sidestep last weekend’s rumors about Sean Payton as a future Cowboys coach but then this weekend talk fairly openly about rumors about Mike Holmgren as a future Cowboys coach has nothing to do with Payton, with Holmgren, or with sitting Dallas coach Jason Garrett.
It has everything to do with Jerry being Jerry.
“Of course, Mike Holmgren is a heck of a coach,” Jones said on Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan before Sunday’s Cowboys-at-Eagles kickoff. “But the facts are that Jason Garrett gives us an outstanding chance to be what we want to be. So, there you have it. I wouldn’t comment one way or the other there with Mike.”
Of course, he just did comment one way or the other regarding Holmgren, with whom Jones became friendly years ago when the Super Bowl-winning coach (then with the Packers) served with Jones on the NFL’s powerful Competition Committee. And Jones said more, explaining that when he heard about the CBSSports report about Holmgren harboring “serious interest’’ in Dallas if there should be a vacancy, he visited with Cowboys play-by-play voice Brad Sham of The Fan to catch up on the news.
“I was interested in why he said he would like to be the coach,” Jones said. “And that was good. We are good friends, have a lot of respect for each other, served on the Competition Committee together for eight years. He’s very familiar with how we operate the Cowboys, and does have a high appreciation for our talent that we have on the team right now. All of that is a compliment. Thank you, Mike.”
As noted last week, Holmgren – not successful in his executive position with the Cleveland Browns – is among Jones’ confidants, a friendly advisor as Jerry runs his team as the owner, president and GM.
Jones also has a relationship with suspended Saints coach Payton. And with hundreds of other football names, some more headline-grabbing than others.
If a football person wants a job, or wants a raise, strategically, he might leak info about being interested in Dallas. Meanwhile, if a reporter wants attention, he might make certain to release inside info under the spotlight of an NFL Sunday … and to raise the profile of the story by including the lightning-rod Cowboys in the first paragraph.
It is not Jerry Jones’ plan to fire Garrett, though Dallas’ 3-5 start has placed the young coach the middle of these sort of stories.
“We need to win a game,’’ Jones said earlier this week. “I looked for an uptick when Jason took over (in the middle of the 2010 season). I look for that now. The arrow is going up.’’
So why is Jerry Jones willing to let himself be drawn into conversations like this? Because which ever way the arrow is pointing, Jones likes to make certain the TV cameras are pointed at him and his Cowboys.