Tag Archives: Cowboys Stadium

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE: New York Giants undefeated at Cowboys Stadium; New era begins today at AT&T Stadium

Dallas Cowboys expect AT&T Stadium to become important in the playoff runs - The Boys Are Back blog

The Giants are 4-0 at Cowboys Stadium. They know that. The Cowboys know that.

It’s not a pretty stat.

Some Cowboys players look at it in the face and stare back. Some ignore it.

But just about everyone interviewed this week was asked about it. Here are some of the reactions from the week at Valley Ranch:

Dez Bryant: “You just brought it back to my attention. That’s in the past to me. It’s what’s going to go down on Sunday, that’s what we’re looking forward to. All that stuff about them being undefeated in the past, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about Sunday, and we can’t wait.”

DeMarco Murray: “Are they? I don’t know. Maybe they like it here. We definitely got to make sure we change that around a little bit.”

DeMarcus Ware: “I look at it as it’s time to have a turnaround. They’ve won every game here at our stadium. It’s all about image, how you want to build your image in that first game. Why not go out there and have a good game against a great team?”

Jason Witten: “Obviously you get upset about that. It’s disappointing more than anything, just that division opponents handled you that way. But every year is different, and so the games, when you look at them, they all came up different ways. I don’t think you can allow that to affect you. Regardless of where we’re playing, this is a big game.”

Jason Hatcher: “You want to protect your house. You don’t want nobody to come in here and kick your butt in your own house. But at the same time, we’ve got to go out there and play great football. We be the team we’re supposed to be and play like we’re supposed to be, doing what we did in training camp, Sunday’s game, we’ll come out with a win. We can’t just forget about what we did in training camp, how hard we worked, and go out there and play like crap, like we did the last couple years. That ain’t going to get it.”

Tony Romo: “Obviously, they’ve done a good job recently playing at the stadium. More than anything, we need to make sure that we create a home-field advantage. Our fans have done a great job. We need them to be at their best on Sunday night. When they are, they’re very tough to deal with here in Dallas. I expect them to be like that on Sunday, and I think that will help us gain a big advantage if we get that.”

Orlando Scandrick: “They only played in it what, three times? Yeah, I mean we need to go out and protect our home turf. I mean, people got to feel like when they come to Dallas to play it’s going to be a tough environment, that these guys play hard at home, that they play hard all the time.”

Jason Garrett: “The Giants are a good football team. We have had some great games with them and we’ve gone out there and played some great games with them. They have come down here and played some great games. They always seem to be close. They are always competitive. It’s an outstanding organization. It’s been a great organization for a long time. Their head coach is outstanding. He is a Hall of Fame coach. And they’ve got a lot of really, really good football players. So regardless of where you play them, it’s going to be a great challenge. We have great battles with them in both stadiums.”

And, the Giants, too, were asked about it in a conference call with DFW reporters …

Tom Coughlin: “Well, both teams play extremely hard. We’ve been fortunate enough to win them at the end.”

Eli Manning: “I don’t think there’s anything to it. We’ve had some tight games. Last year, literally a game of inches where the receiver had a pinkie out of bounds on the last play. A few years before that, we’re down 12 with five minutes and fought back for a win. There’s just been some games over the years, and so hopefully we can just find a way to hang in there and put ourselves in a situation to win the game at the end.”

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COWBOYS STADIUM RENAMED: Welcome to AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys

Welcome to AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

ARLINGTON, Texas — Welcome to AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

At a press conference Thursday, the two iconic American brands jointly announced an expansion of their long-standing relationship to include the new name as well as plans to create an innovative, mobile-first experience for fans.

“AT&T is an iconic American leader that has guided the path of communication in the world for more than 100 years,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.  “Our stadium has always been about providing fans with an unsurpassed experience in the area of technology. With AT&T, we are growing our relationship with one of the world’s strongest and most innovative companies to ultimately provide fans with the latest cutting-edge technology for many years to come.

“Dallas is our home town, and we’re proud to expand our successful relationship with the Cowboys, one of the most visionary sports franchises around,” said Cathy Coughlin, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President and Global Marketing Officer.  “This is a terrific opportunity to further integrate AT&T’s industry-leading mobile technology with the premier sports and entertainment venue to create a world-class fan experience.”

The name change, effective immediately, will be reflected in substantial signage updates throughout the upcoming football season, prominently featuring AT&T, both inside and outside of the stadium.

The Cowboys and AT&T will work together to deliver an interactive gameday experience for fans like no other. AT&T and the Cowboys also will continue to invest in advanced mobile technology in and around AT&T Stadium to benefit all visitors. For example, they —

·       Have recently doubled the capacity of AT&T’s 4G LTE network inside the stadium, in the plazas and in parking lots.

·       Will nearly double the capacity of the Wi-Fi network inside AT&T Stadium, giving all visitors a significantly enhanced mobile Internet experience. This will be completed in time for the Cowboys’ regular season.

·       Will enhance – in time for this year’s preseason games – the Cowboys’ mobile app with maps and way finding to improve the overall fan experience on game days.

In addition to Cowboys’ games,  AT&T Stadium is already lined up to host a series of major events in the near future, including:

·       2014 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic

·       2014 and 2015 Cowboys Classic Kick-Off games

·       2014 NCAA Men’s Final Four

·       2015 First-Ever College Football Playoff National Championship Game

AT&T Stadium hosts an average of 30 marquee events annually – from soccer and motocross to monster trucks and concerts – and attracts close to 2 million visitors each year. Additionally, nearly half a million guests visit the venue annually to take part in stadium tours. Since opening in 2009, almost 10 million people have entered the doors at AT&T Stadium for events and tours. In addition, Dallas Cowboys games consistently deliver some of the highest-rated telecasts during the NFL season, including a number of nationally televised prime-time broadcasts each year. Cowboys fans also are among the most loyal, with season ticket holders in all 50 states and several countries.


Watch the official AT&T Stadium announcement with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

AT&T Stadium Announcement

Watch the official AT&T Stadium announcement with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. (Duration – 39:11)

 

Click HERE to watch … or click HERE to listen to the audio (MP3)

NO COOLERS OR CAMERAS: Dallas Cowboys, NFL limiting what fans may bring into the stadium

NO COOLERS OR CAMERAS - Dallas Cowboys, NFL limiting what fans may bring into the stadium

The Dallas Cowboys and the NFL announced a new bag policy, limiting what fans may bring into the stadium.

The league will now allow only clear plastic, vinyl or PVC bags no bigger than 12 by 6 by 12 inches and a “clutch” bag, about the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap.

Fans can also bring in a one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag like a Ziploc.

Medically necessary items will be allowed after they’ve been inspected.

Fans will not be allowed to bring in purses, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, fanny packs, cinch bags, luggage, seat cushions, computer bags or camera bags.

The NFL has 12x6x12 bags with team logos on sale at http://www.nflshop.com, but fans can obtain their own anywhere, the league said. The price of the bags on http://www.nflshop.com was unavailable Thursday afternoon, but the text of the policy is there.

NEW NFL RULES: Dallas Cowboys can use video boards to encourage fans during plays

NEW NFL RULES - Dallas Cowboys can use video boards to encourage fans during plays - the boys are back blog

NEW YORK — The NFL will allow teams to use video scoreboards to encourage crowd noise in stadiums during entire plays.

Although the scoreboards can only use audio prompts until 20 seconds remain on the play clock — down from 30 seconds — video prompts now can be used any time. Those videos also were limited to the final 30 seconds on the play clock until the 2013 season.

That’s the latest change the league is allowing in an attempt to enhance the fan experience in stadiums. Last week, teams were notified they must place cameras in their locker rooms to provide video only, with the footage being displayed on the video boards and also on team apps.

Teams have control over content.

Home teams also will be required to show replays on the video boards after all scoring plays, turnovers, challenged plays, first downs and receptions where the receiver ends up out of bounds. Multiple replays of any play automatically reviewed must be shown “with the very best camera angles available.”

Visiting teams now must be introduced as a unit 10 minutes before kickoff.

The NFL also says 98 percent of tickets for 2013 regular-season games already have been sold. That includes season tickets, individual game seats and group sales.

DELAYED REACTION: Danny Amendola’s father sues Cowboys Stadium

You might remember the viral video of a runaway golf cart at Cowboys Stadium that plowed into a group of people following a high school football game in 2011.

One of the people injured in the bizarre incident was Spring Dekaney High School head football coach Willie Amendola, the father of New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola.

Willie Amendola now has filed a $1 million lawsuit against Cowboys Stadium, according to Comcast SportsNet Houston. Amendola cites personal injury and “great personal anguish and embarrassment” to him and his family following the highly publicized incident.

The unmanned cart took off after an end zone pylon accidentally became wedged against the accelerator. The cart collided with Amendola and a group of reporters near midfield, then carried the coach approximately 30 yards before someone was able to jump on the cart, dislodge the pylon and apply the brakes.

MOTHER NATURE VISITS DALLAS: Cowboys move practice to Cowboys Stadium

Dallas Cowboys practice before St Louis Rams game - The Boys Are Back blog

The Cowboys nearly made it through a whole season without having to move a practice indoors, but they now have had to do it twice in three practices. Last Thursday, high winds forced the Cowboys to move their practice to Highland Park High School’s indoor facility. That was the first time Dallas had a practice moved from their outdoor practice facility at Valley Ranch.

Today, the Cowboys will practice at Cowboys Stadium because of slick conditions on their outdoor practice fields. The Cowboys were unable to practice at Cowboys Stadium last week because of the state championship football games played there.

In 2010, the Cowboys moved four practices — three to Cowboys Stadium and one to TCU. In 2011, Dallas moved three practices to the stadium. The Cowboys used indoor facilities at Coppell High School and at Southlake Carroll in 2009 when 13 practices were moved.

The Cowboys have not had an indoor facility since theirs blew down during a severe thunderstorm on May 2, 2009.

THE BAYOU VS. THE BOYS: All hands saddle-up for the game 15 shootout

Saddle up Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, TexasAll hands saddle up. A Texas sized shootout is about to commence.

         Think about it. That is exactly how these Dallas Cowboys have turned a 3-5 start to this 2012 season into an encouraging 8-6 with two games to go and a potential playoff berth emerging out of the blue.

         And it’s the exact same old Texas cattle drive toughness needed this Sunday at Cowboys Stadium. It’s this suddenly surging Cowboys team, winner of three straight games this late in a season (for only the second time since they swept the final five in the 1993 Super Bowl campaign), meets head on with those 6-8 New Orleans Saints.

Courtesy - Saddle Up Cowboy Art Print by Jim Tunell - The Boys Are Back blog

         Everyone, that is. All 92 hands comprising the 46-man, game-day roster, along with every one of those coaches and staff personnel, from head coach Jason Garrett to defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, all the way down to little-known but hardworking Ben Bloom and Dave Borgonzi.

Injured Cowboys tough it out - The Boys Are Back blog

         For this injury-riddled team, possibly growing up before our very, and for some, quite unsuspecting eyes, they have needed and will continue to need the village that has been the impetus for a second-half surge, winning five of the past six games to vault into a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East with Washington and New York.

         That is why so many of you are having significant problems trying to figure out what happened between 3-5 and 8-6. Why a team that lost three of those first eight games by an eyelash suddenly has won four of these five by the equal breath of that same eyelash.

         Oh, it’s been the red-hot play of Tony Romo, you say, the Cowboys quarterback completing 168-of-250 passing attempts in the past six games for 1,875 yards, 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions, factoring out to a 100.3 passer rating.

         Or it’s been Dez Bryant, putting together a Pro Bowl-push of consistency in the same six games, grabbing 37 passes for 584 yards and eight of his 10 touchdowns, as many scores in 14 games as any No. 88 in Cowboys history has ever caught in a 16-game season, not even giving quarter to a fractured left index finger.

         Or it’s been the return of DeMarco Murray, the lead runner who has come back to gain 213 yards and score three rushing touchdowns on 213 carries since missing six and a half straight games with torn foot ligaments.

         Or the steady hand of Jason Witten, leading the team with 97 catches, just six shy of becoming the NFL’s all-time leader in single-season receptions by a tight end.

         Or the emergence of play-making receiver/returner Dwayne Harris, seven catches for 79 yards these past two games, along with a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 39-yarder this past Sunday.

         Or this rookie tight end James Hanna, three catches for 48 yards these past two games and a mismatch for any linebacker trying to run cross-field with him while their defensive partners are preoccupied doubling Witten.

         Or cornerback Brandon Carr, two picks in the past two games, the second this past Sunday setting up Dan Bailey’s game-winning 21-yard field goal in overtime. And oh, Bailey is a candidate too, since that kick means he has made 12-of-12 field goals in this six-game stretch.

         Or Anthony Spencer, whose seven sacks in the last six has spurred on a defense that seemingly loses a starter a week (seven total from the nickel defense this past Sunday) and has compensated for fellow outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware essentially playing with his right arm (injured elbow and shoulder) tied behind his back.

         Or defensive coordinator Rob Ryan using spit and duct tape to piece together a defense littered with guys signed off their couches to replace the five defensive starters now on injured reserve if you count nickel back Orlando Scandrick in that total, and then also nose tackle Jay Ratliff (out for the remainder of the regular season at least) and his backup Josh Brent on NFI following the tragic accident two weeks ago.

Saddle up for a cowboy adventure - The Boys Are Back blog

My gosh, this team even lost its punter. They lassoed another from the Buffalo Bills.

If they just lose one more … look, they haven’t exactly slammed the door shut on the past four opponents, but with the exception of the 38-31 loss to Washington, they have come up with key stops or plays to close out the final three games, the last in overtime.

And even some insist the tragic accident killing practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown and charging Brent, the driver, with intoxication manslaughter, coupled with Brown’s mother, Stacey Jackson, expression of uncommon compassion for Brent, has galvanized this team, as if suddenly playing for a bigger cause.

Who am I to say that is a corny take, since there has been a noticeable focus and determination in these guys’ eyes ever since, along with a noticeable budding confidence that no matter what – a broken finger, lost comrade, 10-point fourth-quarter deficit, the inability to score more than 10 points in any first half this season, and injured teammates. As many as 16 guys signed to this roster since the start of the season and having to play the unknown likes of Sterling Moore, Michael Coe, Brady Poppinga, Ernie Sims, Bryan Schaefering, Charlie Peprah and Eric Frampton – they shall overcome.

Cowboy Cattle Drives - The Boys Are Back blog

“Really, it’s just we’ve gotten to a point where we’re a mentally tough football team,” Romo said during a conference call with New Orleans reporters. “In saying that, I believe when I step on the field in the fourth quarter, if we’re within 10-14 points, we’re going to find a way to win the ballgame.”

So as you see, there have been beaucoup factors and Ranch hands elevating their play in this turnaround for the Cowboys, if indeed you want to call it a turnaround, since they lost the Baltimore game by a foot or two when Bailey experienced his last field-goal miss (from 51) at the buzzer and lost the second Giants game by a fingertip (Bryant’s landing out the back of the end zone, nullifying what was initially ruled a winning touchdown in the final seconds).

And while the quarterback’s influence on a game normally is overwhelming, as you can see there have been so, so many other factors in the Cowboys’ recent success. Sunday against the Saints won’t be any different, if you factor in that the Cowboys’ banged up defense has to go up against the league’s third-ranked offense, powered by the league’s second-ranked passing offense.

PR_TexasShootout Logo

You know what that means, right? Drew Brees, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Jimmy Graham, Mark Ingram and especially Darren Sproles, the Saints’ nickel running back who is second on the team with seven touchdowns – six of those receptions – and is as dangerous a kick returner as Dallas has faced all season long.

That also means the Cowboys better score some points, which they have been doing, an offense aided by some defensive plays and touchdowns, along with a few plays on special teams. Just look, the Cowboys have scored at least 27 points in four of the past six games and more than 30 in half of those games.

Plus, anything they can get on special teams would be dandy, whether it be a Harris kick return or a Victor Butler forced fumble recovered in enemy territory, and for sure for Bailey to continue on his six-game streak of perfection.

Texas Cowboy - The Boys Are Back blog

When you look at these Cowboys like this, you need not have been on the actual cattle drive to understand the meaning of all hands saddle up. Get ready for a shootout. Those varmints from The Bayou face The Boys in Dallas. Be at the Cowboys Corral, at high noon.

Courtesy: Mickey Spagnola; edited by Robert D Knight

Editors note: Mentioned in this article … Ben Bloom (quality control), Dave Borgonzi (volunteer assistant)

COWBOYS ROCK’N CHRISTMAS: Cowboys Stadium to feature holiday theme Sunday

ROCK’N CHRISTMAS SPIRIT - Cowboys Stadium to feature holiday theme Sunday - Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, Texas – The Christmas theme will be in full effect at Cowboys Stadium for the final home game of the season Sunday against the Saints.

Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, reindeer and elves will be in the West Plaza taking free pictures with children, while The Ray Johnston Band will play in the East Plaza. Johnston, a former Dallas Maverick, is now a country-rock artist.

Prior to the game, the coach of the week for the youth football season and the Community Quarterback Award winner will be honored.

Dallas Cowboys v Pittsburgh Steelers - Jason Witten - The Boys Are Back blog

The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders holiday dance spectacular will occur at halftime, when tight end Jason Witten will be awarded the Bob Lilly Award for demonstrating the highest level of achievement, sportsmanship, dedication and leadership.

Kickoff will be at noon and will be televised on FOX.

FROM DYNASTY TO DESTINY: Dallas Cowboys persevering spirit helps them beat Steelers in OT

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) catches a touchdown pass in front of Pittsburgh Steelers - The Boys Are Back blog

ARLINGTON — The Dallas Cowboys still aren’t a pretty football team.

They remain injury-riddled and mistake-prone at times.

But they have proven to have a persevering spirit that has been tested on and off the field through triumph and tragedy.

Now — after the Cowboys rallied to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24 in overtime before 95,595 fans at Cowboys Stadium — they might be destined as well.

Cornerback Brandon Carr’s interception off Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and 36-yard return two plays into overtime set up Dan Bailey’s game-winning kick from 21 yards out.

Dallas Cowboys Josh Brent, right, on the sidelines with teammates vs Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 - The Boys Are Back blog

It was the Cowboys’ third consecutive win — the second since practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown was killed in a one-car accident and nose tackle Josh Brent was charged with intoxication manslaughter. Dallas also beat Cincinnati on a last-second kick by Bailey less than 24 hours after learning about the tragedy.

It was the fifth win in their past six games for the Cowboys, once a disappointing mess at 3-5 but now in a first-place tie in the NFC East and in control of their playoff destiny.

The Cowboys (8-6) are tied atop the division with the New York Giants and Washington Redskins. They would win the NFC East title if they win their remaining two games against the New Orleans Saints at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday and at the Redskins in the season finale Dec. 30.

Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Will Allen (26) brings down Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dwayne Harris - The Boys Are Back blog

"Again, this bunch wouldn’t, just would not quit," an ecstatic owner Jerry Jones said about his Cowboys, who won on a fourth-quarter or overtime comeback for the fifth time season — a complete opposite of last year, when they lost five games after blowing fourth-quarter leads.

"I’m just impressed," Jones said. "On top of that, dealing with the with the kinds of things we’ve been dealing with, I give them [credit], but I also give [coach] Jason [Garrett] a lot of credit in keeping everybody’s eye on the ball and at the same time understanding what the important thing is, and that’s to honor Jerry Brown’s life and support each other during this tough time."

The Cowboys got the win with Brent on their sideline. He is out on bail while awaiting his trial. Garrett said the Cowboys asked Brent to be there and they followed the lead of Brown’s mother, who pleaded with them to continue to support him.

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) and his teammates wore a number 53 sticker on their helmets in honor Jerry Brown Jr. - The Boys Are Back blog

It’s that same support that the Cowboys have shown for each other during adverse times since the beginning of the season that has sparked the recent winning streak. It continued to play a huge role on Sunday when the Steelers took a 24-17 lead in the fourth quarter, much to the delight of a large, boisterous clan of Steelers fans at Cowboys Stadium.

A Cowboys team playing without seven defensive regulars, including six starters, because of injury, refused to lose.

A potentially back-breaking 22-yard punt return by Steelers receiver Antonio Brown early in the fourth quarter became a Cowboys break when linebacker Victor Butler forced a fumble and tight end John Phillips recovered at the Steelers’ 44.

Quarterback Tony Romo started off with a 13-yard pass to receiver Dez Bryant, who played with a fractured index finger and scored in the third quarter. He then found tight end Jason Witten for 9 yards and receiver Dwayne Harris for 17, setting up a 3-yard touchdown run by DeMarco Murray.

Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Anthony Spencer (93) celebrates sacking Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger - The Boys Are Back blog

The Cowboys’ defense sacked Roethlisberger three times in the fourth quarter, with 1 1/2 by Anthony Spencer, setting up Carr’s final heroics.

"It was just reaction and instinct," said Carr, who also keyed the win last week at Cincinnati with an interception. "That’s how the whole season has been. We just keep fighting."

OVERTIME THRILLER IN DALLAS: Cowboys D comes up big; Steelers denied another win in Cowboys Stadium

Dallas Cowboys Stadium 2012 sunset - The Boys Are Back blog

The Steelers came into this game with the top-ranked defense in the NFL. The Cowboys? Well, they had six of their original starters out of the lineup, plus their nickel cornerback, then lost yet another linebacker in the early stages of the game.

But as the old saying goes, the games aren’t played on paper. Instead, it was the Dallas defense that came up big, leading the team to a thrilling 27-24 overtime victory in front of 95,595 raucous fans.

Despite the glaring differences between their defensive units, Dallas’ patchwork side held their own throughout the contest, and when they needed it most, came up with three big sacks late in the fourth quarter. That was followed by a game-changing interception from Brandon Carr in the extra frame, which set up the winning field goal.

It was by no means easy. Twice the Steelers took the lead and three times the game was tied. But Dallas kept battling back.

Pittsburgh put up 388 total yards of offense and did not have a single penalty. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 339 yards on 24-of-40 passing with two touchdowns. His primary target was tight end Heath Miller, who totaled 92 yards on 7 catches, while wide receiver Mike Wallace had four catches for 95 yards.

But on the other side of the ball, the Cowboys were ready for the the mighty Steelers defense, racking up 415 total yards. Tony Romo was again outstanding, throwing for 341 yards on 30-of-42 passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He connected with nine different players, Miles Austin leading the way with seven catches for 79 yards while Dez Bryant and Jason Witten did what they do best, each scoring a touchdown.

Even DeMarco Murray got into the action, rushing for 81 yards on 14 carries with a score. By comparison, the Steelers only ran for 69 yards as a team.

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BOYS BACK TO .500: Win over Browns far from pretty; Cowboys take what they can get

The Dallas Cowboys mascot Rowdy, congratulates Dan Bailey (5) on his game winning field goal against the Cleveland Browns - The Boys Are Back blog

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.”

COMING HOME: Cleveland Browns kicker Phil Dawson grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan

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.

Dallas Cowboys special teams Bill Bates at Texas Stadium - The Boys Are Back blog

“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.”

Bill Bates was the ultimate free agent for Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

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.”

Courtesy: Nate Ulrich | Akron Beacon Journal

HORSESHOES AND HAND GRENADES: Dallas Cowboys close, but no cigar

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades - Dallas Cowboys close, but no cigar - The Boys Are Back blog

ARLINGTON, Texas – For three minutes of real time, I had already figured out what I wanted to say about this game.

And as long as that remarkable play was upheld and the Cowboys were awarded a touchdown, this one was going to go down as the all-timer of all-time games.

Maybe the first game I ever covered, the 1999 comeback against the Redskins with the overtime ending, would’ve been better, but this game, would’ve probably beaten that out if, and only if, Dez Bryant’s hand hadn’t touched the back of the end zone.

But it did. Bryant was out of bounds. The Cowboys drop this heartbreaker game that had more twists and turns than any ride Six Flags could’ve ever produced.

Giants 29, Cowboys 24.

Dallas obviously couldn’t complete the comeback, although the scoreboard did read 30-29 Cowboys for about three long minutes while the officials looked at Bryant’s catch. And whether or not it counted, it was still an amazing catch by a player who also had an up-and-down game.

If you’re reading this, there’s probably a great chance that you hated the outcome of this game. The great comeback, the records that were broken in the process, all of that means nothing in the end. The Cowboys couldn’t do enough to win this one, and now they’re 3-4 and three games behind the Giants in the win column.

But mark this one down as a classic.

It had everything the average football fan wants to see: great plays, great performances in the clutch, big stats, back-and-forth play where the lead changes hands, and the drama in the end.

I know it was a sickening feeling when the announcement was made that Bryant didn’t get his hand in bounds. The only real question was how injured he was when he landed straight on his backside.

For me, what I keep thinking about is how much this game mirrored the careers of both Bryant and Tony Romo. And actually, it’s also a good example just how the Cowboys are as a team right now.

At 3-4, it’s competitive. It’s got some good, but just a little more of the bad. There are times when it looks like the Cowboys are left for dead, and then they make it seem like they’re going to turn the corner. In the end, it’s just not good enough.

That’s exactly what occurred Sunday at Cowboys Stadium. And, that’s probably what this team will be when it’s all said and done.

Of course, this one started out completely disastrous with the Cowboys turning it over four times in the first half, trailing 23-0.

Forget boo-birds. This was like a flock of pigeons that invaded the stadium. And they were ruthless toward Romo, owner Jerry Jones even head coach Jason Garrett. They were hounding the Cowboys and for good reason.

It looked like this was going to be a long day, long week and a long season. (Actually, it might be in all three cases).

But then, the Cowboys begin what proved to be the ultimate tease. They unlocked the coffin they had been placed in, dug out of the dirt that had been poured, and rose from the dead, not just to make this respectable, but to take the lead.

Just as shocking to see a 23-0 deficit was a 24-23 Cowboys lead.

But no one thought Eli Manning and his group would go away and they didn’t. They are champions for a reason because they know how to handle adversity. Manning wasn’t great at all, but he drove the offense a couple of times and got his team in position to take the lead and then pad it.

On the other side, Romo was on his way to pulling off the greatest comeback in Cowboys history. After that awful start, it looked like his confidence was shot. Who knew he was about to have a career-high in passing yards (437) and attempts (62). In fact, if Bryant is ruled in bounds, Romo would’ve set the single-game passing record with 474 yards.

Yet, that’s his career. He allllmooossstt pulled it off.

He was almost spectacular. Isn’t that the biggest knock on Romo – is that he can be great and he can be awful? Usually, it’s week to week.

On Sunday, it was a matter of hours. Romo’s best performance came after his worst performance. And that’s why this guy drives people crazy.

He’s the guy that gives it up, but he’s the guy that brings them back. He was bad enough to get booed and probably have his coach consider pulling him. He was good enough to rally his team back and had the ball in a spot to win the game and pull off the greatest comeback in franchise history.

Good enough and bad enough in a matter of hours. That’s Romo’s career.

And it’s about the same with Bryant. When you look at the reasons he was drafted in the first round back in 2010, we saw them all here in this game.

He had top-10 talent, evident by his unreal catch in the most clutch of situations. Forget the yard lines. If you catch a ball like that in the backyard playing One-Mississippi, it’d be a great catch.

But he has questionable decision-making – both on and off the field. His misplay on a first-quarter punt, resulting in a muff and then fumble, got him booted as the punt returner. Yet, with the game on the line, and him making some key receptions as a receiver, the Cowboys put him back out there when they needed a huge return. And the Giants recognized that and kicked it away from him.

Even the longtime radio voice of the Cowboys, Brad Sham, said on his broadcast Sunday following Bryant’s fumble that it’s time for him to be on the bench.

There’s no way Sham really believes that, but that’s how frustrating it can be to watch this guy, cover this guy through the media, cover this guy as a defense. He’s just erratic in every way – the good can be so good and the bad can be so bad.

Sunday’s 29-24 thriller was the Cowboys’ franchise. Up and down but not good enough. It also seemed to mirror the careers of both Romo and Bryant. So much potential, but yet teased at the end.

Maybe you saw four quarters of dramatic football. I saw the careers of two key players and an entire franchise rolled into one.

RIVAL HEADLINE: Home loss to Giants leaves Cowboys dispirited and fans disgusted

Tony Romo got past Chase Blackburn to score - The Boys Are Back blog

ARLINGTON, Tex. — A dramatic finish would eventually unfold, but Dallas Cowboys fans wanted instant gratification Sunday. And after Tony Romo had thrown three interceptions and Dez Bryant had fumbled away a punt, a crowd announced at 94,067 also wanted its displeasure to be heard.

“I would have booed us, too,” Romo said. “We deserved it at that time.”

The Cowboys’ body language matched their sluggish start as they fell behind the Giants by 23 points early in the second quarter. Still, after the Cowboys nearly overcame that deficit, and six turnovers in all, the mood among them was that they had let the Giants escape with a 29-24 victory.

The Cowboys thought they had won with 10 seconds to play, when Romo’s heave into the end zone was hauled in by Bryant and officials signaled a touchdown. But replays showed that Bryant’s right hand landed out of bounds and the call was reversed, giving the Cowboys (3-4) a season split with the Giants (6-2) and dropping Dallas into a tie for second with the Philadelphia Eagles in the N.F.C. East.

The Giants also remained unbeaten at Cowboys Stadium, improving to 4-0 since it opened in 2009.

“It hurts for you to know you played your heart out,” Dallas cornerback Brandon Carr said. “We got off to a late start. We woke up late. To have the game end the way it ended and to get it taken away from you, it hurts.”

Dallas’s defense limited Eli Manning and the Giants, even with good field position, to five field goals and a rushing touchdown, and allowed only 293 yards. The Giants’ other score was provided by their own defense.

“The emotions were crazy,” cornerback Morris Claiborne said. “We really wanted this game. But as a unit, as a team, we didn’t do enough, we didn’t make enough plays. We didn’t go that extra mile to get the job done.”

Romo was 36 of 62 for 437 yards, ran for one touchdown and passed for another, but also threw four interceptions. Tight end Jason Witten caught 18 passes, a team record, but with a stunning comeback seemingly in reach, Dallas derailed itself with questionable play-calling.

The Cowboys reached the Giants’ 28-yard line with 1 minute 27 seconds to play, and on first down Romo connected with Witten for a 9-yard gain. Needing only 1 yard for another set of downs, and with all three of their timeouts remaining, Dallas called three straight pass plays, and the series ended with Romo scrambling backward before heaving a desperation pass that was intercepted by Stevie Brown.

“We had a couple of plays called,” Romo said. “It’s dictated off coverage. They’re going to have a free guy if we run it. So you could bang it up there, but at the same time you could be wasting a play. It is what it is.”

The Giants’ victory is certain to fuel more criticism on how much of a home-field advantage the Cowboys really enjoy at their $1.2 billion stadium. They are now 14-13 since the retractable-domed structure opened in 2009 (compared with 14-14 on the road during that time). Cowboys management even addressed the issue last week with a letter to season-ticket holders, exhorting fans to make more noise, along with a new video that was shown on third downs to “help give our Dallas Cowboys a true home-field advantage.”

Instead, the crowd turned hostile toward the home team after Jason Pierre-Paul picked off Romo’s swing pass to running back Felix Jones and gave the Giants a 23-0 lead early in the second quarter. Romo was booed after every incompletion, and fans let Coach Jason Garrett know what they thought of his play-calling. Jerry Jones, the Cowboys’ owner, was also booed when he appeared on the video screen during a segment to promote breast cancer awareness.

“I’m the boo-ster,” Jones said. “The fans had the same feeling I did, frustrated and mad we had dug ourselves a big hole.”

He added: “I understand their frustration. I share their frustration.”

TURNOVER TURNAROUND: Dallas Cowboys defense challenge themselves to increase interceptions

Dallas Cowboys inside linebacker Sean Lee (50) snares a first quarter interception that was tipped up in the air by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Boys Are Back blog

The Dallas Cowboys came back to work this week with their mind on turnovers.

At least, that was one of the main things they were asked about after their bye-week break.

“We’re stressing that every day at practice,” safety Danny McCray said. “We should get it right sometime.”

The Cowboys are minus-7 in turnover ratio, second-worst in the league. Only Kansas City, at minus-15, is worse. New England and Atlanta are first at plus-10.

“Some of it is luck,” McCray said. “Some of it is catching the ball when it comes to you. And other ones are disruptions – getting hands up in the quarterback’s face. If you know you’re not going to get there when we’re blitzing on a sack or something, just try to get a hand up and get a tipped ball.”

Cornerback Brandon Carr, with eight interceptions in four years before coming to Dallas, said each player must aim to find a way to make a takeaway.

“It’s a personal challenge that each one of us has to accept,” he said. “You have to challenge yourself to put it upon yourself within the scheme of our defense to go out there and you be the one to make that play. You be the one to make the difference for the defense. But at the same time, you have to be smart about it, read your keys. Just try to remember everything you went over in film, studying what your coaches taught you and just go out there and just play.”

The Cowboys have one interception this year, from linebacker Sean Lee off a ball that bounced off the intended receiver. Victor Butler, Barry Church and Orie Lemon have each recovered fumbles. DeMarcus Ware has forced three fumbles, and Lee has caused one.

Still, the Cowboys have only two interceptions over the past 10 games. They had only one in the final six games last year (also Sean Lee, against the Giants at Cowboys Stadium) and have only one in the first four games this year.

“You work on a lot of different things during the week with drills, and those things have been good for us in the past, and you just have to carry those things to the game,” coach Jason Garrett said. “But it’s a team thing, we talk about that all the time. On offense, the ball security is a team thing. It starts with the guys up front, the guys protecting, the guys blocking, certainly the guys who have the ball in their hands, and similarly on defense, if you create havoc for the quarterback, and he has to do things quicker than he wants to do, typically those result in interceptions.”

PAST SUNDAY REVIEW: Upcoming games offer new outlook for Cowboys next five

Without a doubt, when you first looked at the schedule back in April, this five-game stretch that now awaits the Dallas Cowboys had to stick out first and foremost.

The Next Five - Dallas Cowboys 2012-2013 Schedule - The Boys Are Back blog

And here we are, with the Cowboys having a 2-2 mark and about to take on this five-game journey that includes four road games, sandwiched around a home game with the defending-champion Giants, who haven’t lost at Cowboys Stadium.

Brutal? Yeah maybe, if this team comes out and plays flat like it did against Seattle and at times the last two weeks.

But winnable? Of course. You can be scared of the Ravens defense all day long – and should be. They’ve been good for so long and the same guys are still making big plays for them.

But a whopping nine points against the Chiefs on the road? I know what you’re thinking, they scored what they needed to. They did just enough to win.

The Cowboys will certainly have their hands full with the Ravens when they go to Baltimore next Sunday. It’ll be tough on the road at Atlanta, Philly and Carolina. The Giants at home will also be a battle, considering Eli Manning and his group is 3-0 at Cowboys Stadium.

But in this stretch of the next five games, those five opponents went 3-2 on Sunday. The Falcons gutted out a tough win over an RG3-less Redskins team while the Panthers lost at home to Seattle and the Eagles dropped a close one to the Steelers.

Looking at the flip side, every fan of those five teams will be looking at the Cowboys and how they’ve played the last three weeks and probably figure to get a W for their team, too.

It’s how it goes.

But judging from the games Sunday. The Cowboys shouldn’t be scared of any of those five teams. And none of them will be scared of this one either.

HOME AWAY FROM HOME: Loud rival fans could be sign of things to come

IRVING, Texas — Wherever the Cowboys travel their following is always there, even in New York, Philadelphia and Washington.

In the 2005 season opener at San Diego, Cowboys’ fans were so loud the Chargers had to use a silent count late in the game.

On Monday, Cowboys Stadium was hardly a home-field advantage. Of the 90,080 on hand, a number of them were Chicago fans and let their presence be known. As one “Let’s go Bears” chant broke out late, linebacker Brian Urlacher was seen mouthing, “Wow.”

“Last time we came down here, there’s nothing like hearing the “Let’s go Bears,” chant early and throughout the game,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said after the game. “I thought our fans were outstanding. The Chicago Bear colors were all around, they really were. I’m glad we are able to give our loyal fans that type of effort.”

Jason Garrett was asked about how loud the Bears fans were on Tuesday.

“Oh, the Bears have a great national following,” Garrett said. “They’ve had it for a long, long time, so that doesn’t surprise us. And certainly the way the game went, we gave them some reasons to get fired up. That’s just the nature of it. The Chicago people love their Bears. They have for a long, long time.”

Another visitor to Cowboys Stadium has a great national following, too. Pittsburgh visits Dec. 13. The last time the Steelers came to the area in 2004, Terrible Towels overran Texas Stadium. Cowboys Stadium could be more of the same.

After a 6-2 record to open the $1.2 billion stadium in 2009, the Cowboys have a 7-10 home record.

GRIN AND BEAR IT: Highs and Lows from the Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears game

Dallas Cowboys' Jason Witten catches a pass for a touchdown between Chicago Bears defenders - The Boys Are Back blog

ARLINGTON — On an otherwise dismal night for the Dallas Cowboys, tight end Jason Witten found a way to cure his season-long battle with dropped passes.

Witten, who dropped an NFL-high five passes in the team’s first three games, grabbed the first seven passes sent in his direction by quarterback Tony Romo during Monday’s 34-18 loss to the Chicago Bears at Cowboys Stadium.

Witten finished with a team-high 13 catches for 112 yards — with no drops — and a 5-yard touchdown catch on the final possession. He more than doubled his season totals for receptions and yardage. Witten entered with eight catches for 76 yards in the team’s first three games.

Soldier Field South?

The noise generated by Bears’ fans during the game made it unclear, at times, which team was playing at home. Especially during a "Let’s Go, Bears" chant in the fourth quarter.

The loudest cheers came on Lance Briggs’ 74-yard interception return for a third-quarter touchdown that upped the Bears’ lead to 24-7. Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton, a former Grapevine and Texas player, caused the interception. The play came one snap after Dallas had recovered a fumble in Bears’ territory with an opportunity to cut into a 17-7 deficit.

"That’s what happens when you don’t give the fans anything to cheer for," Cowboys safety Brandon Carr said. "I don’t like to get embarrassed, especially on national TV. I’m frustrated."

Going backward

Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray had five runs that produced negative yardage against the Bears, all in the first three quarters. He had seven in last week’s 16-10 victory over Tampa Bay. Murray had only 14 carries for negative yards in 13 games last season.

Murray also fumbled in the first quarter and dropped a pitchout from Romo in the second. The second fumble was credited to Romo, who also threw five interceptions, tying a career high.

Dallas Cowboys' Felix Jones looks for room to run - The Boys Are Back blog

Unwanted first

Cowboys cornerbacks surrendered their first touchdown of the season when Devin Hester beat rookie Morris Claiborne for a sliding, 34-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. The ball moved when Hester hit the ground, triggering a replay review. Based on the reaction by Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, it was clear the Dallas sideline thought the catch would be overturned.

The Cowboys came up short on another third-quarter review after a Claiborne fumble recovery was overturned when the Bears’ receiver was ruled down by contact.

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) trips up Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester - The Boys Are Back blog

Triple-digit Dez

Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (8 catches, 105 yards) had the second 100-yard receiving night of his career and his first since Nov. 14, 2010 against the New York Giants in his rookie season.

Dez Bryant - The Boys Are Back blog

Carter injured

Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter injured his left hip on the team’s opening defensive series but later returned to the game. He finished with two tackles.

Starters absent

Three Cowboys’ defensive starters were declared inactive before the game because of injuries: DE Kenyon Coleman (knee), DT Jay Ratliff (ankle) and LB Anthony Spencer (pectoral muscle). A fourth starter, safety Barry Church, suffered a season-ending Achilles tear in last week’s victory over Tampa Bay. The respective replacements in Monday’s starting lineup were Sean Lissemore (Coleman), Josh Brent (Ratliff), Victor Butler (Spencer) and Danny McCray (Church).

Roof, doors open

For only the fifth time in stadium history, the Cowboys played a game with both the roof and the doors open. With Monday’s loss, Dallas is 1-4 in those games. The team fell to 14-12 in regular-season games at Cowboys Stadium.

Dallas Cowboys' Tony Romo (from left) teammate Dallas Cowboys' Kyle Orton and others sit on the bench - The Boys Are Back blog

Jenkins tries safety

Cornerback Mike Jenkins made his debut at safety, taking snaps at the position during the team’s nickel package. Last week, cornerback Brandon Carr played safety while starters Gerald Sensabaugh and Barry Church nursed injuries against Tampa Bay.

Penalty check

The Cowboys, who had six false-start penalties in last week’s victory over Tampa Bay, had none against Chicago.

THE DOLLARS COWBOYS: Dallas Cowboys earn payoffs, even without playoffs

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones happy with his teams direction - The Boys Are Back blog

The Dallas Cowboys went 8-8 last year and missed the playoffs for the sixth time in the last decade. Yet the team set new highs in revenue and operating profit, and this month, it was the first NFL franchise to be valued at more than $2 billion. According to Forbes magazine, the Cowboys are worth roughly twice as much as teams in the middle of the pack.

Is winning overrated?

Jerry Jones would blanch at the suggestion, because he’s as much a football fan as owner and general manager. The Cowboys also won a string of earlier titles, both before Jones and with him, that helped establish the brand around the globe.

Win or lose, the Cowboys remain a glamour team and TV favorite, and this week, the national spotlight returns to Arlington for Monday Night Football. Fans always focus on what happens on the field, but there’s a business game within the game, and that’s where the Cowboys are world beaters.

Jones paid $140 million for the team in 1989, and it’s valued at $2.1 billion today. Every franchise in the National Football League has become richer in the past generation, thanks to a string of record-setting broadcast contracts. Still, the Cowboys stand apart, and in the last year alone, the team’s value rose 14 percent.

Cowboys Stadium is difference maker No. 1, so it’s fitting that it usually gets a lot of airtime during broadcasts. Last year, the Cowboys led the league in attendance and averaged about 6,000 standing room tickets per game. According to Stats LLC, attendance exceeded stadium capacity by 7 percent, second highest in the league by that measure of popularity.

Star power

With more fans staying home and watching the NFL on big, high-definition televisions, Cowboys games remain the place to be. The stadium’s luxuries are impressive, from the field boxes to the art collection to the giant video board. And it keeps making news, announcing that a Victoria’s Secret shop will open Monday, with the help of lingerie models.

The big turnout and TV attention keep corporate sponsors happy. AT&T, Bank of America, Dr Pepper, Ford, Miller Beer and Pepsi help generate $80 million a year in sponsor revenue, Forbes reports. And those dollars aren’t shared the way that broadcast rights and gate receipts are split among the league’s 32 teams.

Jones sometimes primes the pump by serving as the ultimate pitchman, and he has surprising crossover appeal. He’s been making national TV commercials since the 1990s. (Remember the Pizza Hut ad with Deion Sanders after he signed the player to a huge contract? Jones asks if he wants $15 million or $20 million, and Sanders says, “Both” — and Jones just shrugs.)

Ads for Papa John’s pizza have Jones doing rap songs and hip-hop dances, and serve as another example of how the Cowboys combine national and local campaigns — and boost their brand and their partners’ at the same time. Jones even has an ownership stake in the pizza chain, and he’s replicated the same model with Dunkin’ Donuts.

“It’s extraordinary how the Cowboys convert publicity into revenue,” said Marc Ganis, president of Sportscorp Ltd., a consulting firm in Chicago.

He compares Jones to the late George Steinbrenner, the New York Yankees owner who was as famous as his players and appeared in TV commercials, too. Celebrity CEOs don’t get any more high profile, and Jones and the Cowboys have an additional advantage: The NFL’s salary cap keeps the biggest expense — player payroll — under control.

When the Cowboys leverage their brand (or Jones) with advertisers, revenue gains quickly hit the bottom line. Last season, the Cowboys’ operating income was $227 million, up from $9 million the year before they moved into the new stadium. Revenue increased almost 80 percent during the same time.

The Cowboys and most NFL teams are private businesses that don’t report financial results. Forbes has long estimated the numbers for pro sports teams, and the reports are widely respected.

Building the brand

When Jones bought the team, the Cowboys were laggards, but the franchise was a great name in a big, growing market. And the NFL’s popularity was about to explode, boosted by new broadcast deals. Jones was one of the ringleaders who pushed for more competitive bidding, which brought Fox into the fold and eventually led to more NFL games on more networks.

While that grew the pie for everyone, Jones was also growing a separate revenue stream. He sold sponsorships at the old Texas Stadium that often conflicted with the official league-wide sponsors. He signed contracts with Nike when the league had a separate apparel deal. Today the Cowboys have their own merchandising outfit and a concessions company with the Yankees. Its Legends Premium Sales unit is handling suite and ticket sales for the San Francisco 49ers’ new stadium.

Jones doubled his building budget on Cowboys Stadium to $1.2 billion, and he paid the extra, not Arlington taxpayers. He wanted an attraction that wouldn’t be eclipsed a few years later.

MetLife Stadium, which opened in 2010 in New Jersey and had a higher price tag, isn’t nearly as compelling — or valuable.

“The Cowboys had the better vision and execution,” Ganis said. “Management counts.”

The New York Giants play in MetLife, and they won the Super Bowl last year. They’re No. 4 on the Forbes list of NFL teams — and still trail the Cowboys’ value by $632 million. That’s a lead that looks safe.

Coming Tomorrow: Most NFL franchises have sold the naming rights to their stadiums. Not the Cowboys. Why America’s Team is leaving money on the table.

PINK PROFITGATE–OVER REACTION: Dallas Cowboys remain relevant even without the wins; Mac Engel critical of Jerry Jones’ money making flair

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones under the star - The Boys Are Back blog

One week after the Dallas Cowboys re-unveiled the five banners that celebrate their glorious Super Bowl past, they will open a store that says everything you need to know about what they are today.

Every single time we think the Dallas Cowboys are returning to their core values of winning football as the primary means to make more money, they remind us a "W" is no longer as vital as the $.

On Monday, a few hours before the Cowboys host the Bears, Cowboys Stadium will become the first professional sports arena to house a Victoria’s Secret store.

Next up: The Gap, Starbucks, Best Buy and Frederick’s of Hollywood.

This is a joke that isn’t a joke.

The Cowboys should not be providing any potential punch lines that aid in questioning their toughness or suggest that they — cough, cough — play like a bunch of girls.

Pink Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

The good news is that finally a fan can go to a Cowboys game, buy a Cowboys hat and a pair of Cowboys "Huddle Up" panties for $10.50. A pair of Dallas Cowboys underwear is far cheaper than a parking spot for a Dallas Cowboys game.

The bad news is that this Victoria’s Secret "PINK" store is only going to carry Dallas Cowboys-themed merchandise, including yoga bras, lace panties, T-shirts, sweatshirts and sweatpants.

Jerry Jones, if you are going to consummate this marriage between the Dallas Cowboys and Victoria’s Secret, you must go all in. With just a little cross marketing, there are far greater opportunities than just T-shirts and sweatshirts.

I can’t make these up: Victoria’s Secret offers "The Showstopper" bra, "Dream Angel" panties, "Dream Angel" perfect coverage bra and "Boy Shorts" panties. The pun possibilities are endless.

The franchise that was always so far in front of the professional sports curve remains that way because no team understands its current landscape better than the Cowboys.

The reason the Cowboys have those five Super Bowl banners is because, at that time, winning was the way to national relevance and revenue. You had to be good.

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Kandi Harris - The Boys Are Back blog

Former Cowboys president Tex Schramm believed the best money spent on marketing was on scouting.

The world is a much different place than the one Tex operated in, or even the one Jerry bought into.

The reason the Cowboys are today valued by Forbes at an NFL-high $2.1 billion is because they recognize and have fully exploited the reality that being relevant is as potentially lucrative as being good.

Look no further than Jerry’s recent comments regarding the replacement officials in the NFL. He thought it was good entertainment, and exciting, and it was. But "good" or "right" had no place in the conversation because quality did not matter.

In the entertainment world, and that’s what professional sports is, relevance serves as an effective impostor for quality.

If you can’t win, you must create other areas of interest to remain relevant, and more lucrative. No team loses and yet retains its relevance any better than the Cowboys.

In lieu of winning games, there may not be a better way of creating relevance in pro sports these days than girls who don’t wear a lot of clothes.

The franchise that changed the landscape of NFL sidelines by adding professional cheerleaders — officially combining sex and sports — now brings us Victoria’s Secret to a stadium. The Cowboys are the first, and you know they will not be the last.

Smack your head and curse Jerry if you must, and go ahead and laugh at the Victoria’s Secret Cowboys.

Pink loves the Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

You can’t say Jerry Jones is Bengals owner Mike Brown and that he doesn’t care about winning. For Jerry, making a deal or making a ton of coin is akin to defeating the Redskins, Giants or Bears. It all brings the juice.

Today it is a Victoria’s Secret store and a cameo on the TV show The League. In a month or two, it will be a casino, or sponsoring a space station.

Until the Cowboys really win, they will be defined by their ability to always be relevant.

Ever since Jerry bought the team, the Dallas Cowboys have remained relevant because of their ability to win, the personalities of their players and their coaches, through tradition and now because of bra and panties.

Mac Engel | Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

used OBIT SCHRAMM

EDITORS COMMENTS: Tex Schramm was no slouch when it came to marketing. Jerry Jones benefits from Tex’s foresight. Who do you think was in charge when the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders came into existence? Jerry’s no fool. He’s going to put money in his pocket when he has an opportunity … then, he’s going to sign players within the confines of the NFL salary cap. Jerry Jones has taken what Tex Schramm built (America’s Team and all that it encompasses) and ran with the ball (pardon the pun). I have no issue with whatever JJ does to enhance the venue. Cowboys Stadium is a gameday experience and showcase … utilized eight days (or nights) a year (plus playoffs and special events). Do whatever it takes to draw attention, make money, stay in the publics mind. The wins will come … just like they have five times in the past.

If he hooks her up with something naughty or nice from the Victoria’s Secret store. Who really benefits here. I say, it’s win-win. Let the games begin - The Boys Are Back blog

To question Jerry Jones’ desire and commitment to win is ridiculous … both at the bank, and on the field. The NFL and the Dallas Cowboys are about MORE than sports, it’s sports entertainment. We’re getting what we pay for. Ask fans in the other 31 NFL cities … who offers the best NFL experience in the country?

There have been two GM’s in Dallas Cowboys history. Tex made the block, and Jerry ran for the touchdown.

Never forget who we are … and what we are. Mostly, we’re dudes. Watching a game of grime and grind. If a hardworking guy takes his girl to the game, has a cold beer, sports a new hat and jersey, stands up – raises hell, and hooks her up with something (naughty or nice) from the Victoria’s Secret store. Who really benefits here? I say, it’s win-win. Let the games begin.

PINK PALACE: The secret is out … Jerry Jones tickled pink

Cowboys Stadium opening a Victoria's Secret store - The Boys Are Back blog

It might make the Dallas Cowboys the butt of jokes, but Jerry Jones will go pink for profit in his $1.2 billion football palace.

A Victoria’s Secret PINK store will open Monday at Cowboys Stadium, a first at a professional sports stadium or venue.

"We think it’s cute as a bug and very in place to show it and sell it out there," Jones said Friday on KRLD-FM.

Cowboys Stadium has pretty much everything Jerry Jones could imagine packing into a single building, but if there’s one thing it lacks, it’s a certain feminine touch. No longer.

The Cowboys sent out a news release promoting a ceremonial ribbon-cutting event that will take place a few hours before the Cowboys kick off against the Chicago Bears. Victoria’s Secret models Elsa Hosk and Jessica Hart will be among the dignitaries there along with Charlotte Anderson, Jones’ daughter and the Cowboys’ executive vice president for brand management.

According to the release, Victoria’s Secret PINK is a "fully articulated lifestyle collection for young women that include bras, panties, loungewear and sleepwear."

Dallas Cowboys lace trim thong panty by Victoria's Secret - The Boys Are Back blog

The Cowboys Stadium store, which will be located on the main concourse club area above Entry A, will sell Victoria’s Secret PINK merchandise that features the Cowboys’ name and star logo.

No need to wait ’til Monday Night to have your emblazon your crotch with the Cowboys Star. May I suggest the Jerry-approved lace trim thong panties? You can order them online right now.

 

RELATED: The Jerry Jones Show

The Jerry Jones Show - The Fan - The Boys Are Back blog

The Jerry Jones Show 105.3 The Fan, September 28, 2012

ALTERNATE LINK: Click HERE to listen to the show (listed on the right column)

EDITORS COMMENT: You really SHOULD listen to this show. Always a few gems!

THE SECRETS OUT: Nachos, beer, jerseys,–and you can pick up some Victoria’s Secret at Cowboys Stadium, too

Victoria’s Secret and Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

Only the Cowboys.

Only at Cowboys Stadium.

The team and lingerie titan Victoria’s Secret are teaming up with a store at the stadium. A ribbon-cutting is planned for 4 p.m. Monday, hours before the game against the Chicago Bears.

Here is the release from the team. It tells it all:

“The Dallas Cowboys and Victoria’s Secret PINK will hold a ceremonial ribbon cutting at the new Cowboys Stadium store located on the Main Concourse Club above Entry A. 

“Victoria’s Secret models Elsa Hosk and Jessica Hart will join Charlotte Anderson, Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President for Brand Management for the celebration and opening.  Starting October 1st, 2012, Cowboys fans can shop the limited edition Victoria’s Secret PINK NFL Collection at the first ever PINK store in a professional sports stadium or arena. 

VICTORIA'S SECRET PINK

“The Victoria’s Secret PINK Cowboys Collection includes an assortment of co-branded Victoria’s Secret PINK and Cowboys merchandise and is also available in Victoria’s Secret stores in the North Texas area. This unique line features VS PINK’s highly recognizable brand iconography outfitted with the names and logos of the Dallas Cowboys and will include tees, sweats, hoodies and tanks.

“Launched in 2004, Victoria’s Secret PINK is a fully articulated lifestyle collection for young women that include bras, panties, loungewear and sleepwear.”

POSTGAME REACTION: Cowboys 16, Bucs 10

The Dallas Cowboys host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cowboys Stadium 2012 - The Boys Are Back blog

ARLINGTON, Texas — The offense still has issues. The offensive line is shoddy. The starting safeties are hurt. But it doesn’t matter because the Cowboys won Sunday afternoon, beating Tampa Bay 16-10 in the home opener at Cowboys Stadium.

Tony Romo was beaten up by the Tampa Bay pass rush, but two key fourth-quarter plays, a 45-yard punt return by Dez Bryant and a late sack by DeMarcus Ware on a third-and-4, sealed the game.

Still, the Cowboys (2-1) have to perform much better if they’re expected to compete at an elite level.

What it means: After the Cowboys knocked off the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants in the opener, they put up a stinker in Seattle. Now, they fooled around with Tampa Bay for four quarters and survived. This tells us the Cowboys, as we said last week, are not ready to move up to an elite level in this league. Yes, they won the game, but I can’t believe the Cowboys can beat elite teams playing like this.

Witten’s bad day: Jason Witten dropped three passes Sunday. He’s got an NFL-high six drops on the season, and he was penalized twice for false starts. When his day ended, the Cowboys’ tight end finished with just two catches for 8 yards. This is one of the worst stretches for Witten since the 2008 season. During a five-game stretch that season, he had four catches for 53 yards and no touchdowns. This season, Witten has just eight catches for 76 yards and no touchdowns. He hasn’t scored since Nov. 20, 2011, at Washington. Is this the beginning of the end for Witten? He is coming off a spleen injury that didn’t cost him any regular-season games, and he said on Friday he’s healthy.

Church injured: The Cowboys lost safety Barry Church to a right leg injury that appeared serious. Church suffered the injury with 7:31 to play in the third quarter, and he was replaced by Mana Silva. Several Cowboys players were tapping Church on the shoulder pads and offering him words of encouragement after he went out. Miles Austin also suffered an injury (ribs), but he returned and ended the day with five catches for 107 yards. Left guard Nate Livings left with a hand injury in the first quarter but returned and didn’t have any more issues. With Church out, the Cowboys were left without their starting safeties. Gerald Sensabaugh didn’t play because of a calf injury.

False start penalties: The Cowboys were riddled with false start penalties. Right tackle Doug Free was flagged three times and Witten twice. Left tackle Tyron Smith was also called for one. The false start penalties could be attributed to center Ryan Cook and the cadence with Romo or a lack of concentration.

Austin outplays Jackson: The two big-play threats from a receiving standpoint, Austin and Vincent Jackson, had opposing performances. Austin finished with five catches for 107 yards, his 12th 100-yard receiving game of his career. Jackson, the deep-play threat for Tampa Bay, had one catch for 29 yards, that one coming in the fourth quarter.

What’s next? The banged-up Cowboys will face the Chicago Bears on "Monday Night Football." Among the missing starters: nose tackle Jay Ratliff (ankle), center Phil Costa (back), Sensabaugh (calf) and Church (right leg).

RELATED: Safety Shuffle – Barry Church out with right leg injury

Barry Church left with 7:31 left in the third quarter after injuring his right leg on a play in which there was no contact. He went to the ground as he was accelerating toward the line of scrimmage and limped off the field after getting examined by the medical staff.

Gerald Sensabaugh, the other starter, didn’t play because of a right calf strain. Danny McCray started in his place.

Church did not finish last week’s game at Seattle because of a quadriceps bruise.

Mana Silva replaced Church and was called for a pass interference penalty on his second snap. The Cowboys don’t have any other active safeties after cutting Mario Butler to make room for linebacker Orie Lemon.

JERRY JONES: Steve Sabol inspired Cowboys Stadium’s big screen

Jerry Jones, shown large on the video board, delivers his preseason message to those in attendance at the 2011 Dallas Cowboys Luncheon at Cowboys Stadium - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones the death this week of NFL Films boss Steve Sabol from brain cancer at age 69:

“He was one the greatest storytellers of our time – not just in sports but in any part of the American society. I have often said that they only throw ticker tape parades for war heroes, astronauts and people that win games or championships – sports figures – because they are larger than life. Someone has to take these accomplishments, these people and make them larger than life. Someone had to take a moment and turn it into a [legendary moment] and that is what Steve Sabol did for the NFL better then everyone …

Steve Sabol - NFL FILMS - 1942 2012 - The Boys Are Back blog

“On a personal basis, he inspired me to put the biggest digital board right down the middle of the field because we wanted to, in a way, share the theater of stage with our fans. We wanted [fans] to come inside the huddle, instead of a face that is a foot high, we can put it right in the middle of the field as it is going on and put it 70 feet high. That style was Steve’s style and influence. He will be missed but he will always be remembered because of his great contributions to what we do every day and that is show the great nuances of our game.”

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