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NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders–Thanksgiving Day 2013

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The Dallas Cowboys didn’t have much time to savor their victory over the New York Giants on Sunday. The Thanksgiving showdown with the 4-7 Raiders awaits them. Dallas has a chance to win two consecutive games for only the second time this season. And with a challenging December schedule to navigate the Cowboys know they have to finish November on a positive note. The new-look Raiders, with Matt McGloin starting at quarterback, don’t figure the Cowboys too many problems. But Dallas (6-5) has struggled to rise above .500 in recent seasons. Here is a look at how the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders match up:

When the Cowboys run

The Cowboys produced a better rushing effort against the Giants, gaining more than 100 yards in a game for only the second time this season. But Dallas’ ground attack is far from reliable and Oakland has one of the best run defenses in the NFL. The Raiders are conceding only 3.76 yards per carry and Andre Brown of the New York Giants is the only player to gain more than 100 rushing yards against them this season.

Edge: Raiders

When the Cowboys pass

Oakland spent the off-season revamping its secondary, drafting DJ Hayden and acquiring Charles Woodson, Tracy Porter as well as ex-Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins. But the Raiders are giving up 258.1 passing yards – the eighth-highest average in the NFL. Tony Romo, who rediscovered his connection with Dez Bryant in the victory over the New York Giants, should have no problem dissecting the Raiders’ defense.

Edge: Cowboys

When the Raiders run

The Raiders’ rushing attack changed when Oakland made a switch at quarterback. The decision to replace zone-read specialist Terrelle Pryor with dropback passer Matt McGloin earlier this month gave the offense a new look. Pryor was the second-leading rusher on a team averaging 140.6 yards on the ground – the fourth-highest average in the NFL. Still, Oakland should be able to attack a Cowboys run defense yielding 133.6 yards per game. Only two teams are giving up a higher average.

Edge: Raiders

When the Raiders pass

In his first two NFL starts, Matt McGloin has been solid but unspectacular. While he’s only completed 58 percent of his attempts, he’s avoided mistakes, throwing one interception versus four touchdown passes. McGloin doesn’t have many weapons. Oakland’s top wideout, Rod Streater, is ranked 35th in the NFL in receiving yards. The Cowboys, who have the second-worst pass defense, could author another strong performance after shutting down Eli Manning and Co. on Sunday.

Edge: Cowboys

Special teams

The absence of Dwayne Harris, who has a hamstring injury, will hurt the Cowboys’ return game. Harris, after all, was a threat any time he handled a kickoff or fielded a punt. But Dallas still has Dan Bailey, who established a club record when he made his eighth game-winning field goal in his career last Sunday against the Giants. Bailey, who has converted 90 percent of his tries this season, has the edge over Oakland counterpart Sebastian Janikowski. The veteran Janikowski has the second-lowest field-goal accuracy rate among NFL kickers.

Edge: Cowboys

Intangibles

A big victory over the New York Giants has given the Cowboys a much-needed boost of confidence. Dallas knows it can’t afford to lose the momentum it gained last Sunday, especially with a Monday night showdown with Chicago looming on the schedule. The Cowboys, who haven’t lost two consecutive Thanksgiving Day games since 2000 and 2001, should have the mental edge against the Raiders. Oakland, after all, is recovering from a last-minute loss to Tennessee on Sunday.

Edge: Cowboys

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Trackers and Scoreboards

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View NFL | Dallas Cowboys game stats and scores online while you watch or listen to the game.

Click HERE to choose from a list of popular online game trackers.

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Sounds of the game

Listen to the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Brad Sham on KRLD in Dallas.

The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network - 105_3 The Fan KRLD

Click HERE. Don’t live in the Dallas area? Click HERE.

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or listen via the Dallas Cowboys Android App on your phone or tablet

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Watch the game

To watch on network TV, tune to:

KTVT-TV/11 Dallas | KPIX-TV/5 Oakland

Out of market? Click HERE to watch online (NFL Sunday Ticket)

When: Sunday, November 10th, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. (Dallas time)

Where: AT&T Stadium | Arlington, TX

Watch on TV: Local CBS affiliate | DirecTV

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: The Boys Are Back

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Note: The pregame show starts about two hours before kickoff. The postgame show starts approximately 30 minutes after the game is over.

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COWBOYS GIANTS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Jersey boys want to give Dez Bryant some of his own medicine | 2013 Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants

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Talk doesn’t necessarily equate to action, but the New York Giants sure are talking a big game ahead of their key matchup against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said the game is “like a Super Bowl to us,” which actually kind of makes sense. At 4-6, the Giants are working with a razor-thin margin of error. It’s not win-or-go-home, though it might as well be.

Yesterday, Giants safety Will Hill turned his attention to Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant. Hill offered up the defense’s strategy on how to unsettle the All-Pro.

“Get your hands on him,” Hill said, via NJ.com. “He doesn’t like to be touched, like most receivers in this league. But really him. He doesn’t like to be touched.”

“You just have to be physical with him,” cornerback Prince Amukamara agreed. “He’s a big guy. You just have to use his medicine against him. I think that is the key.”

Consider Bryant a sleeping giant right now. The Dallas Cowboys targeting their best player a grand total of two times, in what should have been a shootout with the New Orleans Saints.

You can safely assume coach Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan have drawn up a game plan this week that calls for Tony Romo to look Bryant’s way early and often. We’ll see if the Giants’ handsy game plan has any effect.


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AROUND THE NFC EAST: Possible for Dallas to fall out of first place during bye week

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As Dallas rests and recuperates during its bye week, they run the risk of falling out of first place without even playing a game. If the Philadelphia Eagles come out of this weekend’s division game against Washington Redskins with a win, they’ll sit on top of the NFC East at 6-5.

That’s not exactly a doomsday scenario. Philly has yet to take its own bye week, and Dallas still has three full division games to play to re-position itself in the standings. But it puts the Cowboys in an uncomfortable situation, as not only will they lose possession of first for the first time this season, but they’ll do so ahead of a critical division road trip to New York.

Adversity hasn’t always been bad for the Dallas Cowboys this season, though. The last time the NFC East lead was up for grabs, the Cowboys went up to Philadelphia in Week 7 and clobbered the Eagles, 17-3. Perhaps the pressure of a rival team breathing down their necks, they’d respond with a similar performance against the Giants.

Still, the smart play is to root for a Washington win Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. A Redskins win would put both teams just behind the Cowboys, but it would also give both teams two losses within the division, which is a tremendous boost for Dallas at 3-0 in division games.

The smart money is that this’ll be an entertaining game. The last time these two met, way back on Sept. 9, they combined for 825 yards of offense and 60 points. The Eagles raced out to a 33-7 lead thanks largely to 184 rushing yards from LeSean McCoy, but the Redskins rallied to lose by just six.

Not much has changed. Philly is tallying 413 yards per game, and Washington is right behind them at 410 yards per game. Meanwhile, thanks to some bad pass defense, Washington’s defense ranks 27th in the league, while Philadelphia is just one spot above Dallas at No. 31 overall.

Ultimately, it comes down to mistakes. The margin between the two isn’t big when it comes to turnover differential, but Nick Foles has yet to throw an interception in 136 attempts this season. Robert Griffin III, however, has almost doubled his interception total from last season and has only avoided throwing a pick in two games.

A Washington win is the preferable scenario.

Just up the road in New Jersey, the Giants have the potential to climb even closer to second place – depending on the result of the Philadelphia game. They’ll have the benefit of going for their fourth-straight win against an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay team.

It looks like Scott Tolzien is going to get his second start for the Packers, despite the re-signing of Matt Flynn to the roster earlier this week. Tolzien was impressive, though far from perfect in his start against Philadelphia last week.

He’ll need to be better in MetLife Stadium, as the Giants boast the league’s 10th best pass defense. New York’s effort against the run isn’t bad either, at just 3.7 yards per attempt. Between Tolzien and rookie sensation Eddie Lacy, someone is going to have to star if Green Bay is to get a road win.

So there are two very real possible outcomes for Sunday’s games, both played while the Cowboys sit out of the action. The Eagles could be on top of the standings by Sunday night. Equally as likely is that at least two, if not all three division foes could have sixes losses – putting them just one game behind Dallas – by the end of Week 11.

Pick your poison.

COWBOYS WORKING ON WRINKLES: Jason Witten confident that opportunities are coming for Dallas’ offense

COWBOYS WORKING OUT WRINKLES - Jason Witten confident that opportunities are coming for 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys offense

Jason Witten said it’s frustrating when he and Dez Bryant get coverage that limits them, but he said the Dallas Cowboys coaches are working on wrinkles to solve that.

“It’s been tough with the coverage we have seen,” he said. “When the opportunities are limited, it makes it tough. We will work through that. The bye comes at a good time to get guys healthy and review and try to get a couple wrinkles.”

But Witten said it’s not up to the system as much as the players.

“At times, the execution has been there. We have seen success,” Witten said. “But overall, it hasn’t been good enough. We have to do a better job of it. We feel confidence in the system and the players within the system. That’s what’s good about the system. It’s held up for a long time. We have to continue to work within it.”

Witten said Jason Garrett emphasized the opportunity the Dallas Cowboys have at the top of the NFC East.

“Obviously, we know we have to play a lot better football if we want to win this division,” Witten said. “We have a great opportunity to reflect on that and say, ‘We know we have to play better, here is how we are going to do it,’ and just execute. As an offense, our focus is to find ways to do those things. There are all kinds of wrinkles of putting guys in different situations and plays, but ultimately, us executing this system we have had success in and been a powerful offense.”


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Editors comment: Listen to Jason Witten’s full interview with media for more details about the Dallas Cowboys plans during the bye-week. Same advice applies to any video posted here, including the one below. Enjoy!


COWBOYS WORKING ON WRINKLES - Jason Witten confident that opportunities are coming for Dallas’ offense - Bill Callahan talks to Dallas media

Dallas Cowboys play caller Bill Callahan – 3rd down issues; consistency (4:28)

Bill Callahan spoke to the media about the teams offensive struggles as the Dallas Cowboys prepare to head out on their bye week. (Watch Video | Play Audio)

SAINTS EXPOSED INEXPERIENCE: DeMarcus Ware wants his starters back for playoff push

SAINTS EXPOSED INEXPERIENCE - DeMarcus Ware wants his starters back for 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys playoff push - DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher

Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware said a team like the Saints will take advantage of a defense that doesn’t have its most experienced players, like the Cowboys on Sunday night.

“I mean, when you have five guys, six of the starters out, the best way to fix it is get your guys back,” Ware said, asked what the Cowboys can do to get better following the 49-17 loss. “Sometimes you have guys in there who sort of don’t know what they’re doing because it’s probably their first time playing in a long time. When you have a team that doesn’t make mistakes and sort of exposes you that way, with those guys that are in the game, that’s what they did. So you’ve got to get the guys back who know what’s going on and use that bye week to make a big push.”

Ware said the scheme is fine.

“It’s the play. You’ve got to be fundamentally sound,” he said. “It’s so simple, but the thing is you’ve got to be fundamentally sound when you’re doing it.”

Ware said it was a helpless feeling for him when he wasn’t in the game. He aggravated his quadriceps injury on a sack in the second quarter and was in and out of the game. He said the leg is good, however.

SAINTS EXPOSED INEXPERIENCE - DeMarcus Ware wants his starters back for 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys playoff push - DeMarcus Ware sacks Drew Brees

“I’m doing everything I can not to let it happen again,” he said. “It was something minor on the sack. The play I got the sack, it’s just my knee hit the ground and tweaked it a little bit, and it was like that the whole game.”

Ware said he’s optimistic about playing in the Giants game, and he looked back on the season as a whole as the Dallas Cowboys hit their bye week.

“It was a lot of ups and downs,” he said. “There wasn’t enough consistency like we needed. Right now we’re half and half. We’re at 5-5. We’ve got to find some way to take this bye weekend and rejuvenate ourselves, get all the guys back and come to the table with a relentless demeanor of trying to win every game out.”

BOYS BYE WEEK BUZZ: Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett doesn’t plan on return to calling plays

DIVINE INTERVENTION - Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suggest changes, but not in the coaching ranks - Jason Garrett and Tony Romo

IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was emphatic this morning when asked if he could return to calling the team’s offense if he so chose.

“Absolutely,” he responded.

Despite that, Garrett echoed Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones’ message from earlier in the day that, struggles aside, the team isn’t considering a change of play caller.

“That’s not something we’re really talking about,” he said. “I just think the biggest thing we have to do is evaluate what we have done in all three phases and what’s been good, what hasn’t been good, build and emphasize the things that have been good and correct the other stuff.”

The question was bound to be asked after the Cowboys tallied just 193 yards of offense in Sunday night’s loss to the Saints. With offensive coordinator Bill Callahan serving as the unit’s play caller this season, the Cowboys are No. 19 in the NFL in yards per game.

“We don’t want to overanalyze and overreact to certain situations. We’ve done some good things on offense and we like the structure that we have in place,” he said. “We have to, as a coaching staff, simply do a better job – that’s everybody.”

Since exploding for 522 total yards in the Oct. 6 loss to Denver, the Cowboys have cracked 350 yards just twice in five games and have failed to reach 300 yards in the other three.

Jones said that the team’s struggles, both offensively and defensively, didn’t call for any major changes during the bye week.

“We’re 5-5, we’re tied for the lead in our division. We’ve got players coming back,” Jones said. “We’ve got one of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League. We’re off a rough loss. That doesn’t call for major changes out here at all.”

Garrett said as much himself, although he faced more than one question about reclaiming play calling duties. With the league’s No. 4 scoring offense and No. 1 turnover differential, he said the offense needs to focus simply on execution.

“We just need to play better on offense,” he said. “The thing you got to remember is we’re among the better scoring teams in the league right now and that’s been a positive thing for our team.”

With Garrett calling plays from 2007 until 2012, the Cowboys’ offense never finished worse than No. 13 in the league, and it finished among the NFL’s 10 best offenses in four of six seasons.

He added that it’s on every member of the offensive coaching staff, from the top down, to improve whatever ails their production – particularly with a week off to closer evaluate the issues.

“Everyone’s a part of that – I’m a part of that, Coach Callahan is a part of that, every coach on the offensive staff, every player,” he said. “We just have to do a better job. We’re going to look at what we’re doing and try to do it better.”


JASON GARRETT PRESS CONFERENCE - Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett - watch video - button Cowboys Saints - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys

Jason Garrett press conference: Preparing for the bye week (20:53)

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media as his team prepares to head into it’s bye week (Watch Video | Play Audio)

Garrett discussed:

  • Was Sunday’s game out of character or a schematic problem
  • Thoughts on young players confidence levels after the Saints defeat
  • Jeff Heath bounce back and confidence playing for J.J. Wilcox; Special Teams
  • Other than injury recovery, what else can be done during the bye week
  • After evaluation of first ten games, should he be involved more in play calling
  • Offense struggle since Denver game, why he’s not taking over playcalling
  • How much new emphasis is being put on getting Dez Bryant the football more
  • Is he satisfied with the number of targets Dez Bryant is getting
  • When going into the bye in such a shocking way, are major changes necessary
  • Decision to go into more man-coverage for the remaining games
  • Can players loose belief in coaches and system when it’s been this bad
  • Did the defense unravel when Sean Lee went out; impact on team; his takeaways
  • Who will be playing middle linebacker until Sean Lee can return
  • Are drastic scheme changes needed to give team chance to win
  • Other than takeaways, what has the defense done well
  • Which key players are due back in time for road game with New York Giants
  • DeMarcus Ware tweaking injury
  • Impact of missing Miles Austin during significant number of games; mismatch
  • How having Miles Austin the mix helps Dez Bryant and Jason Witten
  • Team in position going into last six games to accomplish what they want
  • Thoughts on leaving Romo (and other starters) in for last few minutes of Saints game
  • Concerns about the mental health of the team after close losses and Saints blowout
  • What lead to the final decision to let Romo and others starters finish game
  • Assessment of Tony Romo’s first five games compared to last five games
  • Is Tony Romo being too careful regarding deep balls and avoiding turnovers
  • Defining why Tony Romo’s completion percentage has declined
  • Sports Illustrated report that Sam Hurd distributed marijuana to 20-25 players

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COWBOYS VS. SAINTS WRAP-UP: Postgame interviews and NFL video recap | Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints | 2013-2014 NFL Season – Game 10 of 16

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Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints Highlights and Lowlights – (4:04)

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints defeated the Dallas Cowboys 49-17 in week 10 of the NFL 2013-2014 season. (Watch Video | No Audio)


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First Take on 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Saints game from Superdome (2:29)

First impressions of the Dallas Cowboys 49-17 loss at New Orleans in Game 10 of the 2013-2014 NFL season from the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Includes partial locker room interview with Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee and short clip from Jerry Jones.  (Watch Video | Play Audio)


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INSIDE THE LOCKER ROOM: Jerry Jones postgame reaction to loss (5:07)

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones speaks to media immediately following the Dallas Cowboys loss to the New Orleans Saints. (Watch Video | Play Audio)


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Jason Garrett Postgame Press Conference (9:24)

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media following the Dallas Cowboys 49-17 loss to the Saints on Sunday night in New Orleans. (Watch Video | Play Audio)


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Tony Romo Postgame Press Conference (4:45)

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo speaks to the media following the Dallas Cowboys road loss Sunday night to the New Orleans Saints. (Watch Video | Play Audio)


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LOOKING FOR ANSWERS IN BIG D: Jerry Jones not second guessing his decision to fire Rob Ryan

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NEW ORLEANS – It was a given that Dallas Cowboys owner-general manager Jerry Jones would be reminded he fired the man who helped bring down his team last night on NBC’s nationally televised Sunday Night Football.

The Saints vaunted offense lived up to its reputation in a 49-17 demolition of Dallas. But in an equally dominant performance, the New Orleans defense stymied the Cowboys’ offense into a mere 193 total yards and 17 points.

“I thought that we would hang in real good with them, and you might have a game comparable to what we played with Denver,” Jones said. “A game like that, I think we were ready to put some offense out there. But to their credit, they saw to it that we couldn’t.”

As if he needed insult added to injury, Jones was asked how he felt about the decision to replace Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who coached for the Dallas Cowboys at this time last year.

“We thought it was best for us to go in the direction we are, and it doesn’t look good right now,” Jones said. “Hopefully we can make it look good, but I have all the feelings you have any time you look back at a decision, and I realize when some of them work you have to have a few things go along with it.”

Ryan’s extensive makeover of the Saints’ defense has paid dividends for head coach Sean Payton, who hired him after New Orleans finished last in the league in defense last year. The Saints are currently ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, in total defense and scoring defense this season.

“We had our reasons for making our change, and Sean did a good job of getting Rob down here,” Jones said. “He’s as smart as he can be, from an outstanding football bloodline. That’s why we hired him two years ago with the Cowboys.”

The Dallas Cowboys’ defense, now under the management of defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, was gashed for 625 total yards by Drew Brees and an aggressive Saints running game. It was the fourth time the Cowboys have surrendered 500 yards of offense and the second time they have surrendered 600 yards this year, further solidifying their No. 32 ranking in the NFL.

Injury again played a role in that, as Jason Hatcher missed the game and Sean Lee was lost for the night in the second quarter with a hamstring injury. Jones acknowledged the extent of the team’s injury problems, but he said he didn’t want to make an excuse of it.

“I thought we were certainly compromised, relative to our defense, where we are right now with personnel,” he said. “That’s not an excuse, because we still didn’t play as well as they played.”

The Saints allowed the Cowboys to run just 43 plays on the night, and they didn’t give up a third down conversion in nine different attempts. What success the Dallas Cowboys had on the ground, with 89 yards on 16 attempts, was offset by a complete inability to throw.

“I thought Rob’s defense was outstanding. They got after us good,” Jones said. “This is not only a tough place to play, but we know, where we are right now with our personnel on defense, we’ve got to go out and score. We’ve got to get in there and score some points. To their credit, they didn’t let us keep our offense out there.”

Jones remained optimistic, however, despite being handed the most lopsided loss of the year. He said the Dallas Cowboys need to use the bye week to regroup and recuperate.

“It’s embarrassing to lose, it’s embarrassing to not be representative, not be competitive – all of those things. But more importantly, the real issue, can we do something about it,” Jones said. “Can we get in here and use this time off, get some of our guys back, get a little healthier, come up with some ideas of how to go against the rest of the schedule and see if we can have a happier day this year – not next year, but this year.”

COWBOYS VS. SAINTS GUT-CHECK REVIEW: Dallas offense shut down; Saints rip Cowboys defense in 49-17 loss

COWBOYS VS. SAINTS GUT-CHECK REVIEW - Dallas offense shut down; Saints rip Cowboys defense in 49-17 loss - Sean Payton Jimmy Graham Rob Ryan New Orleans Saints NFL

NEW ORLEANS –  Initial thoughts following the 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys’ 49-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints.  

Kavner: No one predicted the massacre that occurred Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Dallas Cowboys established a strong running presence early on and took a quick 3-0 lead, but that’s about the only positive thing to say about a team that got smashed the rest of the way. Tony Romo only had three completions for 20 yards at the half, and the Saints offense continued to move the ball at will against the Cowboys defense, particularly after Sean Lee went out with an injury. I thought we’d see a back-and-forth shootout in New Orleans. It turned out this one was over early in the third quarter, when thoughts shifted more to the Cowboys’ immediate future without Lee than it did the game, which was already wrapped up.

Helman: The popular saying around this team is that they play to their level of competition, but that was far from the case Sunday night. The offense, aside from one short drive in the third quarter, couldn’t find any rhythm or consistent production. It was nice to see the Cowboys commit to the run and find some early success, but was it worth it at the cost of such a poor passing performance? This team lives and dies with Tony Romo, as far as I’m concerned, and his inability to find even 100 passing yards when the game was still in the balance just wasn’t going to cut it. Once again we saw the defense fall well short of top-notch competition, as the Saints racked up both points and yardage. Obviously, injuries play a role in that, as Jason Hatcher was inactive and Sean Lee left the game early. But that doesn’t excuse the poor tackling or the dozen penalties. The Cowboys have dealt with their fair share of disappointment this season, but this is the first time in 10 weeks we’ve seen them get definitively outplayed.

Eatman: I really thought we’d see an old-fashioned shootout. The Saints were certainly down for it, although Rob Ryan wasn’t having it. The Cowboys just weren’t good enough on any side of the ball to stay with the Saints. Cole Beasley wasn’t really a factor like I thought. Then again neither was Dez Bryant or Jason Witten or anyone Tony Romo was throwing to. To me, the game changed completely when Sean Lee went out with a hamstring injury. That’s when the Saints just ripped the Cowboys’ defense up to no end. Drew Brees did anything he wanted and was rarely challenged. Injuries for this team aren’t excuses anymore, it’s just reality. This team was average before these injuries and now it’s even worse. The bye week just couldn’t come at a better time.


Editors note: This article relates to the pregame predictions made by the Dallas Cowboys writers on Saturday.

SOUL SEARCHING IN THE BIG EASY: New Orleans Saints dominate Dallas Cowboys in Primetime

SOUL SEARCHING IN THE BIG EASY - New Orleans Saints dominate Dallas Cowboys in Primetime - Drew Brees and Tony Romo

NEW ORLEANS – The Saints went marching in … again and again and again.

With injuries continuing to decimate the Cowboys defense and the offense unable to do much of anything, Dallas was simply dominated by New Orleans, losing 49-17 in front of a primetime national audience on Sunday Night Football.

“That did not feel good,” said owner/general manager Jerry Jones. “Anything that would go along with losing that you can say, it’s embarrassing when you lose. It’s embarrassing to not be representative, not be competitive, all of those things.”

The Dallas Cowboys started this game with a slew of injuries already hampering the defensive unit, this time Jason Hatcher, who is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season, unable to go due to a stinger suffered last week against Minnesota. 

“It hurt me not being out there tonight,” Hatcher said. “Not that I say things would have been different, but I really think I could have helped my team. It hurt sitting over there just seeing my team get beat on.”

But things would only get worse for the unit, as the last person the team could afford to lose would leave the game. Early in the second quarter, Sean Lee, the quarterback of the defense, was sent to the locker room with a left hamstring injury and did not return, the severity not immediately known.

Lee plans on getting an MRI on Monday to get a better idea of the severity of the injury.

“Don’t know the severity, but obviously it’s not good,” Lee said. “So we’ve got to figure it out, and I’ll do whatever I can to rehab and get back as fast as possible.”

He was followed in the third quarter with fellow starting linebacker Justin Durant also being sidelined with a hamstring injury. And while DeMarcus Ware did come back, he was still hobbled by his right quad injury, obviously not 100 percent.

At some points during the night, especially at the end when Ware was rested, only three of the eleven projected defensive starters going into training camp (safety Barry Church, cornerback Brandon Carr and linebacker Bruce Carter) were actually in the game for the Cowboys.

So, the fact that Drew Brees and the Saints offense basically had their way with the Dallas defense probably shouldn’t have come as any surprise. The Saints finished with 625 yards of total offense, and set a new single-game NFL record with 40 first downs.

“They were able to move the ball both by running it and throwing it,” said head coach Jason Garrett. “It’s well documented we have a lot of different guys playing for us, we understand that, but we didn’t get the job done and they did.”

Brees finished the night with 392 passing yards and four touchdown tosses, narrowly missing out on becoming the fifth quarterback this season to throw for 400 yards against the Cowboys defense. Nine different players caught passes for New Orleans, with Marques Colston leading the way with 107 yards off seven grabs.

Unfortunately, the Saints didn’t just do their damage in the air, as they also rushed for 242 yards, Mark Ingram having a field day against the depleted Cowboys, running for 145 yards on 14 carries.

“There just were very few plays that we stopped,” Garrett said. “They did a lot of different things. They ran the ball when they wanted to run it. I thought Drew Brees did a fantastic job reading the coverage and finding the right guy.”

With the injury issues affecting the Dallas defense, the Cowboys needed a big game from their offense. They didn’t get it.

SOUL SEARCHING IN THE BIG EASY - New Orleans Saints dominate Dallas Cowboys in Primetime

Facing Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who served in the same capacity for Dallas the previous two seasons, Tony Romo and Co. could do nothing, Ryan getting his revenge on his former team.

The Dallas Cowboys quarterback finished with just 128 yards on 10-of-24 passing, the second time in the last three games that he has failed to complete at least 50 percent of his passes. Backup tight end James Hanna led all Dallas receivers with three catches while Dez Bryant hauled in only one.

“We didn’t do a good enough job just finding the other guys and making them pay with the other guys who were getting isolated,” Garrett said. “We weren’t able to drive the ball the way we wanted to. We didn’t do a very good job on third down to sustain drives.”

Also not helping was a plethora of penalties. The Cowboys rushed for 89 yards, but had 11 penalties for a total of 82 yards. In all, Dallas only totaled 193 yards of offense in the game, running just 43 plays. Again, New Orleans had 40 first downs alone.

The Cowboys had the opportunity to make an early statement when Dwayne Harris beat his man on the punt coverage and then recovered a muffed punt by Darren Sproles to set Dallas up at the New Orleans’ 22-yard line. But the offense could muster only three yards, hurting themselves again with a false start penalty. On came Dan Bailey for a 37-yard field goal, the surefooted kicker good on his attempt to stake the Cowboys to an early 3-0 lead.

That didn’t last long, though. Starting at their own 20, the Saints marched right down the field, going 80 yards in nine plays with Breese hitting Colston from 22 yards out for the score and a 7-3 advantage.

Dallas then faced a scary moment when on the ensuing kickoff, Harris broke loose down the left sideline for a nice 34-yard return to the Cowboys 28. But already out of bounds, Harris was then pushed by linebacker Kevin Reddick, falling headfirst into a Saints player who was standing on the sidelines. The play was clearly a late hit, but no flag was thrown.

Harris, perhaps the best special teams player in the NFL, suffered a neck injury and went to the locker room, but did return to the game.

Undaunted, the Cowboys did something they’ve failed to do with any regularity in recent games – run the ball. As the drive pushed into the second quarter, Dallas handed the ball off to Murray seven times during the possession, his biggest gain coming on a 35 run around the left end which set the offense up at the Saints 32.

Murray then capped off the drive with another scamper around the left end from 7 yards out, diving into the end zone to give Dallas back the lead, 10-7.

Again, though, New Orleans had an answer. And this time it came at an even bigger cost to the Cowboys.

With the Saints starting at their own 20, Brees threw a short pass over the middle to running back Pierre Thomas. The linebacker Lee was in on the tackle, but in the process injured his hamstring, lost for the game.

Continue reading →

NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints

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IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have yet to get away from the .500 mark this year, failing on their last three chances to get two games over. 500 this year. Here comes their fourth opportunity but it’ll likely be the toughest challenge to date as they travel to New Orleans to face Drew Brees and the Saints.

Here are the gut feelings for writers Nick Eatman, David Helman and Rowan Kavner.

David Helman: I feel so much better about this game than I did when the week started. The Saints look vulnerable to a good pass rush, and DeMarcus Ware is back in the lineup with intent to disrupt Drew Brees. I also think the Cowboys offense will be able to move the ball against Rob Ryan’s group, which is good but maybe not as good as advertised. Unfortunately, I think the combination of Brees and Jimmy Graham will be too much to contain. I think Ware gets himself back in the sack column, but I also think Graham will bring in a touchdown or two. Much like the Denver game, the Cowboys offense will find a way to get going, but the Saints win a shootout – something like 38-28. I think a big part of that will be because the Cowboys won’t notch a turnover this week, which would be just the second time this season they haven’t produced at least one.

Rowan Kavner: I don’t expect a blowout for either side here, but the Cowboys better make sure they don’t get down in bunches early. The problem for the Cowboys in this one is that the Saints seem to do everything well that the Cowboys have had trouble with. In San Diego, the defense had trouble against Antonio Gates and Danny Woodhead, and the combination of Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles in the passing game is probably even more lethal. Despite the Saints’ improved defense under Rob Ryan, I see both teams still trading points in this one, but the Cowboys don’t have an answer for Graham or the slot threats of the Saints. I think Bruce Carter is active in this one and makes amends for the struggles he had against Woodhead earlier this year, while Jeff Heath gets an interception. Offensively, Cole Beasley ends up with more catches than Terrance Williams and Lance Dunbar finally gets involved in his hometown and has a 20-plus yard play. Eventually, the Saints’ offense is just too much, and they’re the first and last to 30 points.

Nick Eatman: Judging by the pattern of recent history, the Cowboys have a good shot here. Dating back to that 2009 game, these two teams play the opposite of what is expected. Even last year, the Cowboys were supposed to win but couldn’t stop the Saints at the end. So this year, maybe the Cowboys really do have a good shot of going to New Orleans and grabbing a win. I wish I could see it, but I don’t. Beating the Saints to improve to 6-4 heading into the bye week would be just too good for this team. Nothing comes easy for this team, especially in the Big Easy. I see the Cowboys staying with the Saints for a while, but eventually one team runs out of bullets. I think the Saints will win 38-30. I see a big game for Cole Beasley, maybe something like a double-digit catch game. I’m calling for a first career interception by Jeff Heath. But in the end, I see a flight home with a 5-5 team with two weeks to try and figure it out.

 


GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Trackers and Scoreboards

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View NFL|Dallas Cowboys game stats and scores online while you watch or listen to the game.

Click HERE to choose from a list of popular online game trackers.

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Sounds of the game

Listen to the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Brad Sham on KRLD in Dallas.

The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network - 105_3 The Fan KRLD

Click HERE. Don’t live in the Dallas area? Click HERE.

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or listen via the Dallas Cowboys Android App on your phone or tablet

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Watch the game

To watch on network TV, tune to:

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Out of market? Click HERE to watch online (NFL Sunday Ticket)

When: Sunday, November 10th, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. (Dallas time)

Where: Superdome | New Orleans, LA

Watch on TV: Local NBC affiliate | DirecTV

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: The Boys Are Back

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GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys pregame/postgame shows

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Dallas Cowboys Radio Network

Note: The pregame show starts about two hours before kickoff. The postgame show starts approximately 30 minutes after the game is over.


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COWBOYS VS. SAINTS GAMEDAY PRIMER: NFL Films Game Preview | Scouting Report on New Orleans key players | Tony Romo game winning drive

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NFL Films Preview: New Orleans Saints vs. Dallas Cowboys

NFL Films previews the 2013 Week 10 matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints.  (Watch Video)

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Know The Enemy: Film Breakdown and Scouting Report on Saints DE Cameron Jordan Know The Enemy: Film Breakdown and Scouting Report on New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees
(Watch Video | Play Audio) (Watch Video | Play Audio)

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NFL Sound FX: Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo Mic’d Up

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is wired for sound as they come back to beat the Minnesota Vikings 27-23 in 2013-2014 NFL Season – Week 9 (Watch Video | No Audio)

COWBOYS VS. SAINTS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Jason Garrett press conference | Friday practice with Injury Update

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Jason Garrett: Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints road game (12:02)

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media from Valley Ranch as his team prepares for the last time before facing the New Orleans Saints. (Watch Video | Play Audio)

Garrett discussed:

  • Update on DT gameplan regarding Hatcher, Hayden, and other linemen
  • How the team prepares next man up when dealing with injuries
  • Thoughts on Everett Brown flexibility along the defensive line
  • How 4-3 linemen flex compared to traditional 3-4 scheme
  • Long term concern about Dez Bryant’s back issues
  • Difference in game planning for a high scoring opponent
  • What impacts DeMarcus Ware’s injuries in either the 3-4 or 4-3 scheme
  • Familiarity with Saints because of coaches former ties with Dallas Cowboys
  • Opinion on Saints draft pick Kenny Vaccaro – Safety
  • Bringing injured players to a road game to help coach; sideline presence
  • Weathering the Storm approach in hostile road games; adaption
  • Thoughts on Dwayne Harris this season
  • Need for the bye-week as compared to other seasons
  • This weeks contradictions about running the ball more and balance
  • How to view stats when comparing balance and wins

DALLAS COWBOYS INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE – FRIDAY

Name Position Injury Wed. Thu. Fri. Game Status
Austin, Miles WR Hamstring DNP DNP DNP doubtful
Bryant, Dez WR Back DNP LP LP probable
Church, Barry S Hamstring FP FP FP probable
Claiborne, Morris CB Hamstring DNP DNP DNP Out
Harris, Dwayne WR Hip FP FP FP probable
Hatcher, Jason DT Neck DNP DNP LP questionable
Hayden, Nick DT Ribs LP DNP LP probable
Holloman, DeVonte LB Neck DNP DNP DNP Out
McCray, Danny S Hip/Toe FP FP FP probable
Murray, DeMarco RB Knee FP FP FP probable
Selvie, George DE Shoulder LP LP LP probable
Ware, DeMarcus DE Thigh LP LP LP probable
Wilcox, J.J. S Knee DNP DNP DNP Out

 

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AROUND THE NFC EAST: Eagles and Giants to face Green Bay without MVP Aaron Rodgers

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This is going to sound a lot like whining, but it’s really just an interesting observation.

A couple of days removed from his injury on Monday Night Football, we’re now aware Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a broken clavicle. The Packers’ signal-caller is slated to miss at least three or so weeks, but he is expected back before the end of the season.

By a twist of fate, that simple fact is likely going to affect the NFC East championship race in a very direct manner. The NFC North drew the NFC East on the schedule this season, which pits the Packers against all four East squads.

Rodgers and Co. have only played one team from the division to this point, however. The Packers crushed the Redskins, 38-20, in Week 2 of the season. But the other three matchups against the NFC East are slated for later in the season.

And now it brings us to this point. The Packers’ next two games, with Rodgers sidelined, are a home date against Philadelphia this weekend and a road trip to play the Giants on Nov. 17.

Obviously, anything can happen in any NFL matchup – that’s what makes this league so much fun. But you’ve got to admit the prospects of defeating Green Bay with Seneca Wallace running the offense look a lot brighter than if it was one-time NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers.

The Packers round into view on the Dallas Cowboys’ schedule on Dec. 15, by which point it’s a good bet Rodgers will be coming back to full health, if not back on the field already.

In the same vein, the Bears look likely to have Jay Cutler back for the home stretch – which includes the Cowboys – after Cutler said he planned to play this weekend against Detroit. Cutler went down with a groin injury early in the Bears’ game against the Redskins – a game they lost. But he will be back in the mix for games against the Eagles and Cowboys.

It’s the NFL. So counting games ahead of the schedule is an exercise in futility. Green Bay is still probably a good enough team to beat Philadelphia and New York without Rodgers. And with four games on the schedule before the Packers come to town, it’s not worth fretting over matters outside the Cowboys’ next opponent.

But it’s certainly not a twist that looks likely to benefit the Cowboys. 

NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings

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Following a crushing defeat to Detroit, the Cowboys return home to face Minnesota on Sunday. The Vikings are bad. They are 1-6, having been victimized by poor quarterback play and a porous pass defense. Not even Adrian Peterson, the league’s best running back, has been able to put a charge in the listless Vikings. As a result, Vegas has the 4-4 Cowboys as 10 ½-point favorites in this game. Dallas can’t afford to lose this with a game against New Orleans looming. Here is a look at how the Cowboys and Vikings match up:

When the Cowboys run

DeMarco Murray appears ready to return to action. He’s listed as probable. But at this point it’s hard to invest any faith in the Cowboys’ running game. Dallas produced only 62 rushing yards last week in a loss to Detroit, a team that was surrendering the highest average yards per carry before Week 7. The Cowboys feature the sixth-worst ground attack in the NFL and the loss of guard Brian Waters won’t help their effort to improve.

Edge: Vikings

When the Cowboys pass

Since throwing for 506 yards against Denver, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has played average football. In the last three games, he has completed just 56.1 percent of his attempts and posted a 79.7 passer rating. The Cowboys need better production out of Romo and they could get it this week against a Minnesota defense giving up an average of 287.9 yards per game through the air.

Edge: Cowboys

When the Vikings run

The Vikings have Adrian Peterson, one of the best runners the NFL has ever seen. But the Vikings’ ground attack is producing 103.3 yards per game, the 18th-highest average in the league. Early deficits and the absence of a legitimate passing game have conspired against Peterson, who is still the fifth-leading rusher in the NFL. This will be a tough test for the Cowboys after Detroit averaged 4.9 yards per carry against Dallas last Sunday.

Edge: Vikings

When the Vikings pass

No team this season has given up more yards through the air than the Cowboys. But they should be able to limit Minnesota’s unimpressive passing offense. Christian Ponder, who will start Sunday, has been unimpressive, throwing two touchdown passes and five interceptions this season. While the Vikings feature a playmaking receiver, Greg Jennings, they don’t pose the type of threat that Denver, Detroit, San Diego and the New York Giants do. All of those teams roasted the Cowboys. It’s not expected Minnesota will do the same.

Edge: Cowboys

Special teams

The battle that could develop between Dwayne Harris and Cordarrelle Patterson could be an interesting one. Patterson, a rookie, has become one of the most dynamic specialists in the game. This season, he’s scored twice on kick returns, including one of 109 yards that resulted in a touchdown last week against Green Bay. Harris, meanwhile, is second in the league in kick return average, just behind Patterson. But unlike Patterson he’s one of the NFL’s best punt returners, too.

Edge: Cowboys

Intangibles

The Cowboys suffered a crushing defeat last Sunday and it’s uncertain if the team has gotten over it. Now they face the Vikings, who have won seven of the last eight games they’ve played against Dallas. While Minnesota is 1-6 this season, the Vikings still have Adrian Peterson, the Texas native who should be motivated in his return to his home state. He could do damage to a Dallas team still smarting from its loss to Detroit.

Edge: Vikings

 


GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Trackers and Scoreboards

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View NFL|Dallas Cowboys game stats and scores online while you watch or listen to the game.

Click HERE to choose from a list of popular online game trackers.

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Sounds of the game

Listen to the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Brad Sham on KRLD in Dallas.

The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network - 105_3 The Fan KRLD

Click HERE. Don’t live in the Dallas area? Click HERE.

Sirius XM satellite radio button - Listen to the Dallas Cowboys - NFL -

or listen via the Dallas Cowboys Android App on your phone or tablet

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Watch the game

To watch on network TV, tune to:

KDFW-TV/FOX 4 Dallas | KMSP-TV/FOX 9 Minneapolis

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Out of market? Click HERE to watch online (NFL Sunday Ticket)

When: Sunday, November 3rd, 2013 at high noon (Dallas time)

Where: AT&T Stadium | Arlington, TX

Watch on TV: Local FOX affiliate | DirecTV

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: The Boys Are Back

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The Boys Are Back | Read | Listen | Watch | Comment

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Enjoy the game!

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys pregame/postgame shows

LISTEN LIVE–RIGHT NOW

Dallas Cowboys Pre-game/Postgame Show

on the

Dallas Cowboys Radio Network

Note: The pregame show starts about two hours before kickoff. The postgame show starts approximately 30 minutes after the game is over.


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THE PLOT THICKENS: Ex-Cowboy Jay Ratliff agrees to deal with Chicago Bears; Could face Dallas in December

THE PLOT THICKENS - Ex-Cowboy Jay Ratliff agrees to deal with Chicago Bears; Could face Dallas in December - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys

IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys didn’t think Jay Ratliff would be able to play with them this year. Now, they’re scheduled to play against him.

Just two weeks after Ratliff was released from the Cowboys for a failed physical, the defensive tackle agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Bears, who are set to play the Cowboys on Monday night on Dec. 9 in Chicago.

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The latest news continues an ongoing saga between the Cowboys and Ratliff, who hasn’t played in a game since Nov. 18, 2012. Despite multiple off-field incidents, the Cowboys cited his lingering health issues as primary reasons for the release.

Ratliff underwent sports hernia surgery in December and came back to run in the team’s conditioning test at the start of training camp, where he hurt his hamstring. He never again got on the field for the Cowboys and was put on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

After his release, Ratliff’s agent, Mark Slough, said the injury was much more serious than a sports hernia and claimed Ratliff actually had muscle ripped off from the pelvic bone. He said that Ratliff still had a desire to play, but that the plan would be for a 2014 return. At the time, there was no expectation Ratliff would be ready to play this quickly.

Ratliff is still maybe two to four weeks away from being able to play. The Bears, however, have a huge need at defensive tackle after losing Henry Melton and Nate Collins.

Ratliff visited the Bears, Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins this week. The Cincinnati Bengals also made inquiries after a season-ending injury to Geno Atkins.

The Bears made the most sense for Ratliff of the teams he visited, as he should have a chance start when healthy. In Kansas City or Miami, he likely would have been a rotational player.

“Those people that ever questioned his loyalty, maybe questioned his desire to play, integrity – all those things – those questions were misplaced,” Slough said. “But again, I think a lot of that came from the fact that no one really understood the severity of the injury that Jay had suffered. As a result, there were unrealistic expectations for his return being bantered about publicly.”

The Cowboys and owner/general manager tried to stay as mum as possible after Ratliff was medically cleared to play this season, citing legal reasons. It’s possible the Cowboys try to get some of the money back on Ratliff’s contract extension he signed in 2011.

“I don’t want to comment because of the legal aspect of it, and I had said earlier that I was going to focus on good things – the contribution that he made here, and this team needed him real bad,” Jones said Oct. 24. “It was disappointing that he’s not playing, disappointing that the resources involved aren’t going to guys out here making plays.”

Ratliff has some familiarity with staff members on the Bears. Running backs coach Skip Peete and special teams coach/assistant head coach Joe DeCamillis were with the Cowboys last year. Former Cowboy Martellus Bennett is also on the Bears’ roster.

Ratliff was thought to be an ideal fit in the middle of the Dallas Cowboys’ new 4-3 defense. The Bears evidently hope the same in their scheme.

The Bears sit just outside of the playoff race and are trying to stay in contention while they wait for the return of injured quarterback Jay Cutler and linebacker Lance Briggs.

A healthy Ratliff is a step toward saving the Bears’ playoff hopes if they can stay afloat with backup quarterback Josh McCown and a patchwork defensive.

NFC BEAST OF THE EAST: Review of the Dallas Cowboys division at the halfway point in the 2013-2014 NFL season (Special Feature)

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The focus of this article is on the NFC East as a whole. Outside of the enormous popularity of the Dallas Cowboys, the division features some pretty prominent, popular franchises in their own right – and there’s the undeniable truth that all three are in the way of a Dallas Cowboys playoff berth.

NFC East: Analyzing The Importance Of November

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It’s not October anymore. When the ball kicks off this Sunday for our three fair NFC East contestants, we’ll be into the second half of the season. The temperatures are starting to drop, and the games that determine the playoff picture are about to begin.

With that in mind, lets take a look at a stat that Dallas Cowboys fans should be well-familiar with by now, considering it’s one of Tony Romo’s most impressive numbers. As it’s been documented, since he took over starting duties for the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 29, 2006, Romo has a staggering 21-4 record in the month of November.

That’s a statistic the Cowboys would desperately love to keep in line with. Dallas has four games sandwiched around a bye week this month – Minnesota tomorrow, at New Orleans in a week, at New York after the bye and home for Thanksgiving against Oakland. 

That’s a combined record of 12-17, with the Saints comprising 50 percent of that win total. Take the current NFC No. 2 seed out of the equation, and the other three opponents are just 6-16. With outdoor road trips to Chicago and Washington, not to mention a home date against Green Bay, looming in December, a winning mark in November would be huge for Romo and Co.

It’s even more important when you look at the upcoming slates for the rest of the division. 

The Redskins, captained by Robert Griffin III, actually begin their six-game win streak and eventual march to the playoffs in November last year. They’re going to need him to improve on his 2-1 November mark to remain in the hunt, as they host the white-hot Philip Rivers this weekend before making back-to-back road trips to Minnesota and Philly, and then finishing the month off with a Monday night game against San Francisco.

Philadelphia has the last bye week in the league, with the final weekend of November the goal for a much-needed rest. In the meantime, they also have back-to-back road trips, to Oakland and Green Bay, before facing the Redskins at home. Nick Foles is winless in November, with an 0-2 mark. The Eagles would love to have Michael Vick back – though his career November record of 12-12-1 is hardly awe-inspiring.

Expect the upcoming month to sink both Washington and Philadelphia’s playoff hopes. Ironically enough, however, this 11th month of the year just may give a fighting chance to the once-buried Giants.

The much-needed bye week falls on the Giants this weekend. After a reprieve and a chance to get some guys healthy, they don’t have to leave the confines of MetLife Stadium until Dec. 1. During the three-game homestand, they’ll host the Raiders, Packers and Cowboys.

Despite the Giants’ run of postseason success, Eli Manning’s November record sits at just 13-19. In fact, New York is just 2-6 in November since 2011.

Does any of that mean anything? It’s hard to say for sure. It’s hard for some to take Romo’s winning ways in November too seriously when he hasn’t guided a team to the playoffs since 2009.

We didn’t decide much in this division in the first eight weeks – other than the fact that there isn’t a dominant team among the four.

Whoever manages the best over the next four or five weeks may find themselves in an enviable position when December starts.

NFC East: Burning Questions At The Halfway Point

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Can we just chuck the first half of the season out the window? Is there a fan base in the NFC East that would really mind?

The array of mediocre traverses the entire spectrum among the NFL’s most volatile division. This is a group that’s had four different champions in the past four years, and it’s certainly playing up that moniker of parity.

Division leader Dallas has four wins – just two games ahead of cellar-dweller New York at the halfway point of the season. What’s the worst predicament?

Cowboys fans will tell you they should probably be 6-2, but you could make an easy argument the team has come painstakingly close to winning all eight games – refer yourself to the total margin of defeat of 14 points.

The Giants, continual contenders in the NFC with two Super Bowls in the last six seasons, plummeted to an 0-6 start – their worst such start to a season in 37 years. The division’s middling middle, Philadelphia and Washington, will go the way of their dynamic but injury-riddled quarterbacks.

It has all combined to give the NFC East the worst win total among the NFL’s eight divisions – 11-20. That’s one win more than the AFC South, which boasts a 10-19 mark thanks to hapless Jacksonville, but it’s also one more loss.

Go figure, the league’s western half – the AFC and NFC West, which boast four of the best teams in football in Denver, Kansas City, San Francisco and Seattle – are running away with collective records of 22-8 and 20-12, respectively.

In those divisions, and in several others, things are beginning to settle. We have a good idea of what’s going to happen in four or five of the league’s divisions.

But that’s not so in the NFC East, where the first half of the season hasn’t determined much other than that all four teams are equally flawed. 

So what storylines are going to dictate the stretch run and the eventual division champion?

Dallas Cowboys: How well can they weather the injuries?

It sounds like a copout, because there’s a lot to be said about the shakiness of the Dallas offense, not to mention late-game decisions in all four Cowboys losses.

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But as of Monday, they have lost starting right guard Brian Waters, likely for the year. Starting cornerback Morris Claiborne is also out for at least a handful of games with a bad hamstring. Starting safety Barry Church may also be iffy with a hamstring.

Don’t forget to factor those injuries in with the prior ones suffered by starters DeMarco Murray, DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin and J.J. Wilcox. All four players are expected back soon, but as of yet, we don’t know for sure when that will happen.

Don’t count on many teams stringing together wins with as many as six or seven starters missing from the lineup. The Dallas Cowboys need the bye week to get here, and quickly.

Philadelphia Eagles: What is Michael Vick’s status for the last eight games?

Michael Vick tried to give it a go on his injured hamstring last week against New York. It didn’t work out quite as well as he’d hoped – he completed 6-of-9 passes for 30 yards and a pick before exiting prior to halftime.

NFC East - Philadelphia Eagles 2013 - The Boys Are Back blog

It doesn’t look likely he’ll be ready for this weekend’s trip to Oakland, and that’s a problem for the Philadelphia offense. Yes, the Eagles romped over winless Tampa Bay with Nick Foles at the helm. But it’s becoming increasingly more evident that as Vick goes, so goes the Philly attack. 

In the four full games that Vick played before injuring the hamstring in the first game against the Giants, the Philadelphia offense was averaging 458 yards per game. In the three games since the injury, the average has plummeted to 300 yards per game.

Yes, the Eagles’ defense is atrocious, and it has cost them opportunities at a better record. But Chip Kelly’s offense has not hummed without his starting quarterback behind center. With a bad defense, they’ll need a strong offense to earn wins.

They need Vick.

Washington Redskins: Can RG3 rediscover his mojo?

It’s a pretty similar situation in D.C. as it is in Philly. The Redskins are an average team with a bad defense. They need a strong performance from their leader and pace-setter of a quarterback if they’re going to match last season’s division championship.

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It seemed like Griffin had turned a corner after a slow start to 2013. He threw for a combined 544 yards in Weeks 6 and 7, and he led the Redskins to a last-minute victory against Chicago.

More notably in that, he rushed for a combined 181 yards in those two games after totaling just 72 yards on the ground in the first month of the season. He was beginning to look comfortable using both of his skillsets. 

That all derailed in Sunday’s blowout loss to Denver. Griffin managed just seven rushing yards on five attempts, and he completed 50 percent of his passes for just 132 yards. He left the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent knee injury, though he has since been declared OK.

The fact of the matter is that Griffin is slumping across the board in his sophomore season. His completion percentage after seven games is at just 59 percent.  He’s actually on pace to throw for 1,000 more yards than his 3,200 yards last season, but he already has eight interceptions in seven games, where he threw just five picks his entire rookie campaign.

The running issues are well-documented. Griffin is averaging roughly 34 yards on the ground to this point, and he hasn’t found the end zone as a runner yet.

These are the pressures that go with being a No. 2 pick. The Redskins need to win at least six of the last nine games, and they won’t do it unless Griffin’s play improves.

New York Giants: Can the lines continue to improve?

Sunday’s win against Philadelphia was not pretty, but it saw two significant improvements for the New York Giants.

NFC East - New York Giants 2013 - The Boys Are Back blog

Firstly, the offensive line won the day. The Giants weren’t great running the ball, with just 88 total yards, but they outrushed an Eagles rushing attack that has been tops in the league for most of the year. It also gave Eli Manning time to the make decisions, which allowed him to put together his second-straight interception-free game.

The Giants are 2-0 in games where Manning hasn’t thrown a pick. In their previous six, all losses, he threw 15 balls to the other team.

Secondly, the Giants’ defense managed four sacks against the Eagles after notching six combined sacks in the seven previous games. It’s a long way to go before anyone believes New York has re-discovered its pass rushing reputation, but it’s a start. 

No team has ever started 0-6 and reached the playoffs. But in this division, the Giants now just sit two games out of first. If they can keep people away from their quarterback, and keep finding ways to reach opposing quarterbacks, they have a chance.


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DALLAS COWBOYS AT&T STADIUM: GAMEDAY EXPERIENCE | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys host Minnesota Vikings

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WHAT: Minnesota Vikings (1-6) at Dallas Cowboys (4-4)  WHEN: Sunday, Noon (CST)
WHERE: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas  TELEVISION: Fox

The Dallas Cowboys fifth home game of the 2013 season will feature the reigning NFL MVP in Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson.

While the Cowboys will be looking to get back over .500 with a win tomorrow, there will be several festivities taking place long before the kickoff, which is scheduled for Noon. (Don’t forget to set the clocks back for Daylight Savings).

Here are some things to look for:

New Style Lounge

This Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys are hosting the NFL’s style lounge on the Ackermann platform near the escalators on the 400 level. This pop-up store will feature a variety of fashion and accessories, targeted the female football fan.

This year’s lounge is sponsored by Covergirl, who will provide complimentary fanicures, featuring team-nail art.

Other items at the lounge include a wide range of products such as hand bags, glitzed-out watches and affordable vintage style t-shirts and chic jewelry.

Did You Know:

  • The roof and the doors are expected to be open for this game.  Please note that this can change up to 90 minutes prior to kickoff.
  • Dr Pepper is pleased to provide Dallas Cowboys Bandanas to the first 50,000 fans to the game.
  • Dallas Cowboys Alumni will be signing autographs in the club areas one hour prior to kickoff.
    • Main Club Home : Preston Pearson
    • Main Club Visitors : Walt Garrison
    • Silver Club Home : Pettis Norman
    • Silver Club Visitors : John Gesek

On the Plazas

Dallas Cowboy Party on the Plaza - Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium pregame events - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

Other forms of entertainment will abound at Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium on Sunday.

  • On the West Plaza around 11: 25 a.m., the Cowboys are giving away a free Harley Davidson motorcycle to one fan. Three lucky contestants will get the keys, but only one will get to drive away with their new ride.
  • Also on the West Plaza at 11 a.m., the Air Force will conduct an enlistment ceremony.
  • Former tight end Billy Joe DuPree will be the featured guest for the alumni interview.
  • The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders will split their squad in half for pregame performances on both the East and West Plazas at 10:35 a.m.
  • Rhythm & Blues Dance Team, Rhythm & Blues Drum Line and Rhythm & Blues Break Boys will each perform on both East & West plaza before the game.
  • There will also be a free Kids Zone, complete with mechanical bull, rock climbing wall and zip line. There will also be NFL Play 60 games, face painting and balloon animals.
  • There will also be giveaways like official game-used merchandise, CD’s, and much more  on each stage in the plazas for games like Karaoke Contest, Ladder Golf, Bag Toss and Dance Contest
  • There will also be Plaza food and beverage discounts1:  $2 12oz. soda & bottled water $5 12oz. Miller beer, as well as discounted hot dogs, burgers and sausages.

In-Game Entertainment

  • Trumpeter Freddie Jones will once again perform the national anthem Sunday, as he is scheduled to do for every home game this fall. Jones’ instrumental anthem was wildly popular at the Dallas Cowboys’ season opener.
  • During the anthem, a full-field American flag will be presented by the US Army 470th Military Intelligence Brigade, ROTC cadets and personnel from the Wounded Warrior Project.
  • Sunday’s halftime show will feature a Dr. Pepper Tuition Toss, where two lucky fans have a chance to win a $10,000 scholarship. And in honor of Military Night, Dr. Pepper will match this donation for two military representatives as well.

Looking For 20

All season long, Dallas Cowboys fans attending home games will be hoping for at least 20 points. This year, Papa John’s has partnered with the Cowboys for the ultimate fan promotion. Any game in which the Cowboys get at least 20 points, all fans in attendance will get 50 percent off their entire order the following day at papajohns.com with promo code COWBOYS20. Offer valid for regular-priced menu items and only at participating stores.

New Bag Policy

Fans are reminded to remember the NFL’s new bag policy, which will be in effect at every Cowboys home game this season.

Only hand-held purses will be allowed into the stadium, along with clear plastic tote bags that do not exceed 12”x6”x12” inches.

Items such as backpacks, coolers, large purses, camera bags, diaper bags, fanny packs and seat cushions are not allowed into the stadium under the new NFL safety rules.

Traffic & Parking:

Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium interactive parking site - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - button

  • It’s recommended to use the Dallas Cowboys interactive parking site for all travels to AT&T Stadium.  This website provides the best routes from point of origin to the pre-purchased or selected cash parking lot.

NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions

Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions - Dallas Cowboys 2013-2014 schedule - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys - NFL helmets

After victories over Washington and Philadelphia in consecutive games, the Dallas Cowboys head to Detroit alone in first place in the NFC East. A victory over the Lions on Sunday will give Dallas its first winning record at the midpoint of the season since 2009, which also happens to be the last time the Cowboys made a run to the playoffs. This game will be appointment viewing because of the receiver battle that will take place between Detroit’s Calvin Johnson and Dallas’ Dez Bryant. Here is a look at how both teams match up:

When the Cowboys run

It’s been a long time since the Cowboys have had a reliable rushing offense. Lineup changes and a wavering commitment to the run have prevented Dallas from consistently producing yards on the ground. The knee injury suffered by DeMarco Murray and the promotion of rookie Joseph Randle to a starting role hasn’t helped. But Murray, who is listed as questionable, could be back. And if he is he will face a Detroit defense allowing 5.13 yards per carry, the highest average in the NFL.

Edge: Cowboys

When the Cowboys pass

Since throwing for 506 yards against Denver, Tony Romo’s combined output in victories over Philadelphia and Washington has fallen short of that single-game total. But if he can stay upright against Detroit’s strong front, he should be able to pick apart the Lions’ pass defense that is surrendering 282 yards per game, the fifth-highest average in the NFL.

Edge: Cowboys

When the Lions run

Reggie Bush was one of the key acquisitions the Lions made this off-season. But the running back has rushed for more than 100 yards in game just once in 2013. Injuries along the offensive line and the Lions’ pass-heavy philosophy have hindered Detroit’s ground game. The Lions will have their work cut out for them if the Dallas Cowboys’ defense can duplicate their performance against Philadelphia, when it held the Eagles’ potent rushing attack to 84 yards on the ground.

Edge: Cowboys

When the Lions pass

Through Week 7, no player had attempted more passes this season than Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Highland Park (Dallas) alum has thrown for 2,129 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has also been sacked only nine times. The Lions will move the ball through the air. After all, they have the league’s premier receiver, Calvin Johnson. The Dallas Cowboys’ defense, which has looked shaky against accomplished passers, will be challenged to stop Stafford and his favorite target.

Edge: Lions


Special teams

Dwayne Harris has established himself as one of the premier returners in the NFL this season. He is second in the league in both punt and kick return average. Harris is a weapon and he gives the Dallas Cowboys an advantage against the Lions, who haven’t given up much yardage when they’ve had to punt. In a game in which kickers Dan Bailey and David Akers are evenly matched, Harris may make the difference on special teams.

Edge: Cowboys


Intangibles

The Dallas Cowboys are riding high after defeating two divisional opponents in consecutive weeks. Another victory this weekend will ensure Dallas a winning record in the first half of the season. The Cowboys can make a statement if they go on the road and beat Detroit, a quality team with a potent passing attack. Dallas will be motivated to get the job done.

Edge: Cowboys

 


GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Trackers and Scoreboards

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View NFL|Dallas Cowboys game stats and scores online while you watch or listen to the game.

Click HERE to choose from a list of popular online game trackers.

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Sounds of the game

Listen to the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Brad Sham on KRLD in Dallas.

The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network - 105_3 The Fan KRLD

Click HERE. Don’t live in the Dallas area? Click HERE.

Sirius XM satellite radio button - Listen to the Dallas Cowboys - NFL -

or listen via the Dallas Cowboys Android App on your phone or tablet

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Watch the game

To watch on network TV, tune to:

KDFW-TV/FOX 4 Dallas | WJBK-TV/FOX 2 Detroit

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Out of market? Click HERE to watch online (NFL Sunday Ticket)

When: Sunday, October 27th, 2013 at high noon (Dallas time)

Where: Ford Field | Detroit, MI

Watch on TV: Local FOX affiliate | DirecTV

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: The Boys Are Back

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The Boys Are Back | Read | Listen | Watch | Comment

Check back here for Dallas Cowboys box scores and stats, NFL and Dallas Cowboys videos, Dallas Cowboys pictures, gameday highlights, gameday resources, game recaps, interesting articles, and the latest Dallas Cowboys information all season long.

Signup for email alerts, RSS feeds, and add The Boys Are Back to your favorites or bookmarks.

Enjoy the game!

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys pregame/postgame shows

LISTEN LIVE–RIGHT NOW

Dallas Cowboys Pre-game/Postgame Show

on the

Dallas Cowboys Radio Network

Note: The pregame show starts about two hours before kickoff. The postgame show starts approximately 30 minutes after the game is over.


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