2014 GAME 9 PRIMER: Arizona vs. Dallas | ‘Round the Roster update–Linebacker lumps; Leary bumped | Meet your new Cowboy | DeMarcus Lawrence debut | Melton on the Mend
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys are already without their most productive linebacker for the rest of the season and today, received another scare when Bruce Carter left practice with a finger injury. Continue reading →
PHOENIX– Whether the game counts or not, this place never fails.
When the Dallas Cowboys come to Arizona, weird stuff happens. In the last five years, we’ve seen plenty of odd occurrences, like the 2008 game that started and ended with a special teams touchdown for the Cardinals. In 2010, Stephen McGee nearly rallied the team for a Christmas night win until David Buehler missed an extra point and the Cowboys eventually lost on a last-second kick.
The next year, the Cardinals won the game in overtime when a screen pass to some guy with about four names weaved through the defense for a 50-yard touchdown.
Those games obviously mattered a lot more than Saturday’s 12-7 loss to the Cardinals here at University of Phoenix Stadium.
But still, chalk this one up to another strange day of events, including five first-half turnovers by the Cowboys.
Dwayne Harris fumbled the punt. Lance Dunbar basically just lost the ball after a great play and then Dez Bryant coughed it up after a nice catch and run. Kyle Orton throws two picks in the second quarter and there’s your handful of turnovers. The Cowboys still had a shot to win this game before backup quarterback Alex Tanney threw an interception in the final minutes for the sixth turnover.
Tony Romo was so disgusted after Bryant’s fumble, prompting the quarterback to slam his helmet down on the sideline. These guys are smart enough to know it’s only preseason but they also want to look good when you’re on display.
Wow, look at that speed from Dunbar. He really can be a dynamic part of this offe…. Fumble! So, great play by the little running back.
Dez Bryant looked strong again on several plays. Yeah, but he fumbled.
Tony Romo had a nice game, completing 7 of 10 passes for 142 yards. Yeah, but he completely overthrew Terrance Williams on a would-be touchdown in the first quarter.
The Cowboys had a nice win against the Giants to open last year. Yeah, but they got hammered the next week in Seattle. And it went like that all year. This good play here, but bad play there stuff gets you 8-8.
We know this team has enough talent to win games. They have enough skill players to do some dynamic things.
Despite those turnovers, the Cowboys had a chance to win the game. The defense didn’t allow a touchdown and when that happens, you always have a chance.
Obviously, the final outcome of the game is not important. But the fact the defense kept holding up despite going out there with a short field, and yet they kept holding the Carson Palmer-led Cardinals to field goals is a good sign.
Defense is one of the first points I thought the Cowboys should be happy about it.
- Let’s start on defense. The Cowboys go three-and-out to start the game and after Harris’ fumble, they go right back out there. Bruce Carter flew around to the ball well, showcasing his speed. But overall the defense looked sharp and getting Spencer, Claiborne and Ratliff in the mix will make it better.
- Dez Bryant. Ok, he fumbled the ball and we know that’s something that will hurt this team if it becomes a trend. But he won his share of battles with Patrick Peterson. This guy has a chance to really blow up this year. It’ll be fun to watch.
- I don’t think you can dismiss what David Arkin did in the game. Last week, he struggled some against the Raiders but against the Cardinals’ first unit, he not only held his own, but did some pushing out there.
- Miles Austin has taken a few big hits out there at camp. It was good to see him hitting back a little. That play on the sideline surprised everyone. But it shows he’s got some physicality to his game.
- Fans finally got to see what Lance Dunbar can do. It’s unfortunate that play ended like it did. But he’s got the juice this offense lacks. Hang onto the football and he could be a dynamic weapon.
- Alex Tanney continues to remind me of a young Tony Romo. I’m comparing 2013 Tanney to 2003 Romo. He’s got something to him that you have to like. He’s spunky with some moxie. Romo was like and still is to some degree. If he keeps playing like he did Saturday, he’ll be hard to cut.
As Jason Garrett said after the game, this one will be remembered for the turnovers.
“You can’t turn it over six times and expect to win ever,” Garrett said.
Yet they almost did. I really don’t think this team will turn the ball over like that this year. Let’s hope it’s out of their system.
PHOENIX – The Cowboys have broken training camp and arrived in Arizona for the third exhibition game of the preseason.
Coach Jason Garrett said the first-teamers will play more than they did last week in Oakland, meaning we should see the starters get into the second quarter.
Let’s check out the players to watch in todays (Saturday’s) game with the Cardinals.
David Arkin – With an injury once again with the offensive line at guard, David Arkin steps into fill the void at left guard. Arkin has had the type of summer that many in the front wished that he would have had his rookie season when he was drafted three years ago. For Arkin, nothing has been easy but he has developed into a better player over the past season where there appeared to be little or no hope. In this camp, he has shown the ability to handle blocks at all levels with better power but more importantly, he has been able to finish them. Until Ronald Leary returns from his knee scope, he is your starter and deserves my attention.
Jakar Hamilton – There is a solid reason that Jakar Hamilton is on this team because of where he sat on the Cowboys draft board. If you go back in his men like Tony Romo and Miles Austin were in the same boat as Hamilton, who is trying to make a squad much those players did their rookie year. Hamilton has flashed at times in this scheme but not enough to say that he clearly has a spot on this team. With no Matt Johnson and J.J. Wilcox, Hamilton and Jeff Heath should see plenty of action in the game against the Cardinals. Where Hamilton needs to show up is on special teams as well much like Eric Frampton did last season. I believe that this front office will keep five safeties and right now, Hamilton needs to fight his way on this roster.
Hayden has shown plenty of ability so far in his opportunity but will he make this front office and coaching staff play him more than Lissemore? I am going to watch and find out.
Dwayne Harris, WR: I couldn’t have given you one significant play Harris has made during training camp up until Thursday’s two minute drill, when he tallied 30 yards and a receiving touchdown. But it’s probably worth noting: Harris made those plays with the second-team offense. If he’s going to hold onto his job as the Cowboys’ No. 3 wide receiver, he’d probably do well to make some plays against the Cardinals.
Nick Hayden, DT: The recent injury to Sean Lissemore puts even more attention on Hayden, who is going to get even more playing time with the first unit against Arizona. With Jay Ratliff and Lissemore not participating, Hayden has a real opportunity to stand out and show why the Cowboys want him on their defensive line rotation. He has already made an impression in his first two preseason games – more playing time will hopefully yield more of that.
Terrance Williams, WR: Of course we’ll be watching this guy. He hasn’t played yet in the preseason but he’ll get a few snaps – maybe even the entire first half. The Cowboys want to see him with the starters but also as the main guy once the first-teamers exit. Williams has had a great week of practice and it’ll be interesting to see if it translates to the field against a talented secondary in Arizona.
Bruce Carter, LB: For some reason, he’s been somewhat of a forgotten man on this defense. He’s made a few plays in camp but nothing outstanding. Carter’s speed and athleticism usually shows up more in the games, so I’ll be watching him closer than I have so far in the preseason. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cowboys send him on a blitz, like they did with Lee last week.
Phillip Tanner, RB: I would have considered Tanner a longshot to make the team this year given the depth at the position and how valued Lance Dunbar’s role seems to be in the offense, but Tanner isn’t allowing himself to be looked over this camp and through the preseason. Tanner’s had two relatively strong preseason games, and he needs to keep running with that same force this week and maybe contribute with a play on special teams to warrant keeping four backs. At this point, if he keeps playing the same way, it’d be hard to leave him off the 53.
Brandon Magee, LB: A lot was made of bringing in Magee after the draft was over. The Cowboys seemed to value the undrafted player more than the typical free agent, and I’ve expected to see more plays from him through the preseason than what’s occurred so far. Too often the second- and third-team linebackers have allowed big runs. It’ll be a tough decision whether or not to keep some of the backup middle linebackers on this team when dwindling down the roster. The Cowboys have tried working Magee in at weak side linebacker, and I want to see if that’s a better fit.
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Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) touchdown during the third quarter in front of Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21).
A pretty important development was basically ignored because of the reaction to Jason Garrett’s clock-management crisis.
Dez Bryant made another clutch catch.
That’s twice in three weeks that Tony Romo went to Bryant on a third-and-long with the game on the line. Bryant delivered on both occasions, making a savvy route adjustment to get wide open to set up the game-winning field goal against the Redskins and coming up with a tough catch on a low pass with Arizona’s Patrick Peterson to give the Cowboys a chance to beat the Cardinals in regulation.
So much for the theory that Tony Romo doesn’t trust Bryant, a line of thinking that gained some steam after Bryant was shut out in the second half of several games earlier this season.
Romo has consistently insisted that he has faith in Bryant. He’s proven it by giving Bryant a chance to make clutch plays in two of the last three games. And Bryant has definitely held up his end of the bargain in those situations, providing proof that he is progressing in his second season.
“It makes me feel great,” said Bryant, who had eight catches for 86 yards and a touchdown in a fascinating individual battle with Peterson that pitted two phenomenal young talents against each other. “It makes me feel that he has a lot of confidence in me to make a play. As long as I keep doing that, he’ll have more confidence in me.”
That’s the only reason for the Cowboys to feel good about the final minute of regulation.
A Tony Romo pass to Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Jesse Holley (16) in front of Arizona Cardinals cornerback A.J. Jefferson (20) is good for 13 yards and a first down in the fourth quarter.
IRVING, Texas – If things go as planned, Jesse Holley won’t run a pass route the rest of the Cowboys’ season. That’s life as the fifth receiver on the roster.
However, all Holley has done is take advantage of every opportunity when injuries have pushed him into the receiver rotation.
Tony Romo has thrown Holley seven passes this season. The reality show winner has seven receptions for 169 yards. The highlight was his land-of-opportunity 77-yard overtime catch to set up the game-winning field goal in San Francisco, but Holley has also made a couple of difficult catches on balls thrown behind him in tight coverage the last few weeks.
“As a guy who’s a fourth wide receiver, that’s what you have to do,” Holley said. “Don’t get any opportunities in practice, don’t get any opportunities in the game. The only way to show the coach that you’re able and willing to do the things they need you to do is when your number is called, whenever it’s called, to go in there and make a play.”
Don’t count on Jason Garrett calling Holley’s number Sunday against the Giants. With Miles Austin back in the mix, Holley drops down to the fifth receiver, essentially meaning he’s solely a special teamer.
All Holley can guarantee is that he’ll be ready if the Cowboys need him again.
“My confidence to catch the ball is at an all-time high,” Holley said. “I want to keep it that way. When you go out there and show them, hey, no matter what time of the game, no matter how big or small the game is, you can make a play, that’s the biggest thing.”
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) directs offensive tackle Doug Free (68) before snap in the fourth quarter as the Dallas Cowboys lose to the Arizona Cardinals 19-13 in overtime.
IRVING, Texas – Tired of hearing about all this yet? I understand. Let’s move on … after this post!
It’s as if the final 25 seconds of regulation on Sunday were all that happened in the entire game. The reality is, the Cowboys shouldn’t have been in position to need a two-minute drill at the end of the fourth quarter.
Against a Cardinals defense ranked 25th in yards per game and tied for 19th in points allowed, the Cowboys should’ve not have had to rest their hopes on any kind of Dan Bailey kick at the end. There may be some gray area in Jason Garrett’s decision-making process at the end of the game, but there is no reason the Cowboys should’ve been limited to only 13 points. No way to justify it.
Garrett and Tony Romo and Jerry Jones can credit the Cardinals all they want, but the Cowboys should’ve had an answer for their blitzes more often than they did. Romo was sacked five times, and a stacked box limited DeMarco Murray to only 38 yards.
It only makes sense that the failure of the offense throughout the game influenced Garrett’s thinking at the end. Either he lacked confidence in himself to call one or two positive plays, or didn’t trust the offensive players to execute anything.
"We had five sacks in the game, we had three negative runs, we had a couple of pre-snap penalties that negatively impacted it," Garrett said. "A lot of people say those are eight plays in the game, but the way we try to present it to our team – and I think it’s a valid way to look at it – is if you have 11 possessions in a game and you spread those negative plays out . . . you’re invariably try to overcome a second-and-13, second-and-15, third-and-16, third-and-11.
"Those are the kind of things that bog you down."
The biggest crime of the day was when Felix Jones returned a first-quarter kickoff to the Arizona 35-yard line, and the offense had to punt. Romo was sacked on first down when linebacker Paris Lenon blitzed between the guard and center and DeMarco Murray failed to pick him up. In the two plays afterward, the offense could only get back to the original line of scrimmage.
On the day, Mat McBriar had to punt from inside Arizona territory four times.
"Their style of defense is to try to disrupt you," Garrett said. They try to pressure you in different ways. They try to run blitz you a lot of different ways. At times, we did a very good job of handling that. At other times we didn’t, and it created some minus plays for us, got us out of rhythm and prevented us from having a chance to score some more points."
As Garrett said yesterday, the Cardinals defensive approach is very similar to that of Washington and Miami. In those two wins, the Cowboys didn’t shoot themselves in the foot so often, they stuck to the run, and Romo was able to save plays in the pocket with some miracle footwork.
It didn’t happen this time, which was a 60-minute problem, not just a 25-second problem.
Garrett Press Conference: Monday
Jason Garrett speaks to the media and answers questions about his decision making in the final minute of regulation in Arizona.
Listen to the The Jerry Jones Show: Dec. 6, 2011
Jerry Jones speaks to The Fan out his Dallas Cowboys loss in Arizona.
Check out these other interesting videos:
Dan Bailey: Use It For Fuel – Dan Bailey talks about his two misses, including the potential game-winner in the final seconds of regulation.
Jerry Jones: Each Game Has A Fingerprint – Jerry Jones speaks about what happened in the final seconds of regulation.
DC.com Today: Postgame Report – Dallas Cowboys website bloggers on the field after the Cowboys loss in Arizona.
Test video below: If video does not play, click on link HERE
Mickey and Rob discuss the final minutes of the fourth quarter in yesterdays loss to the Cardinals and ask, who is to blame?
Note: This is nearly a one hour rebroadcast (:52 minutes)
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Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey and long snapper L.P. LaDouceur leave the field after the overtime loss
Here is a partial transcript of Jason Garrett’s answers on Monday to questions about the clock management at the end of the game against Arizona. The reporters’ questions are paraphrased.
Reporter: You said yesterday you would evaluate the end of the game. How do you evaluate the frantic final 26 seconds?
Garrett: “I think probably what I said yesterday, you can probably play that situation out one of two ways. You can say, hey, the yard line we feel good about kicking a field goal is the 35-yard line. That’s what we determined before the ball game. We got to the 30. We felt good about giving our kicker a chance to do that right there. You let the time go down to the appropriate time, you call a timeout, or in our case, we clocked it to give ourselves a chance to kick the game-winning field goal from there. The other way you can play it obviously is you take the timeout and you have whatever you have, high teens left in the game, and you run a play, maybe two plays, to get yourself a little bit closer and kick the same kind of a field goal.”
Reporter: So what made you choose the option you chose?
Garrett: “Oh, probably just the confidence level that we have in Dan Bailey. He’s been so good in those situations. He’s made four game-winning kicks for us in similar kind of situations, so the biggest thing that we were trying to do at that point was give him a chance to do that. He’s been so good. We’ve managed those situations in very similar fashion earlier in the year. If you remember in San Francisco, the first Washington game, the second Washington game and also against Miami, we just wanted to make sure he had an opportunity to kick the game winner and we gave him the chance to do that and, unfortunately, it didn’t work out for us.
Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey watches his kick sail through the goal post for three points at the end of the fourth quarter, however, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett had called a timeout.
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett decided not to take a timeout to try to get his kicker closer, though he had two left, and then chose to take a timeout before Dan Bailey’s field goal. Monday Morning Quarterbacks are sure to debate Garrett’s clock management in Sunday’s 19-13 overtime loss to the Cardinals.
Dez Bryant caught a pass from Tony Romo for a first down at the Arizona 31-yard line with 26 seconds left in regulation in a 13-13 game. Instead of taking a timeout, the Cowboys had Romo spike the ball with seven seconds left to set up a potential game-winning, 49-yard field goal.
Garrett said it was their faith in Bailey, who has made four game-winners this season, including three on the final play, that prompted them to let the clock run down instead of attempting to get closer.
“We felt pretty good about where we were,” Garrett said. “Once you get to that 30-yard line, we felt that was a pretty good opportunity for us. You see every week: People get negative plays, so we felt once we got to that point, we could go ahead and give him a chance to get the game-winner.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, had criticized Garrett’s play calling after the 20-16 loss to the Patriots on Oct. 16, was testy when asked about why Dallas hadn’t used a timeout.
"The explanation was to let time run off the clock," Jones said. "I’m sure that’s what he gave you all. But we had an alternative. We could have run two, possibly three more plays there, but we have a lot of confidence in that kicker. It didn’t work. We all would have liked to have had 20 more yards. But that’s really speculating as to what we’d have done with the ball."
Bailey was short on the 49-yard attempt, which came after a timeout.
Bailey actually hit what many fans in the south end zone thought was the game-winner. But with the play clock running down, Garrett called a timeout before Bailey’s first attempt sailed through the goal posts.
Bailey took the blame for the miss, though Garrett will take heat for “icing” his own kicker.
"We felt like the play clock was running down," Garrett said. "We wanted to make sure he had a clean opportunity at it. It was at about six, and we were still getting settled in. So we banged the timeout to make sure we got the snap, hold and kick as clean as possible."
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones encourages his team before the game as the Dallas Cowboys play the Arizona Cardinals.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was obviously disappointed in Sunday’s 19-13 overtime loss to the Cardinals.
He understands the Cowboys blew a golden opportunity on Sunday to possibly take a two-game lead in the NFC East and clinch the division title with a victory against the Giants next Sunday at Cowboys Stadium.
But Jones said he never expected the Cowboys, who saw their four-game winning streak snapped, to win all their remaining games.
He said the Cowboys just need to show they can bounce back and play well against the Giants, all while understanding they made their job a little bit tougher.
“Certainly we can still control our destiny,” owner Jerry Jones said. “I think we can do look at it that way (with the Giants showdown next week.) The team has got to be able to do that. We know this thing is about getting setbacks. This is definitely can be a setback. But we’ve got to come back out here and play. So we’ve got a lot of work cut out for us.”
The Cowboys (7-5) remain one game ahead of the Giants (6-6) atop the division standings.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his son Stephen before the game.
Talk will abound about the Cowboys decision to not take a time out and then take a time out, essentially icing their own kicker, resulting in a missed field goal at the end of regulation of a 19-13 overtime loss to the Cardinals.
But there is plenty of blame to go around for the loss.
The offense gained only 75 yards on the ground and failed to score on five possessions inside Cardinals territory.
The Cowboys allowed just 49 yards in the first half and then 276 after intermission including a 52-yard touchdown catch by LaRod Stephens-Howling went untouched through the defense.
That is not including the block in the back penalty on cornerback Orlando Scandrick negating a 35-yard punt return by Dez Bryant that would have given the Cowboys a first down at the 25 yard line on their final drive.
The Cowboys possibly could have scored a game-winning touchdown of their own on the drive or set up a shorter field goal at the end.
And then there was cornerback Terence Newman’s interference penalty, bailing the Cardinals out of a second-and-19 situation on their game-winning touchdown drive in overtime.
This was not the stuff of a team looking to not only make a run to the playoffs but make some noise in the post season once it got there.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Andre Roberts (12) fights for yards after the catch as he stiff arms Dallas Cowboys strong safety Abram Elam (26) during the fourth quarter.
Abe Elam said his father’s funeral has been scheduled for Friday, and he is trying to decide when he will return to Florida. Elam’s father died Thursday.
“It’s been an emotional week for me,” he said. “I’m just blessed to have the support that I have here with the Cowboys family. I’m just looking forward to moving forward through everything.”
Elam had four tackles against the Cardinals.
The Dallas Cowboys’ punt-coverage unit will face its severest test of the season in Sunday’s game at Arizona.
Cardinals rookie Patrick Peterson on Sunday became the first player in NFL history to have four punt returns of 80-plus yards for touchdowns in a single season. Two of the scoring returns came against dreadful St. Louis, which for unknown reasons punted down the center of the field rather than attempting to pin Peterson against a sideline or kick the ball out of bounds. Peterson told reporters after the win that he was “actually, very surprised” that the Rams kicked to him.
To put Peterson’s accomplishment into perspective, he has had 31 returns overall this season. Chicago’s Devin Hester, considered the top returner of at least the last generation, has five punt returns of 80-plus yards for scores in 197 career returns.
The Cowboys rank 21st in the league for punt-returns against, with an average of 11.3 yards. The figure was inflated when Washington had 87 yards on two returns against the Cowboys on Nov. 20.