IRVING, Texas — There is a consistent trend with Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant that probably needs to stop: He’s arguing with the referees. Too much.
Bryant wants calls. He says his jersey is getting pulled by defensive backs and that there are push-offs. On his second touchdown catch against Baltimore, Bryant pushed off cornerback Cary Williams. But Bryant wanted a call made when he failed to catch a potential game-tying two-point conversion when he felt Williams made contact before the play.
Said Williams: "He needs to step up and be a man. You can’t be a baby about stuff. You’ve got to man up. It’s one-on-one. Mano-a-mano. I got you. Sometimes you’re going to win. Sometimes you’re going to lose."
Coach Jason Garrett said the arguing with the officials has to stop and Bryant has to concentrate and move to the next play.
"Absolutely. We try to emphasize that to everybody on our team," Garrett said. "There’s certainly a natural reaction that a lot of guys have. You see it all around the league. There’s an attention to the officiating, and you’ve just got to make sure to focus on doing your job. Obviously he felt a couple of different occasions where he was getting held, he was a little bit restrictive."
Bryant is a talented player who wears his emotions not just on his sleeve, but on his entire body.
In pregame warm-ups, he’s bouncing around catching passes from anybody who will throw them. During the game, there is a natural chirping that goes on between players. Bryant is almost always in the middle of it. At times Bryant has to be pulled away by a teammate after complaining to a referee. Sometimes he’s the only offensive player on the field still barking at the refs.
After Bryant caught a 1-yard pass in the closing seconds of the Cowboys’ loss to the Baltimore Ravens, he was complaining to the referee.
"But again, we emphasize to him, get that guy off of him and go make the play," Garrett said. "At times (in the Baltimore game) he did an outstanding job of that. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out on the two-point play. But Dez is getting better and better every week. We’re excited to have him on our football team."
RELATED: INJURY UPDATE – Dez Bryant expected to play at Carolina
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is expected to play today at Carolina.
Bryant, who has been battling groin soreness, didn’t practice Friday and was officially listed as questionable. He will test his groin in pre-game warm-ups and – if he doesn’t have a setback – will start for the Cowboys.
Bryant is coming off the best two-game stretch of his career and leads the team with 34 catches for 364 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Tony Romo has targeted Bryant a combined 28 times over the last two games compared to 11 times to Miles Austin.
The Cowboys, however, could take Bryant off of punt returns and use Dwayne Harris in his place to help manage the injury throughout the game.
The Dallas Cowboys are 2-3 and have lost their past two games. But owner, PRESIDENT, and general manager Jerry Jones is more confident than ever that his team can make a title run this season because of how it played in Sunday’s 31-29 loss at Baltimore.
Jones said he is disappointed in the loss but he did see positive things that the Cowboys can build on.
"It’s terribly disappointing. But we played physically. We did things that we can win with in the future," Jones said on his radio show on KRLD/105.3 FM. "We’re 2-3, so that’s five games into a 16-game season. We don’t have time to have a bad time here. We’ve got to have some wins to make sure we’re in the hunt. We are fresh off, I keep pointing it out, a world champion that won nine of 16 ballgames last year.
"We know that you want your team as healthy and as in sync as it can be as we get on in to the end of the season. We know that we’ve played one division game and won it. We’ve got those guys, the Giants, coming back in here. We know that’s going to be a big game for us. All of those things give us a chance to take a team that is evolving into — if you look at the pluses yesterday — evolving into a team that can compete for the championship. Not next year, this year.
"Let me emphasize that," Jones said. "I’m not into everybody getting better, learning for years to come. It’s this year."
Murray out this week
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones confirmed on Tuesday that running back DeMarco Murray will miss at least Sunday’s game at Carolina with a sprained foot.
Jones said on his radio show that magnetic resonance imaging results showed ligament damage, but no fractures.
Murray will likely miss a few games, but the injury will not sideline him for the season.
"I think we were encouraged that his sprain was not any more serious than it is," Jones said. "He’s a tough guy. I regret that we’re not going to have him against Carolina."
The return of center Phil Costa and his impact on the record-setting rushing performance against the Ravens was more than just lip service from Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.
According to Pro Football Focus, every Cowboys offense lineman played well in the game as the team rushed for 227 yards, the most ever against the Ravens. But the site rated Costa as the best lineman in the game for both teams, saying he was dominant in the middle and got the best of every Ravens defender they put in front of him.
It was Costa’s first game since suffering back injury on the first series of the season opener against the New York Giants.
The Dallas Cowboys signed cornerback Vince Agnew to the practice squad and released cornerback Mario Butler.
Agnew was one of 16 players the Cowboys worked out on Friday. Agnew originally signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Central Michigan on July 28, 2011. He was released on September 3 and immediately signed to their practice squad where he spent most of the 2011 season.
He was released by Miami on August 31, 2012.
BALTIMORE — Safety Gerald Sensabaugh sat in his locker putting on his socks and said to himself, "Man, we are so close."
That is what the Dallas Cowboys do so very well — close.
They do so in the most stupefying, maddening fashion that can be authored.
Not too far from the same neighborhood where one of the world’s most celebrated authors of fiction — Mr. Edgar Allen Poe — once penned his brilliance, the Cowboys once again created their own version of real-time hell.
The author of the Ravens’ 31-29 win against the Cowboys? Start with Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.
The Dallas Cowboys amassed 481 total yards and did not win the game. That is odd.
The Cowboys ran for 227 yards and did not win the game. That is hard.
The Cowboys had the ball at their own 46-yard line with 32 seconds remaining, one timeout, and ran but two offensive plays before settling for a 51-yard field goal attempt. That is inexcusable.
The Ravens defeated the Cowboys when they were clearly not the better team but managed to win because they simply were not the dumber team.
To show how the Cowboys played on Sunday, their smartest player was Dez Bryant. (In fairness to Dez, other than having to miss one drive because he was receiving an IV for dehydration, he played arguably the best game of his career.)
"What do you want? I believe in my guys," Cowboys defensive back Orlando Scandrick said. "It’s not an exact science. It’s football. It’s not mathematics."
Exactly. No one expects the Dallas Cowboys to be NASA.
The Cowboys are coached by a Princeton grad, but his team plays sometimes as if it barely finished the seventh grade. As much as his Ivy League education should be a reflection of his own intellect, the way his team plays says something about Jason Garrett. Which is why it does not add up.
The Cowboys had 13 penalties for 82 yards on Sunday, one turnover, allowed a special teams touchdown, and made a series of self-inflicted wounds in the red zone that killed or hurt scoring chances.
"Three of the five games we’ve had a lot of penalties," Garrett said. "The officials were certainly involved in this game and you have to overcome that stuff."
And the clock management after the Cowboys recovered the onside kick with 32 seconds to play suggests nothing was learned from the nightmare in Arizona last season.
Garrett did the same thing at San Francisco last year — played for a long field goal — and got away with it when Dan Bailey nailed a long kick to send into overtime a game the Cowboys eventually won.
But he got burned on it in Arizona last season, and a little bit against the Giants in Arlington last December.
You cannot bank on making a 51-yard field goal. You always get closer.
"I felt like I could knock it through from there," Bailey said of his potential game-winning kick that sailed wide left with two seconds remaining.
In the Cowboys’ locker room after the game, at least two players were overheard talking about that 2011 loss in Arizona.
Coach Process looks smart. He acts smart. He is organized. His rhetoric sounds sharp, and yet his team plays the opposite.
The Cowboys under Garrett sometimes play not too much different than they did under Uncle Wade Phillips.
I asked Garrett if he thought he has a smart team. His response was some long-winded verbiage about pre-snap penalties, etc.
Garrett is not going to pull a Bill Callahan, who is on his staff now, and go on some long-winded diatribe about being the "dumbest team in America".
If effort is not the problem, and the coaches and front office people insist this is not a talent issue, then IQ is having its say, too.
The environment, as well as the Ravens, had a role in why the Cowboys did what they did. Perhaps the players are taking the cue from their leader and are trying to do too much.
Unlike the Cowboys’ losses against the Seahawks and Bears, which were blowouts, they were competitive throughout in Baltimore. They gave themselves a chance.
On the road that’s all you can ask.
"It wasn’t a perfect game, but we showed fight," tight end Jason Witten said. "You don’t walk away from this saying, ‘Hey, we played a good team close.’ We have to look at the tape and be better."
Because we have not heard that before.
The Cowboys should have won this game, and they know it.
"We should have had this," Bryant said.
Instead, the Cowboys do what they do so well — they get close.
Courtesy: Mac Engel | Ft Worth Star-Telegram
BALTIMORE — Whatever you do, don’t do that. Whatever the plan, it couldn’t have been that, could it?
Excuse both the rant, and the confusion, but 20 seconds, 20 precious seconds, were wasted by the Dallas Cowboys at the end of Sunday’s game, leading to, if nothing else, a flashback to the horror show of clock mismanagement in Arizona last season.
That one was Jason Garrett’s worst 2011 head coaching moment, and the lack of accountability in the aftermath still hangs over him.
Maybe not so much, which still doesn’t excuse what appeared to be a blunder. In this one, however, at least quarterback Tony Romo and Garrett had the same story, the same explanation on why those 20 precious seconds were left blowing in the Maryland wind.
And no, it wasn’t the "plan," both said.
As in Arizona, however, the Cowboys ended up losing a winnable game, falling 31-29 to the Ravens, and the lament of "oh-so-close" is becoming more hollow the more the Cowboys blow these kind of heartaches.
Always dependable Dan Bailey was a tad wide left on a 51-yard field goal in the final seconds, allowing the Ravens to escape.
But with a little less distance to cover with his foot, or with a better placement of the ball — as in between the hash marks — would the outcome have been different for Bailey?
Count that as one of a hundred coulda, shoulda, woulda questions the Cowboys had to answer in the aftermath.
First of all, they finally got a call, maybe a gift call, in the final minutes from an officiating crew that made the replacement boys look more acceptable with every yellow hanky that fell.
After a pass interference flag, the Cowboys had the ball at the Ravens’ 34-yard line with 26 seconds left and one timeout.
That has to be two-play territory, right? Heck yes, it’s right.
The Cowboys ran one play. Then came the failed kick.
What happened after a quick Romo inside throw to Dez Bryant netted only a yard? At that point the clock was running with 20 seconds left when Dez was taken down.
"What we were trying to do there is what we talked about before the play," Garrett said. "Tony was trying to get them on the ball as quickly as possible [after the Dez catch] knowing we had one [timeout] in our pocket.
"It just took too long for everyone to get unpiled, so it got down into single digits, so we said take it down to four seconds and bang the timeout."
Obviously, it’s up to the Cowboys to get "unpiled." The unpiling was not quick enough. But was there also clock panic? It sure looked like it.
Romo: "With the time left, we didn’t think it was in our best interest to run another play. We had guys who needed to get off the pile and receivers who needed to come to the huddle. There just wasn’t enough time."
But was there enough to time to get a snap off, with Romo diving forward to the middle of the hash marks, then get the timeout? It appeared to be the case, but Bailey wanted no such excuse after the game.
"Being on the hash mark makes no difference," he said. "My job is to make the kick. If the hold is on the hash, I’ve got to still make the kick. If you’re always hoping for the middle of the field, you aren’t going to be kicking very long."
But while Bailey blew off the advantage of kicking from the middle of the field, his long attempt was extremely tricky due to the windy conditions. The wind was swirling inside the bowl, and although not necessarily against him, there was a crosswind involved. He had plenty of foot on the kick, just not between the uprights.
Garrett’s boss, Jerry Jones, backed the decision to let 20 seconds escape at the end of the game. "I wanted the kick right there rather than take the risk of attempting to get more yards," said the owner-GM.
But even as Jerry admitted, it was a "sickening" kind of loss.
The Cowboys’ offensive line totally manhandled a once proud Ravens’ defense, paving the way for 227 yards rushing, the most ever allowed by this defense. And much of the pounding was done by, yes, Felix Jones (he lives, he lives), because of a foot injury to DeMarco Murray that took him out for the second half.
Garrett went an unheard-of four deep at running back, with third stringer Phillip Tanner heavily involved, and even rookie Lance Dunbar, signed off the street last week, getting a carry that went for 11 yards.
The Cowboys game-planned the run after the Ravens had been plowed under by the Kansas City ground attack a week ago. It worked incredibly well, but not for a win.
And here we go again. Garrett has one dumb football team. The penalties were immense (13 for the Cowboys) and some were very questionable, but heavily penalized, dumb teams normally end up on the short end of the officiating.
Once again, a special teams coverage breakdown also factored into this loss, with Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones returning a kickoff untouched for 108 yards and a touchdown, tying an NFL record for the longest runback.
And even with Bryant repeatedly making tough, productive catches, he still muffed the biggest throw of the game. In the final minutes, after Romo made a gutty 120-yard drive (including 40 yards in penalties), the Cowboys had to go for two points and a tie game after the touchdown catch by Dez.
The 2-point throw was right there for Bryant. He flat missed it. The Cowboys, however, recovered the onside kick that led to the missed field goal. The Dez drop, however, low-lighted a frustrating end to a frustrating afternoon and a frustrating loss.
Also frustrating were the 20 seconds the Cowboys will never get back.
BALTIMORE — When Dan Bailey lined up the potential game-winning kick at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones didn’t even bother to look.
He had watched his team overcome 13 penalties for 82 yards, including four penalties for 40 yards on an 18-play, 80-yard touchdown drive just minutes earlier to get them within two points.
A 4-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tony Romo to receiver Dez Bryant with 32 seconds to go was followed by a drop by Bryant on the 2-point conversion.
Yet, Jones was undeterred in his faith.
He had watched the Cowboys survive the loss of running back DeMarco Murray and defensive end Sean Lissemore to injuries, and battle at times without cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Mike Jenkins, Bryant and running back Felix Jones, who replaced Murray, because of injuries and dehydration. And yet they still battled back from an 11-point deficit.
He had watched them overcome a Romo interception for the sixth consecutive game and an NFL record-tying 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Jacoby Jones.
He watched Andre Holmes recover an onside kick with 30 seconds left in the game to set up the Bailey try.
Jones didn’t look because he had no doubt that Bailey would make it, sending the Cowboys to a seemingly season-changing victory over the Baltimore Ravens.
Never mind that it was from 51 yards out and in front of 71,384 fans who hadn’t witnessed a home defeat since 2010. And never mind that clock management issues with Romo and coach Jason Garrett prevented the Cowboys from running another play to possibly get a closer kick for Bailey.
Jones’ optimism proved futile when Bailey’s kick was wide left, giving the Ravens a 31-29 victory.
"We had the play with the kicker," Jones said. "We didn’t get it done. That’s putting more than maybe we should on him. But with the wind at our backs and him kicking, I had it counted. I had no doubt he would make it. I literally looked away because I thought he would make the kick."
It was Bailey’s first miss of the season. He was 8 for 8 before that try, including three earlier in the game from 42, 43 and 34 yards.
"It’s not a good feeling," said Bailey, who made four game-winning field goals for the Cowboys as a rookie last season. "Everybody worked their butts off, and it came down to a kick, and it didn’t go in. I don’t know what else to say but it hurts."
The pain of losing was felt throughout the locker room. It was their second consecutive loss as they fell to 2-3 and under .500 for the first time since last season.
The Cowboys left Baltimore (5-1) with something they didn’t have coming into the game: a sense of pride, a sense of self-respect and a feeling of optimism for the rest of the season.
They didn’t have any of that following the 34-18 loss to the Chicago Bears before last week’s bye.
"I’m sick about losing this game," Jones said. "I feel good about this team. Even though we’re at 2-3, I feel good about the way we held up, stayed in there, fought. The way we did some things, executed, the way our offensive line played. There are some things I feel good about our future with, future being this year. I feel a lot more encouraged than I did after Chicago."
Dallas rushed for 227 yards, the most ever against the Ravens. Murray had 13 carries for 95 yards before going out. Felix Jones had 18 carries for 92 yards, including a 22 yard touchdown run.
The Cowboys dominated time of possession as than ran 79 plays, which tied for the most in team history, set Nov. 12, 1978 at Green Bay, while holding the ball for more than 40 minutes.
Coach Jason Garrett understands that fixing the penalties remains a huge issue. Dallas, however, had 13 penalties for third time this season, including a number of drive-killing pre-snap penalties that forced the Cowboys to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns on each of Bailey’s first three attempts.
Those plays and the record kickoff return for the touchdown proved to be the difference in the game — despite clock mismanagement after the onside kick.
The Cowboys were unable to get another play to get a little closer for Bailey. The play began with 26 seconds to go and was down to 16 seconds when Bryant caught a pass at the Baltimore 34. The Cowboys had a timeout, but they didn’t get to the line fast enough so Garrett let it run down to attempt the final missed kick with six seconds left.
"We had guys who were trying to get off the pile and receivers needing to come back to the huddle," said Romo, who completed 225 of 36 passes for 261 yards in the game with one touchdown and one interception. "There just wasn’t enough time."
But the Cowboys do have time to save their season and they are encouraged by their ability to fight back on Sunday — as evidenced by their converting a third-and-27 play, thanks to a litany of penalties, before Bryant’s score. A 17-yard pass to Bryant was followed by a 16-yarder to tight end Jason Witten to get the conversion.
"I thought we fought really well through a lot of different adversities," Garrett said. "We battled. We continued to battle. Our team grew a lot in this game. At the end of the day, we have to finish the game. We have to win the game. We can learn from that. But I love how our team battle and believe we can grow from this game."
Bryant was the last player to walk out the postgame locker room and was defiant in saying he and the Cowboys will be better going forward.
"I feel this game has made us 10 times stronger than what we were. I know it’s something we can build off of," said Bryant, who caught a career-high 13 passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns in addition to the dropped two-pointer.
The Dallas Cowboys may be America’s Team, but the Ravens have the football gods on their side.
Fate plays a part in every season as well as luck, but the Ravens seem to be getting divine intervention. And after the team’s 31-29 win against the Cowboys in Baltimore Sunday, even the Ravens were starting to have some fun with it.
"Before the game I said should I go into prayer in a closet for this one?" asked Ravens left guard Bobbie Williams. "I thought, ‘Why not? Well, why not?’ I think it plays a huge part."
It appears to be working because the Ravens have won four straight games, all going down to the last minute. It would be unfair to say the Ravens haven’t made big plays or had strong individual performances, but some of this stuff is unexplainable.
A week ago, the Kansas City Chiefs fumbled at the Ravens 1-yard line on a quarterback exchange in the third quarter, and that play changed the momentum of the game in the Ravens’ favor.
On Sunday, Dallas receiver Dez Bryant dropped a very catchable two-point conversion pass that would have tied the score in the final seconds. On the previous play, Bryant ran the same pattern and made the same catch for a touchdown.
Even though the Ravens may have lost middle linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb to serious injuries, they’ve been reasonably healthy since the season started.
Here is some more:
In Kansas City last Sunday, the Chiefs’ Dwayne Bowe, one of the best receivers in the NFL, had one pass bounce off his chest and another off his helmet, both resulting in interceptions, one that killed a Kansas City drive.
Somebody over at The Castle is living right.
"We got a whole lot of guys who believe," said Williams.
The football gods are watching over the Ravens. They lost an onside kick Sunday with 30 seconds left in the game, but Dallas wasn’t able to get off another play after a 1-yard catch to the Ravens’ 33-yard-line with 26 seconds left and one timeout.
Dallas coach Jason Garrett said couldn’t get another play off because they couldn’t get players to the line of scrimmage fast enough. That should not have happened.
Bailey’s 51-yard field goal went wide left.
"Thank you, Jesus," Ravens running back Ray Rice said. "He may have pushed that thing a little to the left."
The Ravens are the anointed team. They have to be. They gave up 227 rushing yards Sunday and at one time didn’t have Ray Lewis,Haloti Ngata, Lardarius Webb and Terrell Suggs playing defense. Dallas had the ball for 40 minutes and the Ravens had it for just 20.
And they still won.
They are receiving favor from a higher being.
Courtesy: Mike Preston | Baltimore Sun
BALTIMORE — No, of course there are no moral victories in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys understand how tough it is to beat the Ravens in Baltimore, and they justifiably felt much better about the way they played in Sunday’s 31-29 loss than they felt two weeks ago after the Bears thumped them. But they’re professional football players, and they believed they could and should have won the game. They rushed for 227 yards, possessed the ball for 40 minutes, recovered an onside kick at the end and set their kicker up with a 51-yard field goal attempt that would have won it. The feeling in their locker room was disappointment.
"I’m sick about losing this game," owner Jerry Jones said. "We made our share of mistakes, but I thought we had a shot to win at the end. With our time of possession, it’s hard to understand how we didn’t win. Everybody is as frustrated as I am."
But there’s a bigger picture here, and it’s one that keeps getting missed as Cowboys fans wail and gnash their teeth about every single loss (and even some of the wins). These Cowboys are a work in progress — a team and a staff and a roster that is piecing itself together and building something it hopes can be sustainable well into the future. You may not want to hear it, and you may not be able to believe it about the Cowboys, but they are in a rebuilding phase right now and much more likely to be a playoff contender in 2013 than this year. So as disappointed as Cowboys fans are about the loss, the penalties, the late-game clock management and everything and everybody else you want to blame, that bigger picture really needs to be the one on which the conversation about the 2012 Cowboys centers.
"We have to win the game, and we didn’t do that," coach Jason Garrett said. "But I loved how our team battled. I was proud of our football team today, and we believe that we can grow from this football game."
A growth opportunity. A learning experience. These are valuable things for the Cowboys at this point in their history, and as Cowboys fans you may just have to accept that. Sure, this is the NFL, and the NFC East required only nine victories to win it last year, so nothing’s impossible. The Cowboys’ schedule gets easier, and if the run game and the offensive line can play the way they played Sunday, they could be much better in the second half of this season. But this season isn’t the central focus of the people running the Cowboys right now. What they’re looking for is growth and improvement, and they saw plenty of it Sunday.
"A lot of this game, you look at and you say, ‘Those are the Cowboys we’re talking about,’" tight end Jason Witten said. "Those are the kinds of players and leaders you want to grow with and build on."
He’s talking about guys like Sean Lee, who remains a terror on defense, and DeMarco Murray, who ran for 91 yards in the first half before a foot injury forced him out of the game. But lots of Cowboys played very well Sunday, including Dez Bryant, who caught 13 passes for 95 yards, and Felix Jones, who rushed for 92 yards in relief of Murray, and Phil Costa and the rest of an offensive line that’s been pulverized all year but on this day looked tough and mean and physical for the first time.
All of it comes with warts, though, and they’re mainly the result of the team and many of its players being unfinished products. Bryant’s big game is likely to be remembered for his drop of the two-point conversion attempt that would have tied it in the final minute. Murray got hurt again, which is a problem with Murray. And the line had its issues, contributing extensively to the fact that the Cowboys were penalized 13 times for 82 yards. The Cowboys made mistakes in this game, and at this point they are not a good enough team to make as many mistakes as they did and win in a place like this, even in a game they dominate physically. They had their shot, they came up short and they have a bunch of film to watch as they keep working to get better.
"I’m all right with anything as long as it’s moving forward," Jerry Jones said. "I’m not for taking any steps back. We knew this was going to be a challenge, but looking at the overall game, as a team, I felt we played well enough to win the ballgame. I’m a lot more encouraged than I was after Chicago."
So before you start asking whether Garrett’s job is in jeopardy (it’s not) or crying about poor late-game clock management or looking at the standings and worrying that the sky is falling, it’s important to step back and see Sunday for what it was — a critical and encouraging step in the development of a team that’s thinking well beyond the borders of just one season. Someday, the Cowboys believe, they’ll win games like this routinely. And if they do, part of the reason will be Sunday’s experience, which showed them how they could.
Courtesy: Dan Graziano | ESPN Dallas
The Dallas Cowboys had a chance to steal a victory in the final seconds but Dan Bailey’s 51-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide-left.
Here are my five thoughts on the Cowboys’ 31-29 loss in Baltimore on Sunday.
1.) The pre-snap penalties throughout the game and time management on the final drive was out of control. It wasn’t just the number of penalties but it’s when they occurred. In several red zone and third-down situations, false start calls stalled drives. That shouldn’t happen in Week 6. I’m not sure a team can win in a hostile environment when they’re making so many mistakes before the ball is snapped. Most of the blame goes on the players that committed the infractions but coaching and game-planning isn’t doing them any favors. Last week, Cowboys offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Bill Callahan said there was talk of simplifying the offense so Tony Romo didn’t have to do as much adjusting at the line of scrimmage. Ha! That clearly didn’t happen, especially on Dallas’ final touchdown drive. Romo barely got two plays off because of confusion at the line of scrimmage. The way the Cowboys managed the clock on their final drive prevented Bailey from having a closer attempt to win the game.
These are four examples of costly pre-snap penalties the Cowboys committed in Baltimore.
1-Early second quarter: Third-and-4 on Baltimore’s 12. Illegal Shift, 5-yard penalty.
2-Early fourth quarter: First-and-10 on Baltimore’s 10. Illegal Shift, 5-yard penalty.
3-Late fourth quarter: Third-and-1 on Dallas’ 29. Jeremy Parnell, false start, 5-yard penalty.
4-Late fourth quarter: Third-and-22 on Baltimore’s 44. Kevin Ogletree, false start, 5-yard penalty.
2.) Yes, the running game looked outstanding, but don’t be fooled. The Ravens aren’t the defense they once were. Fresh off of allowing the Chiefs to run for 214 yards, the Cowboys amassed 227 yards on the ground. Having Phil Costa back at center obviously helped and running behind Tyron Smith and Nate Livings on the left side continued to be Dallas’ best option. DeMarco Murray was dominant early, Felix Jones looked like a first-round pick for the first time this season and Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar each filled in nicely. Sorry, I need to see this more often to believe it was all because of what the Cowboys were doing.
3.) Dez Bryant had a costly drop that would’ve tied the game on a two-point conversion, but he still played his best game as a Dallas Cowboy. Bryant caught all five passes thrown his way in the first half and finished with 13 catches on 15 targets. His two touchdown receptions showcased how his physical ability makes him one of the most difficult assignments for any defender. Bryant finished with 95 yards and a pair of scores after not recording a touchdown in the first four games of the year. There’s still a long way to go for Bryant to be a complete receiver, but dropping a two-point conversion pass with a defender draped on his back shouldn’t overshadow what he did before that play.
4.) This loss wasn’t only significant because there was an opportunity to steal a game in arguably the league’s toughest road venue but because of how difficult the schedule lines up over the next four weeks. The Cowboys will not be favored in three of their next four games as they host the Giants before traveling to Atlanta and Philadelphia. Losing three of their next four would put the Cowboys at 3-6, not exactly the recipe for a playoff berth. And Dallas’ current 2-3 mark is much worse historically than had they won and been 3-2. Teams that start 3-2 have a 51 percent chance of reaching the playoffs. Teams that start 2-3 have a 21 percent chance. Not good for a team with a closing window.
5.) My fifth thought is actually a combination of things. Hats off to Jason Witten. He has clearly put his dropped-passes issue in his rear-view mirror. Witten made two difficult grabs during the final touchdown-drive, including a diving catch on fourth-and-long. … How bad will the injury report look on Monday? Already without Anthony Spencer, Morris Claiborne exited with a left knee injury, DeMarco Murray barely played in the second half after sustaining a foot sprain and Sean Lissemore had his day ended with an ankle sprain in the first quarter. … Joe DeCamillis’ special teams unit isn’t the worst in the league but it’s also not very good. After the Cowboys cut Baltimore’s lead to 17-13, DeCamillis’ bunch allowed Jacoby Jones to return the ensuing kickoff untouched for 108-yard touchdown. The Cowboys get very little out of their own punt and kick returns, showcased by averages that rank among the NFL’s worst. They also allowed a punt to be blocked and returned for a touchdown in Seattle.
Courtesy: Jon Machota | DMN
Editors comment: Dallas’ simplified, workload reducing KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) offense turned complex with Romo audibles.
It was a wild one on Sunday in Baltimore, but the Dallas Cowboys fell short against the Ravens, 31-29, to fall to 2-3 on the season.
The Ravens jumped out to a 3-0 lead on their first drive, with a 38-yard field goal from Justin Tucker, but Dallas answered in short order, driving 80 yards on eight plays on their first offensive possession. Felix Jones capped the drive with a 22-yard touchdown run to give Dallas the lead at 7-3.
Dan Bailey added a field goal early in the second quarter to extend the Dallas lead to 10-3, and everything looked fine. Then, the penalties started.
The Ravens drove 80 yards in eight plays, helped along by a neutral zone infraction by Jason Hatcher and an illegal hands to the face call on Kenyon Coleman. On the play after the call on Coleman, Ray Rice ran it in for a touchdown, to tie it up at 10-10.
Tony Romo threw his ninth interception of the year on Dallas’ next drive, and Baltimore capitalized on it, once again going 80 yards on eight plays and scoring on a 19-yard pass from Joe Flacco to Torrey Smith to make it 17-10 going into intermission.
The Cowboys went out and got on the board straight away in the second half, with a Bailey field goal cutting the Baltimore lead to 17-13. But like they did all day, the Ravens answered, and quickly.
Jacoby Jones ran the ensuing kickoff back 108 yards for a touchdown to make it 24-13, Baltimore. It was the longest kickoff return allowed by Dallas in their 50-plus year history as a franchise.
Dez Bryant caught his first touchdown of the season late in the third quarter, and with Bailey’s third field goal of the day, Dallas was just a point behind Baltimore, 24-23, with eight minutes left in the game. But the defense, which had been nothing short of impressive in the second half to that point, was unable to hold up. Baltimore chewed up a little under four minutes on the ensuing drive, and Rice scored his second one-yard touchdown run of the day to once again extend the lead, 31-23.
Needing a touchdown and a two point conversion to tie, the Cowboys marched 80 yards down the field (despite another handful of penalties), eventually scoring on Romo’s second touchdown pass to Bryant on the day. However, when Romo went back to Bryant on the two-point try, the pass bounced off Bryant’s arms.
Down 31-29, the drama still wasn’t over. Dallas recovered the onside kick and appeared in good position to get a play off before attempting the field goal. But after a short pass to Bryant, Dallas was forced to call their last timeout and line up for a 51-yard field goal try. Bailey pulled the attempt left, though, sealing a wild loss for Dallas, 31-29.
At 2-3, Dallas will travel to Carolina to take on the Panthers next Sunday.
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RECORDS BROKEN–HEARTS BROKEN: Dallas Cowboys rush for 227 yards, Jacoby Jones tied NFL mark with a 108-yard kickoff return
BALTIMORE — The Dallas Cowboys dominated the statistics, held the ball twice as long as Baltimore and amassed more yards rushing against the Ravens than any team — ever.
Baltimore won anyway, thanks to Jacoby Jones’ lengthy run into the NFL record book.
Jones tied an NFL mark with a 108-yard kickoff return, and the Ravens beat the Cowboys 31-29 Sunday for their 14th straight regular-season home win.
Dallas ran for 227 yards and totaled 481 yards offense. The Cowboys (2-3) also held the ball for more than 40 minutes. It wasn’t enough.
After Dez Bryant scored on a 4-yard pass from Tony Romo with 32 seconds left to make it 31-29, the 2-point conversion pass zipped through the arms of the diving Bryant in the front left corner of the end zone.
Dallas recovered the onside kick, but Dan Bailey was wide left on a 51-yard field goal try with :06 remaining.
Ray Rice scored two touchdowns and Joe Flacco threw for a score to help the Ravens (5-1) secure their fourth consecutive victory and enhance their grip on first place in the AFC North. Baltimore’s home winning streak is the longest current run in the NFL.
Jones’ return tied the mark set by Ellis Hobbs of New England in 2007 against the Jets and tied in 2011 by Randall Cobb of Green Bay against New Orleans.
The score was essential to the Ravens, who mustered only 1 yard on three offensive plays in the third quarter.
After Jones’ touchdown, the Cowboys launched an 80-yard march that ate up more than eight minutes. Romo connected with Bryant for 13 yards on a third-and-11 before throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass to Bryant to make it 24-20.
Dallas followed with two strong defensive series, and a short punt by Baltimore preceded a 21-yard drive that produced a field goal by Bailey.
Flacco then directed a 10-play, 73-yard march. A 31-yard completion to Anquan Boldin moved the ball to the Dallas 4, and Rice scored from the 1 to provide the Ravens an eight-point cushion.
It was barely enough.
Romo went 25 for 36 for 261 yards and two touchdowns, a redemptive performance after he threw five interceptions in his last outing against Chicago. DeMarco Murray ran for 93 yards, Felix Jones had 92 on the ground and Bryant caught 13 passes for 95 yards and two TDs.
Flacco completed 17 of 26 passes for 234 yards.
Baltimore trailed 10-3 before scoring touchdowns on a pair of 80-yard drives to take a 17-10 halftime lead.
The Ravens pulled even when Rice ran in from the 1 after a hands-to-the-face penalty against Dallas lineman Kenyon Coleman on third-and-goal from the 2. Earlier in the march, Rice ran 43 yards with a short pass.
Cary Williams’ third interception in three games gave the ball back to Baltimore, and Flacco completed two 20-yard passes to Boldin before hitting Torrey Smith for a 19-yard score with 41 seconds left in the half.
Facing the top-ranked pass defense in the NFL, Flacco went 13 for 18 for 174 yards in the first half.
The Ravens opened the game with a 14-play drive that lasted over seven minutes and ended with a 38-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Dallas answered with an 80-yard march culminated by a 22-yard run by Felix Jones and featuring a 28-yard run by Murray, longest against the Ravens since 2010. The Cowboys’ next possession stretched more than six minutes, covered 56 yards and produced a 42-yard field goal by Bailey for a 10-3 lead.
NATURE OF THE BEAST: Mistakes happen when Romo tries to do too much, like most quarterbacks in the NFL
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Tony Romo is like just about every quarterback in the NFL when it comes to turnovers. He is going to make mistakes most often when he is trying to make something happen.
“When you don’t run the football, when you’re behind the chains a little bit and you’re the guy who has the ball in his hands on every play, there’s a natural instinct if you’re a great competitor like Tony is to say, ‘Hey, I can do something. I can fix this.’ ” Garrett said at his press conference at Valley Ranch. “And ultimately, when you do that at any position, particularly at the quarterback position, you set yourself up for some difficult situations.”
Romo has thrown eight interceptions this year. Six came when he was trailing (3-0, 17-7, 17-7, 27-10 and 34-10 against the Bears and 10-0 against Seattle) and two came when the game was scoreless. An interception against Tampa Bay occurred on the third play of the game.
“I think Tony’s done some really good things for us this year, and at times when he hasn’t done good things, it’s probably because we haven’t been in a great situation and he’s trying to make up for something,” Garrett said. “He just has to go back and be 1/11th of the offense like he’s been throughout most of his career and do his job and trust everybody else to do their job.”
Last year, when Romo had his best statistical season, he threw five interceptions when the game was tied or scoreless, three when he was ahead (27-3, 27-10 and 30-27 against Detroit) and two when he was trailing (14-0 to Philadelphia and 21-7 against the Giants).
“I just think it’s the nature of the position in the National Football League,” Garrett said. “If you look around the league, really at every quarterback, there’s always games where they’re playing well and things are going well around them and they’re kind of doing their part. And then when things aren’t going quite as well, there’s a tendency for them to try to do too much and turn the ball over. It’s just the nature of this position in this league, and it has been for a long, long time.”
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SOURCE: Jason Garrett Press Conferences (Thursday and Friday)
Jason Garrett speaks to the Dallas media as his team prepares to take the practice field in preparation for the Baltimore Ravens.
Jason Garrett closes out the week from Valley Ranch by fielding questions from the Dallas media for the final time before heading to Baltimore.
IRVING — The Dallas Cowboys are disappointed with their 2-2 start.
But there is nothing they can do about that now.
So cornerback Brandon Carr said the Dallas Cowboys have let go of the first four games and returned Monday after their bye focused on the second quarter of the season, which arguably features the toughest stretch of the year, with three of the next four on the road.
"Guys are just eager to get out there and to have fun, just to get out there and mix it up a little bit," Carr said Monday.
The upcoming schedule takes them to Baltimore on Sunday, Carolina the next, home against the New York Giants, and then to Atlanta. With a road game at Philadelphia the following week, the Cowboys have four of the next five on the road.
"We have to focus on the now, and the now is the Baltimore Ravens," he said. "This week, getting ourselves prepared both mentally and physically for a 60-minute dogfight, and that’s what we’re going to get."
The best news coming out of last week’s bye is that Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff and a number of other injured defenders are ready to return.
The others include linebacker Anthony Spencer, who missed the Chicago Bears game with a strained pectoral muscle, and defensive end Kenyon Coleman, who missed the past two games with a hyperextended knee.
Ratliff missed the first four games with a high ankle sprain.
He practiced on Monday and should be ready to make his season debut against Baltimore.
"Getting Jay back is like getting three guys back," defensive end Marcus Spears said Monday. "In the nickel packages, in the base packages and then teams actually game plan for Jay Ratliff."
Center Phil Costa practiced Monday for the first time since going out with a back injury on the first series in the season opener against the New York Giants.
He worked with the first team and appears ready to step back into the starting lineup for Ryan Cook, who replaced him the past three games.
Though Cook missed practiced on Monday because of a lingering hamstring issue, Costa’s possible return to the lineup could give the line comfort and improve the communication, hopefully resulting in better protection and few false starts.
The Cowboys signed former North Texas running back Lance Dunbar to the active roster from the practice squad and signed receiver Raymond Radway to the practice squad.
Dunbar, an undrafted free agent who played in high school at Haltom, was added to help the kickoff return unit. He will also be a gunner on punt coverage, but his biggest role is on kickoff returns where Felix Jones ranks 24th in the NFL, averaging 21.5 yards per return.
The Cowboys’ average starting field position on kickoff is the 19-yard line, ranking 31st in the league.
"They just want somebody to make plays, get past the 20," Dunbar said Monday.
"I think I can do that. This is my time. I can’t let it pass."
Shortly before the NFL draft three years ago, the Ravens flew in mercurial wide receiver Dez Bryant for a visit.
The Oklahoma State standout met with Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh and went out to dinner with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
However, Bryant was drafted by Dallas with the 24th overall pick of the first round. And the Ravens subsequently traded their 25th overall pick to the Broncos, dropping out of the first round in exchange for second-round, third-round and fourth-round selections used to pick linebacker Sergio Kindle and tight ends Pitta and Ed Dickson.
It’s unclear if the Ravens would have drafted Bryant, a talented player whose character drew red flags on several NFL teams’ draft boards.
Although Bryant has been involved in multiple controversies off the field, he’s caught 129 career passes for 1,758 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“We liked him,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Whether we would have taken him with that pick if we hadn’t traded out, I really don’t know. He’s a good player. He’s a really talented guy.”
Without a doubt, when you first looked at the schedule back in April, this five-game stretch that now awaits the Dallas Cowboys had to stick out first and foremost.
And here we are, with the Cowboys having a 2-2 mark and about to take on this five-game journey that includes four road games, sandwiched around a home game with the defending-champion Giants, who haven’t lost at Cowboys Stadium.
Brutal? Yeah maybe, if this team comes out and plays flat like it did against Seattle and at times the last two weeks.
But winnable? Of course. You can be scared of the Ravens defense all day long – and should be. They’ve been good for so long and the same guys are still making big plays for them.
But a whopping nine points against the Chiefs on the road? I know what you’re thinking, they scored what they needed to. They did just enough to win.
The Cowboys will certainly have their hands full with the Ravens when they go to Baltimore next Sunday. It’ll be tough on the road at Atlanta, Philly and Carolina. The Giants at home will also be a battle, considering Eli Manning and his group is 3-0 at Cowboys Stadium.
But in this stretch of the next five games, those five opponents went 3-2 on Sunday. The Falcons gutted out a tough win over an RG3-less Redskins team while the Panthers lost at home to Seattle and the Eagles dropped a close one to the Steelers.
Looking at the flip side, every fan of those five teams will be looking at the Cowboys and how they’ve played the last three weeks and probably figure to get a W for their team, too.
It’s how it goes.
But judging from the games Sunday. The Cowboys shouldn’t be scared of any of those five teams. And none of them will be scared of this one either.
IRVING, Texas – Jason Garrett was almost never the head coach in Dallas after serving as the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator for former coach Wade Phillips in 2007.
Garrett was widely reported to have been offered the head-coaching job in Jan. 2008 for the team the Cowboys will travel to face after the bye week.
With Phillips unlikely to be vacating the top coaching position at the time, Garrett interviewed in various cities before the 2008 season, with Baltimore as the likeliest destination. Garrett said the Ravens ran their organization well from top to bottom, and he enjoyed his experience interviewing for the job.
“They’ve had a track record of winning there for a number of years,” Garrett said. “They’ve been very successful. When I was playing with the Giants in 2000, we played them in the Super Bowl. Since that time, they’ve been one of the best franchises in football.”
Despite his admiration for the Ravens’ organization, including owner Steve Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome, Garrett eventually decided to return to Dallas with the additional title of assistant head coach.
He remained in that position until midway through the 2010 season, when he became the interim head coach of a 1-7 Cowboys team and went 5-3 down the stretch.
The interim tag was removed in his first full season as the Cowboys’ head coach last year, and now for the first time since leaving his interviews in Baltimore, Garrett will make a trip back to play the team that nearly became his employer.
Baltimore eventually chose former Eagles special teams and defensive backs coach John Harbaugh for the head-coaching job in 2008. Harbaugh has compiled a 47-21 record since taking over, reaching the postseason every year.
“They’re really well coached, and they’ve got a lot of good players,” Garrett said. “You think about Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and those guys, those are marquee players, those are first-ballot Hall of Famers, the best players at their position of their generation. Those guys have been the leaders there for a long time. They do things the right way. I was very impressed.”
NO WALKTHROUGH: Dallas Cowboys adopt "training camp mode" for today’s workout before players take break
Instead of a walkthrough, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said today’s workout at Valley Ranch will involve “more of a training camp mode” in the wake of Monday’s 34-18 loss to the Chicago Bears. It will be the Cowboys’ only workout of the week before players take a four-day break and return to work Monday to begin preparations for the team’s next game, Oct. 14 at Baltimore.
Garrett said he reviewed videotapes with players this morning and the team will work today “in helmets and shells … Cowboys vs. Cowboys in the practice, more of a training camp mode” before taking time off for their bye week. Garrett said he stressed the importance of responsible, off-field behavior to players during their break.
“That’s always something you try to address with them whenever they have time off and they’re going to be away for a little bit. Just remind them of what we’re trying to get accomplished here and who they are and how they want to represent themselves, their families and our teams,” Garrett said.
Jason Garrett speaks to the Dallas media as his team prepares to take the field for their final practice before the bye week.
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IRVING, Texas – The bye week typically is a time for a few tweaks and changes, especially after a tough loss like the Cowboys had Monday night against the Bears, falling to 2-2.
Expect a few roster alterations to either the 53-man roster and/or the practice squad before the Oct. 14 game in Baltimore.
The Cowboys made on Tuesday, waiving cornerback LeQuan Lewis from the roster, dropping the roster down to 52 players. Obviously, the move was made to add another player although the Cowboys didn’t officially announce a roster addition. The Cowboys might use it to bring back safety Mana Silva, who was released a week ago.
Lewis, who was added from the Jets’ practice squad two weeks ago, played in the last two games, mostly on special teams. He was forced into action near the end of the Tampa Bay game on Sept. 23, playing cornerback in nickel situations as the Bucs were throwing into the end zone to try and claw back into the game.
The speedster was the gunner on the punt team and one of the middle players on the kickoff coverage units as well. Brought in three weeks ago as they were getting ready to face Seattle’s return ace, Leon Washington. Monday night, they got past Chicago’s Devin Hester.
Lewis had one tackle and one pass defensed in the regular defense.