PHOTO: A.J. Green jokes around with the other Bengals receivers prior to their preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys – The Enquirer – Jeff Swinger
ARLINGTON, TEXAS — Since returning to practice on Aug. 14, A.J. Green has looked like he barely missed a step after missing two weeks due to a bruised knee.
In his first preseason action on Saturday, Green got some game action in and finished with 3 receptions for 42 yards.
“I felt good out there. It was good to get back and get my wind back,” Green said. “I was a little tired out there at the beginning. Once the second half came, I got my second wind and I felt good out there again.”
Green got involved early. He caught the first pass on a little slant for a 9-yard completion on the second offensive play. His best play was a 26-yard reception off play action during the third quarter to move the Bengals into the red zone.
Later in the drive, Green appeared as if he got a touchdown after outmuscling Cowboys corner Micah Pellerin in the right corner of the end zone, but the official ruled that Green had one foot out of bounds. On replays it appeared as if Lewis could have challenged the call (see notes below). That later resulted in a Quinn Sharp 28-yard field goal to bring the Bengals within 14-10.
Said Green of the play: “I thought I did but it was toe-heel. It all can’t be in one motion. I need to work on just getting the toe down and just falling out of bounds.”
Dalton was happy to have Green back but also noted of his performance that it is what he expects. The first offense is likely only to get a series or two of work in Thursday’s preseason finale against Indianapolis.
TACKLES ANGST: Right tackle Andre Smith injured his left knee during the second quarter, which caused some nervous moments for those who were starting to envision what life might be like without both starting tackles for the Sept. 8 opener at Chicago.
Smith though appeared to be fine in the locker room after the game as he was walking normally and smiling (see notes below).
“He should be ready to go for Chicago,” coach Marvin Lewis said.
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth did not make the trip to Dallas as he is still coming back from offseason knee surgery He has been limited throughout camp and there are some increasing concerns on if he will be ready for the opener. Whitworth comes into the season with the longest starting streak on the team at 67 games, including the postseason.
Anthony Collins got the start in place of Whitworth while Dennis Roland saw increased snaps at right tackle after Smith left.
BAD NIGHT FOR KIRKPATRICK: Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick led the Bengals in tackles with eight but that’s the only good thing you can say about his game.
Kirkpatrick had his problems going up against Dez Bryant during the first half and gave up the Cowboys first touchdown, which was a 5-yard completion to Bryant early in the second quarter. Kirkpatrick was also called for pass interference twice in the first half.
To say it was a learning experience for Kirkpatrick would be kind.
“That’s what he needed to have,” Lewis said. “They got to put in battle still – Brandon Thompson, Margus Hunt, Devon Still, that group of backup players needs to be pushed into the action like that. That was good.”
Kirkpatrick was unavailable for comment after the game as he was being treated for concussion symptoms.
WELCOME BACK: Defensive end Margus Hunt, who played at Southern Methodist, got his first NFL sack in the third quarter when he took down Alex Tanney for a 7-yard loss.
“The first half was difficult because of the way the tackle played. He was really physical and I wasn’t able to compete with that. It took me awhile to get into the groove,” said Hunt, who had 3 tackles, including the sack. “Eventually in the second half I was able to take what we have practiced all week and put it into the game. I was able to put pressure and punch away.”
Running back Rex Burkhead, who is from Plano, had 2 carries for 8 yards and 2 receptions for 14 yards.
SACK MASTER: Defensive end Dontay Moch got his second sack of the preseason and has 5.5 in the past seven preseason games. It might not be enough though to make the 53-man roster in what is a pretty deep defensive line group.
Moch though does have a chance to come back via the practice squad if he can clear waivers.
“You know, honestly, it’s not really up to me. It’s just how the coaches feel about my performance and where I can contribute as a player to this team. As of right now, I just feel like I’m making those steps to show that I can be a factor.”
INACTIVES: Defensive end Carlos Dunlap returned to practice this past week after missing the last two weeks due to a concussion. Dunlap though is still working his way back and was held out of Saturday’s game.
Preseason injuries have hampered Dunlap throughout his career. He missed two games in 2010 due to a concussion and knee strain. In 2011, a knee strain forced him out of the entire preseason and last year he only saw a couple series in the preseason opener before suffering a knee injury. Out of 16 preseason games, Dunlap has played in only four.
Wallace Gilberry got the start in place of Dunlap.
The other listed pregame inactives were QB Zac Robinson (PUP/elbow), WR Andrew Hawkins (ankle), CB Brandon Ghee (concussion), RB Bernard Scott (PUP/knee), FB Chris Pressley (PUP/knee), S George Iloka (wrist), LB Brandon Joiner (knee), LB Sean Porter (shoulder) and OG Otis Hudson (foot).
LB James Harrison, DE Robert Geathers and CB Adam Jones, who did not practice for much of the week, also got the night off.
RARE PRESEASON TRIP: The trip to Dallas marks the furthest trip out west for a preseason game for the Bengals since they faced Arizona in 1996.
Courtesy: Joe Reedy | Bengals beat-writer | Cincinnati Enquirer
The Boys Are Back editor comments: A.J. Greens foot was clearly out of bounds. It was not by a heel … more than half of his foot was on the white chalk. Green didn’t outmuscle Cowboys corner Micah Pellerin (who injured his hand on the play by nudging Green out of bounds). A Lewis challenge would have resulted in a Bengals lost timeout.
Bengals right tackle Andre Smith (along with their backup Dennis Roland) had his hands full with DeMarcus Ware, followed by emerging Cowboys DE Ben Bass.
When your leading tackler is a cornerback (Dre Kirkpatrick), that’s what you call “a bad day at the office”! That’s not a good thing. That honor (in a winning effort) usually goes to a linebacker. Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant owned Kirkpatrick during this game. Kirkpatrick has a ton of upside, but this was not his day.
Young Cincinnati DE Margus Hunt had a hard time with Dallas’ recently activated right tackle Jermey Parnell paired with (last years starting right tackle) Doug Free at right guard. His sack came against the Dallas Cowboys third-string unit lead by QB Alex Tanney.
To me, it’s amusing to refer to practice squad hopeful DE Dontay Moch as your sack master!
The Bengals lost to the (at the time, another NFC East team) Arizona Cardinals 13-10 on Saturday 08/10/1996. Something happens when they cross the mighty Mississippi River!
ARLINGTON, TEXAS — After solid victories in the first two preseason games, the Bengals looked like they were roaring along as they went into Saturday night’s contest against Dallas in what is commonly known as the dress rehearsal game.
Instead, the Bengals put on a display that brought their roar down to a meow. Maybe, the DJ at AT&T Stadium was on to something when they played the Meow Mix theme as the Bengals came on the field before the game.
The 24-18 loss to the Cowboys also reinforced an old equation – when you commit four turnovers and your defense can’t get off the field on third down, you aren’t going to win many games.
“Now, we can quit having all that smoke puffed up our butts and we can get to work,” coach Marvin Lewis said after the game. “There were some bright spots during the game. We did some things well but not enough, long enough.”
Two of the turnovers were committed by the first team offense. Marvin Jones fumbled deep in Dallas territory on the opening drive and Andy Dalton threw his first interception of the preseason on a deep ball intended for Mohamed Sanu.
Dalton and the first unit were in for 28 plays (16 pass, 12 run). He finished 12 of 16 for 113 yards and a subpar passer rating of 68.0. The running game generated only 44 yards with 30 of that coming on the third-quarter drive that led to a Quinn Sharp 28-yard field goal. The first team was 0 for 2 scoring touchdowns in the red zone and their lone points came courtesy of a Quinn Sharp 28-yard field goal on their last series of the night.
“The fact we hurt ourselves is the biggest thing,” Dalton said. “You can look at all the bad but there are still some good stuff mixed in there. We did move the ball well, but didn’t get the points to show for it.”
Defensively, the Bengals (2-1) forced only two three-and-outs in 10 possessions. The Cowboys (2-2) were 9 of 16 converting third downs and all three of their touchdown passes came on third down – two by Tony Romo and one by Kyle Orton.
Dallas ran 75 plays and ended up having the ball for 39 minutes, 31 seconds.
“I don’t know if it was a lack of focus for us. We had some good plays, but on third down we just couldn’t get them off the field,” linebacker Vontaze Burfict said.
Added Lewis: “We’ve got to get to work and get our guys wind going to get ready for the opener. I thought it was a positive for the defense as they had to stay out there for a couple of long drives. Hopefully those are good opportunities for our defensive players to blow their pipes out pretty good.”
Tony Romo was 13 of 18 for 137 yards and two touchdowns in a half of work while Dez Bryant (6 receptions, 54 yards) and Miles Austin (4 receptions, 59 yards) each had a touchdown.
On the opening drive, Dalton and the offense looked like they were going to pick up from where they left off in the Tennessee game. Dalton completed his first six passes for 56 yards and got A.J. Green quickly involved on the second play with a 9-yard completion on a slant pass. Green finished with 3 receptions for 42 yards.
The drive ended without points though when Brandon Carr forced Marvin Jones to fumble after a 14-yard completion to the Dallas 4. It was the Bengals’ third lost fumble of the preseason.
On the ensuing drive, Dallas moved the ball to their own 30 when the Bengals got their second punt return touchdown of the preseason, this one by Brandon Tate.
Tate’s 75-yard punt return came courtesy of something that you only get at AT&T Stadium. On Chris Jones’ first punt he hit the giant scoreboard that hangs above the field, which brought about a rekick.
“(Special Teams Coordinator) Darrin (Simmons) always tells us that nothing good happens for the punt team on a re-kick, and we made them pay,” Tate said. “I give all the credit to the other 10 guys out there with me. Everybody blocked it perfectly, and all I had to do was find the hole and shoot through it. Nobody really had a good shot at me.”
After that, Dallas started to get things in gear. The Cowboys went on a 12-play, 87-yard drive which culminated in Romo’s first touchdown pass of the preseason, a 5-yarder to Bryant, who dominated Dre Kirkpatrick on the drive. Romo was 6 of 6 on the drive and Bryant had 5 receptions for 53 yards.
Dallas would take the lead late in the first half when Austin got past Taylor Mays in coverage and caught it in the back of the end zone. In the second quarter Romo was 8 of 13 for 98 yards and two touchdowns and the Cowboys were 4 of 6 on third-down conversions.
After Sharp’s field goal, Orton came on for Dallas and led a 14-play, 86-yard drive that culminated in a 7-yard touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray where there were a litany of missed tackles.
Josh Johnson came on midway through the third quarter and led the Bengals to a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, a 4-yard completion to Cobi Hamilton that was the final play of a 14-play, 60-yard drive. Ryan Whalen caught a two-point conversion from Johnson to bring the Bengals within a field goal. Hamilton atoned after he turned the ball over in the third quarter on a fumble after running a reverse for a 18-yard gain.
Dan Bailey added a 26-yard field goal to put the margin up to six with 52 seconds remaining. After a Dane Sanzenbacher return gave the Bengals good field position, they drove the ball to the Dallas 49 before Johnson was picked off by Xavier Brewer. Johnson was hit by Landon Cohen as he threw the ball.
Courtesy: Joe Reedy | Bengals beat writer | Cincinnati Enquirer
POSTGAME VIDEO LINKS FROM CINCINNATI:
ARLINGTON, Texas – As his defense continues to force turnovers, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has to hope he got his message across about committing them.
Garrett created one of the dominant storylines of Saturday nights’ 24-18 win against Cincinnati when he benched running back DeMarco Murray for fumbling during the Cowboys’ second possession of the night.
“We took DeMarco out in the first half because he put the ball down,” Garrett said. “So we gave Phillip Tanner the chance to play with the ones in the first half.”
It was a nightmare start for Murray, who was slated to see his biggest chunk of playing time this preseason. He had three carries for just five yards when he lost a fumble – which was eventually recovered by right tackle Jermey Parnell – in the first quarter.
When Murray was yanked for Tanner, he had just four carries for six yards.
“I don’t know why De Mo got benched, you know, but we’re a real close family. So when they said another guy go in, that’s what I was going to do,” Tanner said. “De Mo is really supportive, you know, he’s my guy. Everything that I was able to do out there tonight I give all credit to him.”
Murray didn’t speak to reporters, so it’s uncertain to know how he felt as Tanner rumbled for 39 yards on 14 carries to finish out the first half. But whatever his opinion was on the benching, he put it into a torrid third quarter.
Murray lined up behind second-string quarterback Kyle Orton and the starting offensive line after halftime, and he quickly atoned for his problems. He carried eight times on the opening drive of the third quarter, including four in a row to start the possession, tallying 45 yards.
He capped off his return when he evaded three different tacklers en route to a seven-yard touchdown reception from Orton.
“There is no question that we had a little in-house resolve about what we would do if we should turn the ball over, and I think he came back with that resolve,” said Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones. “I still think he had an attitude after he finished that third quarter. I think he still had an attitude when he hid over there, but I think Jason’s making a point.”
Tanner wasn’t the only one who wasn’t sure why Murray left the field. Wide receiver Dez Bryant didn’t know until after the game why Murray had been replaced, but he wasn’t surprised at the response.
“DeMarco is a great back, and he always has that chip on his shoulder. That’s what makes him who he is,” he said.
Murray finished the night with 12 carries for 51 yards – the best average on the team – and two receptions for 14 yards and the touchdown.
It appears as though the message was received, much to Garrett’s satisfaction.
“I thought he did a good job. He’s a pro, and he’s a damn good football player,” Garrett said. “You can’t let not taking care of the football when you’re a running back diminish you as a player. And he’s just not going to do that – he’s not going to put the ball on the ground. I thought he responded well to it.”
ARLINGTON, Texas – Tony Romo got sacked on the first play of the game Saturday, but it wasn’t a sign of things to come.
Romo finished Saturday’s game 13-of-18 with 137 passing yards and two touchdowns, one each to Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, behind an offensive line that featured Doug Free at right guard and Jermey Parnell at right tackle.
“We won’t know until we look at the tape, but (Free)’s been doing a really good job there and he’s a really smart player,” Romo said via a conference call after the game. “Not everybody can make an adjustment like that, especially not in really one week. I think it’s a testament to Doug’s ability to play both those positions. Not unlike what I said about the wide receivers, the flexibility that he gives us sometimes is really, really a big deal to have a guy who can do multiple positions. I think he did a real good job.”
The offensive line had its occasional struggles, but for the most part managed to give Romo enough time and opened enough running lanes for the offense to rush for 154 yards. Romo said after the first sack of the game, the offense really got going.
“I think you’re always going to run the ball if you’re running the ball successfully,” Romo said. “More than anything, this game is about getting in the end zone. We all want it to be 10 runs and six passes – that’s ideal for everything – but that’s not always realistic.”
Romo spread the ball to his top wide outs throughout the day, finding Bryant for six catches, 54 yards and a touchdown and Austin for four catches, 59 yards and a touchdown. Both players scored their respective touchdowns in the second quarter, with Bryant securing a jump ball to cap a five-catch drive.
All four of Austin’s receptions came on third down, including his 12-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone to give the Cowboys a seven-point lead at the end of the second quarter.
“He did great,” Romo said. “I said it in training camp, Miles had a great training camp this year. He’s really got some juice to him. He’s been doing that the entire training camp. I’ve been saying this over and over again, but we’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing in training camp and it’s carried over to the preseason games.”
Romo also credited the offensive line for giving him time to operate and find Austin in the back of the end zone. He said it’s been a little bit since he’s had that kind of time.
“When you’re able to have that kind of time, you can do a lot of things as a quarterback – move a lot of different people a lot of different ways,” Romo said. “That’s a testament to the guys up front giving me that kind of time. That play doesn’t happen over time in the past, per se, I guess you could say.”
The Cowboys’ starting quarterback said it can be tough to recover if the offense struggles through the whole preseason, and Saturday’s dress rehearsal performance has the starters on the right track as they prepare for the opener against the Giants. He said his thought process will turn to the Sept. 8 opener Saturday night or Sunday morning.
“I’ve sprinkled in a little bit, but now I’m going to get real tightened up as far as a little more situational than an overview,” Romo said. “I think the team will probably wait until the middle of the week, but more than anything my stuff will start here this weekend.”
Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones talks to the media following the 2013 Cowboys preseason win over the Bengals. (Duration – 3:45)
- Thoughts and planned strategy regarding the preseason Special Teams units
- Parnell/Free right tackle experiment
- DeMarco Murray benching by Jason Garrett
- Tanner’s effort and inspirational value to other backs
- Randle cuts and instincts
- Postgame interview ends, short.
POSTGAME VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS – Cincinnati Bengals vs. Dallas Cowboys
Video | No Audio
ARLINGTON, Texas – Good luck finding the end zone on the Dallas Cowboys’ starting defense.
It may just be the preseason, but the Dallas coaches’ insistence on creating turnovers and the bend but don’t break mentality appear to be in full effect, as the Cowboys’ first-team defense went its fourth straight preseason game keeping its opponent out of the end zone in Saturday’s 24-18 dress rehearsal win against the Bengals.
“We saw it enough, and now it’s finally coming to fruition as far as us going out there and making plays,” said cornerback Brandon Carr. “Today, it felt pretty good. Four turnovers, and it all came from the secondary. I guess the bar is kind of set now. We kind of know what the expectations are, and we know we can do it now. That’s all it is, is that confidence.”
The Cowboys’ defense created four turnovers Saturday in the first preseason game this year at AT&T Stadium, including one in every quarter, while the connection between Tony Romo and Dez Bryant looked as crisp as it did to end last season.
Romo finished 13-of-18 with two touchdown passes and no interceptions behind an offensive line that featured Doug Free at right guard and Jermey Parnell at right tackle against one of the stouter defensive lines in the league.
“Not everybody can make an adjustment like that, especially not in really one week,” Romo said of Free’s move from tackle to guard. “I think it’s a testament to Doug’s ability to play both those positions.”
The offense quickly established its running game and kept going back to it throughout the day, totaling 154 yards on the ground and giving Romo more time to operate as the Bengals had to account for the run and the pass.
The Cowboys were solid offensively and defensively, but still need to figure out that third phase of the game.
After the defense forced its third fumble on the opponents’ first drive in four preseason games to start the year, the offense sputtered and were forced to punt in a scoreless game with 4:02 remaining in the first quarter. Punter Chris Jones boomed one away, but the ball hit the giant video board, and the Cowboys were forced to punt again.
“As soon as I punted it, I thought it had a chance of hitting it,” Jones said. “It got up there, got up in the shadows, and I saw it flutter down. I knew it had hit.”
That turned out to be disastrous, as the Bengals’ Brandon Tate returned the re-punt for a touchdown, as the special teams continued to struggle through the preseason.
When the offense returned for their next possession, running back DeMarco Murray did not, after he coughed the ball up and Jermey Parnell recovered it the previous offensive possession.Phillip Tanner and the rest of the starting offense took the field, and Dez Bryant caught five passes on the drive, including the touchdown grab to tie the game.
Bryant finished with six catches for 54 yards and a touchdown, while Miles Austin finished the day with four catches for 59 yards and a score. All four of Austin’s catches came on third down and ended either in a first down or touchdown.
“(Austin) looks fresher,” said head coach Jason Garrett. “He looks quicker to me. He’s a hard matchup player for people because he’s big and he can play outside, but he also has quickness to play inside.”
The offense was efficient throughout the day, but the defense kept the game close throughout. The Bengals’ only points in the first half came on the special teams touchdown, as the Cowboys’ defensive starters made life tough for Cincinnati’s first-team group.
The Bengals didn’t score any points on the Cowboys’ first-team group. The next time Cincinnati scored after the kick return occurred on a field goal after the Bengals’ first-team group went against the Dallas second-teamers in the third quarter.
It helped the Cowboys’ offense that they continued getting the ball in favorable spots.
After Bryant’s touchdown in the second quarter, rookie B.W. Webb secured his first interception of the preseason, as he joined the first-team group as an extra cornerback and blanketed Mohamed Sanu the whole way. The Cowboys’ rookie draft picks have four interceptions combined so far in the preseason.
“B-Dub made a really big play in the ball game, the interception down the middle,” Garrett said. “I thought he’s responded well to really the game in Oakland, to be honest with you. That was the game where he didn’t play his best. He fumbled a punt and some other things happened, but he responded well at practice and has played well the last couple weeks.”
The Cowboys forced a three-and-out on their next defensive possession, and the Bengals’ last possession of the half went just 18 yards before the clock hit zero and the Cowboys’ first-team defense left the field.
The defensive starters were done for the day at the half, but the ability to create turnovers transferred down to the backups as well.
Safety Jeff Heath laid a massive hit on receiver Cobi Hamilton on an end around to jar the ball loose in the third quarter, allowing cornerback Micah Pellerin to secure the fumble.
“We look for those opportunities to attack the ball and get it out,” said secondary coach Jerome Henderson. “With Jeff’s play, that’s more of just a big hit causing a turnover. That wasn’t him trying to reach in and get it out. That was him just laying the wood on a guy and the ball popping out.”
That forced fumble occurred with an 11-point lead for the Cowboys, after Murray returned to the field in the second half and responded after his early fumble with a touchdown reception, in which he broke multiple tackles and used some fancy footwork to find the end zone.
“We talked to DeMarco at halftime and gave him a chance to play in the second half, and I thought he did a good job bouncing back,” Garrett said. “We always put a big emphasis on turnovers. The story of this game was the turnover ratio.”
The Cowboys’ 21 points at that point were enough.
After Cincinnati cut the Dallas lead to 21-18 in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys added three more points on a Dan Bailey field goal and secured the victory with a pick by cornerback Xavier Brewer with less than a minute remaining in the game. The secondary was responsible for the two picks, as well as both forced fumbles and fumble recoveries.
“The competition is so intense, so competitive in our secondary room that guys may miss a couple of games, and the next man up is ready,” Carr said. “He’s ready to go out there and make plays and make a name for himself. That’s what makes teams great.”
ARLINGTON, Texas – The second-to-last preseason game is typically referred to as the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season.
Actually, it’s more like the first half will be the dress rehearsal although it’s possible the starters could come for a series or two in the third quarter.
They first-teamers won’t play the entire game against Cincinnati in the first game played at the newly-named AT&T Stadium, but it’ll be the longest action they’ve received so far this preseason.
The focus will be on the starters, it’s also the final chance for the bottom-roster players to make a difference. The rosters will be trimmed from 90 to 75 players early next week.
Let’s check out the players to watch in todays (Saturday’s) game with the Bengals.
Doug Free – The focus of the entire off season and through this training camp has been on the offensive line and could as a group improve enough to create more balance heading into the 2013 season. One of those pieces that needed to improve his play was Doug Free who by his own standards struggled badly the last two seasons. For Free it has been an uphill climb but one that he has made progress every step of the way. There are still moments where reps do not always go well but there are far fewer issues than what we had seen in the past. In the quest to find the best five linemen, Jason Garrett and the staff have moved Free inside to guard in order to see if that might be a fit that they can live with if needed. This is a move that is never made if Free was struggling badly at tackle. We all need to keep an eye on him as he gets snaps at right guard.
Bruce Carter – There are those that have felt like that Carter has had a very quiet camp but I have not seen that as the case at all. In these preseason games, the numbers might not what we all expect from Carter but having the opportunity to observe him every day in practice, he is performing at a level that is pleasing to the front office and coaches. Where Carter has made his biggest gains has been in pass coverage and his ability to quickly read, then adjust in space to make the tackle or defend the ball in the air. There are plenty of plays where you see Sean Lee in the middle of plays from his Mike linebacker spot but if you were to ask him who the most athletic linebacker there is on the squad, without hesitation, he will say Bruce Carter. This scheme is a perfect fit for him and though he is not always as noticeable as Lee, he is just as important to how it is played. Carter and Lee with extended time this week on the defense has my attention.
James Hanna, TE: Until last week, Hanna had been clearly ahead in the race for the No. 2 spot.Gavin Escobar did some nice things against the Arizona backups. So now the onus is back on Hanna, who again will get first-team reps in the “12 personnel.” He needs to continue to help in the running game as a blocker but a catch or two in the passing game certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Orlando Scandrick, CB: The Cowboys are probably less concerned who plays on the Bengals’ side, but I would think they’d want to see A.J. Green in there at receiver. With Scandrick having such a good camp, this would be a great test for him on the outside. Mo Claiborne is out this game and maybe the rest of the preseason with a knee injury. I’ll be interested to see how Scandrick stacks up on the outside in the base defense and then he’ll slide inside to the slot on the nickel.
Miles Austin, WR: Austin’s quietly put together a nice camp and, more importantly, has managed to stay healthy throughout, as the “veteran off days” seem to be paying off. He’s looked quick and has been a reliable target for Tony Romo. With more double teams likely coming for Dez Bryant and the addition of Terrance Williams on the outside, that should create more favorable matchups for Austin. I look for him to be a solid option to move the stick
Barry Church, S: Church drew tremendous praise as one of the best and most electrifying players at camp last year. He’s looked good this year, but he hasn’t turned heads quite as often. Church is capable of being a hard-hitting safety but has over-pursued a couple times this preseason. I want to see him being a sure tackler and coming up with a couple noticeable plays this week, as he should get more time on the field. He says he feels completely healed from Achilles’ surgery last year, and at full health he has big play ability.
DeMarco Murray, RB: Murray’s total number of carries through three preseason games is a mere seven. That’s to be expected, with the way teams rest their starters this time of year. But this game should give us a more realistic look at what to expect from the top back. With those seven carries, he’s managed just 22 yards. Ideally, I’d like to see both of those numbers go way up if I’m going to believe the Cowboys’ running game is new and improved. Of course, the patchwork offensive line should be taken into account, but this is still Murray’s first chance to show off this year.
Kyle Wilber, DE: DeMarcus Ware is presumably going to play his highest snap total of the preseason against Cincinnati, which makes it a great dress rehearsal for Wilber. With more playing time for the starters, Wilber will be able to operate as part of a rotation, instead of handling the load by himself. Hopefully he’ll do something half as entertaining as his rumbling, bumbling, stumbling fumble recovery on the dead ball against Arizona.
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When: Saturday, Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. (Dallas time)
Where: AT&T Stadium (formerly Cowboys Stadium), Arlington, Texas
Live Stream: NFL Preseason Live
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It will be wheels up this afternoon for Team Enquirer as photographer Jeff Swinger and I head to Dallas for tomorrow night’s game against the Cowboys.
This will be my second trip to JerryWorld. Yes, it is an impressive stadium and you can catch yourself watching most of the game on the big screen instead of down on the field. When it comes to sheer size and scope, it is tops in the NFL but if you are grading it on fan experience and watching a game, to me it would be fourth. I think Seattle, Kansas City and Baltimore are better.
Weather wise, this should be a better trip compared to two years ago when I went to Dallas for the Super Bowl. During the early part of Super Bowl week, the Dallas-Fort Worth area was hit with snow and ice storms, which made the highways treacherous. That wasn’t good since it was billed as a North Texas Super Bowl and everything was far flung.
ONE NOTE ABOUT SATURDAY
Due to our deadlines, the game will not be completed in time for Sunday’s paper. A game story and notebook will be available on Cincinnati.Com following the game and there will be more coverage in Monday’s paper.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH ON SATURDAY
How much will A.J. Green play? Probably not as much as the rest of the first unit. As Lewis noted on Thursday, he has a number of snaps in mind for each position group depending on the depth and a player’s experience. Plus, Green doesn’t need much work in game conditions. Just kick the tires, get out there for a couple series, catch a pass or two and call it a day.
Can the first-team defense get a sack? There hasn’t been much pressure on the quarterback during the first two games. Geno Atkins has applied some pressure but they have yet to get a sack. The line though has not been at full strength in the preseason, particularly at defensive end. Carlos Dunlap has missed both games and Michael Johnson was out against Tennessee. Both should play against the Cowboys but Robert Geathers has not practiced this week.
Does Shawn Williams emerge at safety? With George Iloka doubtful for tonight’s game, Shawn Williams and Taylor Mays will get another prime opportunity to show what they can do. Williams led the Bengals with 10 tackles last week and continues to show progress. Mays has had flashes of good play but also some painful lapses in coverage. Iloka still has the advantage for the starting spot at strong safety, but the gap is starting to close.
Offensive Bubble Player to keep an eye on: Running back Rex Burkhead grew up in nearby Plano and is used to playing in AT&T Stadium. Burkhead is averaging 5.5 yards per carry and has two runs of 15 yards or more during the preseason. He remains in a battle with Dan Herron for the final running back spot but might the edge based on if Burkhead were to be waived, the odds are pretty good that he would get claimed by another team.
Defensive Bubble Player to keep an eye on: Cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris has had a good training camp, but the highest exposure he has received came during the fourth quarter of last week’s game when he bit on a double move by Michael Preston that resulted in a 46-yard touchdown. If the Bengals keep 10 defensive backs, it will likely come down to which DB plays best over the final two games – Lewis-Harris or Mays.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Dallas Cowboys
Kickoff: 8 p.m., AT&T Cowboys Stadium – Arlington, TX
Local TV: WKRC-TV (Channel 12)
Local Radio: WCKY-AM (1530), WEBN-FM (102.7).
Series: Second preseason meeting. Dallas won the 2010 Hall of Fame Game 16-7.
Note: Bengals are 22-20 in preseason games under Marvin Lewis.
Not expected to play: OT Andrew Whitworth (knee), DE Robert Geathers (unspecified), CB Brandon Ghee (concussion), LB Sean Porter (shoulder), WR Andrew Hawkins (ankle), FB Chris Pressley (PUP/knee), QB Zac Robinson (PUP/elbow), HB Bernard Scott (PUP/knee).
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Taylor Mays has had plenty of camera time on Hard Knocks as he faces another reality — life on the roster bubble.
There is something of interest related to Adam Jones’ case. The attorney representing the alleged victim in the case was indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday.
Coming Sunday, Paul Daugherty tells the story of Reggie Williams who, after 24 knee surgeries and years of pain, won’t accept losing his leg.
Courtesy: Joe Reedy | Cincinnati Enquirer
(Photographs courtesy: Cincinnati Enquirer)
About Joe Reedy
Joe Reedy took over as The Enquirer’s Bengals beat writer in 2009 after covering the University of Kentucky and doing an NFL picks column. Reedy’s previous NFL experience includes covering the Jets for The Post-Star in Glens Falls, NY (1997-98) and Jaguars for The Gainesville Sun (1999). The Youngstown native lives in Burlington and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Board of Selectors.
2013-2014 DALLAS COWBOYS ROSTER: Saturday’s dress rehearsal vs. Cincinnati Bengals brings “what ifs” into forefront
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys got a taste of the past Thursday night at AT&T Stadium, stepping back in time to interact with their rich history.
Present were Pro Football Hall of Famers galore, the likes of Roger Staubach, Rayfield Wright and Mel Renfro, along with Ring of Honor members such as Lee Roy Jordan, Cliff Harris and Charles Haley. And then maybe the less decorated but certainly not forgotten, from center Mike Connelly, a member of the franchise’s inaugural 1960 team, to locally-raised cowboy Walt Garrison to exciting wide receiver Butch Johnson and stalwart center Tom Rafferty and invaluable tight end Jay Novacek, all the way to 11-year deep snapper Dale Hellestrae.
“I think we’re fortunate to be in an organization where such a high standard has been set,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett says of the franchise’s alumni being invited in for practice and the dinner afterward.
Saturday night at AT&T Stadium we’ll all get a better taste of the future and hints to if those previously high-set standards can be met, Garrett intending to play his starters at least a half and those in need of more work into the third quarter in the fourth of five preseason games this year, this one against the Cincinnati Bengals, the current Hard Knocks subjects on HBO. This exercise will be as close to real as a preseason game gets, though minus any sort of game plan or regular-season strategic intentions.
No sense showing your hand before being called upon, and believe me, that will definitely include the final preseason game, too, scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 29, against the Houston Texans, also at AT&T Stadium, where starters will mostly sit and sitters will mostly start.
So Saturday night maybe you see Tony Romo throw the ball 10 to 15 times; maybe you see DeMarco Murray carry the ball a handful of times; maybe you see DeMarcus Ware actually play a couple of series instead of just a couple of plays in this new 4-3 defensive alignment; and maybe you see the likes of recently-extended Sean Lee, the up-surging Jason Hatcher and a seemingly revitalized Miles Austin play more than previously. Still, bank on the Cowboys not wanting to overexpose any of them to injury possibilities with the season opener just 15 days away.
Oh, we know all about these guys, and for sure you’d like to see this Cowboys first-team offense score its first touchdown of the preseason, even if that drought encompasses but five series over the two games Romo has played in, and for them all to do a better job of hanging onto the football than what took place last Saturday in Glendale, Ariz.
Fine and good, but this Cowboys coaching staff also must use this game to address the near future, as in the Sunday night of Sept. 8 when the New York Football Giants come calling on national television at the newly named and re-carpeted AT&T Stadium. There still are so many compelling what-ifs so close to the season opener.
What if projected starting left guard Ronald Leary does not return in time as expected from arthroscopic knee surgery for the opener?
What if starting defensive tackle Jay Ratliff is not ready to play as expected in the opener after missing the entire offseason, entire training camp and as expected at least the first four preseason games?
What if starting defensive end Anthony Spencer does not return in time as expected from having his knee scoped at the start of training camp to man the strong side of this 4-man front against the Giants?
What if cornerback Morris Claiborne, bothered by patella tendinitis in his knee for the past two weeks, isn’t as ready to play in the opener as he seems to insist?
Oh, and while we’re at it, what if injured safeties Matt Johnson (ankle) and Eric Frampton (calf) aren’t ready for season-opening duty? First of all, how are you cutting that position down to a probable five and just who are the immediate backups to starters Barry Church and Will Allen?
These are the present dilemmas that must be solved with time running short, and for that reason you should get an eye-full Saturday night of possible solutions.
Already the Cowboys have been bracing for the worst on the offensive line. Chances are the do-si-do we witnessed this week in practice will continue Saturday night, with Jermey Parnell being inserted at right tackle, right tackle Doug Free moving over to right guard and right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau leapfrogging over to left guard.
Hmmm. Everyone seems occupied with Free moving to guard. My concern, and this coaching staff’s, too, is if Parnell is ready to play right tackle. He’s started only one NFL game, and injuries have caused him to miss the entire offseason, the first three preseason games and the first three weeks of training camp. And that’s who you want to trust on the right edge against those Giants ends?
“So we haven’t seen him,” Garrett says of Parnell, and hasn’t since he rotated in with Free at right tackle in the final month of last season. “We got him back the end of last week, doing some good things and playing a little bit like he did the end of last season. At the end of the day, we want to put our best five guys out there.”
Parnell definitely is on trial Saturday night, and if he can’t hold up, and Leary isn’t ready, don’t be surprised if rookie center Travis Frederick moves to one guard spot, Phil Costa returns to center and Free stays put … that is if a starting-quality free-agent guard is not claimed or signed.
OK, the defensive line. So far with Ratliff and Spencer missing the Cowboys have gone with Nick Hayden at defensive tackle and George Selvie at the strong-side defensive end. Hayden seems to be gaining the staff’s confidence that he can hold down the one-technique DT spot in a pinch, thus allowing Hatcher to play – and play well, so far – Ratliff’s three-technique position. Hayden has started 13 of the 28 games he’s played over his four years in the NFL, but did not play this past season.
“He’s done a nice job,” Garrett said of Hayden, who also has the ability to play either DT position. “Regardless of what combination he’s in there with or who he is going against he seems to show up and make some plays.”
As for Selvie, well, let Garrett tell you what he thinks of the 6-4, 270-pounder who previously has been with four teams since drafted in the seventh round by the Rams in 2010. The player who has yet to start a game (36 played) in the NFL and wasn’t signed by the Cowboys until a week into training camp:
“He played particularly well in the game up there in Canton (Dolphins), played well last week in Arizona – just kind of showing up … a guy we want to keep looking at and see if he has a role on this football team.”
Who knows for sure, backups today, starters tomorrow?
At least Claiborne has started running a bit, and hopes to practice next week. If not, well, the Cowboys have been running nickel back Orlando Scandrick with the firsts at right corner. So, the dilemma there is this: On nickel, does Scandrick move inside to his slot-cover position and the Cowboys then bring in either Sterling Moore or rookie B.W. Webb to play right corner, or do they leave Scandrick outside and go with either Moore or Webb inside? Scandrick previously has struggled doing both in the same game.
Not sure they’ve decided on which, so keep an eye out on Saturday night.
And then safety: Johnson and Frampton haven’t practiced for two weeks, and with the final preseason game next Thursday, hardly seems possible they would practice fully on Monday and Tuesday and play against the Texans on Thursday after being out so long. And then would they be ready for the Giants the following Sunday? Heck, will they even make the final 53-man roster?
If not in either case, then you are looking at Wilcox, who returned Wednesday after going home for his mother’s funeral and is expected to play against the Bengals; veteran Danny McCray, more of a special teams player than a true safety; and then rookie free agents Jeff Heath (Saginaw Valley State) and Jakar Hamilton (South Carolina State).
A little bit of a roster conundrum for sure.
So call this a dress rehearsal if you wish. But with so many what-ifs hanging over the Cowboys’ heads, this just might be last call for many of these guys since the cuts to 75 come Tuesday (August 27th), then the ones to 53 by the following Saturday (August 31st), and since this likely will be the final chance to prove yourself against first-team opposition.
See there? So much to decide, so little time left to do so.
For the purposes of keeping up with the Joneses, the NFC East’s preseason scheduling has been pretty convenient to this point, with division games spread out over several different nights. That ends this weekend, though, as all four teams are set to take the field on the same day.
Washington kicks off against Buffalo at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, with Giants-Jets and Eagles-Jaguars both beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Dallas Cowboys’ home game against Cincinnati wraps it up with a 7 p.m. start. Those times are all central, by the way, for those of you far-flung Dallas Cowboy fans.
We’re going to be a bit busy watching the Cowboys’ starters play their longest exhibition of preseason. But there are still several things happening in the division Saturday night you might want to have an eye on.
More QB fun in D.C.: RGIII remains on schedule to play the ‘Skins’ season opener, but he remains out. No real news on that front, unless you care what type of T-shirt he wore to pregame warm-ups against Pittsburgh. Backup Kirk Cousins has a foot sprain and could probably play if he really wanted to, but he likely won’t risk it for a preseason game.
That means Rex Grossman is going to be the starter for what almost qualifies as a real NFL game. The former Bear has been pretty ho-hum as the team’s leading passer this season – he’s 20 of 37 for 252 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. That completion percentage is not what you’d like to see from a veteran backup, but it looks like Grossman is the early favorite to win the third QB job from Pat White.
Grossman’s longest completion of the preseason to this point is 23 yards. Let’s hope he bombs away once or twice.
Vick wants to run more: For a guy who has had trouble staying on the field, running the ball more often seems like a curious strategy for the Eagles’ newly-announced starting quarterback.
Vick has carried the ball 138 times in 23 games the past two seasons — an average of six times per game. But he managed to miss nine games in those two years even with that light of a workload. Eagles coach Chip Kelly had a penchant for getting devastating ground production out of his quarterbacks while at Oregon. But his quarterbacks in college weren’t 33 years old with injury histories.
Is Vick going to be scrambling all over the place, circa 2002, in a dress rehearsal against Jacksonville? That’s pretty doubtful. But it’ll be fun to get a longer look at him in Kelly’s offense.
Pugh is new starter: More and more, we’re seeing how quickly NFL teams expect their top draft picks to jump into the fire. We’ve seen plenty of it here in Dallas, with first-rounder Travis Frederick expected to start at center from the get-go. Several other Cowboy rookies figure to play prominent roles.
Injuries in New York have accelerated that process for Giants’ first round pick Justin Pugh this week. Pugh, who many wanted the Cowboys to select in April’s draft, will start at right tackle against the Jets.
The move comes largely because of the MCL sprain to starting center David Baas in last week’s game against Indianapolis. Starting left guard Kevin Boothe will move to center while Baas rehabs from surgery – he’s hopeful of a return for the season opener against Dallas – and right tackle David Diehl will take Boothe’s guard spot, opening the door for Pugh at right tackle.
It’s also worth noting that Diehl surrendered a sack and a quarterback hurry in his limited action against the Colts. The Giants would undoubtedly like to see if their rookie can improve upon that.
What a difference a year makes: The Dallas Cowboys blew five fourth-quarter leads last season. This season, they have had five fourth-quarter comebacks.
Dallas rallied again Sunday against the Steelers, down 24-17 in the fourth quarter. They scored a tying touchdown with 6:55 remaining in regulation and then won on a 21-yard Dan Bailey field goal only 39 seconds into overtime.
They also had fourth-quarter comebacks against the Panthers, Browns, Eagles and Cincinnati. And in the road game against the Eagles, the Cowboys were tied 17-17 going into the fourth quarter.
"We just put our heads down and go to work," Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said. "At the end of the day, whether we are down three, whether we are tied, whether we are down 10, we are just going to battle and fight to get the job done. By no means has it been pretty over the last six or seven games, but I do know that our football knows it can compete and win late in football games. We believe we are going to go down and score or get a stop late."
Tales of Dez Bryant‘s demise were premature.
Bryant will attempt to play in Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Dallas Cowboys receiver made the decision after gaining a second opinion Wednesday on the broken finger he suffered in a Week 14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Bryant’s thinking doesn’t guarantee he will play, however. The Cowboys placed a hard splint on Bryant’s finger today. The Cowboys want to see if the splint will provide enough protection to prevent permanent damage. Bryant will require surgery after the season if he puts it off now.
"We don’t have a definitive plan for Dez right now," coach Jason Garrett told reporters. "He did see the doctor (Wednesday) and nothing’s really changed. We’re going to see how he feels today and see if there’s a chance that he can play. He went through the walk-through yesterday. He didn’t do anything in practice yesterday.
"It seems like he’s feeling fine, but we have to make a decision there as to what we want to do. Dez is certainly part of that decision. The medical analysis is part of that decision, as well."
Garrett said he doesn’t anticipate Bryant catching passes in Thursday’s session.
"We just have to decide what we want to do," Garrett said. "He certainly has a willingness to play and he certainly has the toughness to play. We just have to see if he can function as he needs do."
RELATED: Cowboys preparing for Dez Bryant to play Sunday vs. Steelers
IRVING – Cowboys coach Jason Garrett confirmed Thursday morning that Dez Bryant’s Wednesday visit with a second hand specialist revealed “pretty similar” information to the first examination. Bryant has a fractured left index finger that requires surgery.
But that doesn’t eliminate the Cowboys wide receiver from playing on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bryant has said all week that he desires to play through the injury.
The Cowboys plan to test Bryant’s finger by having him catch passes, however, that has not occurred this week and Garrett said he doesn’t anticipate it occurring on Thursday. Although Bryant still has swelling in his finger he appeared to be prepared to catch passes during the media portion of Thursday’s practice. On his left hand, the 24-year-old was wearing a padded white glove that allowed the tip of his index finger to be exposed.
“We don’t have a definitive plan for Dez right now,” Garrett said Thursday. “He did see the doctor yesterday. Nothing has really changed. We’re going to see how he feels today and see if there’s a chance that he can play. He went through the walk-through yesterday. He didn’t do anything in practice yesterday. Seemed like he was feeling fine. But we have to make a decision there as to what we want to do. Dez is certainly a part of that decision. The medical analysis is part of that decision as well.”
The Cowboys training staff has been looking into splints and taping methods that would allow Bryant to play. The risk with delaying surgery and playing through the injury is that Bryant runs the risk of facing permanent stiffness, which would likely affect his ability to catch passes.
“We’re going to give him every chance to play,” Garrett said. “If it’s wait to Saturday [to catch passes] or wait to Sunday, we’ll give him every chance to do it.”
Bryant made a 27-yard touchdown grab after sustaining the injury in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 20-19 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. When it was suggested to Garrett that Bryant’s adrenaline probably allowed him to make that grab despite the injury, the Cowboys coach responded: “There will probably be a little adrenaline on Sunday.”
Garrett then smiled and walked away.
RELATED: Garrett does not anticipate Bryant catching passes today
Garrett told reporters at his daily press conference that he didn’t anticipate Bryant practicing or even catching the ball off on the side, as was expected by team sources earlier on Wednesday.
Bryant did jog out to practice Thursday with his left hand in a white glove that had a hole for his fractured left index finger to stick out. He didn’t have time to catch a pass during the media portion of practice.
After the morning press conference, Garrett said Bryant’s fractured left index finger still has too much swelling to risk catching passes.
“We’re going to have to do that at some point,” Garrett said of allowing Bryant to catch passes. “But I don’t think that day is today.”
Still, the goal to get Bryant ready to play Sunday against Pittsburgh appears unchanged. Bryant has seen two hand specialists this week and it’s believed that surgery to repair the finger in an option, but one that would end his season. However, not having surgery would increase the risk for long-term injury to his finger.
At this point, that appears a risk that Bryant is willing to take. However, if he doesn’t prove to the Cowboys this week that he can function, albeit wearing a splint, or padded gloves or fingers taped together, then the club will have no other choice but to rest him.
Obviously the Cowboys don’t want to risk further injury for Bryant, but his services are definitely needed. In the last five games, a span the Cowboys have gone 4-1, Bryant has caught seven touchdowns – all in the second half.
This past week, he went over 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career, and has a team-high 1,028 yards with nine touchdowns. His 75 receptions rank second only to Jason Witten (92).
Bryant also has a touchdown catch in the last five games, the third-longest streak in Cowboys history.
RELATED: Garrett confirms Dez Bryant plans to delay surgery
Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant plans to delay season-ending surgery on his fractured left index finger and try to play Sunday against the Steelers, even though it could possibly cause long-term damage.
Coach Jason Garrett said no definitive decision has been made on Bryant. But he said the Cowboys are going to give Bryant every chance to play.
Bryant has not caught passes this week and will not do so today, because the finger still is swollen. Garrett said Bryant will try to do so at some point, possibly even waiting until game day.
"We are going to give him every chance to play," Garrett said. "If that is wait til Saturday (to catch passes), then we will wait til Saturday. If it’s wait til Sunday, it’s wait til Sunday. We will give him every chance to do it."
Garrett indicated the Cowboys are confident Bryant might be able to go Sunday because he caught a 27-yard touchdown pass against the Bengals last week after fracturing the finger and having it taped together with the middle finger.
"He made a good catch after he was hurt the other day in the game," Garrett said.
Asked if that was because of the adrenaline of playing in the game and the lack of swelling at the time, Garrett responded with "it will probably be a little adrenaline in Sunday."
RELATED: Bryant wears white padded glove to start of Cowboys practice
Today brought the first glimpse of what the Dallas Cowboys might do to give Dez Bryant a chance to play.
He came out to practice wearing a white glove on his left hand.
Before practice, coach Jason Garrett talked about how the Cowboys and Bryant can protect the finger.
“We’re looking at that right now and seeing if there’s anything we can get started on,” Garrett said. “I know Jim Maurer and his crew have been working hard on that over the last couple of days. And again, I think it’s very specific to the player. You have to customize it to see how you can function. This has gone on in football for a long, long time. Does that feel comfortable? Do you think you can do this, that or the other thing with that? Let’s change it up, let’s make it bigger, let’s make it smaller.
“Certainly we want to protect Dez. We want to give him every chance we can if we put him out there.”
Bryant did not catch a pass in pat-and-go while reporters were present.
IRVING, Texas – He had four as a rookie last year. Now, he’s added two this season.
One might think Dan Bailey is getting used to kicking game-winning field goals. But even after his sixth career game-winner on Sunday, a 40-yarder that gave the Cowboys an emotional 20-19 win over the Bengals, Bailey said the feeling never gets old.
“Game-winners are always fun,” Bailey said. “You take them every time. I don’t know if you can say one is better than the other, but this game obviously was so special. I will never forget this game and what it took to win it.”
Knowing the emotions that were surrounding the team, Bailey said it’s not easy to block out the distractions, but said it was a must before that last-second kick.
“You have to treat it like every other kick,” Bailey said. “And even though you know it’s not, you have to be like that. You trust yourself, trust your leg and trust the other 10 guys out there to do their job. It’s just football at that point. Everything else we’ve been dealing with is life. It’s pretty simple really – you just go out and kick it. As far as football goes, it’s pretty easy to do that compared to everything else going on.”
Bailey said he credits his teammates more than himself for that last play.
“The offense did a great job to drive us down there at the end and get us in position. The defense stepped up at the end to get the ball back. I had the easy part. I had to go do my job and make the kick. But the other guys really deserve the credit for making it happen.”
Bailey didn’t deny this game-winner will rank up there pretty high, mainly because of the emotions the Cowboys were fighting, surrounding teammate Jerry Brown’s tragic death and the arrest of nose tackle Josh Brent.
“It’s been a hard week. Difficult week,” Bailey said. “It was really quiet around the hotel and plane. Rightfully so. We all did a good job of handling the situation. I think we tried the best we could to handle it and we did a good job. It’s not going to make it any easier moving forward.”
Bailey kicked a 38-yard game-winning field goal to beat the Browns in overtime on Nov. 18. He also made a 32-yarder at the end of regulation to force overtime.
Last year, Bailey made game-winners to beat San Francisco, Miami and the Redskins twice. Two of those four game-winning kicks occurred in overtime, including the one against the 49ers in which he made a clutch field goal to force the extra session.
Here are the historical notes compiled after Sunday’s game with the Cincinnati Bengals:
- Dan Bailey connected on a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give Dallas the win. It was his second game-winning field goal of the season (vs. Cleveland, 11/18, 38-yarder in overtime) and the sixth of his career. Bailey’s six game-winning kicks are second in franchise history behind Rafael Septien’s seven.
- Dez Bryant caught four passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. He upped his career receptions total to 183 to pass Walt Garrison (182) and tie Lance Rentzel for 22nd in franchise history.
- Bryant raised his season receiving yards total to 1,028 with his 50 yards. This season is his first career 1,000-yard season, the first by a Cowboy since Miles Austin and Jason Witten did it in 2009, the 28th time in franchise history a player reached 1,000 yards, and Bryant became the 12th different Cowboy to do it.
- Bryant’s 50 yards also increased his career yardage total to 2,517 and allowed him to pass Alvin Harper (2,486) for 20th in club record books.
- Bryant also became the 20th Dallas Cowboy to reach 2,500 career receiving yards.
- Bryant’s touchdown catch was his fifth consecutive game with a touchdown reception, the longest streak in his career, tied for the seventh-longest streak and tied for the third-highest streak figure in franchise history.
- Bryant’s 24th career scoring grab also broke a tie with Patrick Crayton for sole possession of 12th in team history.
- Tony Romo finished the game completing 25-of-43 passes (58.1%) for 268 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. He upped his season passing attempts total to 526 – the fourth time in his career and the seventh time in team history a quarterback reached 500 attempts. Romo’s 526 pass attempts this season ranks third in a season in franchise history.
- With his 25 completions, Romo now has 2,021 for his career to become the second Dallas Cowboy (Aikman) to reach 2,000 career completions.
- Romo’s 25 completions raised his season completions total to 349 and establish a single-season club record.
- Romo opened the game completing his first five passes. Along with his 12 straight completed from last week (last two of the second quarter and all 10 in the second half), Romo established the club record for consecutive completions (17). The previous record was 14 straight, held by Steve Pelluer (vs. Seattle, 11/27/86) and Randall Cunningham (1, vs. Philadelphia, 9/3/00, 13, at Arizona, 9/10/00).
- With 268 passing yards, Romo passed Bart Starr (24,718) for 65th on the NFL’s all-time passing yards chart with 24,762 for his career.
- Romo’s touchdown pass gave him 20 scoring throws this season – the fifth time in his career and the 16th time in team history a quarterback reached 20 touchdowns. His five career 20-touchdown seasons are the most in franchise history. Danny White is second with four, then Don Meredith and Roger Staubach are next with three each.
- In guiding Dallas to its second consecutive game with a come-from-behind win, Romo now has four fourth quarter comeback wins for the season and 17 for his career, bettering his franchise-high.
- Ernie Sims had his first sack as a Dallas Cowboy in the second quarter.
- Anthony Spencer had 2 sacks to give him 8.5 sacks this season and improve his single-season career-best. He posted his third multi-sack game of the season and the seventh of his career.
- DeMarcus Ware’s sack gave him 110.5 career sacks, and moved him past Greg Townsend for 18th all-time in NFL history.
- Jason Witten had four catches to give him 92 for the season, and give him his fourth career season with 90-plus catches. Witten already had the most 90-catch seasons in team history with three, and his four are now tied for sixth-all time in NFL history. Jerry Rice, Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt share the league-high with six 90-catch seasons.
- Witten’s fourth 90-catch season was the sixth time a Dallas Cowboy reached 90 catches in a season (Witten in 2007, 2009-10, 2012 and Michael Irvin in 1993 and 1995), the 14th time an NFL tight end reached 90 catches and tied with Tony Gonzalez for the most among league tight ends.
- For the season, Witten has 92 catches – the fourth-most in a season in his career, fifth-most in a season by a Dallas Cowboy and the second-most in a season by an NFL tight end.
- Witten’s 62 receiving yards upped his career total to 8,789 and allowed him to pass Joe Horn (8,744) and Mark Carrier (8,763) for 59th on the NFL’s all-time receiving yards chart.
- 2012-2013 Dallas Cowboys receiving and rushing statistics below
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Doug Free (68) and Jermey Parnell (78) responded well to a rotation at right tackle. They alternated series Sunday in the win against the Bengals.
After Free played the first series, Parnell came in at right tackle for the second series. It became clear when Free was not receiving treatment for an injury and came back in for the third series that the Cowboys were trying to work in Parnell.
“Well, we just wanted to give Jermey a chance,” Garrett said. “He has done a good job. He played a few weeks ago when Tyron was out and showed that he can play in this league. We tried to give him some snaps in practice. He responded well to that. Doug responded well to it.”
The NFL report said Free played 58 snaps and Parnell played 15, plus four on special teams.
Parnell played without a penalty, as he did in the Thanksgiving Day start against Washington at left tackle in place of Tyron Smith. Free had one holding penalty in the Bengals game.
“So we just felt like in that situation, it was justified,” Garrett said. “We started Doug. Then we put Jermey in there, and we kept that rotation going throughout the ballgame.”
IRVING, Texas – The NFL Network’s NFL Replay will televise Sunday’s triumphant, come-from-behind 20-19 victory Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.
Following the tragic loss of practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown, the Dallas Cowboys rallied to outscore the Bengals by 10 points in the fourth quarter and win in Cincinnati on a 40-yard field goal by kicker Dan Bailey as time expired.
A 27-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant brought the deficit to two points, and the Cowboys defense forced the Bengals to punt on each of their last three possessions, allowing Bailey to seal the win.
NFL Replay provides viewers an exclusive look at the game in a 90-minute format with bonus footage from NFL films and the NFL Network, along with new camera angles, coaches’ commentary and wired sound.
NFL Game Rewind allows for re-viewing games on your schedule! Check it out!
As the Cowboys were moving into position for the game-winning field goal, they leaned on DeMarco Murray.
Playing in his second game since coming back from a six-week layoff because of a sprained foot, Murray delivered two first-down runs that let the Cowboys get closer and gave them a chance to run down the clock to make the kick the final play of the game.
First, Murray converted a third-and-2 from the Cincinnati 38-yard line for a first down at the 35 with a run to left end. Then, he made six yards on a run to right end on third-and-5 to the 30-yard line with a minute to go.
If that conversion hadn’t been made, the Cowboys would have about half a minute for the Bengals following the kickoff.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the third-and-5 call was tricky.
“That was a difficult decision to us as to what kind of mode to be in,” he said. “Do you want to be in the big tight end mode – we call it ‘23’ personnel or ‘22’ personnel and got two backs, or do you want to try to spread them out? We opted to go with the bigger guys on the earlier third and short and did a good making that first down. And then we came back later and ran it. We felt we were going got be in field goal range. We just wanted to get closer.”
Murray cut in behind a block and stretched for the first down.
“He did a really good job,” Garrett said. “They did a good job committing to the run on that last play. But he is a damn good runner. He can find the holes and find the creases, and he finishes so strong. That was big for us.”
On the third-and-2, Garrett said a shot down the field was an option.
"The issue there is they are committing so many people to the line of scrimmage, you can take a shot," Garrett said. "But ideally you want to make a first down and keep it moving."
Murray finished with 21 carries for 53 yards and four catches for 22 yards.
“He is just a heck of a football player,” Garrett said. “And he is so physical at the end of runs. He sees things. He bounces when he needs to. He goes north and south when he needs to. And he’s always strong at the end of the run.”
With heavy hearts, the Cowboys took the field knowing football was only a diversion to the tragic events that occurred only a day earlier. The task at hand was both monumental and trivial. A loss was expected by virtually everyone.
But with perhaps something more to play for, the emotion-filled Cowboys pulled off a last-second, come-from-behind victory in Cincinnati, defeating the Bengals, 20-19.
Even from a purely football standpoint, this was going to be a tough game regardless. On the road against a surging Cincinnati squad, injuries having decimated the defense with no less than six key members of the defense sidelined.
Instead, Rob Ryan’s unit came up big when they needed to. They allowed only one touchdown on the day and when the team absolutely needed to stop its opposition, the defense forced the Bengals to punt on their final two possessions.
All in all, Cincinnati held the upper hand as far as total yards, posting 336 to the Cowboys’ 288. But Dallas had only one meaningless interception, kept the penalties manageable and narrowly took the time of possession, 30:11 to 29:49.
The Dallas defense held Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to 206 yards off 20-of-33 passing with only one touchdown and one key interception. Four different players collected at least 40 yards receiving, but only one went for more than 20 yards.
With the middle of their defense decimated, the Cowboys struggled against the run, as Cincinnati rushed for 146 yards, Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis doing most of the damage with 89 yards on 12 carries.
Conversely, Dallas again wasn’t able to do much in the running game with DeMarco Murray topping the club with just 53 yard on 21 tries, although he came up big late in the game with two huge first-down gains, and he scored the team’s first touchdown.
Continuing his stellar play, Tony Romo threw for 268 yards on 25-of-43 plays, tossing one touchdown. Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Miles Austin each had four catches while nine players overall hauled in a pass. Witten finished first with 62 total receiving yards while Bryant scored the lone touchdown grab.
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COWBOY FAMILY MOURNING: Josh Brent arrested for DWI, manslaughter; crash killed teammate Jerry Brown
Brent, 24, was identified as the driver in a car crash that killed Cowboys practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown, 25. Brent was arrested for driving while intoxicated after failing field sobriety tests. Once Irving police determined Brown had passed away, Brent was booked into Irving City jail on one count of intoxication manslaughter, according to a police report.
“We are deeply saddened by the news of this accident and the passing of Jerry Brown,” said owner Jerry Jones in a statement. “At this time, our hearts and prayers and deepest sympathies are with the members of Jerry’s family and all of those who knew him and loved him.”
Brent was responsive after the crash, but Brown wasn’t. Brown was transported to an area hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. An intoxication manslaughter charge is a second-degree felony.
The accident occurred at 2:21 a.m. going westbound on the service road of Highway 114. The vehicle was speeding when it hit the outside curb and flipped once before coming to rest in the middle of the service road, according to the report.
Irving police spokesperson John Argumaniz said Brent was attempting to pull Brown out of the vehicle, which had started to catch on fire, when police arrived and put out the flames.
“Our investigators are certain that they were traveling well above the posted speed limit," Argumaniz said. "They base that on the physical evidence out at the scene, gouge marks, skid marks, where the vehicle initially impacted the curb to where the vehicle came to rest.”
Brent and Brown both played college football at Illinois, where Brent had previously been arrested for driving under the influence in 2009. Brent, who was absent on the team charter Saturday, was in the midst of his best season in the NFL.
He started five games with nose tackle Jay Ratliff injured for much of the season. Brent would have been the likely starter Sunday against the Bengals with Ratliff out.
Brent compiled 22 tackles this season and forced a fumble on Eagles running back Bryce Brown last weekend that led to Morris Claiborne’s fumble return for a touchdown.
RELATED: Jerry Jones offers first public comments on Brown’s passing
Jones talked about remembering Brown, keeping Brown’s family in the team’s thoughts and wanting to play well in his honor.
Q: Jerry, you have been with your team every step of the way as every layer of this tragedy has unfolded. How would you describe the emotions right now of this team?
Jerry Jones: "Well for the last few hours our focus has been on Jerry Brown. Our team loved him. They certainly are conscious of him and want his family to know and have as much of them as they can give. At the same time, they know that one of the best things they can do for him and his memory is to come to the game today, is go out and play well."
Q: Jason Garrett told the team last night that this, football is not life and death, but there is a very important game to be played today. How do you focus the team? How did Jason put them in that direction?
Jones: "First of all we all know, but we remind ourselves that there is something more important than football, and this is life, and certainly the lost life of Jerry. On the other hand, they know the best way they can honor Jerry, because he was such a hard worker, so conscientious and enthusiastic about his career, the best thing they can do for him is go out and play the way he would have liked to have seen them play and a team that he would have wanted to be a part of."
Q: You know this team, how do you hope or think they will respond in light of this tragedy?
Jones: "Well first of all, I think that our team is grieving, and they know that. They also know that they can handle that better if they will go out and do their work and do it to the top of their abilities. So it is a way for them to respond, and to some degree, I am sure that many of them are proud that they have this to do this afternoon."
RELATED: ‘Devastated’ Josh Brent sends statement through his agent
With his teammates in Cincinnati, Josh Brent issued a statement Saturday night through his agent Peter Schaeffer regarding the tragic accident that took the life of teammate, former roommate and friend Jerry Brown:
"I am devastated and filled with grief. Filled with grief for the loss of my close friend and team mate, Jerry Brown. I am also grief-stricken for his family, friends and all who were blessed enough to have known him. I will live with this horrific and tragic loss every day for the rest of my life. My prayers are with his family, our teammates and his friends at this time."
RELATED: Remembering Jerry Brown; Perseverance led to chance in NFL
IRVING, Texas – Linebacker Jerry Brown was in the process of continuing his NFL dream when his life was cut short early Saturday morning in a car driven by Josh Brent, his former teammate at Illinois.
The 25-year-old had a long journey between his days at Illinois and his first taste of the NFL. After going undrafted in 2011, Brown went to the Canadian Football League and had two stops in the Arena Football League before joining the Indianapolis Colts at the beginning of this year.
He was active in one game for Indianapolis before getting released and going to the Colts practice squad. After his contract was terminated in Indianapolis, Brown joined the Cowboys’ practice squad in October in place of receiver Raymond Radway.
Before making his way to the NFL, Brown played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League and the Jacksonville Sharks and San Antonio Talons of the Arena Football League.
Brent, who was arrested for intoxicated manslaughter, was a familiar face for Brown in the Cowboys’ locker room going back to their days at Illinois.
Brown played mostly defensive end in college, playing in all 13 games at the position in 2007 and in 11 games in 2008.
Brown was named the Defensive Scout Team Player of The Year during his redshirt season in 2006 at Illinois. Six years later, he would be helping the Cowboys prepare for their opponents. The Missouri native celebrated his 25th birthday a month and a half ago on Oct. 20.
RELATED: Josh Brent released from jail after posting bail
Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent was charged Saturday with intoxication manslaughter connected to the death of Cowboys practice-squad linebacker Jerry Brown Jr., Irving, Texas, police confirmed to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.
Irving police confirmed Brent was processed on the charge and released after posting his $50,000 bail Sunday. The second-degree felony is punishable by two to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. Irving police spokesman John Argumaniz said Brent is being held without bond.
Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent faces an intoxicated manslaughter charge following a car crash which claimed the life of teammate Jerry Brown Jr. (Irving Police Department/)
According to a report released by Irving police, Brent was behind the wheel of a car at 2:21 a.m. when it hit a curb, causing the vehicle to flip at least once before coming to rest in the middle of a service road. When officers arrived on the scene, Brent was responsive and able to speak. Brown, 25, was unresponsive and transferred to a local hospital, where he later was pronounced dead.
Officers suspected alcohol played a role in the accident and had Brent perform field sobriety tests. Brent eventually was taken into custody. The charges were altered from driving while intoxicated to intoxicated manslaughter when police learned Brown had died as a result of injuries sustained in the accident.
A statement was released Saturday night on Brent’s behalf by his agent, Peter Schaffer:
"I am devastated and filled with grief. Filled with grief for the loss of my close friend and teammate, Jerry Brown," the statement read. "I am also grief-stricken for his family, friends and all who were blessed enough to have known him. I will live with this horrific and tragic loss every day for the rest of my life. My prayers are with his family, our teammates and his friends at this time."
Brent pleaded guilty to a DUI charge in 2009 after he was arrested for speeding while driving under the influence with a suspended license, according to Champaign County, Ill., court records obtained by The Associated Press.
"We are deeply saddened by the news of this accident and the passing of Jerry Brown. At this time, our hearts and prayers and deepest sympathies are with the members of Jerry’s family and all of those who knew him and loved him."
The NFL released the following statement:
"We have been in contact with the Cowboys and have deployed staff members and our independent professional counselors to assist the team in dealing with this tragedy. We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jerry Brown and extend our condolences to his family, friends, and the Cowboys organization."
Brown’s family released a statement Sunday, obtained by Fox Sports insider and NFL Network contributor Jay Glazer:
"The family of Jerry Brown Jr. wish to express our sincere appreciation for all of your prayers, phone calls, flowers, visits and other acts of kindness shown during the death of our son. We would also like to send our prayers out to Josh Brent and his family as well. With kindness and love, The Family of Jerry Brown Jr."
Brent and Brown were college teammates at Illinois and were living together in Dallas, a team source told Rapoport.
Brent is in his third season with the Cowboys. A promising nose tackle, he had been in line to start for injured veteran Jay Ratliff on Sunday.
IRVING, Texas — It’s hard to have much hope for the Dallas Cowboys’ defense right now.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is basically holding open tryouts to try to plug holes at inside linebacker and in the secondary. The recent results have been about as pretty as the pictures of a shirtless Ryan that surfaced after the Cowboys’ training camp beach party.
Rookie running backs Alfred Morris and Bryce Brown combined to rack up 282 yards and three touchdowns on 48 carries against the Cowboys the past two games. Rookie quarterbacks Brandon Weeden, Robert Griffin III and Nick Foles have picked apart the Dallas secondary for 765 yards and seven touchdowns the past three weeks.
The Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles embarrassed Ryan’s boys, lighting up Jerry World for 860 yards and 71 points in a pair of games the Cowboys were extremely fortunate to split.
Any reason to believe the Dallas D isn’t doomed against Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees and RG3 again down the stretch?
"Hell, we’ve got to fix it," a weary Ryan said on Sunday night. "We’ve got to play better than that, and we will. We’ve got some excellent coaches, we’ve got some excellent players. We’ll find out what we can do best with what we have."
Here’s some free advice, Rob: Play to the strengths of the only two certified studs left standing on that decimated defense.
Let Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware loose. If they don’t dominate, this season is dead.
Defensive end Jason Hatcher mentioned the need for the defensive line "to do more" to make up for the off-the-street newcomers the Cowboys have to put on the field. That’s nice and all, but it needs to come from the Cowboys’ two best defensive players.
No doubt that’s Spencer and Ware, in that order, at this point.
"Whoever’s out on the field just has to do their jobs," said Spencer, who is having a career year while playing on a one-year, franchise-tag deal. "We can’t really get to the point where everybody’s trying to do too much and messing up on their responsibilities."
Asked if the outside linebackers needed to dominate, Ware subtly noted that they’ve been watching a lot of coverage tape before concluding, "We put a lot on our backs to get out there and perform."
A rough reading between the lines: Hey Rob, let ’em rush the passer. Put your best players in position to do what they do best.
Not exactly rocket science, but all the dudes on that defense who still need directions to Valley Ranch aren’t ready for complicated schemes anyway. Keep it simple and count on Spencer (6.5 sacks this season) and Ware (10.0) to be disruptive forces.
The weak three-man rushes aren’t working. We shouldn’t see Ware or Spencer drop back into coverage on a third down the rest of the season. Especially not Ware, who has a two-game sackless streak going for the first time since Ryan’s arrival in Dallas.
OK, let’s blend in a little ray of sunshine with all the injury related gloom and doom. If you want a little hope, go back to the last time the Cowboys were in a playoff race and actually finished strong.
Spencer and Ware were the dominant forces during the Cowboys’ defense-fueled four-game winning streak the end of the 2009 season, including the franchise’s only playoff victory in the past decade and a half.
Ware racked up 4 sacks, 11 quarterback pressures and 2 forced fumbles during that late-season win streak. Spencer had 5 sacks, 10 pressures, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery during that run.
That span started with arguably the best performance of Ware’s career, when he had two strip sacks to key a Superdome shocker over the previously undefeated New Orleans Saints only six days after leaving Cowboys Stadium on a stretcher with a neck injury. That overshadowed an outstanding performance by Spencer, who had 7 tackles, 3 pressures, 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery in that win.
The Cowboys were a desperate team that night in New Orleans, having lost their previous two games, causing the discussion about Dallas’ December demons to reach deafening levels.
Head coach Jason Garrett, doesn’t like the word "desperate," but how else would you describe a 6-6 team clinging to a playoff dream? If the Cowboys don’t beat a talented Cincinnati Bengals team, we might as well start talking about the draft around these parts.
To do that, they better get pressure on Dalton. If they don’t, the Cowboys’ secondary will be prominently featured on elite receiver A.J. Green’s highlight reel.
"I’ve got to step it up this week, get those plays, make those big plays this week to win the game," Ware said.
A helpful hint to Ryan: Release your two best hounds and let ’em hunt. It’s your only hope.
IRVING, Texas – The Giants, Seahawks and Bears are all adept at creating pressure, but none of the teams Dallas has faced this season lead the NFL in sacks.
Dallas Cowboys players and coaches are all aware that honor goes to a Bengals squad they’ll see this weekend that’s averaging 3.25 sacks per game.
“We’ve faced some good fronts,” said head coach Jason Garrett. “There’s no question about that. I think the fronts in our division are awfully good. You know me, I don’t like to compare them too much, but this is an outstanding front.”
Former Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has figured out how to utilize his talent to the fullest in Cincinnati with the Bengals, who lead the league with 39 sacks. The constant pressure on the quarterback has also led to nine interception for the Bengals’ secondary.
“You’ve got to be alert for the pressure,” said tight end Jason Witten, one of the few Cowboys who remembers Zimmer personally from the coordinator’s time in Dallas. “He does a lot of different stuff, brings the safeties, so they do a good job with it. You’ve got to be able to handle it.”
Witten said protection will be vital this week against a defensive group containing four different players with at least four sacks. The tight end knows he might need to stay in more to help protect Tony Romo against the multitude of blitzes Zimmer’s likely to bring.
Even when the Bengals only rush four, they tend to figure out a way to generate pressure.
“There’s no question the emphasis is on protecting it,” Witten said. “We’ve seen what Tony does when he can have time, especially off the edge when they bring those linebackers and safeties. We’re going to have to solidify it.”
Offensive line coach Bill Callahan said the most difficult aspect of the Bengals’ pass rush is its versatility. They pressure quarterbacks in an assortment of ways with players coming from every direction. Zimmer isn’t afraid to blitz members of his secondary or use different personnel groupings and alignments.
“It’s fun to watch these guys play, but the challenge is there for us,” Callahan said. They’ll do it a variety of ways, whether it’s secondary pressure, linebacker pressure, or just generating a rush out of their front four. Having been in New York for four years, we’ve faced them many times. I can tell you that year by year you could see Mike’s defense getting better and better, and the front has really established itself.”
The Bengals feature two players on their defensive line who’ve already set career highs in sacks. Defensive end Michael Johnson and defensive tackle Geno Atkins both find themselves in the top 10 in sacks in the AFC.
Johnson has compiled eight sacks after totaling 11.5 sacks combined in his previous three seasons.
“You can see guys like Michael Johnson, who has come into his own, who has gotten bigger, gotten stronger,” Callahan said. “He’s really developed into a premier pass rusher. So just when you think we had the toughest rush in the league in Philadelphia, now we come into Cincinnati and we face a group that’s really well versed, really adept at everything.”
Sacks don’t typically come in bulk from defensive tackles, but Atkins is defying that trend with 9.5 sacks this season, placing him No. 5 in the conference in the category. Callahan said Atkins, a former 2010 fourth-round draft pick from Georgia, can do just about everything a coach could want in a defensive tackle.
Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga’s the AFC’s seventh-leading tackler, and Atkins opens many of the holes for him to bring down opposing backs.
“He’s one of the rare players in the league that can play with great power and leverage at the point of attack and control the point and keep the guards off the second level and linebackers,” Callahan said of Atkins. “Whenever you can control the guards in our league, those backers are free to run, so Ray Mauluga is making a lot of plays. I’m sure he’s taken him out to dinner quite a few times.”
Know The Enemy: A.J. Green – Click HERE to watch the video – Duration: 3:25
The second year wideout from UGA is one of the deadliest in the NFL. Check out the film with Bryan Broaddus to see what makes him so dangerous.
IRVING — After fielding a worse pass defense in 2010 and 2011 than in any other two-year span in team history, the Dallas Cowboys finally had enough and made a number of moves to revamp the secondary in the off-season.
The two biggest players in the overhaul were cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Terence Newman.
Carr, 26, regarded as the best player in free agency by defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, was signed to a whopping five-year, $50.1 million contract to come from the Kansas City Chiefs and become the shutdown cornerback the team has coveted since the departure of Deion Sanders.
Newman, 34, who never fully lived up to expectations as a former 2003 first-round pick of the Cowboys and became the primary scapegoat for the team’s secondary woes, was unceremoniously dumped because of his salary, declining play, age and injury history.
When the Cowboys (6-6) face the Cincinnati Bengals (7-5) Sunday, Newman and Carr will be on the same field together for the first time since the off-season moves.
The statistics say the Bengals, who signed Newman to a reduced one-year, $825,000 contract shortly after being released by the Cowboys, got the better end of the salary cap deal so far.
Revitalized and motivated to prove the Dallas Cowboys wrong, the nine-year year veteran has more tackles than Carr as well as more pass deflections and more interceptions.
And according to Stats Inc., Newman has also given up fewer touchdowns and fewer completions, despite the same amount of targets.
Still, the Cowboys are pleased with the moves.
"Terence was a really, really good player for this team for a long time," coach Jason Garrett said. "We just felt as an organization that it was the right time for us to make a move there and to move on and go in a different direction. I told him when I talked to him, ‘You’re going to be playing for a long time and just keep doing what you’re doing.’ He’s playing very well right now."
From the Cowboys’ point of view, the individual statistics only tell part of the story. The pass defense is statistically better than it was last season at this point despite a plethora of injuries.
Carr was just one of two important off-season moves made by the Cowboys, who also drafted Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick.
Carr also went from being given the task of covering the opponent’s top receiver all over the field at the beginning of the season to being used at safety and in the slot because of injuries.
"Brandon Carr, he’s been a really good player for us," Garrett said. “At different times, we’ve had him in different spots, assuming different roles. He’s played some safety for us. I think he’s playing well.”
Carr said his play has been "up and down" because he has been moved around, because so many different guys have been in and out of the lineup with injuries and because everyone is still getting used to each other.
He also knows that his "up and down" play has already drawn criticism because of the $50.1 million contract that had people expecting Deion Sanders-like production.
"They can say what they want to say, I can handle the scrutiny," Carr said. “I have been dealing with that since I came into the NFL. It hasn’t deterred me from anything. Everybody is entitled to an opinion. I’m in a position where I’m fair game to everybody. I can handle whatever they have to say. I know it’s out there. All I can do is come every day, keep getting better and keep working.”
For Newman, the scrutiny, criticism and subsequent release resulted in some bitterness.
He was once considered a foundation building block for the future of the Cowboys along with quarterback Tony Romo, tight end Jason Witten and linebacker DeMarcus Ware.
Newman was admittedly disappointed he didn’t get a goodbye from owner Jerry Jones when he was informed of his release in March.
He said he knew the decision was coming and worked out at the Cowboys facility every day in the off-season so they could tell him face to face when the moment arrived.
Garrett handled the goodbye with Newman, who hopes to see Jones and exchange pleasantries before the game.
“I mean a person can be bitter all they want, but it’s not going to change anything,” Newman said. "I’m happy, playing pretty well, winning football games, so that’s my No. 1 focus. There’s no reason for me to be bitter. It’s months and months after the fact. It is what it is."
Newman, who played with injured ribs in 2010 and then through toe, neck and hamstring injuries that affected his play last year, said the change in scenery and fresh start has been good for him.
He chose the Bengals because of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who held the same position in Dallas when he was drafted in 2003.
“This definitely was a place that I wanted to come because obviously I had a relationship with him,” Newman said. "I knew what to expect and I knew it would be the best opportunity for me to jump-start and get back to playing the football that I had been playing in previous years."
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Newman has been a big part of a defense that has the Bengals in the thick of the wild-card playoff chase.
Unlike the inconsistent Cowboys, the Bengals are riding a four-game winning streak behind a defense that’s allowed just one offensive touchdown in the past three games combined.
“His ability to know what’s important. I think getting back with Mike has been great for him, because day in and day out he knows he’s going to get coached from sunup to sundown as all of our guys do when they walk in this building,” Lewis said. “I think that was something he felt comfortable with.”
From a bitter departure to a comfortable reunion — at least until kickoff.