AROUND THE NFL: Steelers acquire ex-Cowboys RB Felix Jones from Philadelphia Eagles
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers bolstered their injury-plagued backfield Friday, acquiring former Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones from Philadelphia for linebacker Adrian Robinson.
The deal is pending each player passing a physical.
Jones, 26, gives the Steelers needed depth at running back. Rookie Le’Veon Bell is out with a sprained right foot and is out indefinitely. Isaac Redman is dealing with a nerve injury, and return specialist LaRod Stephens-Howling sat out last Monday’s preseason game against Washington with a sprained knee.
Jones was the 22nd overall pick in the 2008 draft by the Cowboys but never stayed healthy enough to become a feature back. He rushed for 2,728 yards and 11 touchdowns in 64 games with Dallas.
It’s unlikely the Steelers consider Jones a short-term replacement for Bell, who sprained his foot against the Redskins. Bell said Thursday he is optimistic he’ll be able to return quickly.
GRAMPA TWO DEFENSE: Explaining the Tampa 2 defensive strategy
The Tampa 2 is the defensive strategy popularized by (and thus named after) the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the mid 1990s-early 2000s. The Tampa 2 is typically employed out of a 4-3 defensive alignment, which consists of four linemen, three linebackers, two cornerbacks, and two safeties. The defense is similar to a Cover 2 defense, except the middle linebacker drops into a deep middle coverage for a Cover 3 when he reads a pass play.
The term rose to popularity due to the execution of this defensive scheme by then-head coach Tony Dungy and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
The roots of the Tampa 2 system actually are in the Steel Curtain days of Pittsburgh football. “My philosophy is really out of the 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers playbook,” said Dungy during media interviews while at Super Bowl XLI. “That is why I have to laugh when I hear ‘Tampa 2′. Chuck Noll and Bud Carson — that is where it came from, I changed very little.” Lovie Smith mentions having played the system in junior high school during the 1970s, though Carson introduced the idea of moving the middle linebacker into coverage. Carson’s system became especially effective with the Steelers’ addition of aggressive and athletic middle linebacker Jack Lambert.
During the 2005 NFL season, the Buccaneers, under defensive coordinator Kiffin, ranked first in the league in fewest total yards allowed, Smith’s Bears ranked number two, and Dungy’s Colts ranked eleventh. By 2006, the Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, and Detroit Lions had also adopted the defense.
The scheme is known for its simple format, speed, and the aggressive mentality of its players. Tampa 2 teams are known as gang tacklers with tremendous team speed, and practice to always run to the ball. It also requires a hard hitting secondary to cause turnovers.
Tampa 2 description
The personnel used in the Tampa 2 are specific in position and required abilities. All positions in this defense place a premium on speed, and often the result is that they are all undersized by league standards. The defensive linemen in this scheme have to be quick and agile enough to create pressure on the quarterback without the aid of a blitz from either the linebackers or the secondary, with the defensive tackle in the nose position having above-average tackling skills to help stop runs.
The three linebackers, two cornerbacks and two safeties are responsible for covering the middle of the field. The outside linebackers’ general zone is between the cornerbacks, covering the area of the field from the line of scrimmage to 10 yards back. The middle linebacker must have better-than-average speed, and additional skills to be able to read the play and either maintain his central position to help the outside linebackers cover short passes, drop behind the linebackers in coverage and protect the zone of the field behind the outside linebackers from 11-20 yards out, or run up to the line of scrimmage to help assist in stopping the runs. “It takes a special linebacker to do that, a guy with speed,” says Pete Prisco, senior NFL writer for CBSSports.com.The cornerbacks protect the sidelines of the field from the line of scrimmage to anywhere between 15-20 yards out. According to Prisco, they “don’t have to be great man-to-man cover players, but they have to be guys who can tackle.” An additional requirement for all of Dungy’s linebackers and cornerbacks is to be above-average tacklers, as they are usually the primary tacklers in the defense.
The two safeties are responsible for covering their respective halves of the field from 20 yards out and more. The safeties in the system are expected to be above-average cover men with the ability to break up passes, but each safety also is expected to have additional specific skills. The strong safeties, while not expected to be great tacklers, are expected to be hard hitters. The hard hitting strong safety protects the middle of the field from being exploited by small, fast receivers, and running backs on wheel route. The free safety will be called upon to do one of two things in certain situations: either blitz the quarterback, requiring him to have the skills necessary to beat a blocking halfback or fullback, or to assume the coverage zone left by a blitzing cornerback.
The Tampa 2 is particularly effective against teams who are playing with a lead, theoretically because it limits big plays. It forces offenses to be patient and to settle for short gains and time-consuming drives. This may be due to the nature of the “bend-but-don’t-break” 2-deep zone coverage scheme and responsibilities safeties play in the Tampa 2.
Teams that have been successful against this defense have managed to run the ball up the middle past the defensive tackles, or throw passes in the seams between the outside linebackers and the cornerbacks (often the most effective receiver against a Tampa 2 defense is a tight end, since they often line up against this seam). Other tactics that have shown to be effective are misdirection plays that take advantage of the defensive speed and rely on the defense ‘over-running’ the play (such as the middle linebacker rushing to the line of scrimmage on a play-action pass), or overloading the safeties by having multiple receivers running deep routes, creating more targets in a zone than defenders. Recently, some teams have also been able to exploit the seam between the cornerbacks and the safeties, when the quarterback can throw a pass to a receiver in that seam faster than the safety can rush up to close it and cover the receiver. A recent trend is for teams to send a receiver up the middle, creating a mismatch against the linebacker in coverage. The Tampa 2 means that offenses are now finding it effective to exploit the deep middle, where the safeties have to cover the most ground.
Tampa 2 run defense
To defend running plays, the Tampa 2 is a single gap defense where each player is responsible to defend his own gap. The assigned gap changes with game conditions and personnel.
Typically this style of defense utilizes smaller but faster linemen and linebackers with above average speed. Also, the defensive backs must be above average hitters.
The key theme in stopping the run from a Tampa 2 is directing traffic to the weak-side linebacker. It is therefore necessary to have a skilled tackler at the WLB position.
BREAK DOWN: BASIC COVERAGES EXPLAINED
Cover 0 is a strict man-to-man alignment where each defensive back covers one receiver.
Advantages: Cover 0 is an aggressive scheme that allows for numerous blitz packages, as it’s easier for players to drop off their coverage and rush the quarterback.
Disadvantages: The main disadvantage of Cover 0 is that there is no “help over the top” – if a wide receiver “beats” (runs past) his defender, there is no one left in the secondary who can make up the coverage on the receiver, which could result in an easy pass completion and possible touchdown.
Cover One is a man-to-man coverage for all the defensive backs except for one player (usually a safety) who is not assigned a man to cover but rather plays deep and reacts to the development of the play. Often the safety will remain in a pass coverage position and play a zone defense by guarding the middle of the secondary, reacting to runs or completed passes and double-teaming a receiver if needed.
In a traditional Cover 1, the free safety plays deep and all of the other defenders lock in man coverage to an assigned player for the duration of the play. Essentially, during the pre-snap read, each defender identifies the coverage responsibilities and does not change the assignment. Some teams play a variant of the Cover 1 called Cover 7. In Cover 7, the free safety still plays deep, but the underneath coverage is much more flexible and the defenders switch assignments as the play develops in an attempt to improve defensive positions to make a play on the ball. Examples of these switches include double covering a certain receiver and using defensive help to undercut a route to block a throwing lane.
Advantages: Cover 1 schemes are usually very aggressive, preferring to proactively disrupt the offense by giving the quarterback little time to make a decision while collapsing the pocket quickly. This is the main advantage of Cover 1 schemes – the ability to blitz from various pre-snap formations while engaging in complex man-to-man coverage schemes post-snap. For example, a safety may blitz while a cornerback is locked in man coverage with a receiver. Or the cornerback may blitz with the safety rotating into man coverage on the receiver post-snap.
Disadvantages: The main weakness of the Cover 1 scheme is that there is only one deep defender that must cover a large amount of field and provide help on any deep threats. Offenses can attack Cover 1 schemes by sending two receivers on deep routes, provided that the quarterback has enough time for his receivers to get open. The deep defender must decide which receiver to help out on, leaving the other in man coverage which may be a mismatch.
A secondary weakness is inherent in its design: the use of man coverage opens up yards after catch lanes. Man coverage is attacked by offenses in various ways that try to isolate their best athletes on defenders by passing them the ball quickly before the defender can react or designing plays that clear defenders from certain areas thus opening yards after catch lanes.
In traditional Cover 2 schemes, the free safety (FS) and strong safety (SS) have deep coverage responsibilities, each guarding half of the field.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, and Detroit Lions all run or have run a variant of this defense called the Tampa 2. In the Tampa 2 defense, a third player (usually the middle linebacker) plays a middle zone, guarding an area closer to the line of scrimmage than the safeties but farther out from typical “underneath” pass coverages. The Tampa 2 defense actually originated, at least in its earliest variant, with the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 1970s.
Cover 2 can be run from any seven-man defensive front such as the 3-4 and the 4-3 defenses. Various kinds of “underneath” coverages played by cornerbacks and linebackers may also be implemented. For example, “Cover 2 Man” means the two safeties have deep coverage responsibility while the cornerbacks and linebackers follow their offensive assignment in one-on-one coverage. The San Diego Chargers inherited a base Cover 2 Man 3-4 from former coach Wade Phillips. Cover 2 can also be paired with underneath zone schemes: “Cover 2 Zone” refers to two safeties with deep coverage responsibility, but now the cornerbacks and linebackers drop into specific coverage zones where they defend passes only in their assigned area.
In cover 2 the cornerbacks are considered to be “hard” corners, meaning that they have increased run stopping responsibilities and generally defend against shorter passes, although if two receivers run a deep route on a certain side of the field, that side’s corner has deep coverage responsibility as well. It also relies heavily on the “Mike” (Middle) linebacker’s ability to quickly drop deep downfield into pass coverage when he reads a pass.
A variant of cover two is the Inverted Cover 2, in which either right before or after the snap the corners “bail” out while the safeties come up – in effect switching responsibilities. This strategy may be employed to trick a quarterback who has not correctly interpreted the shift. The main drawback is that the middle of the field is left open, a disadvantage that allowed Larry Fitzgerald to score a touchdown in Super Bowl XLIII against the Steelers.
Advantages: The advantage of cover 2 is that it provides great versatility to the defense as the corners can play run, short pass, and deep pass with the confidence that they have support from two deep safeties.
Disadvantages: The main weakness of the Cover 2 shell occurs in the middle of the field between the safeties. At the snap of the ball, many times the safeties will move toward the sidelines in order to cover any long passes to quick wide receivers. This movement creates a natural hole between the safeties that can be attacked. By sending a receiver (usually a tight end) into the hole, the offense forces the safety to make a decision: play the vulnerable hole in the middle of the field or help out on the wide receiver. The quarterback reads the safety’s decision and decides on the best matchup (i.e. which mismatch is better: tight end vs. safety or wide receiver vs. cornerback).
Another disadvantage of Cover 2 is that it leaves only seven men in the “box” (the area near the ball at the snap) to defend against the run. In contrast Cover 1 and Cover 3 usually leave eight men in the box.
A potential problem with the Cover 2 is that defensive pressure on the Quarterback must be provided nearly exclusively by the front linemen as all other defenders are involved in pass coverage. If the defensive linemen do not provide adequate pressure on the Quarterback, the offense is afforded plenty of time to create and exploit passing opportunities. Blitzing in the Cover 2 often creates greater areas of weakness in the defense than other coverages. Thus, unsuccessful blitzes can prove to be more productive for the offense than in other schemes.
In cover 3, the two corners and free safety each have responsibility for a deep third of the field, while the strong safety plays like a linebacker. This coverage is generally considered to be a run stopping defense as it focuses on preventing big pass plays and stopping the run while giving up short passes.
On the snap, the CBs work for depth, backpedaling into their assigned zone. One safety moves toward the center of the field. The other safety is free to rotate into the flat area (about 2-4 yards beyond the line of scrimmage), provide pass coverage help, or blitz.
Advantages: One of the biggest benefits of the cover 3 coverage scheme is the ability to walk the strong safety up into the box with minimal to no changes in the coverage due to the pre-snap center field position of the free safety. This enables the defense to play both man and zone coverage out of an 8 man front while cover 2 schemes allow only for man coverage with 7 man fronts.
Disadvantages: Cover 3 schemes are susceptible to short, timed passes to the outside due to the hard drop of both cornerbacks. This puts pressure on the outside linebackers to react to pass plays and get into their drop quickly if they need to cover a receiver.
Another disadvantage of cover 3 schemes is they are relatively easy to diagnose by opposing quarterbacks. Because of this, teams will often employ slight wrinkles in their coverage to confuse offenses. An example of this includes employing man coverage on one side and zone on another or swapping coverage zones between defenders.
Cover 4 (Prevent Defense)
Cover 4 refers to four deep defenders, each guarding one-fourth of the deep zone. Cover 4 schemes are usually used to defend against deep passes. (i.e., Prevent defense).
The most basic Cover 4 scheme involves two cornerbacks and two safeties. Upon snap, the cornerbacks work for depth, backpedaling into their assigned zone. Both safeties backpedal towards their assigned zone.
As with other coverage shells, Cover 4 is paired with underneath man or zone coverage in its most basic form.
Advantages: The main advantage of a Cover 4 defense is that it is extremely difficult for even the best quarterbacks to complete long passes against it. Therefore, this coverage is generally used as a prevent defense to be used near the end of a game or half, meaning that the defense sacrifices the run and short pass to avoid giving up the big play with the confidence that the clock will soon expire.
Cover 4 also has the advantage of using safeties in run support as opposed to cornerbacks as would be the case in a Cover 2 scheme. This gives the defense nine in the box and the ability to stop the run with an extra defender on either side. The play-side safety would come up in support on a running play while the back-side safety would be responsible for the middle third of the field and the cornerbacks would have the deep outside thirds.
Disadvantages: The main weakness of Cover 4 shells is the large amount of space left open by the retreating defensive backs. Since the defensive backs are working for depth, short pass routes underneath can enable the quarterback to make short- and medium- length passes, as well as isolate a defensive back on a wide receiver near the sideline with little help.
Cover 6 (Hybrid Cover 2 and Cover 4)
Cover 6 refers to three deep defenders. However, unlike the ‘Cover 3′, the field is not split equally. Most teams that use Cover 6 are 3-4 Defenses, call offensive strength to the Field instead of to the offensive formation or front, and organize personnel by Field-side player and Boundary-side player. The position of the ball on the field therefore dictates strength of the offense. In Cover 6 the field safety and field corner cover fourths of the field, and depend on a field outside linebacker to support underneath them. The free safety covers the boundary-side deep half and the boundary corner plays the flat. Thus the field side of the coverage is quarters, and the boundary side is cover 2.
The Cover 6 gets its name from the fact that it combines elements of the Cover 2 (the strong safety covering half the field) and the Cover 4 on the opposite side. The Pittsburgh Steelers are a Cover 6 team. The quarters play of the strong side safety, like the Steelers’ Troy Polamalu, allows him to support on runs quickly. The Tennessee Titans have also been known to use it.
Advantages: Cover 6 blends the best of Cover 2 and Cover 4. On the boundary, Cover 6 uses a Cover 2 corner. The boundary corner sits at 5-7 yards and is in excellent position to attack flat passes and wide runs, as well as blitz from a short field position. The boundary safety plays at 12-15 yards and supports the boundary corner, providing good pass defense over the top, as well as being able to assist on any vertical release by a 3rd receiver from the field side. The Field safety plays a hard read technique from 7-8 yards, reading first for run. He will fit hard and fast on run plays. He defends the pass by squatting or dropping over the #2 wide receiver. He will then play vertical patterns and out patterns by #2, passing off inside patterns. The Field corner plays a quarters deep coverage from 7-8 yards, reading the #1 wide receiver and playing all vertical and inside patterns.
Disadvantages: Cover 6 has the disadvantages of both Cover 2 and Cover 4. The Field side is generally soft on flat coverage. The Field side corner can be left in single coverage deep as well. On runs, the field side may be spread by a tight end and 2 receiver formation, offering an advantage on the edge. The Boundary side is soft behind the corner to the sideline, as well as in the seam between corner and linebacker.
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AWAKENING THE SLEEPING GIANT: Dez Bryant dominating in second half of games (and season)
IRVING, Texas – When you look back on the start of the season, which by now feels like ages ago to some, wide receiver Dez Bryant was actually having a slow start to the year.
Four games went by before he even found the end zone.
And look at him now … Bryant is tied for second in the NFL with 10 touchdown catches, including one in six straight games. He’s scored eight touchdowns here in the last six games.
But that really shouldn’t come as a surprise. If you think about it, six games ago was the start of the second half of the season.
And all 10 touchdowns by Bryant … have occurred in the second half of games.
Bryant has literally been a second-half player this year, both in games and in the regular season.
After the game Sunday, Bryant talked about a never-say-die-attitude and said it stems from his teammates.
“Just don’t quit. When you look in this locker room and you look at the players, if we’re down going into half or we’re just down period, you can never sense it from anyone, that anyone is about to quit,” Bryant said. “It’s all about fighting, fighting, fighting and we’re about to score this drive and play football, and that’s what we do.”
Bryant fought more than just the situation or an opponent, he had to fight through the pain in his fractured left index finger, an injury that jeopardized his chances of playing earlier in the week. But it became clear Bryant was going to do everything possible to play. Even with the injury, he came through with a huge touchdown catch – in the second half of course.
Here’s a quick recap of Bryant’s second-half moments in the second half of the season so far:
Philadelphia, Nov. 11 – After another quiet first half where he had no catches, Bryant came on strong, finishing with 87 yards on three catches, including a diving 30-yard touchdown grab that tied the game late in the third quarter.
Cleveland, Nov. 18 – Bryant was pretty strong from start to finish, grabbing 12 passes for 145 yards. But his clutch moment occurred early in the fourth with a 28-yard touchdown catch in the end zone that gave the Cowboys their first lead. They would need overtime to win.
Washington, Nov. 22 – For the second straight game, Bryant totaled 145 receiving yards, and most of it occurred in the second half. He caught an 85-yard touchdown to get the Cowboys back in the game and then had a spectacular 11-yard scoring catch as well. He just missed catching a third score late in the game that could’ve made a big difference.
Philadelphia, Dec. 2– The Cowboys were again down by two scores and called on Bryant to make the big plays. His 23-yard touchdown catch tied the game in the third quarter and then he gave the Cowboys the lead for good on a 6-yard scoring pass in which he simply ran over the defender to the end zone.
Cincinnati, Dec. 9 – He had just four catches for 50 yards, but half of his production occurred after he suffered the broken finger, which didn’t stop him from a 27-yard touchdown catch midway through the fourth. Bryant had another nine-yard grab on the game-winning drive.
Pittsburgh, Dec. 16 – It took a while for the Cowboys to test Bryant’s finger but in the second half, he started to come alive again. He caught a 24-yard touchdown pass to give the Cowboys a third-quarter lead. He had four catches for 59 yards, but his presence alone made a huge difference.
MILESTONES: Dallas Cowboys vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
With today’s overtime win, the Dallas Cowboys are 8-6, giving the club its 37th season with a finish of .500-or-better.
Today’s win also gave Dallas wins in three straight games for the first time this season.
Today was the second time this season Dallas played in an overtime game, and it was the club’s second overtime win of the season, 19th in franchise history. Dallas owns a 19-13 overtime record and a 6-4 home overtime record.
The win also gave Dallas a 3-0 record this December, guaranteeing the club a winning record in the month for the first time since 2001 when the club went 3-2.
Miles Austin caught a team-high seven passes for a team-best 79 yards. His receptions total today gave him 273 for his career to pass Billy Joe DuPree (267) for 12th in team history.
Dan Bailey was true on both of his field goal tries tonight – 50 and 21 yards. His 21-yarder came with 13:41 remaining in the overtime period, giving Dallas the 27-24 win. Today was Bailey’s third game-winning kick of the season and the seventh of his career. His seven tie Rafael Septien for the most in team history.
Dez Bryant caught four passes for 59 yards and a touchdown today. He upped his career receptions total to 187 to break a tie with Lance Rentzel (183) for 22nd in franchise history.
Bryant’s touchdown catch today was his sixth consecutive game with a touchdown reception, the longest streak in his career, tied for the fourth-longest streak and tied for the second-highest streak figure in franchise history.
For the season, Bryant has a career-high 10 touchdown receptions. This season is the 16th time a Cowboys pass catcher reached double-digit touchdown receptions and Bryant is the ninth different Dallas Cowboy to accomplish the feat.
Brandon Carr improved his club-high interception total to three with his interception in overtime. Along with his pick last week, it was the first time in his career he had interceptions in consecutive games.
Sean Lissemore notched his first sack of the season today to give him 3.5 for his career.
Brady Poppinga has his first start as a Dallas Cowboy today as the club opened with five linebackers.
Tony Romo finished today’s game completing 30-of-42 passes (71.4%) for 341 yards, two touchdowns and a rating of 111.3. He upped his season passing attempts total to 568 to establish a single-season club record:
Single-Season Pass Attempts
Romo’s 30 completions today gave him 379 completions this season to extend his single-season club record:
Single-Season Pass Completions
Romo’s 341 yards today gave him 4,269 for the season, the fourth 4,000-yard season in his career, the fourth in team history and the second-most yards in a season in club books.
Single-Season Pass Yards
Romo’s 341 yards today also gave him 25,103 for his career, making him the 64th quarterback in NFL history to reach 25,000 career passing yards.
In reaching 25,103 career passing yards today, Romo passed Tommy Kramer (24,777), Bob Griese (25,092) and Ken O’Brien (25,094) for 62nd in all-time passing yards.
In reaching the 300-yard mark with 341 yards today, Romo improved his club record of 300-yard games to 39. Dallas now holds a 25-14 (.641) record when Romo hits 300-plus yards.
In topping 300 yards again today, Romo has eight 300-yard games this season. His eight tie his club record established in 2009:
300-yard games (season)
Romo’s two touchdown passes today gave him 54 career multiple-touchdown games to improve his club-high and allow him to place fifth in the NFL since becoming a starter in 2006:
Cowboys Career Multi-TD Games
NFL Multi-TD Games (since 2006)
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In completing 30-of-42 passes, Romo completed 71.4% of his passes – his 31st career game with a completion percentage of 70.0-or-more. Troy Aikman has the club high with 39. His 31 are fifth in the NFL since becoming a starter in 2006:
Total 70.0% Games (since 2006)
Romo’s 71.4 completion percentage today gave him eight games this season with a completion percentage at or above 70.0, second in a season in franchise history. Aikman has the club-high with eight in 1993.
Romo had a passer rating of 111.3 today. It was his 48th career game with a rating above 100.0 to improve a club record and rank fourth in the NFL since 2006:
Career 100.0 Rating Games (Cowboys)
100.0 Rating Games Since 2006
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In leading the Cowboys to an overtime win while trailing in the fourth quarter, today was Romo’s fifth come-from-behind win of the season and the 18th of his career – improving his franchise-high. Romo’s five this season are also a franchise-high. Tied for second with four each are: Roger Staubach (1979), Troy Aikman (1990), Drew Bledsoe (2005) and Romo (2011).
Marcus Spears had his first sack of the season today to give him 10.0 for his career.
Anthony Spencer had 1.5 sacks today to give him 10.0 sacks for the season to improve his single-season career-best. Along with DeMarcus Ware’s 11.5, this season is the first time since 2007 the Cowboys had two defenders top 10.0-or-more sacks – DeMarcus Ware (14.0) and Greg Ellis (12.5). This season is the fifth time in franchise history Dallas accomplished the feat – 1983 (Randy White and Anthony Dickerson), 1984 (Randy White and Jim Jeffcoat), 1985 (Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Jim Jeffcoat and Randy White) and 2007 (Ware and Ellis).
DeMarcus Ware’s half sack gave him 111.0 for his career and moved him into a tie with Randy White for second on the Cowboys all-time (unofficial) sack chart. Harvey Martin is at the top with 114.0
Jason Witten finished today’s game with five catches for 43 yards. For the season, Witten has 97 catches – the most in a season in his career, second-most in a season by a Dallas Cowboy and the fifth-most in a season by an NFL tight end.
Single-Season Receptions (Dallas Cowboys)
Single-Season Receptions (NFL TEs)
Witten’s 43 receiving yards today upped his career total to 8,832 and allowed him to pass Terance Mathis (8,809) and Terry Glenn (8,823) for 57th on the NFL’s all-time receiving yards chart.
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OVERTIME THRILLER IN DALLAS: Cowboys D comes up big; Steelers denied another win in Cowboys Stadium
The Steelers came into this game with the top-ranked defense in the NFL. The Cowboys? Well, they had six of their original starters out of the lineup, plus their nickel cornerback, then lost yet another linebacker in the early stages of the game.
But as the old saying goes, the games aren’t played on paper. Instead, it was the Dallas defense that came up big, leading the team to a thrilling 27-24 overtime victory in front of 95,595 raucous fans.
Despite the glaring differences between their defensive units, Dallas’ patchwork side held their own throughout the contest, and when they needed it most, came up with three big sacks late in the fourth quarter. That was followed by a game-changing interception from Brandon Carr in the extra frame, which set up the winning field goal.
It was by no means easy. Twice the Steelers took the lead and three times the game was tied. But Dallas kept battling back.
Pittsburgh put up 388 total yards of offense and did not have a single penalty. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 339 yards on 24-of-40 passing with two touchdowns. His primary target was tight end Heath Miller, who totaled 92 yards on 7 catches, while wide receiver Mike Wallace had four catches for 95 yards.
But on the other side of the ball, the Cowboys were ready for the the mighty Steelers defense, racking up 415 total yards. Tony Romo was again outstanding, throwing for 341 yards on 30-of-42 passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He connected with nine different players, Miles Austin leading the way with seven catches for 79 yards while Dez Bryant and Jason Witten did what they do best, each scoring a touchdown.
Even DeMarco Murray got into the action, rushing for 81 yards on 14 carries with a score. By comparison, the Steelers only ran for 69 yards as a team.
SOAKED TEXAS-SIZED TEAR TOWELS: Dallas Cowboys fight for NFC East title
The Texas sized Terrible Towels fittingly became Texas-Sized Tear Towels for approximately 15,000 visiting Pittsburgh Steeler fans.
ARLINGTON — Brandon Carr intercepted a pass from Ben Roethlisberger to set up Dan Bailey’s 21-yard field goal in overtime, and the Dallas Cowboys beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24 on Sunday.
The Cowboys won a Bailey kick on the final play for the second straight week since practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown was killed in a one-car accident that led to manslaughter charges against teammate Josh Brent.
Carr intercepted Roethlisberger’s pass along the sideline and returned it 36 yards to the 1. Bailey’s kick came after Tony Romo took a 2-yard loss to put the kicker in better position.
It was a disappointing ending for tens of thousands of Terrible Towel-waving Pittsburgh fans at Cowboys Stadium.
The Cowboys (8-6) moved into a three-way tie for the NFC East lead with the New York Giants and Washington Redskins. The Steelers (7-7) lost for the fourth time in five games.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE NFC EAST STANDINGS
There were a pair of early Sunday games that had big implications to the Cowboys’ playoff hopes. One worked out for Dallas while the other didn’t. Here’s an updated look at the NFC East standings after the Cowboys’ win this afternoon, the remaining games for the NFC East contenders and a pair of recaps of the Sunday NFC East action (reminder: The Philadelphia Eagles played on Thursday and lost to the Cincinnati Bengals).
NFC East Standings
t-1. Dallas Cowboys: 8-6
t-1. Washington Redskins: 8-6
t-1. New York Giants: 8-6
4. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-10
Dallas Cowboys: vs. New Orleans, @Washington
Washington Redskins: @Philadelphia, vs. Dallas
New York Giants: @Baltimore, vs. Philadelphia
Recap: Redskins 38, Browns 21
CLEVELAND — Robert Griffin III watched as the Redskins’ other rookie quarterback won again.
Rookie Kirk Cousins threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns filling in for an injured Griffin, leading Washington to its fifth straight win, 38-21 over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Cousins connected with Leonard Hankerson for both TDs in his first career start and the Redskins (8-6) barely missed a beat without the talented and multi-dimensional RG3, who sat out with a sprained knee.
Last week, Cousins came off the bench after Griffin got hurt and rallied the Redskins to an overtime win. Cousins was behind center from the start of this one and delivered a performance that extended Washington’s longest winning streak since 2007 and moved the Redskins into a tie for first in the NFC East.
Rookie Trent Richardson had a pair of TD runs for the Browns (5-9).
Alfred Morris, a childhood rival of Richardson, had two touchdowns for the Redskins.
Wearing a burgundy warm-up suit instead of his No. 10 jersey, Griffin, who sustained a mild sprain in the fourth quarter last week against Baltimore, cheered from the sideline as Cousins kept the Redskins (8-6) moving toward a possible spot in the playoffs.
Cousins may not have RG3’s talent, but the fourth-round pick from Michigan State was efficient, accurate and only made one major mistake — an early interception to set up Cleveland’s first TD.
Cousins finished 26 of 37 as the Redskins improved to 5-0 since their bye. They’ll end the season with games against NFC East rivals Philadelphia and Dallas, teams they beat in consecutive weeks to start their streak.
Griffin’s playing status was in doubt all week before the Redskins surprisingly announced late Saturday night that Cousins would start. If the Browns thought they were getting a break, Cousins proved to be as challenging to stop as his more elusive and hyped teammate.
The Browns (5-9) had their winning streak stopped at three and faint playoff hopes snuffed out. Coach Pat Shurmur’s fate may have rested on the Browns winning out, but that won’t happen and his days in Cleveland could be dwindling quickly.
Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden struggled from the outset. He went 21 of 35 for 244 yards and two picks, both leading to Washington touchdowns.
Cousins’ second TD pass to Hankerson, a 2-yarder, gave the Redskins a 24-14 lead. As Cousins came to the sideline, Griffin gave him a fist bump and then sat on the bench with his backup, who for the past two weeks has shown he too can lead the Redskins to victory.
Washington went ahead 31-14 on Evan Royster’s 4-yard run.
Weeden came back with a 69-yard scoring strike to speedy rookie Travis Benjamin to pull the Browns within 10, but Cousins calmly took the Redskins down the field again with Morris scoring from eight to make 38-21.
The Redskins needed this win, and Cousins made sure they got it.
He shook off the early pick and showed exceptional play faking ability. With Griffin out and inactive, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan had to alter his game plan and Cousins ran it with precision.
Linebacker Rob Jackson’s interception of Weeden helped the Redskins take a 17-14 lead less than two minutes into the third quarter on Morris’ 3-yard TD run.
Jackson picked off Weeden and returned it to the 15. Three plays later, Morris pulled in for his eighth rushing TD, tying the team rookie record set by Skip Hicks in 199
Richardson’s second TD run gave the Browns a 14-10 lead with 1:11 left before halftime.
Cleveland’s offense had been in a funk for most of the second quarter before Weeden completed five passes to get the Browns to Washington’s 3. Richardson did the rest, busting over the left side for his 11th rushing TD. Earlier, he broke Hall of Famer Jim Brown’s 55-year-old team rookie record for rushing TDs.
Kai Forbath’s 44-yard field goal put the Redskins ahead 10-7. Forbath has started his career 15 of 15.
Cousins threw a 54-yard TD pass to Hankerson in the first quarter to tie it 7-7.
The Redskins gained just seven yards on their first four plays before Cousins, rolling right on the kind of play Shanahan has devised to maximize Griffin’s wondrous skills, hooked up with Hankerson.
Browns safety T.J. Ward intercepted Cousins, on a ball tipped by cornerback Sheldon Brown, to set up Richardson’s TD run in the first quarter. Ward returned the pick to Washington’s 6-yard line, where he was tackled by Cousins, who showed good form in preventing an easy TD.
On the next play, Richardson took a handoff to the left side, was stopped at about the 2 and kept his legs and the pile moving into the end zone.
Recap: Falcons 34, Giants 0
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons sent a message to all the skeptics with a resounding victory over the defending Super Bowl champions.
Matt Ryan threw three touchdowns passes and the Falcons defense handed New York its first regular-season shutout since 1996, stifling the Giants 34-0 on Sunday.
Julio Jones caught a couple of scoring throws from Ryan, who broke his own franchise records for completions and passing yards in a season. Matty Ice finished 23 of 28 for 270 yards.
The Falcons (12-2), who have already clinched the NFC South, moved a step closer to locking up home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. One more win would ensure that any postseason contests before the Super Bowl are held at the Georgia Dome.
Eli Manning threw two interceptions for New York (8-6), which dropped into a first-place tie with Washington in the NFC South. Dallas had a chance to make it a three-way tie later in the day, hosting Pittsburgh.
The Giants also went 0-for-3 on fourth down and missed a short field goal.
Despite their lofty record, Atlanta has received plenty of criticism for winning ugly against inferior opponents. A 30-20 loss to last-place Carolina the previous week only seemed to reinforce the notion that the Falcons are headed for another short stay in the playoffs. They have yet to win a postseason game since Ryan took over as the quarterback in 2008, going 0-3.
But one thing the Falcons never seem to do anymore is lose two straight games. They extended the NFL’s longest active streak since consecutive defeats to 49 games, going back to the 2009 season.
For the Giants, it was a miserable performance when they desperately needed a win, at a time of year when they normally play some of their best football.
Manning threw his first pick on the second play of scrimmage, setting up a quick Atlanta touchdown. Coach Tom Coughlin made a curious call late in the first half, passing up another short field goal attempt when his team was almost 2 yards shy of the marker. Asante Samuel batted down a short pass intended for Victor Cruz, sending Atlanta to the locker room with a commanding 17-0 lead and all the momentum.
But even if the Giants had taken the field goal, it’s probably wouldn’t have made much difference.
The tone in this one was set right away.
When Manning attempted to hit Hakeem Nicks on a short pass to the right, Samuel stepped in to make the interception and return it to the Giants 16. From there, Michael Turner ran it four straight times, the last of those a 1-yard plunge that gave Atlanta a 7-0 lead less than 3 minutes into the game.
It was all Falcons after Lawrence Tynes missed a chip shot kick from 30 yards, ruining an impressive second possession by the Giants. Atlanta took it 80 yards from there, with Ryan going to Harry Douglas on a 37-yard gain for the big gainer. Then, on third-and-11 from the 12, Ryan went to his favorite target, Tony Gonzalez, in the end zone. The 16-year veteran leaped over safety Will Hill to haul in the high throw — and hopped up quickly for his customary dunk over the goalposts.
Early in the second half, the Falcons blew it open on Ryan’s 40-yard touchdown pass to Jones down the left sideline. Finally, after a drive that used up more than 9 minutes in the fourth quarter, Ryan went to Jones for a 3-yard TD.
The Giants turned it over one more time in the closing minutes, finishing off their first shutout in the regular season since a 24-0 defeat at Philadelphia on Dec. 1, 1996. The performance came just a week after they put up 52 points on the New Orleans Saints.
There was a moment of silence before the game honoring the Connecticut shooting victims, and the Giants also wore "SHES" decals on their helmets for Sandy Hills Elementary School.
NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
HEAD2HEAD: A look at the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers match up
Pittsburgh returns to Arlington for the first time since it lost Super Bowl XLV in February 2011. This Steelers team doesn’t look nearly as formidable, however. They stand at 7-6 and while they have the top-ranked defense in the NFL they also have a suspect running game and a quarterback, Ben Roetlisberger, who is still trying to regain his form after recently missing three games because of shoulder and rib injuries. The Cowboys, who are also 7-6, are aiming to achieve their fifth victory in their last six games. Here is a look at how both teams match up:
When the Cowboys run
While he Cowboys still can’t depend on their ground attack to move the ball over the course of an entire game, tailback DeMarco Murray has helped give it some punch since he returned to action earlier this month. Murray, who has gained 136 yards in two games after coming back from a sprained left foot, has made an impact. But he will be presented with one of his toughest challenges yet. Pittsburgh’s defense, even though it’s been decimated by injuries, is conceding only 3.69 yards per carry—the fourth-lowest average in the NFL.
When the Cowboys pass
The fractured left index finger Dez Bryant suffered last Sunday could spell disaster for the Cowboys. Bryant, listed as questionable on the team’s official report, was enjoying the most productive stretch of his career, making 33 catches, amassing 525 receiving yards and scoring seven touchdowns in his last five games. Not having Bryant at full strength could be harmful to a passing offense and a quarterback, Tony Romo, that has depended on him. Romo and his receivers will have one of their toughest tests yet. The Steelers have yielded 169.2 passing yards per game – the lowest average in the NFL. They have also allowed 54.2 percent of the pass attempts against them to be completed.
When the Steelers run
Pittsburgh’s most productive back, Jonathan Dwyer, ranks 27th in the NFL in rushing yards. The Steelers have averaged only 98.6 yards on the ground this season. And their running game has accounted for only seven touchdowns – tied for the sixth-lowest total in the league. Yet the Steelers may be able to take advantage of Dallas’ run defense that has conceded 6.1 yards per carry in the last three games.
When the Steelers pass
Ben Roethlisberger is back. That’s the good news for Pittsburgh. The bad? The two-time Super Bowl winner wasn’t in top form last Sunday in the first game he played since suffering a sprained right shoulder and dislocated rib. In a 10-point loss to San Diego he completed only 52 percent of his pass attempts. That same day, a Cowboys defense that looked ragged in its previous two games stood strong against Andy Dalton, allowing only 206 passing yards and sacking him five times. Whether Dallas can deliver the same punishment to Roethlisberger could be the difference Sunday.
There are only four kickers who have made a higher percentage of their field-goal attempts than the Cowboys’ Dan Bailey. One of them is Pittsburgh’s Shaun Suisham, who has converted 25 of 26 tries. Suisham stands on the opposite side of the spectrum as the Steelers’ Antonio Brown, who has the lowest punt-return average in the NFL. The Cowboys, meanwhile, averted disaster last Sunday. And that’s a good thing for a team that has conceded a blocked punt, allowed a 108-yard kick return and has committed two turnovers on special teams this season.
The Cowboys will play their first game at home since the one-vehicle accident that killed practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown and led to nose tackle Josh Brent being charged with intoxication manslaughter. The team has been through quite an ordeal ever since and head coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys were emotionally “spent” earlier this week. Whether Dallas can regain the energy needed to beat a team fighting for a playoff spot is uncertain. But the Cowboys managed to persevere last Sunday and they may find enough in themselves to be able to so again Sunday.
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THROWBACK: Very first win for Dallas Cowboys was a memorable one
Fort Worth Star-Telegram staff writer Ray Buck takes a look at the history of the Cowboys – from a great game to a singular moment to a memorable player – this is a reprint of his online-exclusive offering posted Friday, Mar. 21, 2008
In high school, Jerry Tubbs never lost a game.
In college, Jerry Tubbs never lost a game.
Playing for Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma, Tubbs was a big-time inside linebacker on three undefeated teams (1954-56).
This came during Wilkinson’s historic 47-0 run (1953-57) — still an NCAA Division I record.
“I was in the middle of the streak. We went 31-0,” Tubbs said. “To be able to say you never lost a game in college…..well, that’s my greatest claim.
“I was one lucky guy.”
However, Tubbs’ luck quickly ran amok in the NFL.
He was taken by the Chicago Cardinals in the first round of the ’57 draft — 10th overall. Suddenly, he found himself on a perennial loser, playing out of position (outside — not inside), then eventually benched, then cut near the end of his second season.
Although he landed on his feet in San Francisco, where he quickly elevated his pro game, he concluded that it might be time to find a job in the real world.
It was after the ’59 season. He was about to turn 25.
“Coca-Cola had this job opening for a district manager in Arkansas,” said Tubbs, whose idle thoughts became real concerns of 49ers coach Red Hickey.
“Jerry, I’ve got to know,” Hickey told him. “We like you. We want you. But if you’re going to retire, then I’m going to put you on that ‘Dallas Cowboys’ expansion list.”
The color ran out of Jerry’s face.
“I knew an expansion team wasn’t going to win,” Tubbs said. “But I was being honest. I told Red Hickey, ‘Coach, I can’t really tell you what I’m going to do yet.’ And so, he put me on the list.”
As it turned out, Tubbs would spend the next 29 years in Dallas — as a player, then a player-coach, then a fulltime assistant.
Playing/working for Tom Landry would prove to be heaven on earth — but Tubbs had no idea of that in 1960.
He never lost a game in college. Now he would be joining an expansion team that wouldn’t win a game all season. The ’60 Cowboys ended up 0-11-1.
“It looked like we were never going to win a game,” Tubbs recalled.
The closest they came was a 31-31 tie at New York in the next-to-last game of that inaugural season.
Little Eddie LeBaron picked apart a championship-tested Giants defense and snapped the Dallas losing streak at 10. But the non-winning streak would grow to 12 with a season-ending loss at Detroit.
“But I have to tell you, it felt like we won the world championship — when we tied New York,” Tubbs said. “Of course, we didn’t hit the jackpot until the start of ’61.”
“The Jackpot” came Sept. 17, 1961, against a veteran Steelers team led the legendary Bobby Layne; Hall of Fame fullback John Henry Johnson, and a grizzled defense featuring future Cowboys coach Ernie Stautner.
On this day, the Cowboys would finally achieve a regular-season victory, but not without some smoke and mirrors.
They would need to score 10 points in the final 56 seconds.
They would need help from the most unlikely hero on the team: Rookie kicker Allen Green, who was playing in his first NFL game.
But it all came together for a Cotton Bowl crowd of 23,500.
The Star-Telegram reported in its Sept. 18, 1961, editions:
“Rookie Allen Green, a pressure-resistant Rebel from Mississippi, kicked a 27-yard field goal in the last second of the game to give the incredible Cowboys a 27-24 triumph over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Cotton Bowl Sunday.”
We’ve tried to track him down. No one seems to know where he went, and few remember from where he came.
Allen Green had a knack for game-winning field goals at Ole Miss, according to his 1962 Post Cereal football card. (Post Cereal, however, didn’t get the memo that Green would be out of the league after the ’61 season — never to return again.)
Read the cereal card: “Al’s three-pointer in the last seconds of the 1958 season gave Ole Miss a 10-7 victory over Arkansas and his 41-yarder in the final seconds gained a 6-6 tie with LSU…..a specialist on last-second victories.”
Actually, Green’s right foot accounted for half of the 4-9-1 Cowboys’ four victories in 1961. (Another game-winner came in the final minute at New York 17-16.)
However, Green made only 5 of 15 field-goal attempts while averaging 37.3 yards on 60 punts. It wasn’t enough to keep his job in Dallas — or find another one in the NFL.
“But that was a pretty big kick he had against Pittsburgh,” recalled Tubbs. “It got the monkey off our backs; that’s exactly what it did.”
Unlikely hero. Thrilling comeback. But there was much more to this first-ever victory in franchise history.
“The Cowboys looked like they were fighting a lost cause in the last six minutes,” according to the lone Star-Telegram game story on Sept. 18, 1961. “John Sample of the Steelers picked off a Don Meredith pass and raced 39 yards for a touchdown with 5:52 remaining.
The Steelers led 24-17.
Off the bench came LeBaron, who “started throwing his life-saving pitches,” according to the newspaper. The “stubby” LeBaron completed 5 of 8 passes for 75 yards — including a 17-yard touchdown strike to tight end Dick Bielski.
The game was tied 24-24 with 56 seconds left.
This is where Tubbs came in. His INT from the middle- linebacker position made Allen Green’s dramatics possible.
Wrote the Star-Telegram:
“No one dared dream the Cowboys would ever get the ball again. But linebacker Jerry Tubbs apparently wasn’t watching the clock. The old master, Bobby Layne…..erringly threw down the middle and Tubbs stole it on the Dallas 38.”
The Dallas offense was back on the field. LeBaron eventually hit Bill Howton, who scooted out of bounds to stop the clock.
In came Allen Who?
“Winning was such a good feeling that day,” Tubbs recalled. “And it felt good to have had a little bit of something to do with it.”
Wrote the Sept. 8, 1961, Star-Telegram: “The Cowboys failed to choke on their 56-second time limitation…..and sent the stunned Steelers reeling back to Pennsylvania.”
Tubbs can’t recall what Landry said or did after the win — or even whether he had a reaction.
“I don’t remember Tom being very animated at all,” he said.
Tubbs, who won All-America honors and finished fourth in the ’56 Heisman Trophy balloting (won by Paul Hornung), was rejuvenated enough by what Landry was doing with the upstart Cowboys to take a flyer on that Coca-Cola job.
Today, Jerry and his wife, Marlene, live in University Park. They recently celebrated 50 years of marriage.
Every morning, Jerry — a native Texan born in Breckenridge 73 years ago — gets up, eats breakfast and makes the one-hour drive to his ranch northeast of McKinney. There, he keeps close to 100 head of cattle.
Don’t tell anybody…..but Jerry is playing hurt right now. He recently cracked a vertebra in his lower back when caught between a pair of 1,500-pound bulls.
“One of ’em whipped around at full speed,” said Tubbs. “But it wasn’t the bull’s fault. It was mine.”Tubbs will forever be linked to Landry.
When Landry was fired, Tubbs was fired.
“I got a few calls from other teams (in 1989), but I wasn’t interested,” said Tubbs, who found what he missed most about football was “getting it right as a team” on Sunday afternoon.
And for that, he has plenty of good memories with the Cowboys: 20 consecutive winning seasons, five Super Bowl appearances, two Super Bowl wins.
But when Tom Landry never worked again in the NFL, Jerry Tubbs never worked again in the NFL. He would have it no other way.
COURTESY: RAY BUCK | Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Marcia Melton of the Star-Telegram library contributed to the research of this story.
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 at Dallas Cowboys 27
Weather: 66 degrees, relative humidity 55%, wind 11 mph
|Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1-0)||0||14||0||10||24|
|Dallas Cowboys (1-0-0)||7||3||7||10||27|
|1st||Cowboys||Frank Clarke 44 yard pass from Eddie LeBaron (Allen Green kick)||0||7|
|2nd||Steelers||John Henry Johnson 1 yard rush (Bobby Layne kick)||7||7|
|Steelers||Buddy Dial 44 yard pass from Bobby Layne (Bobby Layne kick)||14||7|
|Cowboys||Allen Green 15 yard field goal||14||10|
|3rd||Cowboys||Billy Howton 45 yard pass from Eddie LeBaron (Allen Green kick)||14||17|
|4th||Steelers||Lou Michaels 12 yard field goal||17||17|
|Steelers||Johnny Sample 39 yard interception return (Bobby Layne kick)||24||17|
|Cowboys||Dick Bielski 17 yard pass from Don Meredith (Allen Green kick)||24||24|
|Cowboys||Allen Green 27 yard field goal||24||27|
|Net pass yards||237||307|
Passing, Rushing, & Receiving
|John Henry Johnson||PIT||0||1||0||0||0||0||12||36||1||0||3||54||0||0|
Defense & Returns
|Def Interceptions||Fumbles||Kick Returns||Punt Returns|
|John Henry Johnson||PIT||0||0||0||0||1||11||11.0||0||0|
|Def Interceptions||Fumbles||Kick Returns||Punt Returns|
Kicking & Punting
|Bobby Joe Green||PIT||4||176||44.0||0|
THE RIVALRY: America’s Team vs. The Nemesis Steelers (Special Feature)
The week before the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers played Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium, a columnist wrote how the local fans wouldn’t really have a rooting interest in the outcome of the game. That opinion was quickly squashed by the overwhelming majority.
For some, the No. 1 rival for players and fans were the Washington Redskins. Possibly, more recently, the Philadelphia Eagles. Or maybe the Giants. And for some, this is accurate.
But never forget the disdain by Cowboys fans for the Steelers. Keep in mind this works on both ends. For many Pittsburgh fans, their second-favorite team each week is whoever is playing the Cowboys.
So what’s the deal? Why the sports hatred between the Cowboys and Steelers? Seriously, how much animosity could two franchises have for one another when they’ve only played nine times since 1979? Heck, they’ve played twice since Aug. 31, 1997, at least before today’s kickoff. Twice in 15 years, three months, two weeks and a day.
Baltimore and Pittsburgh played twice in 15 days earlier this season. The Cowboys and Eagles played twice in seven days in January 2010.
The easy answer are the two Super Bowls the teams played in the 1970s, both close games ultimately lost by the Cowboys. Those outcomes have had long-term effects for both fan bases, even the teams themselves. For Pittsburgh, yes, those triumphs secured immorality, Team of the Decade status, a bevy of Pro Football Hall of Famers, but the fact the Cowboys were dubbed “America’s Team” right around the same time infuriates Steeler fans. To this day.
As for Dallas, for fans old enough to remember those games, no two losses in franchise history have been more painful. Roger Staubach himself has said on multiple occasions that those were far and away the two most disappointing defeats of his career.
This was about ego and pride on both sides, not to mention, both home bases, Western Pennsylvania and Texas are arguably the country’s most passionate football fans, be it high school, college or NFL.
The teams have met 30 times, with each winning 15. Of the eight NFL franchises the Cowboys have played at least 30 games against, they only have a losing record against one … the Cleveland Browns, at 13-17.
Let’s take a look back at 10 of the most memorable games of the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers rivalry:
Sept. 24, 1960 – Steelers 35, Cowboys 28
Coincidentally, the first opponent in the Dallas Cowboys franchise history was the Steelers. This was long before anyone cared about professional football in North Texas, never mind having built up any dislike of opposing teams. The announced attendance for the opener at the Cotton Bowl was 30,000, but that was the most generous of estimates.
Dallas almost pulled off a stunner, taking early leads of 14-0 and 21-7 behind veteran quarterback Eddie LeBaron, the “Little General” himself. Alas, four turnovers proved too much to overcome and Bobby Layne, who played at nearby Highland Park in high school, tossed four touchdowns to lead Pittsburgh to a 35-28 win.
Sept. 17, 1961 – Cowboys 27, Steelers 24
After the inaugural Cowboys finished winless, at 0-11-1, once again the season’s opening opponent was the Steelers. This time around, however, Dallas emerged victorious, the first win in franchise history.
This game was a back-and-forth affair, again before a sparse crowd of 23,500 (another generous estimate), with Dallas scoring first on a 44-yard touchdown catch by Frank Clarke. Trailing 17-14 entering the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh scored 10 quick points before a late Cowboys comeback, culminated by a 27-yard Allen Green field goal in the final seconds.
Sept. 23, 1962 – Steelers 30, Cowboys 28
First off, guess the NFL schedule maker liked the idea of Pittsburgh visiting Dallas early in the season. While not the opener, it was Week 2.
This was undoubtedly one of the more bizarre games in the rivalry, with a would-be league record 99-yard touchdown pass from LeBaron to Clarke called back for a holding penalty on guard Andy Cvercko. Worse, a holding penalty in the end zone results in a safety, so thus, a nine-point swing.
Despite a furious comeback and two touchdowns by Don Perkins, the Cowboys fell short in the end.
|1||September 16||T||Washington Redskins||35||35|
|2||September 23||L||Pittsburgh Steelers||28||30|
|3||September 30||W||Los Angeles Rams||27||17|
|4||October 7||L||Cleveland Browns||10||19|
|5||October 14||W||Philadelphia Eagles||41||19|
|6||October 21||W||Pittsburgh Steelers||42||27|
|7||October 28||L||St. Louis Cardinals||24||28|
|8||November 4||W||Washington Redskins||38||10|
|9||November 11||L||New York Giants||10||41|
|10||November 18||L||Chicago Bears||33||34|
|11||November 25||L||Philadelphia Eagles||14||28|
|12||December 2||W||Cleveland Browns||45||21|
|13||December 9||L||St. Louis Cardinals||20||52|
|14||December 16||L||New York Giants||31||41|
Oct. 31, 1965 – Steelers 22, Cowboys 13
In many ways, one could make the case that this was the most instrumental game in franchise history. Yes, a nine-point loss, which dropped the Cowboys to 2-5. The game itself, at least in terms of what occurred on the field, isn’t significant or memorable in the least. The teams combined for just 10 points in the second half.
However, the events that took place after the game, in the bowels of Pitt Stadium on Halloween, would forever change a franchise. In addressing his team, Landry broke down and cried, telling the players how proud he was of them and that maybe he was the problem. He even told them he probably wouldn’t be returning in 1966.
To date, the Cowboys were 20-51-4 under Landry.
The team rallied around its coach, winning five-of-seven to finish the year before embarking on 20 consecutive winning seasons.
Oct. 30, 1966 – Cowboys 52, Steelers 21
By this point, Landry’s team was the talk of the league, having started the year 4-0-1 before a disappointing, but competitive loss at Cleveland the week previous.
Stunningly, at least when compared with the final score, the Cowboys didn’t score in the first quarter, and trailed 7-0 in front of nearly 60,000 at the Cotton Bowl. Yes, how the times and attendance quickly changed after Dallas starting winning.
An offensive explosion quickly followed, some 45 points in two quarters.
By the end, despite nine penalties and three turnovers, the Cowboys gained 425 yards to Pittsburgh’s 119.
Super Bowl X – Steelers 21, Cowboys 17
This is when the rivalry really started, despite the teams having played 17 times previous. Entering Super Bowl X at the Orange Bowl, Dallas had won the last seven of those games, although the majority were competitive.
The Steelers were the defending Super Bowl champs and without question the league’s best team, 12-2 in the regular season. This game is most-remembered for Lynn Swann’s then-Super Bowl record 161 receiving yards, a few of those catches endlessly replayed by NFL Films.
Dallas led entering the fourth quarter, but Pittsburgh scored 14 unanswered points before a late touchdown catch by Percy Howard closed the gap. That would prove the lone reception of Howard’s career.
Super Bowl XIII – Steelers 35, Cowboys 31
In terms of the most painful losses in franchise history, this ranks first, although some old-school fans may throw the back-to-back defeats to the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Championship Games in 1966 and 1967 into the debate.
Many of the players, coaches and fans felt this could have been the best of Landry’s teams, winners of eight straight entering Super Bowl XIII, including a 28-0 dismantling of the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC title game.
This was one of those ultimate games, the kind which define an era, in this case, the Team of the Decade was clearly up for grabs. The pregame buildup included Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson famously saying Terry Bradshaw couldn’t spell cat if someone spotted him the “c” and the “a.”
The most recalled play, alas, is the Jackie Smith dropped touchdown in the third quarter with the iconic call of Verne Lundquist: “Third down and three, Dallas at the Pittsburgh 10. Roger back to throw, has a man open in the end zone … caught, touchdown … dropped. Dropped in the end zone. Jackie Smith, bless his heart, he’s got to be the sickest man in America.”
Sept. 13, 1982 – Steelers 36, Cowboys 28
While it wasn’t the last time Chuck Noll and Landry faced each other – they even appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated together in 1988 – this was the last matchup with the football world watching. The season opener, with one of the highest-rated Monday Night Football audiences of the decade tuned in. This was the height of popularity for the television show Dallas, so what better place than Texas Stadium to kick off the year for Howard Cosell and ABC.
This game was much like Super Bowl XIII, with both teams scoring a ton of points, and the Cowboys playing from behind after leading at halftime 14-13. Two fourth-quarter scoring passes from Danny White closed the gap, but Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris were too much.
Super Bowl XXX – Cowboys 27, Steelers 17
For a young Sean Lee, who grew up right outside of Pittsburgh, this wasn’t the most enjoyable of experiences, with the Cowboys and Steelers becoming the first – and to date only – two teams to play each other in three Super Bowls. This time around, though, Dallas prevailed and in the process, became the first team to win three Lombardi Trophies in four years with Larry Brown earning MVP honors behind two interceptions.
“I grew up a pretty big Steelers fan, there’s really not much of an option growing up in Pittsburgh,” said Lee. “They played the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX when I was in third grade. I was devastated when they lost. It was a crazy game with those two Larry Brown interceptions. I was almost in tears when the game ended.”
Aug. 31, 1997 – Cowboys 37, Steelers 7
The final season of Barry Switzer’s tenure started out in impressive fashion, the Cowboys dismantling Pittsburgh in every which way.
After a scoreless first quarter, Troy Aikman tossed four touchdowns, two to Michael Irvin, in the middle two quarters en route to a lopsided decision.
After a 3-1 start, the Cowboys fell apart and finished the season at 6-10.
This also marks the last time Dallas defeated Pittsburgh.
December 15, 2012 – Cowboys vs. Steelers – The rivalry continues
Dallas Cowboys vs. Pittsburgh Steelers …
December 15, 2012 – Cowboys Stadium – Arlington, Texas
SECOND OPINION: Dez Bryant to get more medical information on his fractured index finger today
Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant wants to play Sunday with a fractured left index finger. If there is any way he can play, he will be in the lineup against the Steelers. Bryant is seeking a second opinion today, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said (Wednesday).
"We don’t anticipate Dez practicing today, and we’re just going to see where he is," Bryant said. "We’re going to get that information. One of the things that we know about Dez is that he’s a tough guy, and he loves playing football. He’s going to give himself and our team every chance possible to play in this ball game and continue to play this season. We just need to get more medical information about how to handle the situation right now, the best way to handle it for now and the future."
Bryant was injured on a 6-yard catch in the fourth quarter. He sat out five plays before returning and ended up catching a 27-yard touchdown after getting his index finger taped to his middle finger. After the game, Bryant’s finger was in a splint, and Bryant said it was a sprain. But X-rays showed a fracture, and Bryant will need surgery. Bryant hopes to delay the surgery until the off-season, but the Cowboys won’t risk damaging it further.
"I would say that [the risk of more harm] is an overriding question with all injuries and certainly the willingness of the player to play, the ability of the player to function like he needs to function are big questions as well," Garrett said. "But certainly his health now, his health going forward are huge factors in making this decision."
Bryant has 33 receptions for 525 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in the past five games. He has his first 1,000-yard season with 75 catches for 1,028 yards and nine touchdowns.
OFF THE FIELD BLUNDER: Cleveland Browns wave off white-flag giveaway
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Browns have waved off their white-flag giveaway.
Following days of criticism, the Browns have decided to cancel a promotion to hand out white flags to fans before Sunday’s game against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. Because white flags symbolize surrender, the giveaway seemed to imply the Browns were giving up against the Steelers, who have won 16 of the past 17 games between the AFC North foes.
Browns spokesman Neal Gulkis said in a statement on Saturday that the team scrapped the idea "in the best interests of everyone. It is something that was intended to be fun for our fans and that they could rally around, and we regret that some didn’t perceive it that way."
The flag giveaway was poorly received by many Browns fans and even some players.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: Loud rival fans could be sign of things to come
IRVING, Texas — Wherever the Cowboys travel their following is always there, even in New York, Philadelphia and Washington.
In the 2005 season opener at San Diego, Cowboys’ fans were so loud the Chargers had to use a silent count late in the game.
On Monday, Cowboys Stadium was hardly a home-field advantage. Of the 90,080 on hand, a number of them were Chicago fans and let their presence be known. As one “Let’s go Bears” chant broke out late, linebacker Brian Urlacher was seen mouthing, “Wow.”
“Last time we came down here, there’s nothing like hearing the “Let’s go Bears,” chant early and throughout the game,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said after the game. “I thought our fans were outstanding. The Chicago Bear colors were all around, they really were. I’m glad we are able to give our loyal fans that type of effort.”
Jason Garrett was asked about how loud the Bears fans were on Tuesday.
“Oh, the Bears have a great national following,” Garrett said. “They’ve had it for a long, long time, so that doesn’t surprise us. And certainly the way the game went, we gave them some reasons to get fired up. That’s just the nature of it. The Chicago people love their Bears. They have for a long, long time.”
Another visitor to Cowboys Stadium has a great national following, too. Pittsburgh visits Dec. 13. The last time the Steelers came to the area in 2004, Terrible Towels overran Texas Stadium. Cowboys Stadium could be more of the same.
After a 6-2 record to open the $1.2 billion stadium in 2009, the Cowboys have a 7-10 home record.
BYE-WEEK BOREDOM: What to watch Sunday with Dallas Cowboys idle
With the Dallas Cowboys on the bye this week, these are a few of the NFL games that we can pay attention to. Primarily, sizing up the NFC East teams.
Philadelphia travels to Pittsburgh:
The Steelers are coming off a bye rested and getting healthier. Both teams struggle to protect the quarterback but the Eagles manage to run the ball better than the Steelers. The Steelers are an NFL best on offense in converting third downs while the Eagles are third in the league not allowing them. On the flip side to that, the Steelers really struggle with their own third down defense ranking 30th. This Eagles offense has been a turn over machine and the last thing Andy Reid and his offensive staff want to do is give the Steelers short field opportunities. If the Eagles manage to win this game, its bad news for the rest of the NFC East because they have already beat Baltimore at home which leaves just Cleveland and Cincinnati on the schedule and the real possibility of going 4 – 0 against the AFC North which is a feat in itself. Pittsburgh will not be able to run the ball so it will come down to their receivers having to win on the outside against these Eagles corners. If the Steelers can keep Roethlisberger up right, their chances of winning improve greatly but that is a big if. I have always believed in the NFL that the more desperate team finds a way to win. With the Steelers looking at the possibility of being 1 – 3 that thought has already begin to sink in as they were on their bye.
Atlanta travels to Washington:
I have always felt like that if you take Atlanta out of the Georgia Dome, you had a great chance to defeat them but the Falcons made a cross country trip and slapped around a pretty good San Diego squad. The Redskins had a physical game last week in Tampa and managed to come away with a victory. The Falcons stole a game from the Panthers that they had no business winning but to their credit, they did. The Redskins really struggle to put pressure on the quarterback and without Brian Orakpo that job has become even more difficult. Matt Ryan and the talented wide receiver core for the Falcons of Roddy White and Julio Jones will make it difficult on the Redskins back end. Where the Falcons struggle is playing run defense and Mike Shanahan knows this and will use Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III to try and control this game much like he was able to do against the Saints opening day. The Falcons are 29th in the league on third down defense and ranked 31st in the red zone. The Redskins have more than enough talent to play with the Falcons but if it turns into a tight, tough game, their kicker Billy Cundiff is one of the worst in the league when it comes to connecting on kicks, just something to keep on eye on.
Denver travels to New England:
There has been a ton of talk in NFL circles that Peyton Manning is playing with limited arm strength and opponents are game planning for that. The Broncos have a real weapon in receiver Demaryius Thomas and how the Patriots play against him will tell you a lot of how they really feel about Manning’s arm strength. Denver’s offensive line is ranked 10th in the league in protecting Manning while the Patriots are ranked 25th in the league at sacks per attempt. So if Manning gets time, there could be some plays made down the field. Throughout his career Bill Belichick has been able to defense Manning like no others. On the other side of the ball, Tom Brady has the Patriots offense humming and with Steven Ridley running the ball with effectiveness it has taken pressure off Brady. You could say that this game could come down to turnovers but Brady doesn’t make those mistakes and the Broncos don’t intercept many passes. The Patriots do a great job of holding the ball and converting third downs where the Broncos have struggled on third down defense. I have a feeling that both quarterbacks will be protected, but this game will come down to who is better in the secondary.
And if you’re REALLY bored:
The New York Giants play Cleveland
FORBES MAGAZINE: Dallas Cowboys tops NFL list, first to be valued at over $2 billion
The Dallas Cowboys are the NFL’s first and only $2 billion franchise, Forbes Magazine announced today as it released its annual team value list.
Michael Ozanian, Forbes’ executive editor, said the Cowboys’ value, which the magazine tabs at $2.1 billion, is "a conservative estimate."
Ozanian said the magazine took into account the Cowboys’ $80 million in sponsorship income, their state-of-the art stadium and the fact that they are the only team in the NFL that distributes its own merchandise to retailers.
Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys in 1989 for $140 million. That’s roughly a 715 percent increase to today’s value, factoring in inflation.
While the Cowboys stood atop the list for the sixth consecutive year, the New England Patriots (worth $1.63 billion) passed the Washington Redskins ($1.6 billion) for the second spot.
The New York Giants, valued at $1.46 billion, landed in fourth while the Houston Texas rounded out the top five at $1.3 billion.
Despite playing in the same stadium, the magazine estimated the net worth of the New York Jets at about $200 million less than the Giants.
"We have the Giants bringing in $27 million more in revenue, plus they’re getting the Super Bowl bump on ticket prices," Ozanian said.
Despite the threat of concussion litigation that could eventually cost the NFL billions of dollars, the magazine doesn’t have a single franchise losing value from last season.
"There wasn’t any loss of value reflected in the recent Cleveland Browns sale," Ozanian said. "The investment bankers we spoke to told us that prices haven’t dropped in terms of what people are offering for small or large shares of teams."
Forbes stated that 20 NFL teams are worth more than $1 billion, the most of any league. That number is up from 15 teams last year.
The Cincinnati Bengals, worth $871 million compared to $875 million last season, are the only team that lost value.
Forbes projects only two teams had operating losses last year — the Pittsburgh Steelers ($1.1 billion), due to a higher payroll, and the Oakland Raiders ($785 million), thanks to having the lowest revenues in the league.
The magazine concluded that the two teams that had the biggest jump in value were the Minnesota Vikings ($975 million) and the San Francisco 49ers ($1.17 billion), whose values jumped 22 and 19 percent, respectively, as a result of their new stadiums being built.
The Cowboys’ $2.1 billion value matches that of the Los Angeles Dodgers purchase by Guggenheim Partners. Forbes says only Manchester United is worth more. The magazine said the soccer team was worth $2.23 billion, but the team’s recent offering on the New York Stock Exchanged valued it at $2.9 billion.
COWBOY HISTORY: Dallas Cowboys pitch third preseason shutout
The Cowboys pitched their third preseason shutout in franchise history with Monday’s 3-0 win against Oakland.
The last preseason shutout was Aug. 26, 1995, at the Alamodome when the Cowboys beat Houston, 10-0. The first preseason shutout came Sept. 8, 1977, when the Cowboys beat Pittsburgh, 30-0.
The 3-0 game was also the Cowboys’ lowest-scoring game in franchise history. The previous low was their 5-0 victory in the divisional round of the 1970 playoffs against Detroit.
“Anytime you can shut out a team, no matter what the game plan is, it’s an accomplishment,” inside linebacker Sean Lee said. “If you look at some of the second-team guys, some of the younger guys, the passion they played with was good. The first game usually there is a lot of mistakes, but you saw a lot of guys play hard. That’s why I think we were able to keep them out of the end zone.”
It also can do nothing but help the confidence of a unit that was beaten down over the final month of last season when a playoff spot slipped out of its hands.
The defenders talk about how coordinator Rob Ryan simplified the scheme and how an offseason of work helped familiarize them more with Ryan’s scheme.
“It’s big for morale,” linebacker Alex Albright said, “That’s what we strive to do. Even if it’s the preseason, it’s still something that’s tough. It’s tough to shut out teams in the NFL. I’m very proud of the defense.”
AFC RIVAL REPORT: Pittsburgh Steelers extend coach Mike Tomlin’s contract through 2016
The Pittsburgh Steelers announced they have extended coach Mike Tomlin’s contract through the 2016 season.
Tomlin, 40, was entering the final year of his contract, although the team had an option for 2013. Financial terms of the three-year extension weren’t released, but Tomlin was the sixth-highest paid NFL coach for this season, according to Forbes magazine.
"I am excited that I will continue to be the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers for years to come," Tomlin said in a statement. "I am grateful to the Steelers organization for the opportunity I have been given over the past five years to work and live in this great city, and I am excited to continue to work to bring another championship to the Steelers and the city of Pittsburgh."
Tomlin, who is entering his sixth season as the Steelers’ coach, became the youngest coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl, when he led the Steelers to a 27-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals in February 2009. He also reached the playoffs four times in his first five seasons, including two trips to the Super Bowl.
"We are pleased to announce that Mike Tomlin will remain with the Steelers for at least five more years," Steelers president Art Rooney II said. "Mike is one of the top head coaches in the National Football League and we are thrilled he will continue to lead our team as we pursue another Super Bowl title."
EUROPEAN TOUR MAY GROW: NFL considering Ireland for hosting regular-season game
Could we see an NFL regular-season game on the Emerald Isle?
If Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney has his way, football — the American kind — eventually will find a home in Ireland.
"I think it’d be terrific," Rooney, the U.S. ambassador to Ireland, told the BBC. "We came over before back in 1997 and played a preseason game. But now, with the regular season games in London at Wembley proving so successful, and tickets selling out almost as soon as they’re put on sale, I would think it would be good to play a game here, at Croke Park, as the interest in the sport is so strong."
League officials visited Dublin’s Croke Park this year and found the venue "very attractive." The home of the Gaelic games and more than a few U2 concerts, Croke has a capacity of 82,500.
"We need stadiums that have availability in the middle of our season and the soccer season," said Mark Waller, chief marketing officer of the NFL. "We also need them to be large, able to take the levels of hospitality and corporate entertainment that we generate. We looked long and hard before we came to play regular-season games at Wembley. Now we’re looking seriously at playing two games internationally and, as we do that, Ireland and this venue in particular are very attractive to us."
In September, Notre Dame and Navy will play in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, in a game that quickly sold out. The demand is there, and it appears the league is comfortable with the infrastructure in place. Irish eyes should smile on some NFL action.
Cowboys vs. Steelers is top 3 hottest NFL ticket for 2012
According to a ticket broker in Houston, the Cowboys play a game in December that is already considered one of the hottest tickets for the upcoming NFL season.
Patrick Ryan, co-owner of TheTicketExperience.com, said two of the three hottest tickets for the upcoming NFL season fall in Week 15. The Steelers vs. Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium was one and Packers at Bears was the other.
The Sunday, Dec. 16 game against Pittsburgh is currently scheduled for a 4:15 kickoff. Tickets for that matchup on StubHub.com start at $54 for standing room only and go up to $3,056 for a club level seat. The ticket exchange site also has a Hall of Fame suite available for $23,530.
The Cowboys and Steelers have each played in eight Super Bowls, most of any NFL team, and have faced each other in three Super Bowls with Pittsburgh winning two.
The Steelers last played in Cowboys Stadium on Feb. 6, 2011, losing Super Bowl XLV to the Packers 31-25. The Steelers last played the Cowboys in the Metroplex in 2004 as rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger led Pittsburgh to a 24-20 victory at Texas Stadium.
James Harrison Crushes Colt McCoy In Steelers-Browns Game (VIDEO)
Late in the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s game against Cleveland, Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison delivered a brutal hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy that may have resulted in a concussion and could very well cost him some money. McCoy scrambled out of the pocket and ran to his left as Harrison ran over to stop him from running for a first down. Just after McCoy got a pass off, Harrison launched himself into McCoy and hit him helmet to helmet.
Harrison was flagged for a personal foul and despite laying on the ground for several minutes, McCoy returned two plays later.
Hmm.. Harrison making an illegal hit against the Browns that may have caused a concussion.
Last season, Harrison crushed two Browns players on different plays with helmet-to-helmet hits. Both players suffered concussions and did not return to the game. The NFL fined Harrison $75,000 for one the hits.
As one would expect, Harrison doesn’t believe that hit was dirty or illegal.
"From what I understand, once the quarterback leaves the pocket, he’s considered a runner," Harrison told The Plain Dealer. "All the defenseless(ness) and liberties that a quarterback has in the pocket are gone and you can tackle him just as he’s a running back. The hit wasn’t late, so I really don’t understand why it was called."
We’ll have to wait and see what Commissioner Roger Goodell thinks.
CHECK OUT THIS THREAD: Who hates the Dallas Cowboys the most? (Recommended Poll)
The Eagles fans I’ve met personally don’t so much hate the Cowboys as it’s more of strong dislike or distaste, often simply out of peer influence. Now I’ve never been to Philly, only known out-of-state Eagles fans in New York and Virginia, so maybe I’m out of touch on this. But it’s just my experience.
The Giants are even more distant, and many seem to hate the Eagles more, especially after a 6-game losing streak to them. New York fans, in my experience, tend to be more about priding themselves about how the Cowboys supposedly “suck” than about real hatred, especially since their 2007 Super Bowl run.
Redskins fans, however, have a genuine, real hatred of the Cowboys that’s longstanding. This is helped by the fact that Washington has been 7-20 against Dallas since 1998.
Packers and Steelers fans obviously have more pressing rival teams on their minds, such as the Bears and Ravens, than the Cowboys. I threw that in there just for the sake of it.
Courtesy: red dragon | truebluefanclub.com | Dallas Cowboys official website Fan Forum
To participate in the poll, click HERE <– Poll ended
Former Dallas Cowboy head coach Chan Gailey: On his time with Cowboys, Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett
When the Dallas Cowboys face the Buffalo Bills on Sunday they will square off against a former coach for the second time in franchise history.
Buffalo coach Chan Gailey returns to Dallas as head coach for the first time since being fired after recording an 18-14 in two seasons in 1998 and 1999. Jimmy Johnson was the other coach when he was with the Dolphins.
“Wow. It was two enjoyable years,” Gailey said. “I mean we were fighting to keep our head above water and fighting to try to win games and it was great opportunity for me and I appreciated the opportunity.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has said on a number of occasions that firing Gailey was one his biggest mistakes. Gailey appreciates the sentiment but said there is no use looking back.
“It’s kind of him to say that,” Gailey said. It is what it is. You can’t make more out of it or less out of it than what he said. I appreciate him saying it and life goes on. Those coulda, woulda, shoulda things, you think about, but if you dwell on them you’re wasting brain cells. There’s no sense in dwelling in that kind of stuff. You go on with life. If you’re spending too much time in the past all you’re doing is hurting yourself.”
Gailey said he has good relationship with Jones now and he doesn’t begrudge him for his decision.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was backup quarterback on those teams in 2008 and 2009. Gailey said he always knew he would make a great coach but figured he would too smart to join the profession.
“There was no question I thought he would be a great coach if he decided to do that. I thought he was smarter than that. He decided to coach anyway. But there was no question if he decided to do it, he would be great.”
Asked how thought Garrett was doing, Gailey passed, saying he was too busy to pay attention.
“I don’t even know,” Gailey said. “I don’t keep up with it. I’d like to say I do, but I don’t keep up with that. I’ve got enough problems. I don’t need to be looking at what somebody else is doing in the league.”
RIVAL: Steelers’ Roethlisberger will play, James Harrison to see a surgeon
PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger’s left foot is good enough to play. James Harrison’s right eye is not, and he’ll need surgery.
Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday he expects Roethlisberger to be under center when his struggling team faces surging Tennessee on Sunday at Heinz Field.
Roethlisberger sprained his left foot in the fourth quarter of a 17-10 loss to Houston. An MRI on Monday revealed no significant damage but Tomlin said his quarterback could be limited early in the week.
Lawrence Timmons will start in Harrison’s spot at outside linebacker, with veteran Larry Foote replacing Timmons at inside linebacker.
Courtesy: Boston Herald
RELATED: See what Texans did to this Steelers star’s face
Steelers linebacker James Harrison left Sunday’s game with this grisly injury.
He posted a picture of the injury inflicted by the Texans linemen. Harrison underwent surgery Wednesday for the broken orbital bone and now sports the bandaged look.
The Steelers have no released a timetable for his return.
Courtesy: Houston Chronicle
RIVAL NEWS: Pittsburgh Steelers were hit with a bevy of injuries Sunday
The Pittsburgh Steelers were hit with a bevy of injuries during Sunday’s 17-10 loss to the Houston Texans.
The biggest concern is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said had X-rays following the game on a left foot injury. Roethlisberger, who was wearing a walking boot when he left the stadium, said he didn’t know the results of the tests. He also told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he did not know whether the foot was broken, and said if there was a break, he would try to play through it like he did last season when he played through a broken bone in his right foot.
According to Steelers Digest, Roethlisberger was on crutches as he boarded the team charter for the flight back to Pittsburgh.
Roethlisberger said he was injured on the second-to-last series of the game when he was tackled from behind. He remained in the game but had trouble walking afterward in the locker room. He was sacked five times Sunday, hit several other times and hurried throughout the day behind an injury-plagued offensive line.
Tomlin said linebacker James Harrison, who left the game during the second quarter with a right eye injury, experienced double vision but did return to the game. He will undergo further testing, according to Tomlin. Defensive end Aaron Smith (mid-foot sprain) and linebacker Jason Worilds (left quadriceps) were also injured.
TBAB UPDATE: Steelers’ Roethlisberger dealing with sprain, bruising in left foot
Ben Roethlisberger seems to have spent more time on the turf than upright for the Steelers this season, and it appears to be catching up to the quarterback.
Roethlisberger suffered a sprain and bruising in his mid-foot area in Sunday’s loss to the Texans, NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported on Monday, citing sources with knowledge of the situation.
The Steelers quarterback remains under evaluation and could miss practice time this week, but has not been ruled out for Sunday.
If Roethlisberger cannot go in Week 5 against the Titans, Charlie Batch would get the start.