The Dallas Cowboys missed the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop watching NFL games.
There are four games on tap this weekend:
Will home-field advantage be established this weekend?
A thrilling Wild Card Weekend saw three road teams prevail in hostile environments — setting up another enticing batch of games. Noting the surprising success enjoyed by visitors this past weekend, which road team is most likely to prevail in the divisional round?
The divisional round pits eight of the best quarterbacks in the NFL against one another.
Drew Brees versus Russell Wilson. Andrew Luck against Tom Brady. Colin Kaepernick battles Cam Newton. To top it all off, Philip Rivers will once again take on Peyton Manning in the final game of the weekend.
Whether it’s two young quarterbacks battling to prove who is the better dual-threat signal-caller, a showdown of sophomores versus veterans or two of the most experienced minds in the game facing off, this weekend packs a lot of offensive punch.
Which teams will survive this hurdle in the race toward Super Bowl XLVIII 48?
The Dallas Cowboys missed the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop watching NFL games.
Can home-field advantage can be established this year?
In the NFC, the 49ers and Saints are considered better teams than their home opponents, but both teams travel into tough weather conditions. In the AFC, the Colts were 6-2 at home in the regular season, but they’ve shown signs of being vulnerable.
And then there’s Green Bay. Since 2002, the Packers are 3-4 at Lambeau Field in the playoffs. That mark was 13-0 before ’02.
|KANSAS CITY CHIEFS||INDIANAPOLIS COLTS|
|NEW ORLEANS SAINTS||PHILADELPHIA EAGLES|
|SAN DIEGO CHARGERS||CINCINNATI BENGALS|
|SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS||GREEN BAY PACKERS|
So how wild will this weekend’s wild-card playoff games be?
A high-scoring game is expected Saturday night when the New Orleans Saints visit the Philadelphia Eagles. An Ice Bowl-like game is expected when the San Francisco 49ers visit the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Can the Indianapolis Colts repeat their 16-point win from Week 16 over Kansas City on Saturday in Lucas Oil Stadium? Anything can happen in the San Diego-Cincinnati game Sunday.
Which teams will survive the first hurdle in the race toward Super Bowl XLVIII?
Tarell Brown left $2 million on the table this offseason. This hardly was part of the plan.
The San Francisco 49ers cornerback was due to earn $2.925 million in 2013, the final year of his contract. To collect $2 million of that salary, he was obligated to attend offseason workouts with the team. Unaware that his attendance was contractually mandatory, Brown worked out on his own in Texas.
He didn’t realize he had cost himself dearly until Thursday, when he saw reports on Twitter. He immediately fired his agent, Brian Overstreet.
“No one wants to leave money on the table,” Brown said Thursday, via The Associated Press. “If I would have known the clauses in my contract — that’s what agents get paid to do, to orchestrate the contract and to let you know what you can and can’t do as far as workouts and OTAs and things of that sort. That’s what he got paid to do. He didn’t do that, so in my opinion, you have to be let go. We all are held accountable for our actions. This is part of the business.”
After finishing what we imagine was a tremendously pleasant conversation with Mr. Overstreet, Brown reached out to the 49ers. Unfortunately for the 28-year-old, “there wasn’t too much I really could say.”
“It had nothing to do with not being in shape, not wanting to work out, no contract problems, it just had to do with me wanting to go back home and train,” Brown said. “It’s something I’ve been doing for the past few years.”
Brown said he plans to sit down with 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh in an effort to work out a compromise of some kind.
“Hope for the best,” Brown said. “Pray for me.”
The Super Bowl party has become one of the biggest social events on the calendar. A party up there in stature and anticipation like parties for New Year’s Eve, Halloween and WrestleMania.
And since many of you don’t bother to read this far and just skip to the list, much like how you will make a b-line to the beer fridge at the party, let’s just get to it.
This is the ideal The Boys Are Back reader. Just because this guy’s team was eliminated is no reason for him not to say why these two teams are terrible. You know, the two teams playing in the Super Bowl. Get ready for three hours of why his team will be playing in the game next year. Just nod your head and say, “Yeah, it sure does sound like next year is going to be the year for the Cowboys.” “No way it goes bad for Tony Romo again.”
Every time Colin Kaepernick does something great, this guy will be quick to tell you he picked up the young signal caller on the waiver wire last year and rode him to fantasy victory! Or drone on about how Mark Sanchez’s fumble sealed his title. What’s worse, this guy will likely show up with his fantasy football trophy and make you pose with him.
I’m just here for the commercials
At least one party guest will take great pride in the fact he doesn’t watch football and revel in his ignorance. And why he’s at a Super Bowl party, we have no idea. He’s also the (expletive) who becomes annoyed if you talk during the commercials (it’s the best part!) and can’t understand why you went outside to smoke during the halftime show. He’s guaranteed to root for the team you don’t want to win, too.
The misguided know it all
This fan is the opposite of the well informed The Boys Are Back reader! You can’t miss this guy because he’s going to talk louder than the TV, no matter how many times you continue to increase the volume. Best of all, most of his statements will be wrong. He’ll say things like, “I loved Coopernick (sic) when he played at UNLV.” Sure you did. He’ll often feel like he has to talk down to the women folk, most of whom has a better understanding of the NFL and will gleefully point out KAEPERNICK played at Nevada, not UNLV. That moment will probably be the highlight of your day.
Look who just got a brand new T-shirt from NFL Shop! But you can tell he isn’t a real hardcore fan by the surprise on their face when you say former Raiders receiver Jerry Rice actually started his career with the 49ers. Get ready to be stunned, but this is also likely a fan of the Yankees, Celtics and the Empire in “Star Wars.”. He does not know who Paul Tagliabue is or was, but the name sounds familiar. He insists he’s been pulling for SF or Baltimore for years! Testing this ‘fan’ is always interesting and entertaining.
This person loves the team, or at least that’s the conclusion we can draw from the back tattoo. So why and the hell are they here? Hardcore fans are no fun because if their team loses, we all lose. Most of us just want to sit around, enjoy the game and maybe crack a few jokes. You can’t do that if you have one hardcore fan there. You have to root for their team, or your life is miserable. And if there are hardcore fans from both teams, it’s even worse.
So don’t worry diehard fan, we’ll smooth things out with your spouse (who is likely making you go). You just sit home and enjoy the game.
Ok. Did we forget anyone? What kind of fan category do you fall into?
After 17 grueling weeks, the playoffs are finally here. The seeds are set and the field is stacked.
A quick look at the 12 teams that survived to play another game. Here’s a case for and against each squad in the race to Super Bowl XLVII:
1) Atlanta Falcons (13-3)
How do they make a deep run? The Falcons continue to be an excellent home team. The running game provides just enough balance to complement a potent passing attack, and the defense routinely baffles elite quarterbacks, producing several turnovers.
How do they get eliminated? The Falcons struggle to rush the passer, and they become too one-dimensional on offense. In their three losses this season, they produced just two sacks and were out-rushed, 487-146. A team like the Seattle Seahawks or San Francisco 49ers could pose a huge problem.
2) San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)
How do they make a deep run? The defense dominates the line of scrimmage and Colin Kaepernick produces three or four big plays per game. Receiver Michael Crabtree continues to emerge as a top-shelf talent, and the running game benefits from the fresh legs of rookie LaMichael James.
How do they get eliminated? The49ers’ defense can be attacked; the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks provided a blueprint for doing so in Weeks 15 and 16. The 49ers’ offense, meanwhile, is capable of stalling for long stretches of time. The poor play of kicker David Akers could also end up costing San Francisco a game.
3) Green Bay Packers (11-5)
How do they make a deep run? Led by Aaron Rodgers, the Packers’ passing attack gets hot and puts up huge numbers, outscoring every opponent. A different receiver steps up every week and a healthy Clay Matthews closes out games with pressures and sacks.
How do they get eliminated? The offensive line can’t protect Rodgers and the running game fails to provide the necessary balance. The Minnesota Vikings match up very well against the Packers; they’re fully capable of quickly ending Green Bay’s postseason.
4) Washington Redskins (10-6)
How do they make a deep run? The Redskins’ unique offense controls the clock, shortens games and piles up just enough points. The defense covers up some soft spots by sending lots of pressure and creating key turnovers. Relishing their postseason opportunity, steady veterans DeAngelo Hall and London Fletcher produce game-changing plays.
How do they get eliminated? Robert Griffin III’s knee injury makes the offense more predictable, and a talented defensive opponent manages to take away Alfred Morris. The Redskins’ defense struggles to create a pass rush, and the safety play is exposed by a top-notch quarterback.
5) Seattle Seahawks (11-5)
How do they make a deep run? They carry their momentum right through the postseason. Russell Wilson continues to play clutch, mistake-free football, while Marshawn Lynch grinds out tough yards. The defense continues to create high numbers of turnovers and finds the end zone a few times, as well.
How do they get eliminated? An opponent stacks the box to take away Lynch, and the athletic Wilson is contained. The lack of a true No. 1 receiver ends up being an issue, and the offensive production takes a nosedive.
6) Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
How do they make a deep run? Adrian Peterson continues to carry the entire offense, and Christian Ponder protects the football. Jared Allen gets hot; his pressures create sacks and turnovers. Kicker Blair Walsh hits a long, game-winning field goal along the way.
How do they get eliminated? An opponent sells out to slow down Peterson, and Ponder is unable to make them pay for it. Peterson puts the ball on the ground, and Ponder struggles to play from behind. The defense allows a mobile quarterback to create plays with his legs.
1) Denver Broncos (13-3)
How do they make a deep run? Peyton Manning will have two weeks to prepare for his first opponent. The Broncos are the NFL’s most complete team, ranking in the top five in virtually every important statistic. This balance will make Denver very difficult to eliminate. The pass rush can take over a game, giving Manning’s offense a short field and allowing the Broncos to pile up points quickly.
How do they get eliminated? If the weather is horrible in Denver and the Broncos’ rushing attack is unable to get on track, they could struggle offensively. A matchup against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the snow would pose a very formidable challenge.
2) New England Patriots (12-4)
How do they make a deep run? Recently returned tight end Rob Gronkowski sparks an offensive explosion. Brady benefits from a solid ground attack, utilizing his tight ends to produce chunk plays down the field. The young secondary allows some big gains, but comes up with a few key turnovers.
How do they get eliminated? A physical Baltimore Ravens team pushes around New England’s offensive line, or the Pats simply run into a red-hot Denver team on the road and lose a shootout. I don’t see any of the other AFC teams giving New England much of a problem.
3) Houston Texans (12-4)
How do they make a deep run? They forget recent struggles and recapture their early-season form. Arian Foster shoulders the load on offense, and the defensive line creates numerous sacks and turnovers. The secondary avoids giving up the big play.
How do they get eliminated? Matt Schaub fails to make enough plays to outscore either the Patriots or the Broncos. Facing constant double-teams, J.J. Watt is unable to dominate the game.
4) Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
How do they make a deep run? A well-rested Ray Rice carries the ball more than he has during the regular season, and the Ravens physically pound their opponents. Tight end Dennis Pitta and receiver Torrey Smith produce big plays in the passing game. The defense is sparked by the return of Ray Lewis. Paul Kruger plays the role of unsung hero, making several impact plays.
How do they get eliminated? The offense features too much Joe Flacco and not enough Rice. Baltimore allows too many sacks; opponents manage to strip the ball from Flacco in the pocket, creating turnovers. The defense struggles to contain the run.
5) Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
How do they make a deep run? Andrew Luck continues to excel on third down, and the veteran pass-rushing duo of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis steps up to make several impact plays. Cornerback Vontae Davis keeps playing at an elite level, picking off a few balls.
How do they get eliminated? The offensive line is overwhelmed and Luck doesn’t get any time to throw the football. The defensive front is pushed around, giving up too many rushing yards to a back like the Ravens’ Rice or the Patriots’ Stevan Ridley.
6) Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
How do they make a deep run? Receiver A.J. Green gets hot, producing several big plays through the air, and the pass rush dominates on the other side of the ball. Geno Atkins finally gets credit for his outstanding play after collecting several sacks and tackles for a loss.
How do they get eliminated? The running game is unable to provide balance, and Andy Dalton turns the ball over too much. The defense is on the field too often, and the unit runs out of gas late.
They have to get there first. But while Jason Garrett and his players aren’t looking past the Washington Redskins next Sunday in a winner-take-all NFC East showdown, the Cowboys’ advance scouts are looking ahead.
They can focus their attention on the 49ers (10-4-1) and the Seahawks (10-5). The Cowboys would be 9-7 with a win over the Redskins and the fourth seed. They would play the fifth seed. The 49ers or the Seahawks will be the fifth seed. The 49ers will win the NFC West with a victory over the Cardinals or a Seahawks loss to the Rams. The Seahawks would win the West with a victory and a 49ers loss. So either the 49ers or the Seahawks will be the NFC West champion and the other one will be the fifth seed.
Dallas, as NFC East champions, would host the wild-card game at Cowboys Stadium on the weekend of Jan. 5-6. The educated guess is the Cowboys game would be Sunday, Jan. 6 in the 3 p.m. time slot, considering lots of things, including the fact that the Cotton Bowl is Jan. 4. There also is the fact that NBC got this week’s game between the Cowboys and Redskins, so Fox likely will get the NFC East champion’s playoff game. NBC televises the two playoff games on Jan. 5. Fox has an NFC game on Jan. 6, and CBS has an AFC game on Jan. 6. It’s just an educated guess on when the game would be played, but a pretty good assumption, assuming the Cowboys beat the Redskins.
Either way, the Cowboys’ advance scouts will be getting ready in hopes there is a game next weekend.
"The advance guys do a great job of that stuff, and they’ll have that whole thing covered for us," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "They have all the different scenarios and who’s traveling to what game. One of the things that I’ve found out being in these kinds of situations is be careful about making too many educated guesses. Make sure you have all your bases covered. Oh, this team will definitely beat them, so we’re definitely going to play them. A lot of times that doesn’t happen. Our guys do a great job of that, and they’ll have all that background work done for us, so hopefully we win this ball game and go get prepared to play the first round of the playoffs. They’ll have all that stuff covered for us to start our preparation."
BALTIMORE — Safety Gerald Sensabaugh sat in his locker putting on his socks and said to himself, "Man, we are so close."
That is what the Dallas Cowboys do so very well — close.
They do so in the most stupefying, maddening fashion that can be authored.
Not too far from the same neighborhood where one of the world’s most celebrated authors of fiction — Mr. Edgar Allen Poe — once penned his brilliance, the Cowboys once again created their own version of real-time hell.
The author of the Ravens’ 31-29 win against the Cowboys? Start with Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.
The Dallas Cowboys amassed 481 total yards and did not win the game. That is odd.
The Cowboys ran for 227 yards and did not win the game. That is hard.
The Cowboys had the ball at their own 46-yard line with 32 seconds remaining, one timeout, and ran but two offensive plays before settling for a 51-yard field goal attempt. That is inexcusable.
The Ravens defeated the Cowboys when they were clearly not the better team but managed to win because they simply were not the dumber team.
To show how the Cowboys played on Sunday, their smartest player was Dez Bryant. (In fairness to Dez, other than having to miss one drive because he was receiving an IV for dehydration, he played arguably the best game of his career.)
"What do you want? I believe in my guys," Cowboys defensive back Orlando Scandrick said. "It’s not an exact science. It’s football. It’s not mathematics."
Exactly. No one expects the Dallas Cowboys to be NASA.
The Cowboys are coached by a Princeton grad, but his team plays sometimes as if it barely finished the seventh grade. As much as his Ivy League education should be a reflection of his own intellect, the way his team plays says something about Jason Garrett. Which is why it does not add up.
The Cowboys had 13 penalties for 82 yards on Sunday, one turnover, allowed a special teams touchdown, and made a series of self-inflicted wounds in the red zone that killed or hurt scoring chances.
"Three of the five games we’ve had a lot of penalties," Garrett said. "The officials were certainly involved in this game and you have to overcome that stuff."
And the clock management after the Cowboys recovered the onside kick with 32 seconds to play suggests nothing was learned from the nightmare in Arizona last season.
Garrett did the same thing at San Francisco last year — played for a long field goal — and got away with it when Dan Bailey nailed a long kick to send into overtime a game the Cowboys eventually won.
But he got burned on it in Arizona last season, and a little bit against the Giants in Arlington last December.
You cannot bank on making a 51-yard field goal. You always get closer.
"I felt like I could knock it through from there," Bailey said of his potential game-winning kick that sailed wide left with two seconds remaining.
In the Cowboys’ locker room after the game, at least two players were overheard talking about that 2011 loss in Arizona.
Coach Process looks smart. He acts smart. He is organized. His rhetoric sounds sharp, and yet his team plays the opposite.
The Cowboys under Garrett sometimes play not too much different than they did under Uncle Wade Phillips.
I asked Garrett if he thought he has a smart team. His response was some long-winded verbiage about pre-snap penalties, etc.
Garrett is not going to pull a Bill Callahan, who is on his staff now, and go on some long-winded diatribe about being the "dumbest team in America".
If effort is not the problem, and the coaches and front office people insist this is not a talent issue, then IQ is having its say, too.
The environment, as well as the Ravens, had a role in why the Cowboys did what they did. Perhaps the players are taking the cue from their leader and are trying to do too much.
Unlike the Cowboys’ losses against the Seahawks and Bears, which were blowouts, they were competitive throughout in Baltimore. They gave themselves a chance.
On the road that’s all you can ask.
"It wasn’t a perfect game, but we showed fight," tight end Jason Witten said. "You don’t walk away from this saying, ‘Hey, we played a good team close.’ We have to look at the tape and be better."
Because we have not heard that before.
The Cowboys should have won this game, and they know it.
"We should have had this," Bryant said.
Instead, the Cowboys do what they do so well — they get close.
Courtesy: Mac Engel | Ft Worth Star-Telegram
I’ll respectfully disagree with the take from NBC’s Cris Collinsworth that Tony Romo played the best game of his career Wednesday night.
In fact, it arguably wasn’t the best game Romo has played against the Giants in the last 10 months.
Here’s one man’s opinion of the five most impressive performances of Romo’s career:
1. Cowboys 27, 49ers 24 (Sept. 18, 2011): It’s impressive any time a quarterback leads a late rally from a double-digit deficit to defeat one of the league’s top defensive teams. It’s especially amazing when that quarterback does so after breaking a couple of ribs and puncturing his lungs early in that game. That was the case at Candlestick Park with Romo, who completed 12 of 15 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter and overtime, essentially sealing the win by hitting reality show-winning receiver Jesse Holley for a 77-yard gain. Romo, who had been ripped all week after committing two late turnovers in a season-opening loss to the New York Jets, finished the game with 345 yards and two touchdowns on 20-of-33 passing.
Rewatch this game on NFL Game Rewind:
2. Cowboys 37, Packers 27 (Nov. 29, 2007): Want high stakes? The NFC’s top seed was on the line, and Brett Favre was on the opposing sideline. Romo responded with 309 yards and four touchdowns on 19-of-30 passing. His lone interception could have been another score, but Terrell Owens bobbled the ball in the end zone to allow Green Bay’s Al Harris to get his hands on it. Romo also put the ball on the money twice to Miles Austin on deep balls, drawing 42- and 40-yard pass interference penalties. This was a masterful performance in a game with major playoff implications.
3. Giants 37, Cowboys 34 (Dec. 11, 2011): The Cowboys didn’t win, but you’d have to have a football IQ lower than Romo’s jersey number to blame this loss on him. In fact, his 141.3 passer rating in this game was the highest in NFL history by any quarterback who threw for at least 300 yards in a loss. Romo completed 21 of 31 passes for 321 yards and four touchdowns. His stats would have been even more impressive — and the Cowboys would have won the game — if Austin didn’t lose a deep ball in the lights on what should have been a dagger touchdown.
Rewatch this game on NFL Game Rewind:
4. Cowboys 37, Falcons 21 (Oct. 25, 2009): Austin hogged the headlines, following up his franchise-record 250-yard performance in his first start the previous week by torching Atlanta for 171 yards and two scores on six catches. Of course, Romo had a lot to do with that. No. 9 was simply sensational after a slow start. He didn’t have a completion in the first quarter, scrambling for the Cowboys’ lone first down in the opening 15 minutes, but Romo finished with 311 yards and three TDs on 21-of-29 passing. His 5-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Crayton on the final snap of the first half was Romo at his finest. He avoided a sack by spinning away from three Falcons before firing a strike to a wide-open Crayton in the end zone, giving the Cowboys a double-digit lead
Rewatch this game on NFL Game Rewind:
5. Cowboys 24, Giants 17 (Sept. 5, 2012): Romo had to overcome an awful performance by the offensive line to beat the defending Super Bowl champions on the road. He threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns on 22-of-29 passing despite being pressured by Jason Pierre-Paul and Co. all night. Most quarterbacks wouldn’t have been able to get rid of the ball on his two touchdowns to Kevin Ogletree. Romo used his mobility to make the biggest plays in what could be a statement game at the site where Dallas’ 2011 season died.
Rewatch this game on NFL Game Rewind:
Tim MacMahon | ESPN Dallas
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.
Receiver Jesse Holley said he is still talking to the Dallas Cowboys and hopes to come back. But if not, he’s thankful for the chance the Cowboys gave him and hopes he’s established enough of a body of work to get another NFL job.
“I’m pretty confident that some way, somehow, a team will like me enough to bring me in and give me a fair shot,” he said Wednesday at a charity event in Grapevine. “So I’ll go with that and work my way up the ranks again like I have before. I’ve never been a stranger to hard work or having the odds set against me.”
Holley, an exclusive rights free agent, did not get a contract offer from the Cowboys. That leaves him open to signing with another team or signing a new contract with the Cowboys, who probably did not want to pay him the going rate for an exclusive rights tender.
“I expected for them to at least sign me back,” Holley said. “So it was a blow. But it’s nothing personal. It’s a business. So you go with that.”
Holley has spent three years with the Cowboys since landing a spot in training camp in 2009 by winning a reality show, Michael Irvin’s "4th and Long." The show pitted 12 receivers and cornerbacks in a competition for the 80th spot in the Cowboys’ training camp that year.
Holley won the show, stuck through camp and was signed to the practice squad. In 2010, he was active for 14 games and was the Cowboys’ third-leading tackler on special teams.
Last year, he caught seven passes for 169 yards, including a 77-yard catch to set up a winning field goal in overtime at San Francisco. Six of his seven catches went for first downs. He also played special teams again.
Holley, who said he has been in contact with five other teams, said he would like to come back to the Cowboys and has high hopes for the team this year.
“This team is going to be a good team,” he said. “I’m still a Cowboy at heart. Coach Garrett has really got these guys going in the right direction. He’s brought in a bunch of top-notch free agents. He’s really shored up a lot of holes we had last season. I’m confident that Coach Garrett and Jerry really have this team going in the right direction. Once those guys get here and in the minicamps and get jelled in, I think it will definitely be a team to reckon with next year.”
Holley said right now, he has to remain patient, stay in shape and be ready for his next chance, wherever it is.
“No matter what happens, I’ll always have a play in Cowboys history,” he said, thinking about his Week 2 catch in San Francisco. He laughed and said, “Hopefully, I’ll be around for a third and fourth play.”
Then he added, “I thank the Cowboys for everything they’ve done for me. It’s been an honor to play for such a great franchise. I hope I can continue to play for them.”
Photo courtesy: Star-Telegram/Ron Jenkins
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Jesse Holley (16) hangs on to the ball … and his position with the ‘boys special teams.
IRVING, Texas — Following Sunday’s victory over the Buffalo Bills, Cowboys wide receiver/special teamer Jesse Holley was asked about his status with the team. For weeks the Cowboys needed to juggle their roster due to injuries and it appeared Holley might get released.
After catching a 77-yard pass in overtime in the Week 3 victory over San Francisco, Holley has disappeared. He has a total of four catches, including a 25-yarder in the first quarter on Sunday, on the season.
Holley doesn’t worry about the lack of offensive snaps. He’s a punt protector and is among the team leaders on special teams.
“It’s part of the game and you just … I don’t control that,” Holley said. “I can control what I can control and I can keep coming out there with my head down working hard every day in practice doing everything I got to do. They keep trying to find a way to cut me and it ain’t happened yet.”
The Cowboys still value Holley in some fashion or he wouldn’t be here. He can’t return kicks yet has improved as a receiver but not enough where the Cowboys use him on a regular basis.
Special teams is where he makes his living. Holley said he’s inspired by Bill Bates, a long-time special teams ace for the Cowboys in the 1980s and ’90s.
“Bill Bates, 15 years, that’s all I got to say about that,” Holley said. “They tried to cut Bill Bates for 10 years, 12 years. What the hell? Bill Bates 15 years. I can play 10.”
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was completely healthy Sunday. It was the first time since the season opener against the Jets that he felt 100 percent. Romo fractured a rib and punctured a lung on the third play of the Week 2 victory over the 49ers.
Last week against the Seahawks, Romo did not take a pain-killing shot for the first time since his injury. He did, however, play with the specially fitted Kevlar jacket. He said he wore it as a “precaution.”
He is unsure whether he will wear it this week.
“I don’t know,” Romo said Thursday. “I’m going to toy with it a little bit, and I’ll see. It was nice playing healthy last week and it will be nice again, I can tell you that.”
Romo said the rib is fully healed.
“I believe it’s fully healed,” he said. “We haven’t had an X-ray here in awhile, but it was healing properly. We basically came to the conclusion it’s good.”
Romo is battling a cold this week.
“It’s probably going to keep me out of the game this week,” he said with a chuckle. “I think I’ll be all right. No, we’re good.”
IRVING, Texas — In conjunction with the upcoming release of the new Lucasfilm movie Red Tails, the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets will salute the Tuskegee Airmen and their 70th anniversary of service with a special tribute during three NFL games held on Nov. 13, Veterans Day Weekend.
The game presentations will feature salutes to the Tuskegee Airmen, including sideline interviews with some of the original veteran World War II pilots, and on-field tributes to these American heroes.
Stars from Red Tails, an action adventure film that celebrates the bravery of the Tuskegee Airmen, will also attend pre-game tailgate events and performing at select games. The cast includes Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Nate Parker, Elijah Kelley, Tristan Wilds, Leslie Odom Jr., Michael B. Jordan and Gerald McRaney. Red Tails opens in theaters on Jan. 20, 2012.
An all-African-American combat unit created at the Tuskegee Institute in 1941, the Tuskegee Airmen pilots faced unimaginable challenges: fierce discrimination, outdated training equipment, and their performance was scrutinized by government officials who believed they would fail. Despite these obstacles, the Tuskegee Airmen persevered and earned an impressive combat record in World War II. They flew more than 15,000 sorties on more than 1,500 missions throughout North Africa and Europe, and won three Distinguished Unit Citations and earned 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 14 Bronze Stars, 744 Air Medals and several Silver Stars and Purple Hearts.
ARLINGTON — Tony Romo was booed early. Booed for doing right. He went into a slide just short of the goal line, meaning a red-zone possession ended in a field goal.
Did the boo-birds forget the ribs? Or forget the Jets game of September and what happened when Romo attempted to bulldoze the end zone on a scramble?
Restless crowd. Regrouping team.
Both factors were definitely in play here Sunday afternoon. There was a game that needed to be won. There was a season that needed resuscitation.
Otherwise, forget it for 2011.
But the Cowboys managed to accomplish both objectives — the win and the resuscitation coming off a DOA effort in Philly — thanks to several positive developments, the most prominent being it was the Seattle Seahawks providing the opposition.
Otherwise, who knows, but let’s not quibble, right, over any kind of win, which in this case was a 23-13 decision that took the Cowboys to the halfway point of the NFL campaign with a 4-4 record.
Thus opened a stretch of schedule where “winnable” games stretch into early December, except…
Michael Irvin couldn’t be prouder if Jesse Holley was his own son. Holley won a tryout with the Cowboys off Irvin’s reality show, 4th and Long, three years ago. Holley made the practice squad his first year, earned a shot on the active roster during the 2010 season and became a hero Sunday with a 77-yard catch-and-run in overtime against the 49ers.
“I feel like a father who played his first game the other day,” Irvin said Thursday. “What a blessing that was just to see Jesse after how hard he’s worked these last few years to get that opportunity, how he stayed in. We talked time and time again about just you’ve got to be ready. If you get any opportunity, you’ve got to make the most of it. …I said to Jesse, ‘You’ve got to make the most of any opportunity, because you may only get one. You’ve got to make it stick.’ Certainly, he did that the other day.”
But Irvin said Holley should have scored. Holley, who had played on special teams the previous play, admitted he ran out of gas. It allowed safety Donte Whitner, who had bit on the play-action fake, to catch up to Holley. Whitner tackled Holley at the 1-yard line, and the Cowboys kicked the field goal on the next play.
“When he was running, he cut toward the right — the sideline — and I said, ‘You just narrowed it. You narrowed the opportunity,'” said Irvin, who sat down with Holley on Wednesday for an interview that will appear on NFL Network during Sunday’s pregame show. “Jesse had just blocked on the punt team. He had just sprinted down there. So I knew he was tired.”
Irvin said he hopes Holley’s performance will allow 4th and Long to get another shot. The show was on only that one season that Holley won.
“We could put the show back together,” Irvin said. “People were calling it a joke. ‘What is this? Michael’s taking up a roster spot.’ Got on Jerry [Jones]. ‘What will this guy ever do for the Dallas Cowboys?’ Well, he just saved the season. That’s all. That was the season-saver. That’s what I texted him. I said, ‘Way to go, man. That’s an SS.’ He said, ‘What’s an SS?’ I said, ‘A season-saver.'”
A week after being criticized for his fourth quarter mistakes against the New York Jets, Tony Romo is receiving praise for persevering through rib and lung injuries and rallying the Cowboys to a 27-24 overtime victory in San Francisco.
One of the latest to compliment Romo’s Week 2 performance was reigning Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers.
“I was surprised he could play so effectively under that much pain,” The Green Bay Packers quarterback said on “The Rich Eisen Podcast” this week. “I actually didn’t have the same injury, but I got cracked in the ribs a couple of years ago against Detroit and the guys were kind of making fun of me in the huddle because I was having a hard time spitting out the plays.
“But a punctured lung and cracked rib? That’s a lot of pain. I sent him a text after the game because I saw the highlights and saw they came back. That’s an impressive performance.”
By just glancing at the box score from the Cowboys’ loss to the Jets, Rodgers noted that he thought Romo played a pretty good game. However, he was aware that the Cowboys QB took quite a bit of criticism for his mistakes during the final nine minutes.
“I think it was pretty good for him to bounce back like that and come back in the game and play so well,” Rodgers said.
The Cowboys had only seven linemen active for the game against the 49ers. Kevin Kowalski was the reserve interior lineman, and Jermy Parnell was the reserve tackle.
So when center Phil Costa went out with a knee injury and Kowalski came in, there would have been no replacement if he or one of the guards had been hurt.
The Cowboys got fortunate in a couple of ways. First, they wound up not needing another guard. Second, Kowalski had been working more at center than guard.
“Fortunately, I had been getting quite a bit of reps at center during the week,” Kowalski said. “Not so much at guard. So the situation wasn’t the worst situation that could have happened to me, and I felt I was pretty prepared and the coaches helped me be prepared for the moment.”
Jason Garrett played Monday Morning Quarterback with himself a day after the Cowboys’ 27-24 overtime victory over the 49ers. Garrett, the team’s play-caller as well as its head coach, called for a running play with receiver Miles Austin at the end of regulation.
Dallas faced a third-and-two from the San Francisco 28 with 49 seconds remaining and trailing by three points. Austin lost a yard and reinjured his hamstring on the play. The Cowboys kicked the game-tying field goal on the final play of the fourth quarter.
Garrett said he would like to have a mulligan on the play call.
“I don’t like the call,” Garrett said Monday. “I say it every week, there are about 10 calls throughout the week that I don’t really like. Conceptually, it was a good idea for that situation. We wanted to run the ball there. We’ve run similar type runs from that three-wide receiver set in the drive, so we wanted to do something different. Sometimes, when you put guys in different spots and then run a play, that you’re comfortable with, it can affect the defense. We did have an opportunity to get that thing outside, and Miles just turned it up in there. We wanted to run the ball and not have too much of a negative play. We wanted to kick the field goal. In hindsight, I would’ve run a different play.”
Garrett said he would have called a different running play if given the opportunity.
“Sometimes you make mistakes in the game,” Garrett said. “In hindsight, you go back and evaluate and say, ‘Hmm, maybe we should’ve done something different.’ But the idea was to run the ball there just to give Dan Bailey a chance to kick it. He made a big kick in the game, obviously.”
TBAB comment: I was going to post something on this subject, but JG was quick to squash it. At the time, during live game action, it appeared as a broken play or some type of mass confusion in the backfield. Now that I realize it’s an actual designed play (but poorly executed with an injured player), I can see the benefits of a play like this (with a healthy WR, of course). Austin could have really put icing on the cake … and boost his already impressive game stats. I love innovation, so lets keep that one tucked away in the playbook … until Austin is healthy again.
SAN FRANCISCO — At the end of a long afternoon at Candlestick Park, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo could barely move. Romo suffered a fractured rib in the Cowboys’ dramatic 27-24 overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Romo is scheduled to undergo a CT scan on Monday.
Romo moved around the locker room slowly and had trouble putting on a dress shirt and pants.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones felt moved by his quarterback, who didn’t start the second half due to the injury only to come back into the game and lead the Cowboys to a game-winning Rally.
Jones and Romo shared an embrace and then Jones kissed Romo on the temple.
It was an emotional moment for Jones, who watched his team rally from a 14-point deficit.
“Extremely,” Jones said on the emotions. “Good. It was good. I was so proud for him and proud for us. It was something out of a movie really because he really is hurt.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he’s confident in Jon Kitna if Tony Romo can’t play next week against the Washington Redskins.
“We have a lot of confidence in Jon,” Jones said. “Jon steps in and he makes plays. He got us going. Good drives. Obviously the touchdown kept us in the game. That’s what he’s done the last two years, really step in and make plays.”
Kitna completed six of 10 passes for 87 yards, a 5-yard touchdown to Miles Austin and two interceptions.
“Jon inspired the team to come in,” Jones said. “You guys know how many snaps the backup quarterback gets. But he came in and made those plays. It’s a shame that he’s going to have to have on his stats about that one that bounced around back there. That’s a shame. We’re fortunate, this team, to have him as the backup quarterback.”
Kitna said he didn’t do anything special. He was just glad to be ready when called on, and he said that’s the message coach Jason Garrett has been emphasizing.
“The message is the same every week,” Kitna said. “We’re not going to talk about excuses, how we’re going to wish and live in that land of ‘Oh, what if?’ Hey, you’re on this team, you have a job to do. When it’s your turn to do your job, you’ve got to do your job.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said there was no question Dan Bailey was going to be the kicker on the 48-yard field goal to tie the game, even though he had missed a 21-yarder in the first quarter.
The Cowboys could have turned to kickoff specialist David Buehler, who has a reputation for a strong leg and has more experience.
“It was going to be Bailey. No question,” Garrett said.
Bailey made the field goal, and in overtime, he won it with a 19-yard kick set up by Jesse Holley’s 77-yard catch and run to the 1-yard line.
“The kick that he made into the wind in that situation to tie the game is a big-time kick. A big-time kick,” Garrett said.
Bailey said he was glad to get a second chance. And a third.
“It was definitely a roller-coaster for me,” Bailey said. “I’d like to have that first one back, but that’s OK. You’ve got to take it one kick at a time. Luckily, I got a couple of opportunities to redeem myself and went out there and put them through.”
Jesse Holley had three catches 96 yards against the 49ers. He should have had a touchdown on the final catch, but he admits he “ran out of gas,” (Juke Juice) allowing safety Donte Whitner to catch him from behind at the 1-yard line.
“I never proclaimed to be a speedster,” said Holley, who got a chance to make the team three training camps ago after winning Michael Irvin’s reality show on Spike TV. “God blessed me with a lot of things, but 4.3 speed definitely wasn’t one of them.”
It was as if the Cowboys’ final play had been drawn up by a screen writer. Tony Romo got Whitner to bite on a play-action fake to Tashard Choice, allowing Holley to get wide open. After that, it was just a matter of Holley catching the ball and running as fast as he could to glory.
“If I drop that pass,” Holley said. “my bag might beat me back to Dallas.”
Holley was playing only because Miles Austin had tweaked his hamstring on the final play from scrimmage in regulation. He had gotten a chance in the fourth quarter only because Dez Bryant was inactive with a thigh contusion and Austin was a bit gimpy with his hamstring.
“I went to my coaches and I told them I’m ready,” Holley said. “I’m just glad that they believed in me to make a play.”
Holley had never had a catch before Sunday.
When quarterback Tony Romo didn’t return to the game in the third quarter, his parents grew worried so they rushed from the stands to the field.
Of course by the time they got to the field and near Romo to find out what was wrong, he was back in the game and leading the Cowboys to a heroic comeback victory.
“We had some sneaking suspicion he hurt his ribs but we didn’t know for sure,” his dad Ramiro Romo said. “We had no idea. When he wasn’t playing we knew something was serious. We went to the field to see if he was all right and he was back in the game. They let us watch the rest of the game from down there.”
Ramiro Romo said he was proud of the entire team for how they battled and continued to play.
And after initially downplaying the controversy of the last week when his son was criticized nationally for his two fourth-quarter turnovers and not being a game who can win in the clutch, Dad showed his pride and his own bit of competitiveness.
“You can’t question his heart, you can’t question that,” said Ramiro before pausing with a smile. “And you can’t question the ability to perform when the game is on the line.”
Tony Romo saved the day. And Jesse Holley too. But Doug Free hasn’t gotten credit for his part in making the Cowboys’ 27-24 overtime victory happen.
Receiver Miles Austin already was gimpy with his hamstring injury when Jason Garrett called for Austin to take a running play on third-and-two from the 49ers 28 with 49 seconds to play in regulation. Austin further injured himself, and he fumbled. Free recovered the ball.
“I just couldn’t run,” Austin said. “I went out there and [the injury] kind of just slowed me down. I fumbled the ball, too. I shouldn’t have done that. Maybe my knee was down. Maybe it wasn’t. But either way, I can’t do that.”
Officials did rule it a fumble, and TV replays showed his knee was not down. So without Free, Romo and Holley wouldn’t have starred.