Very typically of the 2012 Dallas Cowboys, this was a game that could’ve gone either way once it came down to the final drive and the foot of Dan Bailey. A lot will be said of how this team had to perform with heavy hearts after the passing of Jerry Brown and arrest of Josh Brent, but the team played no differently than it has any other game this season.
RIP Jerry Brown. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
The offensive line had its breakdowns which forced Tony Romo to improvise on numerous occassions. Miraculously, he finished the game with only one interception (a desperation heave at the end of the first half that probably should’ve been fought for harder by Dwayne Harris) after a few of his throws hit the hands of Bengals defenders (Hi, Terrence Newman). The running game was surprisingly stagnant, with DeMarco Murray only recording 53 yards, which put pressure on the passing game. Only Dez Bryant came up big with a late touchdown to cut into the Cincinnati’s two-score lead.
The defense, which arguably would be playing most with its emotions on its sleeves, did just enough throughout the game to keep victory within reach. After Bryant’s touchdown, they came up with a big stop to give the ball back to the offense only down by 2.
The difference betwen this week and others, maybe, was that when the game was on the line, this team played mistake-free football. There will need to be a lot more of that with the playoff race in the NFC East getting tighter.
It seems like each week we’re either reeling from a devastating loss or letting out a slight, unimpressed cough after an unconvincing victory. The Eagles are competing only to avoid the distinction of worst team in the league right now, and possibly to save their coach’s job. A 5-point win at home? How disappointing.
Exciting. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
On a night when Tony Romo surpassed Troy Aikman as the Cowboys’ all-time leader in TD passes, and a night in which he had a flawless second half (10/10, 169 yards and 3 TDs), this game felt less like a triumph and more like a lucky break.
Nick Foles had a 96.6 passer rating against the Dallas defense, and Bryce Brown added 169 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. Against a fading team that was 3-8, that is unacceptable.
Some things to be optimistic about — DeMarco Murray put up 83 yards and a touchdown in his return to the lineup. The last few weeks have made it very clear how crucial is style of running is to balancing the offense.
Dez Bryant has been on a tear with 29 catches, 475 yards and 6 touchdowns over the last four games. But it hasn’t just been statistical. His big plays against Philadelphia were timely and game-changing. Miles Austin also came up big on his two receptions in the game, one of them being a touchdown.
It’s hard to know where the Cowboys really stand right now until the Giants and Redskins face off tonight, but it’s going to take way more than the struggling performance they put up against the Eagles to make the playoffs… especially with the Bengals, Steelers, Saints and Redskins remaining on the schedule.
It was the battle of the shit versus the poop. Though the Cowboys should celebrate any victory at this point (especially a divisional game), this one should be tempered with 1. The Eagles came into this game in much worse shape than the Cowboys, and 2. Much of the game was played without Michael Vick.
See? Much worse off than Dallas. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
The Eagles offense was already a turnover machine before Nick Foles took over at quarterback. There was no ‘breakthrough’ for the Cowboys defense in this game where they will suddenly now have a couple takeaways a game. Philly was prone to give up the ball, and the defense was often in the right place at the right time, which should always be the case. So… good for them.
The Cowboys are a full game back of the Giants in the NFC East, which definitely puts them in striking distance with a cakewalk of a schedule the rest of the way. But do we really believe at this point that this team won’t play down to its competition and find ways to lose? Maybe having DeMarco Murray back will get this team back on track since it’s largely been the offense that’s held this team back this year.
It’s also encouraging that Morris Claiborne reportedly stood up in front of the locker room after this game and vowed that he will never have such a poor performance again, after committing a number of penalties and generally looking lost. A Cowboys rookie holding himself accountable? What sorcery is this?
Well… OK. It certainly was a tale of two halves in Arlington yesterday.
And while I know you can’t expect to win a game with 6 turnovers… Dallas should’ve won! (I’m not griping about the overturned TD. It was the correct call.)
Fingers. I hate them. (AP Photo/Sharon Ellman)
It says a lot about this team that despite all of the mistakes that they were that close to sweeping their division-leading rival for the season. Or maybe it just says that the NFC East is pure shit this year.
The only thing that can really redeem this team at this point is if they take down Atlanta next week and streak through the second half of the season like the Giants did last year.
So, the Cowboys beat a 1-4 team — rather unconvincingly.
Yup. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
This game was won on defense, and as much as I think we hate giving Jerry credit for any sort of personnel decisions, going out this offseason and shoring up the secondary seems to be keeping this team in games. Coming into this game, Dallas had the number one pass defense in the league, but it was anticipated that Cam Newton’s threat on the ground might pose the first real challenge this year. It was the secondary that stepped up big with Sean Lee out of the game and the game on the line, as well as pressure from the return of Jay Ratliff to the lineup.
The offense has been in a funk, having to make do with Felix Jones as the starting back, which is something nobody wants. As a result, the passing game has suffered a bit. Witten is still a little less than his old self, Dez Bryant is beginning to turn into Terrell Owens Lite, and Kevin Ogletree has yet to recapture the magic of Week 1.
This is very much a .500 team right now. Nothing yet indicates this team can be anything more than that. Next week probably won’t do much to give us a better idea, as the Giants can be just as inconsistent.