There was a point in this game where it seemed like the Cowboys would handle business.
Did I? (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
There was also a point where all hope was lost. At that point, anyone who has paid attention to this team this year knew what would happen next. Moving with urgency, Tony Romo would orchestrate a comeback because this offense has the tools to put up points when it isn’t thinking too hard. But again, anyone who has paid close attention to this team knew that, once again, this team had allowed itself to fall into a hole that would make the margin for error razor thin and a victory unlikely.
Even after forcing overtime and winning the coin toss to get possession first against a defense that had to be gassed following the relentless comeback at the end of regulation, Dallas couldn’t seal the deal at home – this with Dez Bryant emerging as a reliable beast, posting his first career 200-yard receiving game.
That says a lot about what the 2012 Cowboys are. They’re a pretty good team that can kick it into gear when they’re desperate, but often times they come up short.
Despite everything, it’s win and get in. Beating the Redskins means the 2012 Cowboys will be NFC East champs. How insane is that?
No matter what happens, one thing that we’ve learned this season, however, is that Tony Romo is by no means the problem. In a season in which he surpassed Troy Aikman in TDs thrown as a Cowboy and set the franchise record for passing yardage in a single season, Romo has been the one thing consistently keeping this team in games. Maybe Romo still has another gear we haven’t seen yet that can lead this team of misfits into the playoffs and beyond.
The position that we are in, that makes me want to be out there… If there was anything less than what we got a chance of, I would have went ahead and got surgery.
If it weren’t for the whole beating his mom thing, I’d say, that’s one classy guy.
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.
A win is a win, right? That had to be the most loss-like win I’ve ever watched. I can only imagine how Tampa must feel right now after being on the losing end of that coldly-contested matchup. It was like watching two old men fight over a stale dinner roll — only much less entertaining.
Flippin’ ugly. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
So there are some major concerns to go over.
1. Jason Witten No Cowboys fan has any right to pile onto Jason Witten. EVER. He’s obviously playing through injury and would never admit it. But that begs the question whether his being on the field could become a liability. The team has barely scraped by when Witten has been his normal consistent self, but with him contributing penalities, dropped passes and missing blocking assignments, maybe John Phillips should get some more snaps.
2. Defensive Depth With Gerald Sensabaugh already out, Brandon Carr was forced out of his natural corner position to play free safety. Then, Barry Church suffered a ruptured Achilles (season-ending), and for the second game in a row, both starting safeties were absent in crunch time.
3. The O-line There’s no polite way to say it. The offensive line is showing less discipline than if I grabbed a random Texas high school offensive line and let them play a game in Cowboys Stadium against an NFL defense. False starts are still a major problem and Romo is constantly at risk of literally having his head taken off (ASIDE: Where was that fucking flag for helmet-to-helmet?!!?!?).
4. Punting If not for a poor angle taken by a Tampa defender, Dez Bryant’s 45-yard punt return in the 4th quarter to set up the game-clinching score would’ve never happened and the Cowboys would’ve had their second punt blocked in as many weeks.
But what did we do right? Well, Tony Romo and Miles Austin finally started to get into a rhythm together in the second half, and despite injury issues the defense held together and had the Bucs offense under 100 total yards until they went into hurry-up mode late in the game.
Dez charged with Class A misdemeanor for family violence. Out on bail.
We finally had a game that spared us nervous breakdowns. Before we dive in, let’s temper all of this by reminding ourselves this was the winless St. Louis Rams — not even playing at full strength. They had a new quarterback and a new number one receiver. We simply handled business here and anything less than winning the way we did would’ve been cause for concern.
And as much as I want to get really excited about DeMarco Murray running hard and breaking the record for most rushing yards in a game (as a rookie), it was against one of the worst run defenses in the league. That’s not to diminish his day. It’s to hope this is simply not an aberration allowed by a soft defense.
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Still, there’s a lot to be encouraged about. Like I said, Murray was running HARD. He was running like he wanted to be running the ball, which we haven’t been able to say for Felix Jones and Tashard Choice (who had another fumble today). Also, Dez Bryant didn’t disappear in the second half. He appeared to make it a point to have everyone’s attention on the field and on the sidelines. He could really emerge as a leader on this team if he keeps his head level and continues to produce big plays.
Probably the most encouraging thing came at the very end of the game. Our defense, which has been what we’ve been able to hang our hats on anyway, was amped up to keep the Rams out of the end zone on their final drive even though the game had long been decided. Rob Ryan and the defense celebrated this moral victory like it meant something more that just bragging rights — and that’s the type of thing a team does when they’re hungry for more than just winning a few games.
For my own edification and hopefully yours, too, I’d like to start documenting solid games by Tony Romo. After the backlash he received so early in the season, I’d like to at least see if the good outweighs the bad this year.
14/24 166 yards 2 TD 0 INT 107.3 Rating
Not bad. A running game will do wonders for your passing game. Romo’s game today felt rather pedestrian because he didn’t have to do everything. Very quietly, he had a good game.
Next week’s game in Philadelphia will tell us a lot about how much today’s game really means and what this team’s true ambitions are this year in the NFC East.
When Dez Bryant is returning punts, he’s brilliant. When Dez Bryant is a receiver, he’s brilliant. When Dez Bryant is returning punts and receiving… well, he just can’t last the whole game.
I love our commentary on The Cowboys, and I hope you do too, but I read other blogs and news reporters’ commentary too and sometimes it’s just absurd. Today, during a chat session, David Moore of DallasNews.com responded to a reader who was making the claim that the Cowboys need Dez Bryant as a receiver and not a returner with the following:
I have to disagree with you about him as a return man. I think the Cowboys lose a huge weapon when he’s not back to return punts. Let’s go back to the second game of last season, when he returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears.
This strikes me as the kind of ridiculous thing I might say after a few beers, but ridiculous none the less. Let’s look back at that Chicago game for a second. Ok, let’s stop looking back, because it was embarrassing, we lost, and Dez Bryant? Well, he did have that touch down on the return, but he was also third in receiving yards to Roy Williams and Miles Austin. The return was great for us, but a receiver on the opposite side of Austin (who had nearly triple the yards of Dez) would have been better.
The Dallas Cowboys can not risk tiring, or injuring Dez Bryant any more, they need him to be an elite team this year, and that’s just not going to happen with him returning punts.