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.
What is there to say? Another loss that should’ve been a win. Another late-game collapse by the defense.
(AP Photo/Sharon Ellman)
This team has had such disastrous outcomes this season that they can be easily recognized when they start to repeat themselves. When Coughlin called the timeout to ice Dan Bailey, it wasn’t just a normal icing. It was Couglin saying, “Your missed kicked was on the top of all sports news last week and here you are again. Make it twice.” Poor Bailey. Thus is the life of a Dallas Cowboys kicker. In these last two weeks, he’s made two game-winning kicks that didn’t count because the rest of his team can’t hang on to a lead.
It’s way past being too much at this point for fans to always be talking about “what ifs.” What if Romo and Austin connect on that third down bomb to go up two scores? What if McBriar’s punt had gone longer?
The fact remains that the defense couldn’t make a stop with the game on the line. This one falls squarely on them and Rob Ryan. Garrett called a pretty perfect game. Romo made the throws (except the aforementioned one to Austin, which should’ve been a nail in a coffin), and even Felix Jones stepped up to fill DeMarco Murray’s shoes (he’s out for the season).
It seemed like such a certainty with just three minutes left that the Cowboys were ready to take ownership of their destiny and coalesce heading into the final weeks of the season. Now the Giants control their fate in the NFC East. It’s not where Dallas should be, but it is what it is.
Solid Tony Romo game alert:
21/31, 321 yards, 4 TD 0 INT, 141.3 passer rating
There’s not much to get excited about or dwell on in this one. You’d like to think we could’ve blown the Seahawks out of the water, but with the way this season has gone, a W is simply a W.
(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
The only thing you can really take away about this one is that Miles Austin is hurt and we don’t know how long his hamstring is going to be a problem. Luckily, it appears like we have a solid option emerging in Laurent Robinson if Austin misses time, and the running game is doing OK with DeMarco Murray.
Let’s look ahead instead of devoting any more time to this blah win. Pending tonight’s game for the Eagles, we could end up a half game ahead of them and two back of the Giants, with New York having a VERY tough schedule ahead of them for the next four weeks before we get a crack at them.
A win against Buffalo next week would really help ensure we can gain some ground and stay even or ahead of Philadelphia since we will be facing the likes of Washington, Miami and Arizona afterward.
Solid Tony Romo game alert:
19/31, 279 yards, 2 TD 0 INT, 112.2 rating
After the first four games of the season, we’ve experienced the full thrill and crushing depression of the Romo-coaster (I wish I could take credit for coining such a terrible phrase, but it’s not mine). Where has that left us?
Hopefully, you’re like me and you haven’t dwelled in either extreme. Hopefully, you’ve come down from anger/distress and you’re in a state of limbo where you’re waiting to form your opinion still of what Romo can do with the team this year. After all, our record is .500, Romo’s injury hasn’t slowed him down and the team gained some ground in the bye week with losses by the Eagles and Giants. The season is still young and the team is on the mend with Miles Austin returning to the lineup this week against the Patriots.
In instances like this, I like to reflect. And I’m sure like a lot of you, it’s been hard to reflect on anything else but our star-crossed quarterback. I’ve been taking in as much of the criticism of him as I can so I can inform my opinion. Personally, I always err on the side of not throwing someone under the bus until they absolutely deserve it.
First things first, I’d like to remind Cowboys fans of this:
64.1, 17,923, 8.1, 125, 67, 95.3
Those numbers would be Tony Romo’s career completion percentage, passing yards, average yards per attempt (#4 all-time behind Otto Graham, Sid Luckman, and Norm Van Brocklin — all players of the 1950s), passing touchdowns, interceptions (pretty damn close to 2:1 ratio) and passer rating. Don’t you dare look at those numbers and say Tony Romo is a bad quarterback. Yes, stats do not win football games, but stats also prove Tony Romo has won football games — just not important ones… yet.
I want to compare these statisics to Brett Favre to prove a point.
62, 71,838 (19 full seasons, 1 non-season in Atlanta), 7.1, 508, 336, 86.0
Brett Favre not only retired with a lower completion percentage, his TD/INT ratio was atrocious compared to Tony’s and he had a lower passer rating by almost ten points. All of this was forgotten because two years out of his career, Brett Favre had a team around him that took him for a ride to two Super Bowls and a single ring. Never before, never again.
Tony Romo’s career trajectory as far as public opinion is concerned currently follows players like Favre and John Elway, who simply needed to happen upon a team that could shoulder some of the weight and make people forget their shortcomings and all the years people said they couldn’t win the big one. That’s the difference between Tony Romo and a pair of Hall of Fame quarterbacks. They faced the same criticisms as Tony Romo (especially Favre with his tendency toward turnovers)… until they just didn’t matter anymore because they got rings.
Those two players played with the likes of Dorsey Levens, Terrell Davis, Antonio Freeman, Desmond Howard and Shannon Sharpe in those years. Who has Tony had? Other than Jason Witten who is more of a security blanket than a playmaker, Tony has only had T.O., who was never very clutch himself and… Terry Glenn?
We’d also all be good to remember Tony has never had the “luxury” of a decent running game except for the year before Marion Barber decided he wasn’t going to run hard anymore.
I like to remember things other people overlook or forget over time. I often think back to that botched field goal snap in Seattle, not because I hold something against Tony that could happen to anyone who’s ever dropped their cell phone, but because of what didn’t happen. On that play, if Martin Gramatica had become a football player for a split second and simply stepped in front of the only Seattle player on the field who had an angle on Romo, Tony would have EASILY run that ball into the endzone and won the game. That is to say, if the other ten Cowboys on the field had been firing on all cylinders like they should be, Romo would have single-handedly won that game and made up for his mistake. (Also, don’t forget he had led the team down the field into scoring position, and on third down had thrown a strike right at the sticks to Witten who stepped out of bounds short of the first down.) The botched snap play is a microcosm of Tony’s career. A disastrous game-losing play which could’ve easily been turned into a spectacular game-winning play if the rest of the team was playing on the same level.
NFL analysts have been saying this is the year Romo needs to prove himself because he’s in his official 9th season, overlooking he never took a meaningful snap in his first 3 seasons, didn’t start all games of his 4th season (but led the team to the playoffs that year) and missed almost the entirety of last season. This is in reality his 4th full season.
Cowboys fans who know damn well Romo’s unorthodox path to get here are also already calling for a new quarterback. A lot of those fans seem to think we could accomplish this through the draft. Really? First, you’d have to see how we finish this season before assuming we could get a decent enough pick to get a quarterback in the draft. Second, don’t forget the six seasons it took for us to find Tony Romo among the Drew Hensons and Clint Stoerners of the world.
When you look at the offensive side of the ball for the Cowboys over the last five years or so, we’ve been blessed with two players who have anchored the team. 1. Jason Witten. 2. Tony Romo. Running backs have come and gone and never done anything solid. Other than the manic depressive tryst with Terrell Owens, wide receivers have been inconsistent until Miles Austin recently emerged. The offensive line has been a liability. How have we had any success at all? Tony Romo.
So, you know… let’s just see how this season goes. OK? Let’s not call for Tony Romo’s head after regular season losses unless they affect our chances of making the playoffs. Tony has proven repeatedly he can get us to the playoffs, so he at least deserves a little faith there. And maybe this could be the year we’re given the opportunity to view him the way Green Bay used to herald Brett Favre despite his failings. It only takes one season, after all.
This one had all of the makings of a disaster written all over it. Romo came out looking like he had a hangover from last week’s gut punch. Then, Romo went down with a broken rib and was expected not to return. Kitna came in and looked just as good as he did in relief of Romo last season, but it still didn’t look too good.
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Then, Romo came back on the field and took control of the game, throwing for over 300 yards and two touchdowns to Miles Austin and a 77-yard connection with Jesse Holley (more on him later).
With a performance like that, it’s easy to instantly forget this team’s problems, but we shouldn’t. Without the emergent performance of Jesse Holley, who accounted for 96 yards on the final two drives of the game (including the play that set up the game-winning field goal), the Cowboys could easily be sitting at 0-2. With a pretty good performance by the defense which had some timely stops, a gutsy performance by Romo and good play from Kitna in his stead, we still had to rally from two scores down and put it all on the unproven leg of Dan Bailey from 48 yards to force overtime after he had missed a 21-yarder.
The silver lining here is Romo’s embracing of the leadership role, playing through the pain and taking Holley aside to tell him he would be targeting him after realizing the ball needed to be spread around more to pull out the win.
Injuries are a big concern after this game. Felix Jones has a separated shoulder and Austin has a pulled hamstring. Hopefully, the long week will provide some time for the team to get healthy.
A hard-fought win is a hard-fought win, but it’s only week 2 and it was only the 49ers.
Interesting Stat: Romo is the NFL career leader in 4th quarter passer rating.
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.