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Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Beat writers recap: Cowboys-Redskins

By Calvin Watkins

After getting some sleep and watching the game again, we've got some final thoughts on the Cowboys' 13-7 loss to the Redskins on Sunday night.

This weekly feature will be called Beat Writers Recap.

Enjoy.

*The Cowboys ran an unbalanced line three times on Sunday. They did it on the first play of the game and twice in the fourth quarter. It resulted in a 15-yard pass play to Miles Austin and an 8-yard run by Tashard Choice. The last time they did it, Tony Romo threw an incomplete pass to a double-covered Roy Williams. It was interesting to note that inside linebacker London Fletcher ran down the field with Williams.

*DeMarcus Ware was outstanding in this game. This shouldn't be a shock. On the stat sheet he's credited with six tackles, one sack, three tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. For most of the night, Ware took on single blocks from rookie left tackle Trent Williams. The Redskins didn't bother chipping him with a tight end or running back. If a running back stayed to block, normally Clinton Portis, it was to pick up the blitz up the middle from Keith Brooking and Bradie James. Ware does the little things like sheding a block from Mike Sellers to make a tackle on Portis. Ware was also trailing a play and made a tackle on the backside for a one-yard loss. Ware also hit Donovan McNabb on a third down play that led to an incompletion.

*Without Ware, the Cowboys' pass rush is lacking. Victor Butler replaced Ware in the fourth quarter when he went down with a neck injury. Butler is no Ware. On the six defensive snaps Butler got in, he was credited with two tackles. But it was misleading. He couldn't catchup to Portis on a run for 18 yards. Butler made the tackle, but it was down the field and after Marcus Spears missed Portis near the line of scrimmage. Butler also got a tackle but that was pushing the aging Larry Johnson out of bounds.

*Jay Ratliff was double-teammed most of the night. The outstanding nose tackle would beat the double-team to make a tackle or force a play another way. His quickness sometimes hurts him. He was so fast off a block that when he dove at McNabb's knee's it drew a penalty. Ratliff has to stay on his feet but it appeared he was pushed on the play.

*Austin couldn't be stopped. He finished with 10 catches for 146 yards and one touchdown. Austin has the ability to break tackles, especially when lined up one-on-one. Other times he takes advantage of defensive backs mistakes. On a 30-yard reception in the fourth qurater, the defensive back moved toward Williams, who was already covered, leaving Austin alone. He's very quick and gets out of his breaks well. Austin made two mental mistakes. In the red zone, he ran a little slow on a crossing route forcing Romo to throw a pass away toward Jason Witten in the back of the end zone. Then he was called for a false start in the fourth quarter.

*It's easy to rip Alex Barron at right tackle. He committed three holding calls, two in the fourth quarter and all three were against Brian Orakpo. Barron didn't get a lot of help with Orakpo or with Andre Carter on pass rushes. Doug Free, the left tackle, also was paired up one-on-one. Free did a much better job than Barron, but on the last play of the game, Free lost containment of his man, Carter, and Romo moved up in the pocket when Barron also failed to control Orakpo. There were times when Martellus Bennett and Witten stayed in to help block on the sides of Barron and Free. Felix Jones also stayed in to block, mainly on the last drive of the fourth quarter, but that was to pick up any pressure up the middle.

*Dez Bryant is a smooth wide receiver, but has a hard time at making in game adjustments. There were too many times where he didn't know where to go and Romo had to tell him after the play was called in the huddle or after the play was over when Bryant ran the wrong route. When Bryant does run the right route, he shows the proper technique in catching the ball and is able to withstand contact.

*Notes: Josh Brent made his debut in backing up Ratliff and said he got about 8-10 snaps. "Just felt good, got adjusted as the game went on," he said. Brent, who suffered a broken hand early in training camp, didn't play with a cast on. "Still a little bit sore," he said. ... John Phillips, the tight end who is out for the season with a torn ACL, said he's going to be out for six-to-eight months. "I know its possible to comeback," he said. "I'm in a situation where I don't have to comeback quick." In high school, Phillips tore his left ACL and came back in four months. But he came back to play baseball not football. ... The Cowboys pass rush on Sunday night was pretty good, they mostly sent five defenders, but rushed six only twice in the fourth quarter. ... You hope this isn't a sign of things to come, however rookie safety Danny McCray failed to down a punt at the 1 in the first half. Cowboys let go of a veteran special teams ace in Pat Watkins, to make plays like that. ... One thing that should be noted on the touchdown to Williams, that was called back due to the penalty is that Williams does a nice job with his route. He runs a crossing route, sees Romo step up in the pocket and Williams holds his arms up and heads toward the end zone unguarded.