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Monday, November 25, 2013
Upon Further Review: Cowboys Week 12

By Todd Archer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A review of four hot issues from the Dallas Cowboys' 24-21 win against the New York Giants.

On to the next one: The icy weather conditions back in Dallas almost forced the Cowboys to spend the night in New Jersey. With the Oakland Raiders visiting AT&T Stadium on Thursday, that would have made a short week of preparation even that much more difficult. As it stands, the Cowboys will have a walk through Monday. Tony Romo got a jump on the preparation, looking at film on the way home.

Dallas' DeMarco Murray
DeMarco Murray rushed for 86 yards against the New York Giants.
“I toyed with the idea of looking [early] but it wouldn't have been beneficial for me leading up to this game,” Romo said. “I really don't know Oakland all that well not being in our division. I will have to start on them and cram [Sunday night and Monday].”

Not running from scratch: Have the Cowboys started to find some consistency in the running game? In his past two games, DeMarco Murray has 89 and 86 yards rushing on 30 carries. The Cowboys ran the ball 20 times for 107 yards against the Giants. Lance Dunbar also had some effective runs on limited snaps. The key for the Cowboys is to have the threat of the run. This is an offense that will succeed on the merits of its passing game, but if it can run the ball, that should make things easier for Romo through the air. Murray, who has 634 yards on the season and four touchdowns, might leave yards on the field, but at least he is having the opportunity to leave yards on the field. In the past he did not even get much of a chance to run the ball.

A short week hurts: The hamstring injuries suffered by Morris Claiborne and Dwayne Harris on Sunday will likely keep them out of Thursday's game against the Raiders. Without Claiborne, B.W. Webb moves back into a prominent role and could force the Cowboys to find a corner on short notice. Without Harris, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley handle the return duties. Linebacker Sean Lee hopes to do some running on Monday, which could go a long way in determining if he could play against the Raiders. If there is a question, the Cowboys will rest him and make sure he is good for Dec. 9 against the Chicago Bears.

A daily dime: For the first time this season, the Cowboys broke out a dime defense, utilizing six defensive backs. It was somewhat out of necessity with injuries to Lee and Justin Durant. Safety Barry Church moved to the Mike linebacker spot and rookies J.J. Wilcox and Jeff Heath took over the safety roles with corners Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick and either Claiborne or Webb. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin likes to play zone, but the lack of a dime package caught the Cowboys' linebackers in difficult matchups. Facing some better passing teams down the stretch (Green Bay, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington), the dime package could be more of a featured defense.