Dallas Cowboys: 2012 Cowboys-Giants

Cowboys set to work out linebackers

November, 5, 2012
11/05/12
7:59
PM ET
IRVING, Texas – With the availability of Dan Connor and Orie Lemon in question for Sunday against Philadelphia because of injuries, the Cowboys will work out veteran linebackers Gary Guyton and Brady Poppinga on Tuesday.

PODCAST
ESPN NFL analyst Ed Werder discusses the possibility of Sean Payton coaching the Dallas Cowboys next season.

Listen Listen
Connor did not play against Atlanta because of a stinger suffered the previous week and was expected to miss two games, although a checkup on Monday went well. Lemon suffered a hamstring injury against Atlanta and will not play this week.

Ernie Sims was signed two weeks ago and started in place of Connor. Alex Albright would be a backup inside linebacker candidate as well.

Guyton was with Miami in training camp. He spent the 2008-11 seasons with New England. Poppinga is an eight-year veteran, spending time with Green Bay and St. Louis.

“We absolutely have to work around (the injuries),” coach Jason Garrett said. “Albright is a good candidate because he’s a smart guy and he can play both inside and outside. But we will be thin there if both those guys are hurt.”

Boos bounce right off Jerry Jones

November, 2, 2012
11/02/12
10:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas – If you’re booing Jerry Jones because you believe it will make a difference, stop wasting your breath.

If you’re just venting frustration at Jerry, well, by all means …

For better or worse, maybe the most impressive thing about Jerry is how he handles criticism. The man’s skin is like an armadillo shell.

“I don’t tune it out. I hear the criticism. I hear the boos,” Jerry said after being booed by the crowd in his $1.2 billion stadium Sunday. “I read the paper and I hear the radio shows. It’s not tuned out, but it never has been at all. I do know that it really does go with the territory. It really does. It goes with it.”

Of course, he’s had plenty of practice dealing with disgruntled fans, beginning with his first day on the job, when he incensed a fan base by firing legendary coach Tom Landry. And folks might have been even angrier after Jerry’s ego played a starring role in his divorce from Jimmy Johnson after back-to-back Super Bowls.

Add 15 years of maddening mediocrity, and it’s certainly understandable that fans unleash their verbal wrath when Jerry’s face graces his beloved 60-yard big screens.

“And I feel those same kinds of things and same frustration,” Jerry said. “It’s just that I also have to sit down and think about how we can do it better and what we can do. But I know you shouldn’t do this if you can’t handle criticism.”

Jerry feels frustration, but it’s not the same as the fans’. Far from it.

The masses want the general manager with the most job security in sports to step down. They see the GM as the common thread for an underachieving franchise that has had one playoff win and six head coaches in the last decade and a half, and they want Jerry to give the job to a qualified man whose sole focus is building the best football team possible – not marketing the team, booking the stadium and selling everything from popcorn to panties.

Jerry sees three his three Super Bowl rings as justification that his way is the right way. He rationalizes that eliminating the middle man in the Cowboys’ management structure is more efficient, recent results be damned.

Jerry give up GM duties? Please. He’s more likely to move the team to L.A.

If it makes you feel better, go ahead and keep booing. Jerry hears it, but it bounces right off his shell.

It’d hurt him a lot more if folks would just stay home instead of paying four figures to be furious.
It’s the Dez Bryant dilemma.

The Cowboys can’t trust him. He makes too many killer mistakes, like running a sloppy route that results in an interception or losing a fumble on a reckless punt return.

But the Cowboys can’t ignore his talent. He has such potential to make plays, like catching a couple of deep balls that counted and one that didn’t but would have capped a crazy comeback against the Giants. He’s one of few receivers in the NFL with the ability to make that amazing catch in the end zone, although it was overturned on review because his fingertips touched the end line.

Does the awesome outweigh the awful? The talent outweigh the trouble? The potential outweigh the problems?

The weekly Dez throw-by-throw:

5-yard gain: Lines up wide left on first-and-10 from the Dallas 12 and runs a quick hook. Cornerback Corey Webster, who didn’t jam Bryant, made the tackle immediately, tossing Bryant out of bounds and shoving him in an apparent attempt to get under the skin of the emotional receiver. Bryant responded with a shove before an official got between them.

Interception: Lines up split left on first-and-10 from the Dallas 45 and runs what was supposed to be an intermediate crossing route. Bryant, who got past Webster’s jam with ease, rounded off the route instead of making the sharp cut that Tony Romo expected, ending up 20 yards downfield on a designed 15-yard route. That allowed safety Stevie Brown to break in front of Bryant to pick off the pass. “It was no miscommunication,” Bryant said. “It was more that as I tried to flatten my route out, I was kinda off-balance at the same time. The guy came down and made a great play.”

Incompletion: Lines up wide right on third-and-6 from the Dallas 46 and starts to run a shallow crossing route before seeing that the shotgun snap sailed over Romo’s head. Bryant turns upfield and runs up the right hashmarks for a few yards as Romo rolled right, then floated back to the middle of the field. Romo’s throw across his body came up short. Bryant could have helped out his quarterback by breaking toward the sideline to give him a much easier target.

55-yard gain: Lines up wide left on second-and-1 from the Dallas 21 and runs a go route, getting wide open because of a coverage bust, as Webster appeared to be the only player in the Giants secondary not playing Cover 3. Webster thought it was Cover 2, allowing Bryant to run free, expecting a safety to be playing the deep half. A severely underthrown pass by Romo allowed Brown to come from the middle of the field to make a touchdown-saving tackle.

Incompletion: Lines up wide left on third-and-19 from the New York 33 and runs a corner route against good coverage from Webster. It appeared that Romo expected Bryant to run a 19-yard out route. Romo’s pass landed several yards away from Bryant.

30-yard gain: Lines up wide left on second-and-2 from the Dallas 42 and runs a go route, beating Webster’s press man coverage. Bryant falls as he makes the catch with Webster trailing close behind.

Incompletion: Lines up wide left on second-and-4 from the Dallas 28 and runs a comeback route against physical, press man coverage by Webster. Bryant, who was hand fighting with Webster, drops a ball thrown high and outside, away from the defender. He tried to cradle the ball instead of snatching it with his hands.

4-yard gain: Lines up wide left on third-and-4 from the Dallas 28 and runs the same route as the previous snap against press coverage by Webster. Bryant goes to the ground to catch a low throw by Romo and move the chains.

Incompletion: Lines up wide left on first-and-10 from the New York 45 and runs a go route against man free coverage, with Webster playing press and Rolle in center field. Romo throws the ball in the window between the two defenders, but Bryant fails to make a leaping catch on the sideline for what would have been a 25-yard gain. He’s hit by Rolle a moment after the ball bounces off his hands. It would have been a difficult catch, but it’s one Bryant is capable of making.

16-yard gain: Lines up wide left on second-and-10 from the Dallas 43 and runs an intermediate out against soft zone coverage in the final minute. Gets both feet in bounds as he catches the ball before Webster pushes him out.

Incompletion: Lines up wide left on second-and-6 from the New York 37 and runs a vertical route, getting open in the end zone despite the Giants playing prevent defense. Bryant got Webster to hesitate with a double move, with the corner nibbling on the out fake, and safety Brown was a little late to help. Bryant make an amazing, leaping grab over both defenders for what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown, landing hard on his hip. However, instant replay showed that Bryant’s fingertips landed on the end line before any other part of his body hit the ground. The most impressive catch of Bryant’s career will go down in history as simply a spectacular incompletion.

Quite a difference for Bruce Carter

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
1:52
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- A year ago today, Bruce Carter made his NFL debut after starting his rookie season on the non-football injury list due to a knee injury suffered his senior year at North Carolina.

He had one tackle against Philadelphia, playing mostly a special teams role.

With Sean Lee out for the year because of toe surgery, Carter is now the defensive signal caller.

“It’s a whole lot different,” Carter said. “Last year I was just kind of nervous coming in playing in the NFL and in my first game. This year I’m really in the mix and in a situation that’s kind of different with Sean being out. I’m just trying to take it one play at a time, study as much as I can and make sure everybody is on the right track.”

In Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants, Carter could feel more eyes on him in Lee’s role and he finished with seven tackles, a tackle for loss and one pass breakup, earning praise from coach Jason Garrett.

With Dan Connor unlikely to play at Atlanta because of a stinger in back to back games, Carter will have to break in a new inside linebacker partner in either Orie Lemon or Ernie Sims.

“I still feel like I’m young and got a lot of my game ahead of me,” Carter said. “I’m still learning every day. I’m learning a lot from Sean and from coach (Matt Eberflus) and Rob (Ryan).”

Look back: Cowboys press strong again

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
1:32
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- In two games against the Cowboys, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has been held to 213 and 192 yards passing with one touchdown pass and one interception.

The pass rush helped even if the Cowboys did not sack Manning often (three times in the opener, once on Sunday) but an aggressive secondary helped more.

In the Sept. 5 meeting, the Cowboys played full press 27 times, half press 15 times and off 10 times. On Sunday the Cowboys played full press 24 times, half press 25 times and off 12 times.

In the Cowboys’ previous two games against Baltimore and Carolina, the Cowboys did not play full press coverage more than 10 times in either game.

That aggressiveness by Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Orlando Scandrick and Mike Jenkins against the Giants threw off the timing between Manning and his receivers. Carr played press coverage on 27 individual snaps and 15 times he played safety when the Cowboys went with their dime package.

So far this season when the Cowboys play physical up front with the wide receivers they have had success.

** When you call 67 pass plays against the Giants, you’re asking an awful lot of the offensive line. The Giants had four sacks of Tony Romo but the line held up OK against the likes of Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Chris Canty.

Bad timing on breakdowns, however, hurt. Nate Livings got overextended as he attempted to block Canty once and the former Cowboy was able to sack Romo for a 12-yard loss late in the third quarter. Doug Free made Umenyiora virtually invisible but on the fourth-and-1 play Umenyiora’s jump off the snap forced Free to hold, which would have negated a first down. Romo’s pass was ultimately picked off so it didn’t matter.

The Giants brought five defenders or more 12 times and Romo completed eight passes. He was not sacked in those instances but was picked once. Jason Witten and Miles Austin caught four passes apiece when New York brought five-plus.

The Giants’ four sacks came on four-man rushes, as did two of the three picks of Romo. The Giants are one of the few teams that can rely on a four-man rush to get after the quarterback.

** Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan relied on a four-man rush most of the time as well. He brought five or more guys just once in the game. DeMarcus Ware’s sack of Manning and Danny McCray’s interception came on four-man rushes.

** On Monday Jason Garrett was asked about the receivers’ ability to break up possible interceptions, pointing to Corey Webster’s pick of Romo as an example with Austin falling off balance as he turned for the deep ball.

On the first series of the game the Cowboys had Reuben Randle covered, but Jenkins slipped on the deep throw, allowing a 56-yard reception. Later in the game Manning threw a sideline pass to Randle when he was blanketed by Carr.

In those cases he might not have made the best decision, but his receivers made a play for him. Counter that for Romo when Austin slipped and Bryant was unable to come up with two down-the-field throws in the second half that were contested catches but plays above-average receivers should make.

5 Wonders: Rob Ryan's head coaching future

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
9:33
AM ET
IRVING, Texas – The NFL moved the trade deadline back to Thursday because of Hurricane Sandy, but I don’t wonder if that will help the Cowboys make a move.

Here are some things I am wondering about in our weekly Five Wonders’ post:

** It’s no secret Rob Ryan wants to be a head coach. It’s part of the reason why he came to Dallas. He was on some lists last year until the Cowboys cratered in December and missed the playoffs. I wonder if he is getting back on some lists this year with the way the defense has performed. Of the opponents’ 162 points, 78 can be attributed to turnovers or mistakes by the offense and special teams. The defense has done a nice job in sudden-change situations, limiting the opponent to field goals. That’s the only way the Cowboys were actually able to come back Sunday against the New York Giants. In a passing league, the Cowboys are No. 3 against the pass and have done two great jobs vs. Eli Manning. They have a huge test this week in Matt Ryan. If the defense continues this way, then Ryan’s name will be mentioned when jobs open following the season. But here’s a bonus wonder: I wonder if how Rex Ryan’s New York Jets have fallen apart will impact Rob’s campaign.

** I wonder why the Cowboys run the ball. OK, I don’t think they should not run the ball at all, but it’s clear the only way they can run it is if they face a bad Baltimore run defense that does not move guys around so the runners can pick and choose their way. In the last two games they have picked up 104 yards on 48 carries. You have to admire the pluck, but if you’re averaging 2.2 yards a carry, why bang your head into the wall so much. I laughed when I heard people question why the Cowboys only had 15 run plays against New York. Well, the score was one thing and the 1.3 yard per carry average by Felix Jones and Phillip Tanner was another. Could the Cowboys have run the ball on second- or third-and-1 on their final drive? Sure. The Giants showed a six-man box. It was there to pick up a yard, but with how the game was going and how successful they were passing I didn’t think they were wrong. Where I think they were wrong was in the called pass play on third down. Jason Witten was doubled and taken out of it by New York, leaving Tony Romo to throw to Kevin Ogletree on a fade. It’s not a high percentage throw and it’s going to a receiver that even the coach has questioned his consistency. It was a half-field read on third down from what I was told. It goes to Witten or Ogletree. If that’s the case, then put Miles Austin or Dez Bryant next to Witten to make it more difficult for New York to double the tight end. But back to the main point on the running game: Felix Jones has a bruised knee and whatever flicker he had against Baltimore it’s not there now. Tanner has better contact balance. Lance Dunbar has more speed. If you’re going to run it, give it to those guys while DeMarco Murray is out.

** I wonder if this is the beginning of the Morris Claiborne the Cowboys wanted when they moved up to the No. 6 pick to get him in April. Claiborne had his best game of the season against the Giants. He was much more aggressive at the line than he had been. He was a surer tackler. He looked a lot more comfortable. Maybe that’s from seeing an offense for a second time. He also added a fumble recovery a week after having his first interception at Carolina. What’s funny is that the Panthers’ game might have been Claiborne’s worst even if he had the turnover. He was too laid back in that game. He was the opposite against the Giants. He’ll have to be that way again Sunday at Atlanta with Julio Jones and Roddy White on the other side of the field.

** I wonder how the punt return team can be so mediocre and the punt coverage team can be so great. Have you seen the numbers? The Cowboys are averaging 5.5 yards per punt return so far this year and that includes a 44-yard return by Dez Bryant against Tampa Bay that the Buccaneers gifted the Cowboys. Take away that return and the Cowboys are averaging 2.8 yards per return, which is about on par with their average rushing carry (3.6). The punt coverage has been outstanding, allowing only 3.2 yards per return with a long of 9 on the season. Chris Jones and Moorman have done a great job of angling their punts to the sidelines and 13 of their 23 punts have ended up inside the 20. The Cowboys would be wise to keep Bryant off the punt returns or just let him do it when the opponent is kicking out of their end zone. Let Dwayne Harris or Cole Beasley be punt catchers if not punt returners.

** At some point when Charlie Peprah plays, you should believe he will do something to help the Cowboys. That just seems to be what happens when the Cowboys sign a guy off the street here lately. Last year the Cowboys added Montrae Holland, Laurent Robinson, Tony Fiammetta, Frank Walker and Sammy Morris, who made plays to contribute to wins. So far this season the Cowboys have added Moorman, Eric Frampton and Ernie Sims off the street and they have made some big plays. Sims was a Cowboy for five days when he made his debut and had a pass breakup and a pressure. He also helped stop the Giants’ final play to set up the Cowboys’ final drive. Finding players to contribute at this time of year is extremely hard but the Cowboys’ pro department has been able to find some good pieces.

Breaking down Tony Romo's interceptions

October, 29, 2012
10/29/12
2:00
PM ET


IRVING, Texas – In seven games, Tony Romo has 13 interceptions, easily putting him on pace for a career high.

In a full season, Romo has never thrown more than 19 picks. In his last two full seasons (2011, 2009) he had 10 and nine interceptions.

So far 2012 has been a different story.

PODCAST
Cowboys QB Tony Romo talks about the pain of losing a hard-fought game and says the fans were right to boo the team.

Listen Listen
In his last two home games he has been intercepted nine times by Chicago and the New York Giants.

Let’s break down the four Sunday against the Giants:

Interception No. 1: It’s first and 10 from the Dallas 45 after a 23-yard pickup by Miles Austin. The Cowboys have an eight-man protection, which means only Austin and Dez Bryant are out in a route. The protection is solid against the Giants’ four-man rush and Romo tries to laser a throw to Bryant, who is supposed to run a deep crossing route. After the game Bryant said he was off balance and could not sharpen his route. As a result, safety Stevie Brown is able to step into the interception. It was a forced throw of sorts, but Bryant has to take some blame for not running the route correctly.

Interception No. 2: It’s first and 10 from the Dallas 24 and Romo wants to take a shot against the New York secondary. The Cowboys use a six-man protection with Felix Jones and Lawrence Vickers serving as checkdown options. Jason Witten is in to block. Austin is on the numbers as he runs down the field with cornerback Corey Webster to the outside. Romo’s throw is high and to the outside. As Austin adjusts he is nudged by Webster and is off balance and unable to contest the pass, giving Webster the easy pick. Again, not the best of throws, but Romo is trusting Austin to make a play or at least knock it down and he can’t.

Interception No. 3: It’s second and 7 from the Dallas 34. Romo is under early pressure from Chris Canty, who beats guard Nate Livings. Sensing the pressure, Romo tries to loop a pass to Jones, who is releasing from the backfield. Unfortunately Jason Pierre-Paul senses Jones going out on the route and stops rushing. As a result Tyron Smith is not engaged with Pierre-Paul and the defensive end makes one of the most outrageous plays you will see. He picks off the pass and returns it for a touchdown. That one you tip your cap to JPP for a great play.

Interception No. 4: It’s fourth and 1 from the New York 19. The Cowboys need 1 yard for a first down and go with the pass. The Giants rush four and the Cowboys protect with five guys. Osi Umenyiora beats Doug Free and Romo is forced to flee to his right while being chased by Umenyiora, Canty and Linval Joseph. Knowing it’s fourth down, he throws the ball toward Witten by the sideline, but Brown comes up with his second interception. Given the situation, the quarterback can’t just eat the ball on fourth down. Poor protection led to this pick. But why not run some shorter route to Witten? If they have him take three steps and turn around it’s a first down, but he is running down the seam.

Postgame audio: Cowboys-Giants

October, 29, 2012
10/29/12
1:23
PM ET
Cowboys Cowboys QB Tony Romo talks about the pain of losing a hard-fought game and says the fans were right to boo the team.

Play Download



Cowboys owners Jerry Jones says the team made the kind of mistakes that lose ballgames and that the team is running out of opportunities to win the division.

Play Download



Cowboys WR Dez Bryant comments on the touchdown pass that could have given the team the lead late in the game, how they fought back, his injuries and more.

Play Download



Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett says the team did not take care of the football, but did a great job of battling to be in a position to win the game.

Play Download



ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer talks about the Broncos' potential, whether Tony Romo is to blame for the Cowboys' inconsistency, Michael Vick's pocket awareness and more.

Play Download



ESPN NFL analyst Antonio Pierce talks about Giants-Cowboys, the Eagles' 3-4 start, Andy Reid, Panthers-Bears, Andrew Luck, Redskins-Steelers, Calvin Johnson and more.

Play Download



Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic share their thoughts on Week 8 in the NFL, including Giants-Cowboys, Falcons-Eagles, Dolphins-Jets and more.

Play Download

Jerry Jones hopeful of DeMarco Murray return

October, 29, 2012
10/29/12
10:30
AM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It’s safe to say the Cowboys’ running game misses DeMarco Murray.

PODCAST
Cowboys owners Jerry Jones says the team made the kind of mistakes that lose ballgames and that the team is running out of opportunities to win the division.

Listen Listen
The 227-yard effort against Baltimore on Oct. 14 was the anomaly. In the last two games against Carolina and the New York Giants, the Cowboys have rushed for 104 yards on 48 carries.

Felix Jones had 13 carries for 19 yards and had a crucial fumble.

Murray missed his second straight game with a sprained foot. He spent Sunday on the sideline, but there is hope he could return next week against Atlanta.

“I talked to him a little before the game and I am encouraged that he has a chance to be back,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cowboys failed to complete the biggest comeback in franchise history on Sunday when they fell to the New York Giants, 29-24, on Sunday.

With that we have our weekly Stock Report of who's playing well and who isn't.

Streaking
STOCK UP

Jason Witten. An unreal performance by the Cowboys tight end. He finished with 18 catches for 167 yards and had zero touchdowns. But Witten was the man who was able to jump start the offense and get the Cowboys in short down-and-distance situations. Tony Romo needed Witten badly on Sunday and his best friend delivered.

Rob Ryan. Almost every week, the Cowboys defensive coordinator is missing something. He doesn't have Sean Lee this week. Now he lost Lee's replacement, Dan Connor, so Orie Lemon takes over. His defense is backed up against the wall thanks to the turnover-happy offense. Sunday the Cowboys defense gave up just six points to the Giants after turnovers by the offense. It's the defense that kept the Cowboys in the game Sunday, that's clear.

Jay Ratliff. The nose tackle had his best game of the season, a game the Cowboys needed, with five total tackles, one tackle for loss and a quarterback hit. Throughout the game you saw Ratliff become that team leader by pumping up guys, especially Romo, after mistakes or successes.

Slumping
STOCK DOWN

Tony Romo. OK, some of these interceptions aren't his fault, it would be nice if some of these receivers would fight for the ball or run strong routes, we get it. But Romo was picked off four times on Sunday, continues a disturbing trend of overthrowing or missing open receivers. He threw a career-high 62 times on Sunday and lost. Way to many passes.

Run game. The Cowboys ran the ball 17 times for a season-low 19 times on Sunday. You can say Jason Garrett should have run the ball more, but the Giants' defense was stacked to stop the run. Garrett saw this and asked his quarterback to throw at least 60 times in a NFL game. It's not ideal, but the Cowboys gave up on the run too soon after taking a 24-23 lead.

Dez Bryant. He was fantastic and frustrating all at the same time. He catches five balls for a career-high 110 yards but finishes with no touchdowns. He gets benched for turning the ball over on a punt, his route running continues to be inconsistent. He makes a great catch in the end zone, but his fingers land out of bounds. A long frustrating, fun-filled day.

Replay costs Cowboys twice vs. Giants

October, 29, 2012
10/29/12
10:00
AM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- When fans remember replay decisions when thinking of Sunday’s 29-24 loss to the New York Giants, the overturned Dez Bryant touchdown catch that would have won the game will be talked about most.

What will get lost is the decision to overturn Danny McCray’s interception return in the third quarter that took a Dallas drive from the New York 43 to the Dallas 35.

After looking at the play, official Scott Green determined the foot of Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz touched McCray as the safety’s knee was down while making the pick.

“At the moment I can’t say I felt him, no,” McCray said. “I caught it and after that I was like, ‘I’m getting to the end zone.'”

The Cowboys had a three-and-out and would not score again. A shorter field would have made a Dan Bailey field goal try more likely. Instead, they had to settle for a Brian Moorman punt.

Ernie Sims fills in sub role

October, 29, 2012
10/29/12
9:30
AM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Linebacker Ernie Sims has been a Cowboy for less than a week, but he made a solid contribution to the defense Sunday.

Sims had two tackles and a quarterback hurry, playing in a sub package when the New York Giants spread the field if not the full nickel defense.

“I would just contribute it to the coaches giving me all the information I need and me spending the time to prepare myself,” Sims said. “There’s things I’ve not done in the past very well and I was just really determined that I’m going to do everything I can to help this team be successful.”

Sims could find himself needed to play a larger role on defense if Dan Connor’s stinger keeps him out of the lineup. Orie Lemon replaced Connor in the base defense Sunday.

“They brought me here to be a football player,” Sims said. “It could be a situation where I need to play base (defense) beyond whatever position they need me at. I’m studying my behind off to be the best I can to fill the position.”

Dez Bryant cancels himself out

October, 29, 2012
10/29/12
8:30
AM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Romocoaster might be the featured attraction, but the Dez Bryant Bandwagon is the wildest, craziest ride at Jerry Jones' traveling carnival.

Only the truly brave -- or totally insane -- are still on it, crash helmets strapped on and seat belts buckled tight.

The ride was as exhilarating and exasperating as ever Sunday. The afternoon essentially summed up the career of the Dallas Cowboys' high-drama receiver so far.

Bryant alternated between awful and amazing. He deserved arguably the biggest share of the blame for the Cowboys being buried by 23 points after 17 minutes. Then he played a huge role in what could have been the Cowboys' biggest comeback, finishing with a career-high 110 yards on five catches.

And Bryant almost had his fingerprints all over the moment that might have catapulted the Cowboys to the kind of season they dream about -- if only his fingertip didn't come out of bounds.

The instant replay, however, was clear. Bryant's glove barely touched that white end line a split second before his backside crashed into the blue turf. The jaw-dropping display of athleticism, that leaping catch between New York Giants defenders in the end zone with seconds remaining, was simply a spectacular incompletion.

Who cares about the what-ifs? The Cowboys didn't win, their slim division-title hopes near death after the 29-24 loss to their NFC East rivals.

Read more here.

Cowboys defense holds strong vs. Giants

October, 29, 2012
10/29/12
8:26
AM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas – Eli Manning will be credited with another fourth-quarter comeback, but Sunday’s game will not be remembered as a vintage performance.

Manning threw for 192 yards on 15-of-29 passing and was intercepted once. The Giants had only 11 first downs and 293 yards. They converted only three of 15 third-down tries against the Cowboys.

“You can’t say we played good enough to win because we lost,” safety Danny McCray said. “But take that away and we did a pretty good job. I think Eli was under 200 yards passing. We played well. We had a lot of three and outs. I’m guessing we were pretty good on third down.”

The Cowboys forced two turnovers: McCray’s interception and Morris Claiborne’s fumble recovery. The defense had to deal with five New York drives that started inside Dallas territory because of turnovers. They held New York to three field goals and one touchdown in sudden-change situations.

“We don’t look at the offense and see what they’re doing and get down or up,” cornerback Brandon Carr said. “As a defense we just play our game. When our number is called, we just go out there and defend.”

Cowboys must move on from Tony Romo

October, 29, 2012
10/29/12
8:00
AM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's time to move on.

The Dallas Cowboys need to plan their exit strategy from quarterback Tony Romo today or they're going to be stuck in the same situation they were in when Troy Aikman retired after the 2000 season.

After Aikman retired, the Cowboys turned to guys like Quincy Carter, Ryan Leaf, Chad Hutchinson, Vinny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe to lead them.

Bledsoe and Testaverde were past their primes. The rest weren't good enough.

The Cowboys had a flawed plan.

That can't happen again.

Read why here.

SPONSORED HEADLINES