Dallas Cowboys: Rapid Reaction
August, 17, 2013
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dreadful. Just dreadful. The Cowboys (1-2) completed the West Coast portion of training camp with a 12-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals (2-0) on Saturday afternoon at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The Cowboys' first-team offense was able to move the ball but failed to score any points, in large part because of turnovers that gave the Cardinals prime field position.
Here are some thoughts on the Cowboys' loss:
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers: The Cowboys committed six turnovers against Arizona. Kyle Orton threw two interceptions, both on bad throws. Lance Dunbar and Dez Bryant fumbled after long receptions, and for the second consecutive week, the Cowboys' special-teams unit muffed a punt. This time, it was Dwayne Harris losing a fumble. Alex Tanney also threw a late pick. But Arizona managed only 12 points (four field goals on five tries).
First-team offense shut out: Tony Romo completed 7 of 10 passes for 142 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions during three drives. Romo looked in tune once again with Bryant, who caught four passes for 74 yards. But the Cowboys' two best plays led to turnovers. Romo connected with Dunbar on a catch-and-run, but the running back fumbled while being tackled after a 43-yard gain. The play would have given the Cowboys the ball at the Arizona 7. Bryant fumbled on the next possession after making a catch in the middle of the field. He was stripped by cornerback Jerraud Powers while being pulled down, giving the Cardinals the ball at their own 27.
Arkin starts at left guard: With Ronald Leary out while recovering from right knee surgery, a
Tanney leads scoring drive: After not scoring for three quarters, Tanney connected with Gavin Escobar on a 5-yard touchdown pass with 10:52 to play in the fourth quarter to bring the Cowboys to within 9-7. The score ended a 16-play, 89-yard drive that lasted just under 10 minutes. Tanney had two chances to give his team the lead in the final five minutes, but one drive ended with a punt and the other on an interception. Tanney finished 14-of-19 for 136 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Surprise decisions: Jermey Parnell, who returned to practice late last week from a strained hamstring, was a healthy scratch. Demetress Bell was the right tackle with the second team in the second half. Darrion Weems was the left tackle. The Cowboys might have played Bell just to get a good look at him against another opponent. He was signed after camp started but failed the conditioning test. Coach Jason Garrett said Bell needed to get in shape. Phillip Tanner, who was getting snaps behind starter DeMarco Murray and Dunbar at running back, didn't get any snaps Saturday. Instead, rookie Joseph Randle was the running back with the third team. Tanney took all the snaps after Romo and Orton were done for the day. The Cowboys didn't give Nick Stephens any snaps in the second half. It's doubtful if the Cowboys go with three quarterbacks, but Tanney played better than Orton.
What's next? The Cowboys finally come home after a month on the West Coast. They will be off Sunday and resume practices at 8 a.m. Monday in Irving.
August, 9, 2013
OAKLAND -- The Dallas Cowboys suffered their first loss of the preseason, 19-17, to the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on Friday night.
It was the debut of several key players, including Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, DeMarcus Ware, Sean Lee and Dez Bryant, among others. The first-team offense produced just three points and had a field goal attempt blocked. The second-team offense picked up a touchdown and the special teams units struggled with a muffed punt, penalties and a long kickoff return.
Romo makes debut: After sitting out the preseason opener, Romo completed 6 of 8 passes for 88 yards with no touchdowns, no interceptions and one sack. On the first possession of the game, Romo, with plenty of time, missed a wide open Miles Austin in the middle of the end zone and took a sack. But overall, Romo played well with the offensive line giving him time. He completed some good passes to Bryant, who caught three passes for 55 yards.
Red zone woes: The Cowboys' first-team offense had the ball at the Raiders' 16 after a turnover but failed to score, continuing a problem they had last season. Jason Witten was called for holding, Romo had a screen pass knocked down and he was sacked for a 5-yard loss and Dallas settled for a 38-yard field goal. The Cowboys got back in the red zone on their second possession, but Romo's dump-off pass to Murray on third-and-12 came up a yard short of a first down. Instead of going for it, coach Jason Garrett elected to attempt a 26-yard field goal, which was blocked.
"It was good," Romo said of the drives overall. "We had couple penalties that put us in a hole that cost us some points, I think. That is something that we are going to correct real fast. You just can't overcome that stuff in the red zone.
"Other than that, I thought the guys did a really good job and it's been going just how it was in training camp. It's been good.”
The second-team offense was able to convert in the red zone as backup quarterback Kyle Orton found Cole Beasley down the seam for a 15-yard touchdown reception.
Kiffin’s defense making plays: The Cowboys have forced four turnovers in the first two games of the preseason. Lee forced a fumble when he hit Matt Flynn on the blitz and Jason Hatcher recovered the ball. Safety J.J. Wilcox recorded an interception midway through the first half when Terrelle Pryor made a terrible throw on the run.
Ware plays defensive end: For the first time as a pro, Ware lined up exclusively at defensive end. Ware moved from outside linebacker to defensive end this season when the team moved to a 4-3 defensive alignment.
"Lining up at defensive end is easier,” Ware said. “You are down in the trenches. There is no difference than playing outside linebacker, you are out wide. But when you are in the six technique, there are a lot more techniques you have to work on. But I felt like I did really well for the first game."
Webb struggles: Fourth-round pick B.W. Webb had a long night. The rookie cornerback muffed a punt in the fourth quarter, leading to a field goal, missed two tackles and looked like he didn’t have much awareness on pass coverage. It’s only two preseason games, but Webb is off to a slow start.
Injuries: Cole Beasley suffered a left foot injury in the third quarter and underwent X-rays. The results weren't available as the game came to a close.
Who didn’t play: Wide receiver Terrance Williams (concussion), guard Nate Livings (knee), guard Demetress Bell (conditioning test), guard Kevin Kowalski (knee), guard/center Ryan Cook (back), guard Ray Dominguez (shoulder), defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (hamstring), defensive end Anthony Spencer (knee), cornerback Morris Claiborne (knee), linebacker Alex Albright (back) and safety Matt Johnson (foot) didn’t participate. The Cowboys expect Albright, Williams and Claiborne to return next week at Arizona.
What’s next?: The Cowboys will have Saturday off and will practice Sunday afternoon in Oxnard, Calif. The final preseason road game will be next Saturday night at Arizona.
August, 4, 2013
By Todd Archer | ESPNDallas.com
CANTON, Ohio -- The Dallas Cowboys opened their preseason with a 24-20 win against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in the Hall of Fame Game thanks to a stingy defense and a solid running game, which was something they did not really have last season.
The Cowboys have now won their preseason opener four straight years. What does that mean? Not much, since they have missed the playoffs in three of the last four seasons.
What it means: With a new playcaller on offense in Bill Callahan and a new defense led by Monte Kiffin, getting off to a good start is a positive. The only starters that played were tackles Tyron Smith and Doug Free, center Travis Frederick and linebacker Justin Durant. Free and Smith played a series. Frederick moved over to guard in the second quarter and for some of the third. Durant played a handful of series. While it’s still a question, the Cowboys found some answers for depth in guys like George Selvie, Phillip Tanner and Joseph Randle.
DeVonte Holloman with a pick-six: The rookie linebacker had the most athletic play of the night when he reached back to snag a Matt Moore throw intended for Chad Bumphis. Holloman was able to compose himself and then sprint 75 yards for the touchdown, slamming Moore to the turf with a facemask. Last season, the Cowboys forced turnovers at an alarmingly infrequent rate, which led to Rob Ryan’s firing and Kiffin’s arrival. On the first series, Nick Hayden came up with a fumble recovery that set up Tanner’s touchdown run. In the second half, the defense forced two fourth-down stops.
There’s a running game: One of the biggest complaints about Jason Garrett was his willingness to abandon the run. Callahan’s background as an offensive coordinator has many believing the Cowboys will have more balance. In the first half, the Cowboys’ three runners -- Tanner, Randle and Lance Dunbar -- averaged more than five yards per carry. In the second half, Randle did a nice job of picking up yards on his own. The Dolphins weren’t playing many of their regulars, but the fact that the Cowboys ran it 17 times for 97 yards in the first two quarters was a good sign. Last season, the Cowboys had four games in which they had fewer than 17 carries. Even undrafted rookie Kendial Lawrence got into the act with a 7-yard touchdown run with 1:57 to play in the game.
Injury concerns: Safety Matt Johnson was off to a good start by starting the game, but he was hurt tracking down Bumphis on a 45-yard catch and run. He suffered a left ankle sprain and did not return. Defensive end Ben Bass hurt his left knee and did not return to the game but appeared to be fine on the sideline. He did not go to the locker room for X-rays, and he did not receive extra attention from the athletic training staff. Tanner hurt his left arm in the first quarter but was able to return to the game.
What’s next: The Cowboys play at Oakland on Friday in preseason game No. 2, and the starters will see some playing time against the Raiders.
December, 23, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have lost control of their season for the moment.
It's something coach Jason Garrett didn't want. Neither did owner/general manager Jerry Jones, but that's the reality as the Cowboys head into Christmas Day.
New Orleans defeated Dallas in overtime 34-31 at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys' hopes for the playoffs need outside help, most easily in the form of one loss by the New York Giants in the season's last two weeks.
What it means: The Cowboys needed to win their last two regular-season games to clinch the NFC East without help. But the loss, combined with the Washington Redskins' victory, keeps the Cowboys on the outside of the playoff picture. A win by the Giants later today would also hurt the Cowboys' chances of reaching the postseason.
DeMarcus Ware missed the bulk of the second half with a right shoulder strain. He was battling a hyperextended elbow and a shoulder that was popping out of place. With Ware out, the Cowboys asked Victor Butler and Anthony Spencer to pick up the pass rush. Ware did return for one snap with 12:05 to play in overtime, then left.
Murray's fumble costly: With 4:17 to play in the third quarter, DeMarco Murray fumbled at the Cowboys' 5. He was stripped by linebacker Curtis Lofton, who also recovered. Murray lost the ball just before his knee hit the ground. The turnover, with the score tied at 17, proved costly. Drew Brees found Pierre Thomas for the touchdown to give the Saints a 24-17 lead.
Bryant's big day: Dez Bryant finished with nine catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns. He has scored in his past seven games and continues to be a big-play threat for the Cowboys. But after a solid first half, Bryant didn't make another catch until the fourth quarter.
Fumble or catch? The game turned in overtime when Brees completed a pass to Marques Colston. Morris Claiborne stripped the ball away, and it rolled down the field, where Jimmy Graham and Eric Frampton gave chase. Graham recovered at the Cowboys' 2. A review confirmed that Colston had possession before he lost it. Kicker Garrett Hartley booted a 20-yarder to clinch the victory.
Witten sets season record: Tight end Jason Witten finished with six catches for 60 yards. He now has 103 catches on the season, an NFL season record for catches by a tight end, breaking the mark set by Tony Gonzalez. Witten caught a 5-yard pass in overtime to break the record.
What's next? The Redskins host the Cowboys in the regular-season finale, and a victory by the home team clinches the NFC East. The Cowboys would need help in the form of a Giants loss to reach the postseason.
December, 16, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cowboys extended their season-saving winning streak to three games Sunday with a dramatic 27-24 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Cowboys' playoff hopes received a big boost when Brandon Carr intercepted Ben Roethlisberger and returned it 36 yards to set up Dan Bailey's game-winning 21-yard kick.
When it was over, Miles Austin was joyfully pushing coach Jason Garrett, and Jason Hatcher was hugging him. Emotions are high for the Cowboys with two games remaining in the regular season.
What it means: The Cowboys are in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East. However, the Cowboys own the tiebreaker over the New York Giants because they have a better division record. Washington is in first place because it owns the tiebreaker over the Cowboys thanks to the Redskins' Thanksgiving Day victory.
Bryant's broken finger: Dez Bryant played with a broken left index finger that was taped up, with the tip exposed. The Steelers played him tough with double coverage on some passing downs, even dropping a linebacker underneath his routes. Bryant finished with four catches for 59 yards.
Dwayne Harris caught a 4-yard pass on third down that fell short of the first at the 2:00 mark. After a measurement, Garrett elected to punt from his own 21. It would have been a gutsy call late in the game, but it seemed Garrett was trusting his defense to get him the ball and he didn't want to put it at risk defending the Steelers deep in their own territory. It ended up not costing the Cowboys anything because the Steelers punted. Garrett had another decision late in regulation, setting up for a 61-yard field goal for Bailey. He elected to punt after taking a timeout, leading to overtime.
Cowboys honor victims, teammate: The Cowboys held a moment of silence for deceased linebacker Jerry Brown and for the victims of Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Conn. The Cowboys had Brown's jersey on their bench and a No. 53 decal on the back of their helmet. Nose tackle Josh Brent, who was charged with intoxication manslaughter, attended the game.
What's next? If you thought it was loud with Steelers fans at Cowboys Stadium, wait until you hear the New Orleans Saints fans who visit next week. The Saints beat Tampa Bay on Sunday, 41-0.
December, 9, 2012
CINCINNATI -- Considering what the Dallas Cowboys had to deal with Saturday, what they accomplished Sunday can be seen as a season-saving victory.
A practice squad player is gone. His teammate, a popular player in the locker room, is in jail and charged with manslaughter. The Cowboys were told about the tragic incident just before leaving for a game with playoff implications.
Dallas won somehow, beating the Cincinnati Bengals 20-19 on Sunday afternoon at a dreary Paul Brown Stadium. Dan Bailey's 40-yard field goal at the final gun won it for the Cowboys, who are still alive for a playoff berth with three games remaining in their season.
What it means: The Cowboys (7-6) have kept their playoff hopes alive and continue to buy in to what coach Jason Garrett is talking about, blocking out the noise surrounding the team and focusing on winning one game at a time.
Jerry Brown. He was killed Saturday morning in a car crash involving teammate Josh Brent, who was charged with intoxication manslaughter after what Irving, Texas, police say was a drunken-driving accident. Brown's jersey was laid out on the bench during the game, and there was a moment of silence in Paul Brown Stadium. After the game, outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware carried Brown's jersey off the field.
Run of the season: Starting running back DeMarco Murray's 6-yard run on a third-and-5 from the Bengals' 30 gave the Cowboys a needed first down and kept a drive alive that would end on Bailey's field goal. Murray dove for the first-down marker, stretching the ball out. A review clearly showed he had the first down.
Injuries: The Cowboys lost cornerback Morris Claiborne to a facial laceration with 11:56 to play in the third quarter. Claiborne was down for several minutes before he walked off the field holding a towel to his chin area. He did not return. Anthony Spencer left the game briefly to get an IV. Ware (left arm), Nate Livings (undetermined), Ernie Sims (undetermined) and Dez Bryant (left hand) left briefly with injuries. But safety Gerald Sensabaugh played with what appeared to be a leg injury.
Tackle rotation: Doug Free started at right tackle, but he was in a rotation with Jermey Parnell for the game. Free was penalized for holding; Parnell was not flagged. It was an interesting move by the Cowboys, who seem to be admitting -- at least by their actions -- that Free's struggles are so serious he needs to either be benched or rotated. However, Free was the right tackle on the last two offensive possessions.
What's next? The Pittsburgh Steelers make their first visit to Cowboys Stadium, and you can bet there will be plenty of black and gold jerseys in the crowd.
December, 2, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cowboys again were faced with rallying from a double-digit hole. But unlike the Thanksgiving Day loss to the Washington Redskins, Dallas managed to catch up to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Dallas defeated Philadelphia 38-33 to end an eight-game losing streak on Sunday Night Football and keep its playoff hopes alive, slim as they are.
What it means: The Cowboys are back to .500 and are one of three NFC teams at 6-6. They are fighting for a possible NFC East title and possibly a wild-card berth. The New York Giants currently command first place in the division. Getting the sixth seed and the final wild-card spot might prove difficult. Seattle holds the sixth spot, and the Cowboys would lose a tiebreaker to the Seahawks as a result of the Week 2 loss. The Cowboys most likely will have to win out to reach 10 wins and possibly earn the division title to make the playoffs.
Murray returns: After missing six games, starting running back DeMarco Murray returned and finished with 83 yards on 23 carries and one touchdown. Murray, who was out with a sprained left foot, gained 14 yards on his first carry of the game. The Cowboys medical staff monitored Murray throughout the game to make sure he could maintain the workload. Not only did Murray start the game, but the Cowboys also turned to him to close the game.
Romo becomes franchise TD leader: The Cowboys tied the score when Tony Romo did what he does best, scramble away from trouble. Dez Bryant also did what he does best, and that's outrun defenders. Romo moved from pressure and on a short throw found an open Bryant, who outran three defenders to the end zone for a 23-yard reception. Romo's touchdown gave him 166 for his career, surpassing Hall of Famer Troy Aikman on the franchise's all-time touchdown list. The touchdown made it 17-17, with 11:18 to play.
A perfect second half: Romo was fantastic in the second half, completing 10 of 10 passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns. It was Romo's best game of the season, better than the Week 1 victory over the Giants. Overall, Romo completed 22 of 27 passes for 303 yards with the three scores. Romo didn't make a bad throw all night despite getting knocked around in the first half and didn't encounter much pressure in the final 30 minutes.
Defense did what? The Cowboys' defense was banged around in the first half and couldn't contain quarterback Nick Foles or running back Bryce Brown. However, the tune changed in the second half. Guess what? The defense forced a turnover. Nose tackle Josh Brent forced a Brown fumble. Cornerback Morris Claiborne scooped it up and returned it 50 yards for the game-clinching score. It was the Cowboys' third defensive touchdown of the season. Brandon Carr returned an interception, thrown by Foles, for a touchdown on Nov. 11.
What's next: A road trip to Cincinnati (7-5), where the Bengals still have playoff hopes. The Cowboys lost 26-3 in their last visit to Cincinnati, in 2004.
November, 18, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas -- A game that started around noon CT and ended about 9 minutes to 4 was long, bad and left you tired of hearing Ed Hochuli's explanations.
Dan Bailey's 38-yard field goal ended the game in overtime, giving the Dallas Cowboys a pre-Thanksgiving Day gift with a 23-20 victory over the two-win Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon.
What does it mean: The Cowboys (5-5) are now .500 thanks to their second consecutive victory, but they played poorly and don't resemble a team that is ready for the playoffs. Tony Romo had a costly fumble, his third of the season, that gave the Browns life. The pass rush was lacking against a rookie quarterback, and there are numerous health issues lingering.
Bailey's kick sends it to OT: A pass interference penalty on Sheldon Brown and a hit to the head of Kevin Ogletree kept the Cowboys' last-ditch scoring drive alive at the end of regulation. Bailey's 32-yard field goal with two seconds to play tied the score at 20.
Bryant takes over: This is what Cowboys fans have been waiting for, a game like this from Dez Bryant in which he takes over with good route running and playmaking ability. Bryant picked up his third 100-yard game of the season with 12 catches for a career-high 145 yards and one touchdown. Bryant's 28-yard touchdown reception with 6:46 remaining gave the Cowboys their first lead of the day (17-13).
Where's the pass rush? The Cowboys picked up zero sacks in the first half and applied little pressure on rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden. The Cowboys got their first sack of the game in the third quarter, with DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher each getting credit for half a sack. It seemed defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was playing conservatively with his pressures, sending only three in the first half. But in the second, he revved it up slightly by sending four or five defenders at least once or twice. Ware even knocked Weeden down in the end zone on a pass, something we haven't seen a lot of in the first half. Anthony Spencer's strip sack with 5:45 left ended a Cleveland drive. But Romo's fumble kept the Browns around.
Tyron Smith to an ankle injury, and he was replaced by Jermey Parnell. Smith didn't return in the second half. The Cowboys already were playing with changes to the line with center Ryan Cook out with a knee injury. Right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau moved from that spot to replace Cook. Derrick Dockery came off the bench to start at right guard. Bernadeau had just two bad snaps, in the shotgun, that were handled well by Romo. The Cowboys lost safety Danny McCray to a hip injury, but he returned. Also, outside linebacker Ware and safety Charlie Peprah were checked for concussions in the second half. Ware returned. Ogletree and Dwayne Harris also left the game with injuries late in the game. Ogletree was checked for a concussion, and Harris returned in overtime.
Shut out at halftime: The Cowboys were shut out in the first half for the first time this season. The last time the Cowboys failed to score in the first half was the last two games of the 2011 regular season. Dallas lost both -- 20-7 against Philadelphia 21-14 versus the New York Giants won 31-14.
What's next? Thanksgiving Day, when the Cowboys keep their faint playoff hopes alive and take on the Washington Redskins for the first time this season at Cowboys Stadium.
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