Beat Writers recap: Cowboys-Seahawks

November, 8, 2011
11/08/11
1:00
PM ET
The Cowboys played an ugly game on Sunday vs. the Seattle Seahawks, but the bottom line is to win the game and they did, 23-13. We review in our weekly Beat Writers recap.

*Unofficially Bradie James (34 snaps) and Keith Brooking (38) played more snaps than they have in a while at inside linebacker. What the Cowboys did without Sean Lee to take those third down snaps was interesting. Alex Albright, Bruce Carter, Victor Butler, Barry Church and Danny McCray saw some time in various ways in a linebacker/safety position. Butler played 16 snaps on defense and saw time at inside linebacker. He's not afraid to mix it up as evident by him losing his helmet on one tackle. Coach Jason Garrett likes tough guys, and that's what he has in Butler. If Lee misses the Buffalo game this week, expect Carter, who had 11 snaps Sunday, to get more.

*The red zone issues drive everybody crazy. Sunday was another indication Garrett isn't so sure about the power running game. Late in the first quarter, the Cowboys faced a second-and-goal from the 5, and Tony Romo, on a play action pass, and was high on a throw to Miles Austin. The next play, in the shotgun and out of a three receiver set, Romo scrambled up the middle, but if he waited another second he had two open receivers that he missed. The next time the Cowboys were inside the 20, it was a first-and-goal from the 1, and instead of a run play, Romo, on play action, missed John Phillips. Second and goal, DeMarco Murray got a pitch outside and was dropped for a loss. Romo faced a third and goal and didn't connect with Jason Witten as he avoided a sack. Cowboys don't have a big physcial back in Marion Barber anymore, who by the way looked pretty good Monday night for Chicago in short yardage. Garrett said Murray and whenever he returns, Felix Jones, can be physical running backs. It didn't appear Garrett believes that way, at least with Murray, based on the play calls.

*Anthony Spencer had his best game in a month on Sunday. He took advantage of the double-teams DeMarcus Ware faced on the other side and he was close on about two sacks. He finished with one sack, but more importantly, Spencer got one tackle for loss and two quarterback hurries. If the Cowboys are going to make something of their season, Spencer has to pressure the quarterback more.

*Laurent Robinson has surpassed two players on the depth chart at wide receiver. Jesse Holley and Kevin Ogletree. The Cowboys expected more out of Ogletree this season, but he's failed to produce. He got zero snaps vs. Philadelphia last week, but got 15 vs. Seattle because of Miles Austin's injury. Poor Jesse Holley, he's been good on special teams, but made a critical mistake, getting a personal foul call for pulling a defender off a pile, and on offense he's a non factor. He got one offensive snap vs. the Seahawks. It seems like that San Francisco game was 20 years ago.

*Interesting that former wide receivers coach Ray Sherman was criticized for coddling his position players. Jimmy Robinson, a good coach, is basically doing the same thing Sherman is doing, talking to his receivers in a calm fashion, especially Dez Bryant. Numerous times this season, and mainly the last two weeks, you see Robinson and Bryant talking calmly. Robinson and Bryant have a close relationship and it seems the young player trusts him much like he did Sherman.

*Funny but the Buffalo Bills might have two kickers on the active roster this week due to injuries. ... Here's Murray's yards gained in the next to last possession to seal the game: 12, 3, 8, -2 and 5 before Seattle called timeout. Solid. ... Jay Ratliff gets double-teamed a lot, but it was interesting despite one tackle, he also had one quarterback hurry. ... Not sure if the defensive ends are the problem, but this run defense is looking pretty shaky. ... Gerald Sensabaugh won't say it, but he's having a nice season. So is Abram Elam. Contract extension anyone?
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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