Cowboys receiving corps struggles

September, 29, 2013
9/29/13
11:20
PM ET
Terrance WilliamsAP Photo/Denis PoroyCowboys receiver Terrance Williams is stripped of the ball as he tries to score. It was one of many miscues by Dallas receivers in a 30-21 loss to San Diego.
SAN DIEGO -- It was a tough weekend for the Cowboys’ receiving corps on Sunday. There were three drops, a fumble inside the five and two touchdown receptions in the 30-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers.

You know things are bad when Bryan Wansley, the director of player development, escorts rookie wide receiver Terrance Williams off the field.

Williams received pep talks from Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray and Jerry Jones after a forgettable day at the office. Williams suffered a miscue when the Cowboys were rallying from a two-score deficit in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys were having one of their best drives of the day when Tony Romo found Williams across the middle. Williams, trying to stretch out for the first down, was stripped by cornerback Crezdon Butler. Richard Marshall recovered the fumble in the end zone and got a touchback with 2:42 to play in the game.

The Cowboys would get no closer to the Chargers end zone the rest of the afternoon.

“Just feel like I was trying to make a play and it didn’t turn out that way,” Williams said. “I wanted [to score]. I just feel like I let a whole bunch of people down. So it’s going to be kinda tough to get past it but I have to move on.”

At two different points of his sessions with reporters, Jones spoke to Williams and Bryant broke up another chat.

It wasn’t like the Cowboys were trying to protect Williams. They want to help him improve.

On the day, he finished with career-highs in catches (seven) and yards (71). But the fumble is the play people will talk about Monday morning.

“Keep your head up,” Bryant said he told Williams. “Everybody has bad plays and they don’t determine who you are. And don’t let a bad play dictate what you can do. I know he’s a great player, that’s something you got to let go and move on to the next.”

Williams wasn’t alone in the miscues.

There was Bryant with a sideline drop, his second of the season, on the seventh play of the third quarter. Bryant was open along the sidelines, but he dropped the pass as it hit his hands.

The ball fell incomplete and the Cowboys got off the field with 6:24 to play in the third.

“Just trying to see where I was at on the field,” Bryant said. “I lost the ball trying to keep my feet inbounds.”

The Chargers would get a field goal to take a 23-21 lead early in the fourth quarter which pushed the Cowboys into panic mode.

Driving the length of the field, the Cowboys faced a third down when Romo found tight end Jason Witten down the middle of the field, but safety Eric Weddle got his hand tangled up with Witten’s and the ball fell incomplete.

Witten tried to snag it with one hand but couldn’t do it. The Cowboys were forced to punt and the offense watched Sean Lee get beat on a 56-yard touchdown reception by Antonio Gates.

Third down issues bothered the Cowboys receivers because of the four total drops on the day, three came on third downs where the team went 3-for-9 on the day.

"Some players do a good job of grabbing a jersey without being seen, so we had a few of those and a couple of times we had some plays we could have made but we didn't make them," Romo said. "You've got to give [the Chargers] credit and they did a good job of having a good pass rush on a couple of other plays, so it was a mixture of things."

The Cowboys didn't seem to miss Miles Austin, who was out with a hamstring injury. Romo was able to spread the offense around. He targeted his wide receivers 22 times on his 37 throws. The Chargers did provide some tight coverage on the receivers, including using a safety to shade Bryant preventing the Cowboys from going deep.

Yet, Bryant had two touchdowns to go along with six catches for 81 yards.

In the fourth quarter, he was targeted just three times. He made a catch with 12 minutes to play in the game and didn't have another one until 24 seconds left.

That shouldn't happen regardless of the coverage. The Cowboys have to get Bryant into situations to get open to make plays, if not then days like Sunday will happen often.

"That's what this game is, like I said before, we got to much talent on this team," Bryant said. "That’s the great thing about it, everybody can make a play. Everything went well. We all as one. We just got to continue to execute the best way we possibly can."
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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