Sunday, January 10, 2010
Career day: Jones joins Dorsett, Smith
By Jeff Caplan
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Felix Jones is living up to expectations and possibly even setting new ones.
The Cowboys' explosive second-year tailback victimized the Philadelphia Eagles for a career-high 148 yards on a career-high 16 carries in the 34-14 wild-card mauling at Cowboys Stadium. Jones' 73-yard touchdown run, also a career-best, gave the confident Cowboys their biggest lead at 34-7.
Jones described his touchdown run off right tackle, then down the sideline with a quick cut back inside, the way an artist envisions transforming a blank canvas.
"Once I received the ball from Tony Romo, I kind of looked at the field to see what I had to work with. Then I seen my guy, big Leonard Davis pulling in front of me. I also seen Kyle Kosier, he pulled in front of me as well," Jones said. "Once I seen Leonard Davis make that block outside, and Marc Colombo made a great down block, it just opened up the hole. It was like once you see something in your vision, all I saw was green, that was in my vision, green grass, and I took it, thanks to those guys, they opened the big hole for me."
That run pushed Jones well over 100 yards for the game. His final tally of 148 ranks as the franchise's third-best rushing game in the playoffs behind Tony Dorsett (160, Dec. 28, 1980 vs. L.A. Rams) and Emmitt Smith (150, Jan. 14, 1996 vs. Green Bay).
The phenomenal burst, the shake-and-bake move, the open-field speed, were all expected of the former first-round pick out of Arkansas. While he puts an injury-plagued start to his career behind him, he's also beginning to show that he can physically carry the load. Until the game at Washington on Nov. 22, Jones had never rushed more than nine times in a game. Including tonight's haul, he's gone for 10 carries or more in six of the last eight games and in five in a row.
He set his career-high last week against the Eagles with 15 carries and 91 yards. With 16 more Saturday night, he's averaged 13.0 rushes in the past five games. It's not the 19.5-per-game season average of Minnesota's workhorse Adrian Peterson, next week's divisional round opponent, but the Cowboys are finally getting what they thought they would out of Jones.
"He's always been a guy that's been able to make big plays. Somehow he gets himself out in space and makes these big runs, but the other thing that's been always impressive to us is he's a good inside runner as well," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. "He showed that tonight and it was unfortunate that we didn't have Marion [Barber] healthy and ready to go. Hopefully we'll get him back next week and we'll get back to using all three of our backs again."
Barber played just two series with three carries before being relegated to the sideline. He entered the game with a bruised left knee, tried to go, but couldn't.
Third-down back Tashard Choice complemented Jones, carrying 14 times for 42 yards, including a 1-yard dive that put the Cowboys up 14-7 at the 9:14 mark of the second quarter. Choice carried it eight times for 30 yards in the fourth quarter as the Cowboys milked the clock.
Choice sustained a concussion last week against in the Eagles in the season finale and didn't practice until Thursday. He took a hit in the fourth quarter that left him woozy. A team trainer helped him off the field. Choice later said it was just a hard hit and nothing more.
If Barber remains iffy next week at Minnesota, Choice knows he and Jones will have to run the ground show again.
"You already know how the three of us roll," Choice said. "We all three can play and we all three are going to have to. So as long as all three of us are in, we’re going to be OK."