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Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Beat Writers recap: Cowboys vs. Cardinals

By Calvin Watkins

Here's our review of the Cowboys-Cardinals game in our weekly Beat Writers Recap.

Enjoy.

*For the discussion regarding the Cowboys blowing so much time off the clock prior to Dan Bailey's 49-yard field goal attempt near the end of the game, there was some other time lost on the same possession. The game clock read 1:01 when the Cowboys faced with a second-and-20 at their own 45. Tony Romo completed a pass to Dez Bryant for nine yards. The next time the Cowboys snapped the ball, 31 seconds remained on the clock. Some two-minute offense huh? Cowboys should have been a little quicker with the plays at the line of scrimmage and maybe Jason Garrett does call for a run play near the end of the game.

*Garrett said he didn't like the number of negative run plays he saw in the first half against the Cardinals. In the first half, the Cowboys ran 13 times for 48 yards. In the second half, Garrett called just six run plays. The Cowboys had four second half possessions, including a 13-play drive in the third quarter, where he called three run plays. Garrett gave up on the run too fast on Sunday. Yes, Arizona sneaked a safety into the box to offset the run, that's fine, but don't give up on the run.

*For the game, the Cowboys did a nice job on third down against the Cardinals offense holding them to a 31 percent conversion rate. In the fourth quarter, Arizona converted two of four third-down plays. The first conversion was on a short pass that pushed Arizona to the Cowboys' 4 and the other was a 14-yard completion to Larry Fitzgerald.

*The game-winning score by the Cardinals was a result of two players blitzing at the same time. Anthony Spencer and Sean Lee charged the line of scrimmage and Spencer almost sacks quarterback Kevin Kolb. Lee realized he needed to cover the running back out of the backfield on the screen so he turned around and went to the flat. Seeing this, Kolb has a free man and gets rid of the pass with Lee trailing the play. The Cowboys were blocked well on the backside preventing a tackle from that side of the field on LaRod Stephens-Howling. The closest players were Bradie James, Terence Newman, Abram Elam and Lee. It was too late.

*Bryant continues to get better and seems to thrive when pressed at the line of scrimmage. On two key plays in the fourth quarter, he beat press coverage from rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson. Maybe Bryant doesn't do this with a veteran corner, but Peterson had one of his best games of the season on Sunday. On a nine-yard reception, Bryant got inside position at the start of the route for the catch. On the big 15-yard reception that setup the field goal, Bryant beat Peterson inside again against press coverage. Romo made a terrific pass over the linebackers to Bryant.

*With Josh Brent out with a sprained knee, it was nice to see Sean Lissemore produce with significant snaps. When his day was done, Lissemore had two tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry. In 2010, Lissemore was struggling in training camp with his health and play. But he picked things up toward the back end of that camp and the preseason to earn a roster spot. Lissemore gives the Cowboys flexibility to play end or nose tackle. If the Cowboys move on from veterans Marcus Spears and Kenyon Coleman next season, Lissemore should be in the mix for a starting job.