Saturday, December 17, 2011
Welcome to Raymond James Stadium
By Todd Archer
TAMPA, Fla. – With a victory tonight the Cowboys can put the pressure back on the New York Giants to win Sunday against Washington in this two-team chase for the NFC East title.
The Cowboys enter with a two-game losing streak with back-to-back heartbreaking defeats: 19-13 in overtime at Arizona and 37-34 against the Giants in which they blew a 12-point lead with 5:41 to play.
The Cowboys must rebound in a big way against a team that has lost seven in a row after a 4-2 start to the season and was viewed as an up-and-comer when the season began. Struggling to get a victory against a team that was waxed by 27 points by Jacksonville last week will not do.
In 2009, the Cowboys opened December with tough losses to New York and San Diego but bounced back on a short week against an NFC South foe to kickstart a 3-0 finish and the division crown. That NFC South team was New Orleans, which was unbeaten at the time.
Cowboys Update (7-6): Tony Romo’s play in December has not been why the Cowboys have lost two games so far. The fact that he sees Tampa Bay should help. In two wins against the Bucs Romo has completed 38 of 56 passes for 659 yards with eight touchdowns and no picks. Romo kicked off the 2009 season at Raymond James with a three-TD performance against Tampa Bay. Maybe the karma remains.
Cowboys' inactives: Andre Holmes, Dwayne Harris, Mana Silva, David Arkin, Daniel Loper, Derrick Dockery, Josh Brent.
Buccaneers update (4-9): Tampa Bay reportedly nearly fired coach Raheem Morris after the 41-14 loss to Jacksonville, so this team is not in a good frame of mind. But those teams can be dangerous. The players are not only fighting for Morris’ job, they are also fighting for their own job. Josh Freeman has struggled this season (18 picks) after excelling in 2010, but if anything has shown to be true lately it’s that the Dallas defense can cure the ailments of an opposing quarterback.
Buccaneers’ inactives: Rudy Carpenter, Arrelious Benn, Sammie Straughter, Larry Asante, Myron Lewis, Derek Hardman, James Lee.
Scouts in attendance: Philadelphia, Carolina, New Orleans.
Officials: Referee – Terry McAulay, Umpire – Paul King, Head Linesman – Greg Bradley, Line Judge – Mark Steinkerchner, Field Judge – Terry Brown, Side Judge – Michael Banks, Back Judge – Lee Dyer, Replay – Earnie Frantz