Saturday, August 25, 2012
Second quarter: Cowboys 20, Rams 6
By Calvin Watkins
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cowboys produced their best performance of the preseason in the first half against the Rams, taking a commanding 20-6 lead.
* Kyle Orton came in with 14:18 to play in the half but had the first-team offensive line with him and Felix Jones as the running back. Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray were out.
* On a fumble by Orton, it was hard to blame Jones for the missed block. It was a play-action pass, and weakside linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar flew in and made the hit, causing the fumble. Dunbar got through the hole before Jones could get there. Sometimes you have to credit the other team for making a play.
* Alex Albright is playing inside and outside linebacker for the Cowboys. He picked up a quarterback pressure when he beat tackle Rodger Saffold off the edge and hit Sam Bradford on a pass attempt. The Cowboys like what Albright can do at both positions, and his hit on Bradford is an example of that.
* Sometimes you don't notice the fullback, but Lawrence Vickers made a play here. He caused Danny Amendola to fumble a punt.
* Morris Claiborne picked up his first pass breakup of the preseason on a pass in the end zone. Faced with a fourth and goal, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford fired a pass into the back of the end zone. Claiborne tipped it away for the incompletion. And while the Cowboys won the battle, they lost the war in some ways. Safety Danny McCray was injured colliding with Gerald Sensabaugh as each player tried to make a play on the live ball.
* The first-team offensive and defensive lines got significant playing time in the first half. Orton played with the first-team offensive line. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan mixed his lines. Starter Kenyon Coleman got late first-half snaps along with Marcus Spears at defensive end.
* It was interesting to see linebacker Barakas Atkins get first-half snaps. He picked up a quarterback pressure on Bradford in the first half. He's one of those players the coaches want to see make some plays when given playing time against first-team offenses.
* Jones gained 12 yards on a run and later caught a nice pass underneath for a 9-yard reception. Coach Jason Garrett said Jones is still getting into the flow of things after missing the offseason program as he recovered from shoulder surgery. Jones has looked slow at times but is still a dangerous player when in open space.
* With 31 seconds left in the half, Phillip Tanner missed a block of Robert Quinn, leading to a sack of Orton. The Cowboys called timeout and Tanner got an ear full from the sidelines.
* It was a strong first half by the Cowboys' receivers. Dwayne Harris was 3-118, Kevin Ogletree 5-75 and Cole Beasley 3-40.