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Thursday, November 22, 2012
Report card: Dez Bryant has another big game

By Tim MacMahon


Rushing Offense

The Cowboys couldn't run the ball and quit trying after they dug a huge hole in the second quarter. The Cowboys finished with only 35 yards on 11 carries. Felix Jones, who played with two sore knees, gained only 14 yards on six carries. He was dropped for a loss on half of those carries. The Cowboys didn't hand the ball off a single time in the second half. Not one time. Their only rushing attempts after halftime were by Tony Romo, including a bizarre quarterback sneak on first down. If you're looking for a bright spot, undrafted rookie Lance Dunbar averaged eight yards per carry. He got a grand total of one carry.


Passing Offense

Tony Romo threw for a career-high 441 yards and three touchdowns, so at least his fantasy owners had a happy Thanksgiving. But he attempted a franchise-record-tying 62 passes with the Cowboys in desperation comeback mode most of the game. His two interceptions and Dez Bryant's lost fumble helped dig that hole. Bryant, however, has to be considered the biggest bright spot on the team after his third consecutive big game. He caught eight passes for a career-high 145 yards and two touchdowns. Miles Austin left with a hip injury early in the game, but it's clear that Bryant has supplanted him as the team's No. 1 receiver.


Rushing Defense

The Redskins rammed it down the throat of a Dallas defense with a decimated front seven, which added inside linebacker Bruce Carter (elbow) to an injury list that includes inside linebacker Sean Lee (injured reserve with toe), defensive end Kenyon Coleman (injured reserve with triceps) and nose tackle Jay Ratliff (groin). Rookie running back Alfred Morris rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Quarterback Robert Griffin III added 29 yards on six carries. Outside linebacker Anthony Spencer was outstanding with 10 tackles, including two for losses, but he didn't have enough help.


Passing Defense

Desperately searching for a silver lining, Jerry Jones mentioned that the Cowboys only had to face rookie sensation Robert Griffin III one more time this season. RG3 shredded the Dallas secondary for 311 yards and four touchdowns on 20-of-28 passing. He put together a highlight reel in the second quarter, when he completed all eight of his passes for 178 yards and touchdowns of 68, 59 and 6 yards. The Cowboys actually did a decent job pressuring Griffin -- with four sacks (two by Spencer) and eight hurries -- but he lit up the secondary when he had time to throw. Brandon Carr, the Cowboys' $50 million cornerback, had an especially rough day.


Special Teams

Dan Bailey was 3-of-3 on field goals, including a 51-yarder in the final minute. Brian Moorman boomed three punts for an average of 56.7 yards. Brandon Banks, the Washington's dangerous return specialist, was a nonfactor other than his boneheaded decision to field a punt in the end zone and return it, resulting in the Redskins being pinned at their 7-yard line. Dwayne Harris didn't make a big return for the first time in a few weeks, but he was adequate. The Cowboys didn't recover an onside kick, but it's not like the element of surprise was on their side in the final minute.



Once again, the Cowboys were a poorly prepared team. The short week is certainly no excuse, especially since the Redskins also played Sunday and had to deal with a travel day. The awful first half continued a troubling trend. It took Jason Garrett a half to figure out how to attack a poor Washington defense. The Cowboys finally started having success when Garrett basically got out of the way and let Romo run the show. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan had one of his worst days since coming to Dallas, too. This staff is in serious jeopardy of getting fired at the end of the season.