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Sunday, December 9, 2012
Halftime Adjustments: Bengals 13, Cowboys 10

By Calvin Watkins

CINCINNATI -- The Cowboys are down, 13-10, to the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. As a group, they have three drops from their wide receivers, started a rotation at right tackle with Doug Free and Jermey Parnell and aren't playing like their playoff hopes are dwindling.

Here are some adjustments:

1. Press the wide receivers. Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton is getting rid of the ball very quickly. There were a few throws where he let it go at 1.2 seconds, which makes it hard for defenders to reach him. One way the Cowboys can combat this is by pressing the wide receivers. The cornerbacks are playing zone defense, which allows Dalton to get rid of passes in front of the corners or in soft spots in the zone. The Cowboys need to press receivers A.J. Green and Brandon Tate. The Cowboys do have a turnover, an interception by Brandon Carr as Dalton scrambled out of the pocket. If the Cowboys continue to get pressure on Dalton, maybe he'll make another mistake.

2. Run the football. If this game gets out of hand in the second half then change things, but right now the Cowboys trail the Bengals by three. So keep running the ball. Dallas is using lots of three-receiver sets, which is nice, but run it with Murray, who has 10 carries for 21 yards with one touchdown. It seems the Cowboys' offensive line is getting a good push along the line of scrimmage and Murray is running better than last week. His score, a 1-yarder, came when he jumped up and pushed the ball over the goal line. Murray is cutting better across the field this week than in the Eagles game, his first after returning from a five-game absence from a sprained foot.

3. Find Dez Bryant. It's nothing strange to see the Cowboys' most explosive receiver not get a catch in the first half. Bryant was targeted twice; he dropped a pass on one targed, and Tony Romo threw one over his head on the other. It appeared to be a miscommunication on the second target. But in the second half, the Cowboys need to find Bryant. He's getting pressed at the line of scrimmage and the Bengals are also playing off him. He did get open on a slant on press coverage, so it's possible for him to become a weapon. Bryant finished the first half without a catch.