Sunday, December 16, 2012
Halftime Adjustments: Cowboys 10, Steelers 10
By Calvin Watkins
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cowboys and Steelers are tied at the break, 10-10.
Here are our first-half adjustments:
1. Pressure. The Cowboys can't get to Ben Roethlisberger on a consistent basis. For that matter, they can't get to him at all. He was knocked down just once in the first half and he remained in the pocket at the last possible moment before getting rid of the ball. Roethlisberger avoided pressure on the 30-yard touchdown pass to Heath Miller, spinning away from Tyrone Crawford and fooling two defenders with a pump fake before completing the pass for a score. Jason Hatcher knocked him down after he threw the ball. The Cowboys knew coming in that Roethlisberger was difficult to bring down because of his size and his ability to feel pressure around him. The Cowboys did blitz four or more defenders at times, but the Steelers kept the pocket from falling around their quarterback. In the second half, maybe Rob Ryan should mix up the blitzes by sending a linebacker or safety.
2. Keep finding Miles Austin. The wide receiver had six catches for 66 yards in the half. This is a result of the Steelers taking Dez Bryant out of the offense with double-coverage, so Tony Romo is just looking for Austin more. Bryant's first catch didn't come until late in the second quarter for 15 yards. At times, the Steelers will drop a linebacker underneath on Bryant's side, forcing Romo to look elsewhere. As the second half begins, the Cowboys need to get their most productive playmaker of late -- Bryant has a touchdown in each of the last five games -- the ball.
3. Keep running the football. The Cowboys' 10-0 lead is gone, but coach Jason Garrett shouldn't forget the running game. DeMarco Murray rushed for 62 yards on nine carries and seems to be running better and better on a foot that cost him six games because it was sprained. While Garrett will continue to look down field with some pass plays, he needs to make sure Murray gets his touches in close games. In the two games, Murray has carried at least 20 times in the two games he's played since his return.