- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Cowboys edged the Minnesota Vikings 27-23 on Sunday. We review what we saw and preview what's to come in our weekly Beat Writers Report:
Quarterback Tony Romo completed 34 of 51 passes for 337 yards and two touchdowns. Romo should have produced better numbers, but it wasn't because of anything he didn't do. He was hurt by eight dropped passes. Jason Witten and Dez Bryant dropped passes on the Cowboys' first drive of the game, with Bryant's drop coming on third down. Romo was also hurt on the third possession when DeMarco Murray dropped a pass in the flat. Cole Beasley and Witten dropped passes in the second quarter to push the total to five. Terrance Williams dropped a sideline pass in the third quarter after taking a hard hit. Romo dealt with two fourth-quarter drops. Bryant's came over the middle as he appeared to be on his way for a touchdown. The other came late in the game, courtesy of Williams on the go-ahead drive.
Ernie Sims earned the start over Bruce Carter at weakside linebacker and played badly. He missed several tackles in the run game and took a bad angle when Christian Ponder was scrambling for a touchdown. Carter has expressed confusion regarding his playing status but in some ways the coaching staff is making a statement by sitting him. The Cowboys value Carter's skill set, but a tendency to overthink rather than react to plays hampers him. Carter seems to be someone who is afraid to make a mistake. When he does play with confidence in what he's doing, he's very good. Sims just seems lost.
Jason Garrett said he wasn't pleased with the tackling coming from the safety position. Barry Church is normally a sure tackler, especially in the open field, but he made two mistakes going after ball carriers. Church went for a big hit instead of wrapping up. Rookie Jeff Heath was also guilty of this. "I thought they did some good things in the game," Garrett said. "I think in general we had too many missed tackles in the game. When you’re trying to tackle [Adrian Peterson], you can have some missed tackles. He does that every week. So there were a couple of those that both Heath missed one in the open field, Barry Church missed a couple."
We're not sure if DeMarco Murray would have produced a 100-yard day against the Vikings, but he looked good moving laterally on his sprained knee. He did pick up a 27 yard run on four carries. While Murray doesn't express his frustration with reporters, you can tell he's slightly irked by the lack of a consistent run game. It's not a frustration with not producing that bothers Murray, but a lack of commitment to it. Murray is the Cowboys' best running back and deserves 10 to 15 carries per game. Each game is different, but the Cowboys' lack of a commitment to a run game is embarrassing.
Orlando Scandrick has been the Cowboys' best corner this season. Nothing against Brandon Carr, who has also been solid, but Scandrick's pick and four pass breakups against the Vikings were another example of how well he's playing. Scandrick was the slot corner entering the season, but Morris Claiborne's shoulder injury moved Scandrick into the starting lineup. Claiborne has moved into the No. 3 spot at corner. Carr and Scandrick are the first-team corners while the Cowboys play more nickle defense right now in the base defense.