NFC East: 2011 Cowboys-Niners
September, 18, 2011
By Calvin Watkins | ESPN.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Cowboys did something that was done to them last week: come back from a 14-point deficit. And this time the Cowboys won, avoiding a 0-2 hole for the second consecutive season with a 27-24 win.
What it means?: The Cowboys head home 1-1 thanks to a gritty comeback that saw some of their top players get hurt, including Miles Austin, Tony Romo and Phil Costa.
Austin with big game: Wide receiver Austin had one of his biggest games of the season. He finished with nine catches for 143 yards and three touchdowns. He kept the Cowboys in the game when they were without starting quarterback Tony Romo and caught a game-tying score from backup Jon Kitna. Austin didn't start off well, dropping two balls, but he responded well.
Bailey ties it: After missing a 21-yard field goal try in the first half, Dan Bailey rewarded Jason Garrett for having faith. Bailey nailed a game-tying 48-yard field goal with four seconds left in regulation to tie the game. After the first miss, there were serious concerns about Bailey's abilities to make clutch kicks. But with the game on the line, Bailey responded.
Romo plays with rib injury: Romo suffered a fractured rib on the third play of the game, then was knocked around some more on the first possession. Romo didn't start the second half due to the injury and Jon Kitna replaced him. Kitna threw a game-tying touchdown but he also threw two interceptions. Romo returned with 37 seconds to play in the third quarter. He finished 20-of-33 for 345 yards and two touchdowns.
Defense plays well: The 49ers scored 10 points in the second half, but they were the result of two turnovers. Other than that, the Cowboys' defense controlled the second half. The Cowboys had six sacks, including two each from DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher. The Cowboys also had an interception from Alan Ball.
Interesting decision by the 49ers: Kicker David Akers converted a 55-yard field goal to give the 49ers a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. A penalty on Keith Brooking for leverage on the kick could have given the 49ers a first down and 15 more yards. But Niners coach Jim Harbaugh elected to take the points and not the yards. Dallas rallied to tie the score, but it would have been harder to get 14 points than 10 given how the offense struggled at times on Sunday.
Injuries adding up: First it was Romo and his fractured rib, then Felix Jones hurt a shoulder. Both played through it, but starting center Phil Costa left the game with a knee injury and didn't return. Kevin Kowalski replaced him with 11:12 to play in the quarter. The Cowboys were already without wide receiver Dez Bryant (quad), Bill Nagy (neck), Orlando Scandrick (ankle) and Terence Newman (groin).
What's next?: The Cowboys have their home opener next week at Cowboys Stadium vs. the 2-0 Washington Redskins.