NFC East: Rabid Reaction
October, 16, 2011
By Calvin Watkins | ESPN.com
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rob Ryan's defense couldn't make a play when it counted, and Tom Brady sliced up the Cowboys with a game-winning drive in a dramatic 20-16 victory at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
It was a difficult loss for the Cowboys considering how well they played on defense. Despite losing starting running back Felix Jones, they were able to stay in the game until the end. Coach Jason Garrett decided to play it safe inside the red zone, and it might have cost his team.
What it means: The Cowboys have lost two consecutive games, as they fell two weeks ago versus Detroit. The Cowboys missed a wonderful chance to gain some ground in the sloppy NFC East. The Cowboys are now in the bottom half of the division at 2-3, a half-game ahead of the Eagles, whom they will play in two weeks.
No Felix Jones: Jones suffered a left ankle injury in the second quarter and didn't return. Jones finished with eight carries for 14 yards. Rookie DeMarco Murray and Tashard Choice took over for Jones, who was playing with a dislocated shoulder. Murray finished with 10 carries for 32 yards.
Red zone issues: The Cowboys went 1-for-3 in the red zone on Sunday afternoon, and they're 6-of-18 on the season. One of the interesting play calls in the red zone came with about six minutes to play when on a third-and-5 from the 5, Garrett called for a shuffle pass to Choice. It seemed that Garrett was not trusting Romo or wanted to play conservatively and let Rob Ryan's defense win the game for him.
Special-teams penalties: The Cowboys were called for four special-teams penalties. Anthony Spencer, Barry Church, Keith Brooking and Phillip Tanner were flagged. The Cowboys can't have these things in close games. Spencer's penalty, running into the punter, extended a Patriots drive in the third quarter.
Injuries: The Cowboys lost two starters. Jones suffered an ankle injury and didn't play in the second half, and guard Bill Nagy also injured an ankle in the fourth quarter and didn't return. Kevin Kowalski replaced Nagy at left guard.
What's next? Cowboys will host the winless St. Louis Rams at Cowboys Stadium next week. This is almost a must-win game for the Cowboys considering where they are right now.