Cowboys' line was penalty-free Monday

October, 4, 2012
10/04/12
4:15
PM ET
Here's another silver lining from the Dallas Cowboys' miserable Monday night loss to the Chicago Bears: They weren't whistled for one single false-start penalty in the entire game.

Hey, I'm trying here.

As you can see from Todd Archer's penalty breakdown, the false starts were a major problem in the first three games of the season. Left tackle Tyron Smith was called for five, right tackle Doug Free for four and tight end Jason Witten for three. That's an average of four false-start penalties per game, which is basically handing your opponent 20 free yards per game, and so it's a good thing that the Cowboys' linemen weren't as jumpy Monday as they had been. (Though it does bear mentioning that, as you may have heard, there were different officials in place for Game 4 than there were for the first three.)

The only penalties against the Cowboys in Monday night's loss were a five-yard illegal contact on Brandon Carr in the second quarter and a five-yard illegal shift on Dez Bryant in the fourth. The Bryant one came two plays before a Tony Romo interception, but you can say the same thing about four other plays that happened in the game, so I'm not sure how much it mattered.

Anyway, I'm getting away from my intended point, which I think is that the Cowboys' offensive linemen were a little bit steadier in at least this one aspect of their play Monday. And as awful as the Cowboys' offensive line has been this year, lines do tend to improve as the year goes along and they play together. In general, they seemed to get decent push in the run game on the left side, though still nothing on the right side with Free and Mackenzy Bernadeau. And the pass protection certainly had its moments, which it didn't in either of the prior two weeks. The Cowboys' line has a long, long way to go, but any signs of improvement have to be considered encouraging.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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