Saturday, August 22, 2009
Quick observations on Cowboys-Titans
By Dan Graziano
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Make no mistake, Friday night was all about new Cowboys Stadium. But the Cowboys did manage to dominate the Titans in a 30-10 victory. Here are some things that caught my eye:
- Quarterback Tony Romo was superb Friday, going 18-of-24 for 192 yards. And when he felt pressure, he made sure to secure the football with both hands. That's something that coaches have been harping on for years and it's a good sign that he's apparently listening. His best throw of the evening was a 19-yard pass to Jason Witten that set up the Cowboys' first touchdown. Romo bought himself some extra time and then dropped in a beautiful pass to Witten.
- Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff is on the verge of being a perennial Pro Bowl player. He's simply too quick for most centers and guards. He shot the gap between center and right guard to stop running back Chris Johnson at the line of scrimmage on the Titans' first series.
- Special-teams coach Joe DeCamillis was supposed to improve the coverage units in a dramatic way. But Titans running back Javon Ringer took a kick back 51 yards on his first opportunity. Gerald Sensabaugh didn't help things when he was flagged 15 yards for a late hit.
- The Cowboys held the ball for 22 minutes, 13 seconds in the first half. They dominated the Titans at the line of scrimmage. The Titans finally put a drive together late in the second quarter that was capped by Justin Gage's 17-yard touchdown catch.
- Rookie cornerback Mike Jenkins appeared to point a finger at safety Ken Hamlin on Gage's touchdown. Jenkins lined up on Gage but then tried to pass him off to Hamlin, who was late coming over. I still think it looked like Jenkins' fault.
- Former University of Houston basketball player turned tight end Rodney Hannah made an excellent catch on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Stephen McGee. Hannah's probably a practice squad candidate at best, but he has excellent size at 6-foot-6, 260 pounds and his hands have really improved. If I were the Eagles, I'd be waiting to sign Hannah if he's released.
- Sam Hurd didn't come up with a catch he should have had on a back-shoulder throw, but he came back and made the catch of the night on a ball that was thrown behind him. Hurd reached back and hauled in the pass with one hand. He told me after the game that he still talks to his mentor Terrell Owens at least twice a week. "He taught me how to have patience," Hurd said of T.O. "Whether that was running routes or getting off press coverage." Hurd then emptied his locker to show me what books he's been reading. By the way, Hurd might be the best blocking receiver on the team.
- Cowboys reserve linebacker Bobby Carpenter made an excellent open-field tackle on Vince Young in the third quarter. I thought Young would beat him to the outside, but Carpenter grabbed his legs and made a really good tackle.
- Loved listening to crew chief Walt Anderson during Friday's game. At one point he made the following announcement into his mike: "False start on everyone but the center." And later he apologized to the crowd when he blew his whistle into a live mic.
- Running back Felix Jones is one of the most exciting players in the NFC East. What he did to Titans safety Tuff Harris on a 42-yard reception in the first half was embarrassing. Jones is a threat to go all the way every time he touches the ball.
- I saw a guy named Derreck Robinson force a poor throw late in the game. The defensive end out of Iowa probably won't make the team, but he was one of the few players to pressure the quarterback. Wade Phillips appears to be keeping it pretty basic at this point.
- Kudos to the entire offensive line -- except for the false start on Marc Colombo and the holding call on Flozell Adams. Jason Garrett showed a lot of confidence in the line when he chose to run the ball in the end zone with five seconds left in the first half.
- Looks like this offense could be pretty explosive. Pretty much everyone got involved -- even the guy from "4th and Long," Jesse Holley.