Halftime: Dallas Cowboys tough but trailing

October, 14, 2012
10/14/12
2:44
PM ET
BALTIMORE -- Wasn't long ago that this really looked like the Dallas Cowboys' game. The offensive line, which has been a weak spot all season, looked fresh and strong and was blowing the Baltimore Ravens off the ball. They were muscling up in the run game, as DeMarco Murray already has 90 rushing yards and Felix Jones (of all people) has a 22-yard touchdown run. Deep into the second quarter, the Cowboys had a 10-3 lead and were basically bullying Baltimore in its home stadium.

Then, the mistakes started rolling in. An illegal use of the hands penalty on Kenyon Coleman on third-and-two led to the game-tying touchdown. A Tyron Smith holding penalty on the ensuing drive cost them 10 yards in Baltimore territory, and three plays later Tony Romo threw a bad-decision interception under pressure. They struggled to cover Anquan Boldin as the Ravens marched down the field. They were called for two penalties on a play that ended up being a 19-yard Torrey Smith touchdown catch. And to top it all off, rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne, their first-round pick from April's draft, injured himself on that play and limped off to the locker room.

A promising start has indeed turned ugly, and the Cowboys trail the Ravens 17-10 at the half.

There are positives signs, of course, and the most positive is the Cowboys have been a physically dominating team on offense this afternoon. That has not been the case, really, in any of their games this year, and if they can avoid becoming flustered and stick with their run-heavy game plan they certainly retain a chance to win. The penalties have to stop, though, because the Cowboys' loss of momentum in the second quarter appeared to be a direct result of the unforced errors that cost them yards.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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