How many injuries at key positions can one team expect to endure and continue to win? I'm not sure, but the injury report on a week to week basis was one of the worst in recent memory for the Dallas Cowboys. And we are not just talking about injuries to role players. We are talking about injuries to players who were being counted on to be integral parts of the success of this team. Let's take a look at all of the key injuries this team sustained and how they impacted the end result this season.
Tony Romo - The broken finger that he sustained this year is the most obvious of the injuries that he sustained this year. He missed 3 games and the injury clearly hurt his accuracy during the second half of the season. And don't forget the back injury against the Giants and the shot to the chin he sustained in the season opener against Cleveland. Tony battled through pain and injury all year long.
Felix Jones - Before he went down in week six Felix Jones was a home run threat on offense and special teams. The offense missed him, but the special teams never found anyone capable of impacting the game on kick returns like Felix did. He was a rookie of the year candidate prior to his injury and the loss of Felix Jones may have lead to the injury to Marion Barber III.
Roy Williams - He broke his forearm in week 2 versus Philadelphia and came back against St. Louis for one game only to break the same forearm again. The Cowboys struggled all year long to find a run stopping defender like Roy Williams. He may have been a liability in pass coverage, but at least he was decent against the run. Keith Davis did an admirable job towards the end of the season, but he often took bad angles and turned short runs into big plays.
Matt McBriar - He was another casualty of the Arizona game in week 6. His loss was probably never fully appreciated by most observers. The lost yardage in change of possession hurt the team in every game from that point forward. And we can't forget the punt in the Pittsburg game that Sam Paulescu kicked to the wrong side of the field that allowed a huge return by Santonio Holmes. It was one of the keys to the meltdown in that game.
Marion Barber III - The dislocated toe in the Thanksgiving game initially seemed to be a minor issue, but the injury never healed. The offense lost its emotional leader and the one person who was able to create a spark on the field through his intensity.
Jason Witten - How many injuries can one man play through in a season? He played with broken ribs, a sprained ankle, a sprained knee, a bruised sternem, and a separated shoulder. He still played admirably but it is impossible to think that the slew of injuries didn't hamper his play.
Terrance Newman - What initially seemed to be a minor groin strain in training camp ended in surgery. He did return towards the middle of the season and regained his form but his loss hurt the defense.
Kyle Kosier - The stress fracture that he sustained against Green Bay may have been the biggest injury of the season. Cory Proctor was terrible filling in for him and the offensive line struggled in every game that Kosier missed. He returned for a couple of games only to reaggravate the injury and miss the rest of the season.
Are these injuries an excuse for what happened to this team? Absolutely not. Every team suffers injuries throughout an NFL season and a team expected to be a Super Bowl contender should be able to overcome injuries. However, when you combine the injuries with the rest of the drama that surrounded the 2008 Dallas Cowboys it was a recipe for disaster.