Sunday, December 19, 2010

Another Crazy Game in the Cowboys-Redskins Rivalry

It looked for the first two and a half quarters that the Redskins were completely over matched against the Cowboys. The Cowboys took a 27-7 lead and I think everyone expected the Redskins to roll over and give up. But they obviously did not. The Cowboys defense went soft and allowed the Redskins to slowly work their way back into the game and tie it up at 30-30 with about 6 minutes to play. Fortunately the Cowboys pulled out the victory on the second game winner in the last two weeks for David Buehler.

The game had a lot of ups and downs for the Cowboys. On the one hand the running game was actually pretty good. I say that but then in the next breath I have to mention that the running game was stuffed repeatedly on the goal line in yet another game. The passing game was good (Kitna threw for over 300 yards) but the offense disappeared for about a quarter while the Redskins played their way back into the game. Jason Witten was a beast once again and proved why he is the best tight end in the game right now.

The defense came up with two turnovers and kept the Redskins in check for the first two and a half quarters. But then they reverted to their typical form and allowed the Redskins to go up and down the field at will...with Rex Grossman at quarterback! Then, when all seemed lost, they came up with back to back sacks to give the ball back to the offense with the game tied at 30-30. Like I said, it was an up and down day.

The special teams did a very good job for the most part. David Beuhler was 4 for 5 on field goals and hit the game winner with 50 seconds on the clock from 39 yards out. And his kickoffs were pretty good for the most part. But he shanked a field goal at the end of the half that would have given the Cowboys a 23-7 halftime lead. Again, and up and down kind of day.

The good news is that the Cowboys managed to finish on an up in all three phases of the game. The defense stepped up and made plays when it was needed the most. Matt McBriar pinned the Redskins near their own goal line with the game tied. The offense put the ball in position for Beuhler to hit the game winner. And Buehler came through on the field goal with the game on the line. Terence Newman even made a nice play to end the game with an interception.

Let's not fool ourselves here. It was nice that the Cowboys came away with the win. I can guarantee that the Cowboys would have lost that game early in the season. But there are major problems with the offensive line and the secondary. Losing a 20 point lead is nothing to be proud of. But at least the players were resilient enough to overcome the momentum of a 20 point comeback by the Redskins.

A reporter asked Jason Garrett if his head coaching future with the Dallas Cowboys flashed before his eyes as the Redskins erased the 20 point deficit. He hesitated, smiled, and said he lives in the present. But you have to believe that he could have easily lost his shot at the head coaching job if the team had collapsed and lost that game.

On the positive side the Cowboys overcame a lot in this game. They won with their backup quarterback. They were missing two of their top three receivers. They lost their starting strong safety during the game. Sean Lee was out for most of the game with a concussion. And the list goes on and on. But they still prevailed. It is important to remember how important it is that the Cowboys start finding a way to win close games. No one wants to hear about their excuses. We all just want to see a win at the end of the day. And that happened so you have to be happy on some level with the outcome.

Jason Garrett has a lot of work to do after this game. Penalties were a problem. The defense was horrible for a quarter and a half. Some of the offensive play calling was questionable at best. Their were several coverage breakdowns in the secondary. And the run defense was soft up the middle again.

But I liked his Garrett's response to adversity. I have to believe he had a few choice words for his team at half time due to the sloppy play of the Cowboys. And I liked how he showed some emotion when Beuhler hit the game winner and tried to fire up Demarcus Ware to shut down the Redskins on their last ditch drive. At the end of the day he is 4-2 as a head coach of a team playing with its backup quarterback. The head coaching job is Garrett's to lose now.


  1. I want to see Alan Ball get cut. He is the biggest liability I've seen in recent memory, and that includes Reeves and Williams. He seems to be around every big play falling down, tripping on himself, or taking TERRIBLE angles. We have to keep in mind Jenkins, Scandrick, and Newman have all played with hamstrings this year and Newman is losing a step (maybe just half a step). I still consider him an elite cornerback though. This isn't news I don't think, Ball missed Jackson repeated times last game and has had a very up and down season, more so than most of the other players.

    I don't know what it is, but Victor Butler comes up in really random circumstances; that said, I hope he continues to develops consistency and push Spencer for some playing time.

    I think Sensebaugh needs to stay, I think he does great against TEs and I think if you pair him with a better FS, he ends up playing better. If Scandrick learns to put himself in better position, he has the speed to get anywhere on the field. How many times do we see footballs hitting some appendage while his head isn't turned around?

    Running game was better. Felix wasn't dancing around as much and that's probably because there were better lanes that were created by the OL. I'm convinced Choice needs more playing time and Barber needs to bulk up and be the 4th quarter/short yardage back. I think the reason why we keep getting stuck at the 1 yard-line is because we have absolutely NO creativity; boot-leg, pitches, naked boots, sneaks...nothing. I'll never understand why anyone in the NFL, including Garrett, believes you have to run 5 yards back into the backfield for a hand off to run a half yard. If you cannot push the defense back for a half yard on a sneak, you shouldn't be playing football. Also, if you remember a few games back, the FB fake up the middle and pitch out was a killer, no one near the RB. We need more creativity in the Red Zone. Trips with Austin singled on one side, different route groupings, different alignments..I'm not sure, but it's clear we need something different there.

    I will say, Kitna has been a blessing. Going to training camp, I was not the least bit confident in Kitna to do anything as a back-up, much less more than half the season. We have had a very injury-prone season and we are still pulling out close victories. We have A LOT of talent on both sides of the ball, but our needs are very apparent.

    Also, I want to give a shout out to Doug Free. He was probably the most scrutinized LT coming in in recent NFL history and he has been a non-issue. In fact, he makes great reads on the field. I was impressed in the second quarter when he pressed in instead of going out to get the blitzers. His communication has also been impeccable. I like Kosier. But the C, RG, RT are starting to annoy me. Lenard Davis needs return to the form he was in a few years ago.

    Last thing, we need two more huge bodies on the DL. Ratliff is getting doubled almost every play and that is because our DE's are either playing undisciplined football and/or getting knocked off the ball consistently. It'd be nice to get someone that can relieve Ratliff, but we need something from our DE's. They may not get sacks in the 3-4, but they need to keep Ware, Spencer, Butler, and Ratliff clean. I think we saw them do a better job this week, but there were a couple plays were they just completely whiffed.

    My final thought, I feel more comfortable with people going down with injury and having Garrett come up with a way to fill that gap. I think he is making some great coaching calls and he is getting the bottom part of the roster willing and ready to play games with the intensity needed. I loved the fact he got into the game with the crowd and his demeanor is that of a winner. I was sad to see Payton leave and I'm slowly starting to believe I'd be said to see Garret leave, with the caveat that he hires an OC.


  2. I am excited to see what they can do with a full training camp to prepare under Garrett. I am hoping he will change their routine and at least keep them in one place for the whole duration of camp.

    I didn't get to watch the game today. However, I've felt for awhile now (as I'm sure most of you have as well) that our biggest issues are with the offensive line. No need to elaborate there I don't think.

    As good as Kitna has been, I also believe that the offense does miss Romo. The people who are wanting Romo traded and Kitna promoted to starter are smoking something. Or they were dropped on their heads when they were little. Romo is only going to be as good as the offensive line allows him to be. And, he only plays quarterback. When your defense gives up 30 points a game, it's rough on your offense.

    That said, I'm really looking forward to next season. Go Cowboys!!