Friday, November 25, 2011

The Cowboys Keep on Rolling

It wasn't pretty. It wasn't easy. And they Cowboys get no style points for their 20-19 escape act victory. But it was a win. And that is now four in a row.

My thoughts during the game kept drifting to where this team would be this season without Dan Bailey. As he lined up the game winner it was money in the bank. But if that had been David Buehler lining up that kick there is no telling where the ball would have gone. The Cowboys could easily be 3-8 this year with a bad kicker. He has scored the winning points in the fourth quarter of 4 of the 7 Cowboy wins this season.

Tony Romo started off slowly but he was at his best when the Cowboys needed him most. The touchdown drive that gave the Cowboys a 17-16 lead wouldn't have happened with any quarterback in the NFL except Tony Romo. He made four plays on the drive that should have been sacks or throwaways but he turned them into positive plays. And his touchdown to Laurent Robinson was a perfect throw after he escaped pressure and rolled left.

The defense continues to be a concern. For the second straight week they made a marginal quarterback look like a pro bowler. You can blame the secondary but the pass rush seems to disappear at critical moments in the game as well. And Rob Ryan has a tendency to go to the three man rush in critical situations that usually results in the opposing quarterback having all day to pick apart the defense. The defense has to improve or the Cowboys won't go anywhere if they manage to get into the playoffs. Hopefully the return of Mike Jenkins will help.

I'm still very disappointed in the return game of the Cowboys. Felix Jones didn't do anything of note with his kick returns. But at least Dez Bryant gave the team a spark with his 20 yard punt return to start the final possession of the game. The Cowboys have to be one of the worst return teams in the league.

I'd like to say that there are a lot of signs of improvement from this team but that wouldn't be accurate. The one big improvement I can see is that the Cowboys are finding a way to win close games instead of losing them like they did early in the season.

I don't want to sound like I'm complaining about a win. I'm thrilled the Cowboys found a way to pull out a fourth straight victory. But looking at the team long term this season it is pretty obvious that there needs to be improvement in all phases of the game if the Cowboys want to make any noise in the playoffs. It was nice to finish off a great Thanksgiving day with a win by the Cowboys.


  1. I think I keep coming back to this blog because we are always almost exactly in sync with how we feel about the team or a given game.

    I will say, I came out with a bit more of a positive perspective on the game than you did for a number of reasons:

    In regards to the defense, those two early interceptions of Romo led to a fat 3 points. That was the turning point of the game right there. Earlier in the season those scores would have led to 10 or even 14 points and we would have blamed Romo (and been right to do so). But the defense kept putting the fire out. No excuses for Rex Grossman but when Matt Moore was in Dallas there was talk that he might be a good quarterback. And I think the Dolphins receivers are actually pretty good. I wasn't exactly happy with the defense. I'm never ecstatic about "bend but don't break". Having said that, they didn't break. Four trips to the red zone for the Dolphins, four field goals.

    In terms of the whole season, the Cowboys have been in every game except the Philly game (of course). The Detroit, New York and New England games all could have been wins. And that San Francisco victory is looming larger and larger. I'm not claiming moral victories, but I am saying, we know the Cowboys can play with good teams. Therefore close games against lesser teams are just that, close games.

    The last drive was a thing of beauty. It was great coaching, great awareness of the clock, great awareness of the situation and great, instinctive playing. They had to get down the field and Romo and Co., got them down the field fast enough to where they could slow down and take time off the clock. But more than that, DeMarco Murray and the offensive line kept moving the chains. That was an eventuality that wouldn't have happened at the beginning of the year. The Dolphins knew the Cowboys were running the ball to kill the clock and couldn't stop them. Love DeMarco Murray! Love that kid. The Dolphins had the seventh ranked run defense in the league, so that's a big deal. By the time they got it down to the eleven the Cowboys were playing with house money because lo and behold, we have confidence in our kicker.

    I think all this bodes well for the future. Mike Jenkins and Miles Austin will be handy additions. I see the 'Boys having a solid win against the Cardinals (though I don't know why I think that since that cursed team always seems to give us trouble) and being ready for the Giants.

  2. While I do say the secondary needs to play better in coverage, I blame our inconsistent, vanishing pass rush for most of the problem. Ware get's his 1-2 sacks in most games but then you hardly know he's on the field much of the time otherwise. Some of that isn't necessarily his fault as Ryan has him chipping TE's(?!?), dropping back into coverage, or playing loose as if the QB is going to takeoff on a backside run or something. All of these are important I suppose, but if you have a guy like Ware, I say rush him hard on 99% on the plays and let others do that "side" stuff. Ware needs to go hell-bent after the QB on virtually every play. We're wasting his talent otherwise. None of our other so-called rushers can do the job, which is another problem. Someone other than Ware needs to step up. Spencer doesn't do it and Butler only does it in preseason. Cowboys need another pass-rusher next year for sure.

  3. Giants got completely pounded last night, bring on the cardinals.