I had a feeling all week that the Cowboys would have a tougher time against the Browns than many people were predicting. But I certainly didn't expect to see the Cowboys come away with a win in a game where they were completely outplayed for the first two and a half quarters. I always say that I won't complain about a victory, but I do have a lot of concerns.
On the plus side, the Cowboys finally found a way to win a game late. This team has been in a habit of performing near comebacks only to lose in the closing minutes of tight games. I know it was only the Browns but I am a big believer that winning and losing can become a habit. If the Cowboys can pull out another late win or two they might get the belief back that they will win any game if it is close in the 4th quarter.
I was also impressed by how well Tony Romo played considering the circumstances. Let's face it. The offensive line stinks. The offensive line is the #1 problem with the Cowboys this season. And the Browns game was no exception. 7 sacks allowed is unacceptable. But Romo managed to find a way to throw for over 300 yards and rally his team from behind despite the play of the line.
Dez Bryant was also very good outside of the boneheaded play when he ran out of bounds a yard short of the first down. Romo is really starting to trust Dez and it shows. Romo is looking for Dez in big spots and he is getting the ball to Dez quickly when the defense tries to cover him with no safety help. And, even better, Dez is beginning to consistently make big plays and routine plays without the brain farts that plagued him early in the season.
On the negative side, I am really frustrated with Jason Garrett. His conservative play calling late in the game really should have cost the Cowboys a win. With the Cowboys up 4 and trying to run out the clock from their own 1 yard line I knew he would run the ball three straight times. Good teams play to win. Garrett coached that situation not to lose. The Browns couldn't cover anyone all day long. And with the defense over-committing to the run a simple slant route would have been easy to complete and the game would have been over in regulation.
Rob Ryan and his three man rush are on my last nerve. You are playing against a rookie quarterback with a tendency to throw interceptions under pressure so you sit back and let him survey the field all day long? And Ryan kept that stupid strategy going for the entire first half. Why do Rob Ryan and Jason Garrett both take so long to deviate from their game plan when it isn't working? Anthony Spencer in coverage is just dumb and it very rarely works out in the Cowboys favor.
I am happy that the Cowboys won the game. They overcame a lot to win. Missing your starting and backup center, starting left tackle and countless defensive starters is nothing to overlook. But the Cowboys came out of the gate very flat and were lucky to win against an inferior team. The good news is that they are very much back in the thick of the NFC East race. But they need to keep winning. The Washington Redskins aren't going to come in and roll over for the Cowboys. Hopefully the Cowboys will come out with more fire to start the game on Thursday.