Dallas Cowboys-Detroit Lions Postgame Thoughts: A Win is a Win, But Where Was The Defense?

The Dallas Cowboys eked out a one-point win against a determined Detroit Lions team today. Dallas hasn’tTony Romo, Jason Witten, (Leon Halip, US PRESSWIRE) played a team this close since the Monday Night game against the Buffalo Bills in Week 5. Although I am sure all Cowboys fans are pleased with the dramatic win, there are certainly a few issues to discuss about what happened today, all of which revolve around the defense.

Dallas did clinch the NFC East title since 1998 and secured a playoff spot, most likely with home-field advantage.

* The Defense
The most glaring problem with the defense today was the lack of a pass rush. DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis were non factors in this game. Jon Kitna had all day to pass the ball and he punished Dallas for 248 yards in the air, most in the first half. Bradie James and Terence Newman did not play up to expectations, considering all of the trash talking. If Dallas is going to win its sixth Super Bowl, the defense is going to have to step it up more. The Lions offensive line is the worst in the league, giving up more than 50 sacks. In comparison, the Dallas offensive line has only given up 16 sacks up to this game. The Lions had two sacks today. Where were the Cowboys front seven, who gave up 152 yards rushing to the mediocre running duo of Kevin Jones and T.J. Duckett? None of the defensive players interviewed after the game had answers:
Linebacker Akin Ayodele said during a postgame interview that the Lions just outplayed them for most of the game.

“We stopped them when we had to in the fourth quarter, but for us, we definitely have to go back to the drawing board,” he said. “No matter how bad the game was, we got the W.”

It was Greg Ellis’ rookie year the last time Dallas won its division.

“What went wrong, I don’t know. But you’ve got to start off giving the Detroit Lions a lot of credit today,” Ellis said.

Tim MacMahon had this interview with Bradie James after the game, an apparent truce with Kitna has been made. He provided a little insight into why the Dallas D looked so bad: they didn’t expect so much smash-mouth running.

“We ended up making enough plays to win the game,” James said. “It was ugly, but it was sweet.”

*The Offense
Tony Romo is amazing. He passed for more than 300 yards again and two touchdowns, his seventh 300 yard game. If somehow the Patriots Tom Brady can have a few flops at the end of the season, Romo has a great chance to be the league MVP. He is definitely the best quarterback in the NFC. He was spectacular today, even with a fumble that luckily was recovered by Kyle Kosier. Jason Witten had a career game with 15 catches for 138 yards and 1 touchdown. He broke a Cowboys record for most catches in a game. His fourth quarter fumble, his first of the year, could have cost Dallas the game. But good players make up for their mistakes, and Witten did, by catching the winning touchdown and converting several key third down plays. Terrell Owens was double and triple covered all day, which always helps Witten. Marion Barber III had three touchdowns, and was a machine for Dallas today, catching a lot of short passes. He played smart, too, by getting out of bounds when time was critical. Owens walked off the field content, but didn’t look too excited after the big win. Let’s hope this doesn’t turn into a press nightmare.

“There is something about this team that makes plays at the end of the game. They are a bunch of playmakers and it’s a great win for us,” Witten said during a postgame interview.

The Cowboys need games like this to keep them in check. With Philadelphia coming to town next week, we can expect another close match up from a team determined to beat them.

Topics: Braidie James, Dallas Cowboys, DeMarcus Ware, Detroit Lions, Greg Ellis, Jason Witten, Kyle Kosier, Marion Barber III, Terence Newman, Terrell Owens, Tony Romo

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