It took an injured Tony Romo, a wideout who had never made a catch in the NFL, and overtime for the Dallas Cowboys to beat the San Francisco 49ers, 27-24. Dallas rallied from ten behind in the fourth quarter to defeat the 49ers at home Sunday afternoon.
The Cowboys had a solid opening drive, despite using up two time outs during it. The Dallas offense was able to get the ball down to the 49ers three yard line, before they were held to a field goal attempt. Rookie kicker Dan Bailey then missed an easy 21 yard field goal, leaving Dallas empty handed.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first quarter. But early in the second quarter, the 49ers scored as running back Frank Gore punched in a short one yard touchdown. The 49ers took the lead, 7-0. During that second quarter, 49er wideout Braylon Edwards was injured and did not return.
As Tony Romo and Dallas offense struggled to find a rhythm, the 49ers struck gold again. This time quarterback Alex Smith hit wideout Kyle Williams for a 12 yard touchdown. The 49ers extended their lead, 14-0.
Late in the second quarter, Romo took a blind side hit from Carlos Rogers that apparently fractured a rib. (Update: According to Head Coach Jason Garrett, the injury to Romo’s rib actually took place during the 2nd play of the game) Romo stayed in the game and was able to find Miles Austin for a 53 yard touchdown. This cut the 49ers lead, 14-7.
During halftime, Romo’s injury was evaluated. Romo appeared on the sidelines during the 49ers’ first series after halftime. And he wanted to play. But Romo was talked out of it by the Cowboy’s medical staff. As he returned to the locker room, Romo clearly looked frustrated and upset.
Jon Kitna took over after half time. He looked sharp until he was intercepted in the endzone. Immediately, the Cowboys’ defense stepped up big to get the ball back. Alan Ball intercepted Alex Smith in 49er territory. The Cowboys took advantage of the turnover, as Kitna found Miles Austin with a perfect pass in the endzone. Dallas tied the game, 14-14.
In the next series, Kitna was intercepted again off a tipped ball that was thrown behind wideout Kevin Ogletree. The very next play, Smith was able to find tight end Delanie Walker for a 29 yard touchdown. San Francisco was back up, 21-14, late in the third quarter.
To everyone’s surprise, Romo reappeared and returned to the game. Unfortunately, his first series back was a three and out.
Early in the 4th quarter, David Akers hit a 55 yard field goal extending the 49ers lead to 24-14.
Cowboy’s center Phil Costa (knee) was injured early in the 4th quarter. He was replace by Kevin Kowalski.
On a critical 4th & 3 play, Romo made a great throw to Jason Witten for the first down conversion. The very next play, Romo found Miles Austin for his 3rd touchdown of the day. Austin was able to beautifully stretch his body across the goal-line to make the score 24-21.
Dallas got the ball back with 4:03 on the clock after the Cowboys’ defense was able to shutdown the 49ers offense, once again. Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff made a critical sack during that drive.
Two clutch catches by Jesse Holley and two more by Miles Austin gave Dallas a chance at a field goal to tie the game. With no time left on the clock, Bailey nailed a 48 yard field goal to send the game into overtime tied 24-24.
And even though the 49ers won the toss and elected to receive, the Dallas defense stepped up again. And after a decent Dwayne Harris kick return, Romo made his comeback complete. Romo found Jesse Holley for a 77 yard strike that ended on the 49ers one yard line. Holley had never recorded a catch in an NFL game until today. Bailey redeemed himself by making the 19 yard field goal to win the game for the Cowboys in overtime.
Romo ended the day going 22 of 33 for 345 passing yards and 2 touchdowns, despite missing most of the 3rd quarter. Miles Austin had a career day recording 9 catches for 143 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Not to be outdone, Witten chipped in 7 catches for 102 yards. But the player of the day had to be Jesse Holley with 3 catches for 96 yards, including the game winner.
Unfortunately, it’s not all good news for the Cowboys. Dez Bryant was listed as inactive just before the game with an thigh injury. Romo now has to deal with a fractured rib. And Costa’s injury status is still unknown. Also, the running game for the Cowboys was horrible. Felix Jones struggle with a shoulder injury all game. He rushed for just 25 yards on 9 carries.
But Romo certainly redeemed himself this week. No one will question his guts after this performance. And the cat calls for Kitna to replace him should die down for now. Kitna went for 6 of 10 for 87 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions, as Romo’s replacement.
Dallas clearly missed Dez Bryant today, especially in the red zone. But the Cowboys might have just found their 3rd wideout in Holley. Sean Lee had another great game recording 11 tackles. The Dallas Cowboys are now 1-1 for the season.