Inside the Game: Dallas Cowboys vs. Arizona Cardinals

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Who’s Hot:

* Tony Romo – Week in and week out, the Cowboys franchise quarterback continues to put his team in position to win despite a very average, at best, offensive line.  He was sacked a season high five times, and had constant pressure from a blitz-happy Cardinals defense.  Through that, he still managed to put up almost 300 yards without a single turnover, and completed the pass to get the Cowboys in field goal range for the would-be game winning kick.

* Mat McBriar – The Cowboys Pro Bowl punter, coming off a foot injury, had one job:  neutralize Patrick Peterson.  He did that job superbly with his directional kicking, giving Peterson no where to run with the ball.  He also landed four punts inside the twenty to give the Cowboys defense the field position advantage.

* Jay Ratliff – He is the anchor of this Cowboys defense.  He routinely faces double teams, and often his contribution to the defense goes unnoticed.  He’s been one of the Cowboy’s most reliable players this season after a subpar 2010, and against the Cardinals was able to register four tackles, including two tackles for loss, a sack, and a quarterback hit.

Who’s Not:

* Jason Garrett – The Cowboys head coach has made plenty of rookie coaching mistakes this season, and I find his game managing to be in question.  It could be that the pressure of calling plays is too much for him to be a competent game manager in critical situations.  As a play caller, it is essential to find a good mix of run and pass plays.  Too many times, Garrett will revert to a heavy passing attack when the running game struggles to get going.  On Sunday, I didn’t see any reason to abandon the running game so soon as I saw numerous plays in the first half where DeMarco Murray was picking up five to ten yards per carry running between the tackles.  Garrett seems to favor the pitch outs, which are a struggle for this offensive line to block successfully.

* Terence Newman – The veteran cornerback has struggled mightily in these past few games.  Either he’s in a severe slump, or he’s hit that downward slope that all aging players find at one point or another.  Clearly, he is not the player he used to be.

* Orlando Scandrick – The Cowboy’s slot corner is in a three game slump of his own.  He drew two block in the back penalties on punt return situations against the Cardinals, one that negated a deep Dez Bryant return into Cardinals territory late in the fourth quarter, costing the offense great field position to put the game away.

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