If you are anything like me, you have spent the entire week anxiously awaiting Sunday to get that rotten Seattle taste out of your mouth. Here we go.
Felix Jones kneels the first kickoff in the end zone, I feel better already.
Offense: overthrows, false starts, a hit on Romo, dropped passes, and an interception. I am starting to have a very uncomfortable feeling about this.
Defense: penalties, penalties, penalties. Ware and Claiborne collaborate on an offsides/pass interference play. The interference brings Tampa to the Cowboy’s 12. Offsides again, this time on Hatcher. Despite all the penalties, Dallas manages to hold Tampa to 4th and 1. Tampa goes for it on a run to Martin and gets the first, the next play is a touchdown throw to Stocker. Can’t help but wonder where we would be without the penalties, I’m thinking 4 points better off.
Felix brings the 2nd kickoff out of the end zone for a gain of 15, or a loss of 5, depending on how you look at it. Dallas’ offense comes out a bit stronger this series, making key completions to each starting receiver, plus a few good runs by Murray. Unfortunately, this is followed by 2 runs for a loss, another false start, a delay of game, and another hit on Romo. We have got to do something about this O-line, Cowboys punt.
A replay of the punt shows special teams players getting excessively rough with each other, no flag. Here’s hoping the league works out this strike before people really start to get hurt.
Finally, Tampa gets their first penalty (false start) proving that there are, in fact, enough refs out there to watch both teams. Sean Lee intercepts a 3rd &14 pass on Tampa’s 23. With all of the direction, lack of personal penalties, contribution to tackles, and always seeming to be in the right place at the right time, Sean Lee truly leaves his mark on every play.
Dallas takes over on the Tampa 23. A good catch and run by Murray gives us another 1st down. Murray scores 2 plays later with an impressive 11 yard run virtually untouched (unless you count Miles Austin). The score is tied: 7-7.
The Cowboy’s defense puts Tampa at 3rd &1, where Freeman manages to narrowly pick up the first on a busted play. Demarcus Ware CRUSHES Freeman on 1st & 10 causing a fumble, recovered by Tampa. Another stop by Lee brings up 4th & 6, and the Buccaneers are forced to punt.
Cowboys begin their possession on their own 11, another run for a loss, another false start by Witten. I always wondered exactly what the spleen did, turns out it is completely responsible for timing. Incredible individual effort by Felix Jones gets what I believe to be a first down, Dez agrees, the officials don’t…Cowboys punt.
Tampa starts out on their own 35. A holding call costs the Buccaneers 10, but we are quick to give it back with a face-mask by Lissemore, 15 yards and automatic 1st down. This is the Cowboy’s 7th penalty. Dallas’ defense holds (not in the illegal way) and Tampa is forced to punt.
Cowboy’s possession starts on their own 18. Cowboy’s hold (this time in the illegal way), but it’s declined. Dallas punts on 4th & 8, but a muffed punt by new Buccaneer Jordan Shipley, plus a roughing the kicker penalty, give the ball back to Dallas on Tampa’s 24. Another false start, the 3rd for Doug Free. Romo scrambles for 9 and makes it 1st & 10 on the 12. Various receiving miscues lead to a field goal and the score is now 10-7 Dallas. A replay shows that an official throwing his hat under Ogletree’s feet caused him to slip and fall, not only risking serious injury, but likely causing him to not be in position for the touchdown reception. I always thought refs threw their hats to mark field position, not sure what this was all about.
Dallas unsuccessfully tries an onside kick, giving Tampa the short field. A few penalties later, the Buccaneers punt with 1:05 left in the half. Dallas gets the ball on their own 20, with :57 seconds left and a full set of time outs. The Cowboys finally start to move the ball successfully, but a lack of time and a sack on Romo prove to be too much for Dallas to get in scoring position. 1 of 2 hail mary passes at the end of the half found Ogletree yelling at the ref about being shoved out of bounds during the pass. The ref responded to Ogletree, I would have to imagine saying something to the effect that Ogletree was lucky the ref didn’t pull a hammer out and kneecap him mid-play. End of first half.
Tampa elects to receive the first half and kneels it for the touch back. An uneventful 3 and out, Buccaneers punt, and Dez Bryant fields it to the Dallas 32. The Cowboys passing game really starts rolling now, with big completions to Ogletree, Bryant, and Austin. If I had to pick out the difference in this Cowboy’s team for the 2nd half, it’s tempo. They seem to have carried that momentum and urgency over from the end of the 1st half. Romo gives me a heart attack on an ill advised shovel pass that Tampa challenges and is ruled a fumble, Buccaneers ball.
Tampa puts together a pretty good drive, aided by a 10 yard pass interference call on Silva. The drive sputters around the Cowboy’s 42 and the Buccaneers punt again, Dallas sets up at their own 11. After a few very good plays by Bryant and Murray, Romo is sacked again, this time causing a fumble for another Cowboy’s turnover. I cannot stress enough that we need to do something about Romo’s lack of protection.
The Cowboy’s defense shuts down the Buccaneers again. I can’t say enough about this years defense, I trust them to keep us in every game, provided the offense and special teams don’t fail miserably.
Starting on their own 20, Romo throws a huge 49 yard completion to Miles Austin, bringing Dallas to the Buccaneers 30. Witten closes out the 3rd quarter with a bobbled and dropped pass that could have easily been a Dallas touchdown. I can’t be too hard on Witten, although not quite back to form, he is head and shoulders above last weeks performance. Not to mention what a beast he is for playing with such an injury, I can’t think of many others that would. Dez Bryant has come on quite a bit this game, can only hope this is a trend that will increase as the year goes on. Another false start, and another sack on Romo. Am I clear on the helmet to helmet rule? The Cowboy’s kick a field goal as Romo shakes his head, trying to forget the image of McCoy’s helmet slamming directly into his. The score is 13-7 Cowboys.
The Buccaneers offense is forced to punt again, Bryant returns, complete with another Cowboy’s penalty for holding. Romo manages to come out firing despite the inevitable migraine he must be experiencing. The drive falls apart, however, and the Cowboys punt. Another sack on Freeman leads to another fumble that the Cowboys fail to capitalize on, although it does back them up to their own 1 yard line. A 49 yard punt sets up a 44 yard return by Dez Bryant, heart breakingly close to running it in for a touchdown. What would have been a touchdown run by Murray is negated by a Vickers hold, and brings Dallas back to the 17. The drive ends with a Dan Bailey field goal, bringing the score to 16-7 Dallas and most likely putting the icing on, given the lack of overall proficiency from both offenses today.
Freeman completed a number of clutch passes for first downs as the clock continued to run out, ending their offensive game with a valiant but futile drive for a field goal. Ultimately, the Cowboy’s defense proved to be the difference, holding the Buc’s offense to 10 points regardless of multiple turnovers in their own territory. We desperately need to get this offense on the same page and performing as a cohesive unit. The Buccaneers defense end the game proving, once again, to be among the most classless in the league, even drawing a penalty flag in the closing seconds. Cowboys win 16-10.