Oct 21, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) is tackled by Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (92). The Cowboys defeated the Panthers 19-14 at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

Watching Dallas Cowboys Flirt With Disaster

Don’t misunderstand me.  I am a Dallas Cowboys fan forever and this team, nor future teams, will do anything to change that.  However, a new way of watching my favorite team has imbedded itself into my psyche and I’m not too happy about it.  It takes away from the game and the enjoyment I hope to derive from watching it.

Oct 21, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) tries to avoid the tackle by Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Anthony Spencer (93) during the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. The Cowboys defeated the Panthers 19-14. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

What the heck am I talking about?  Let me tell you.  Instead of watching with the expectation that players will step up and make the necessary plays, I am watching and worrying about which player is going to screw up so badly that they lose the game for the Cowboys.

Wondering who is going to fumble, as Miles Austin did, leading to a Carolina Panthers touchdown.  Who is going to make the big penalty on defense? Jay Ratliff and Brandon Carr both did, allowing the Panthers to score an easy touchdown.

Who is going to get called for holding, as Jason Witten was?  Who will be guilty of a false start?  No surprise, Doug Free.  Who will drop the catchable pass?  It was none other than the trifecta of Felix Jones, Dez Bryant and Kevin Ogletree.  Will Tony Romo throw an intception at a critical time?  If not for the miss on an easy catch, he would have yesterday.

What player will miss on the easy interception?  Yesterday it was Eric Frampton.  What valuable player(s) will leave the game injured?  Against the Panthers it was Sean Lee and Phil Costa.

And then there are the things that work out OK, but you fear they won’t, such as some of Dez’s punt returns, with him holding the ball loosely as he fights for more yardage.  So you see, in every game the Cowboys have to overcome numerous mistakes.  Each game is an exercise in whether they will make mistakes they can overcome or too many mistakes to be able to win.

They barely beat the Panthers and were very fortunate to do so.  And I just don’t understand it.  Last year the offense played well and it was the defense that let us down.  This year the defense holds most opponents to less than twenty points, but the offense really struggles to score that many points.

What has changed?  Why do they seem less disciplined this year than last?  Is it something as simple as they are just not as good?  They made many changes to the offensive line to get younger.  Are they younger but not better?  Were Laurent Robinson and Tony Fiametta under-rated by the Cowboys and were they a bigger part of last year’s offensive success than get credit for?  I am really beginning to wonder.

More on the Panthers game: It was nice to see Dan Conner make some plays when pressed into service against his former team.  It was also good to see Anthony Spenser back.  I think we all realize at this point he was worth keeping around another year.

Although the officials made some lousy calls at the end of the game, I am used to it.  What was different though, was these bad calls going against the other team and not the Cowboys.

Let’s hope Sean Lee’s back next week.  In regards to Phil Costa, it looks like it will be a while before his return, if at all this year.

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