Hall of Fame Weekend has come and gone and it was a good one for the Dallas Cowboys and their fans. For starters, Larry Allen, the offensive line dynamo who helped clear the way for Emmitt Smith and company during the glory days of the 90s was inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night. If adding another Star to the bust collection in Canton weren’t enough, Sunday night the Cowboys kicked off the NFL’s preseason with a victory over the Miami Dolphins.
Now I know that wins and losses aren’t really what the preseason is all about. Evaluating talent and cutting the roster down to the 53-man team that proudly don the blue and silver in September is the name of the game in August. That being said, it was nice to see the Cowboys who took the field, which didn’t include many of the starters, come out looking sharp for the better part of four quarters.
Two areas of concern, the new defensive scheme and the Cowboys running attack, were clicking on all cylinders in Sunday night’s matchup.
Media reports have promised a philosophy of pressuring the quarterback and creating turnovers for a Dallas defense that only managed 16 takeaways in the entire 2012 season. It only took one snap in the Cowboys first preseason outing to produce a turnover when Miami running back Lamar Miller failed to haul in a handoff and Cowboys defensive tackle Nick Hayden was there to snatch it up to put the Cowboys in business at the Miami 10-yard line. The defensive play of the game. though, came in the second quarter when sixth round draft pick DeVonte Holloman picked off a pass and ran it back 75-yards for a touchdown. The Cowboys D also recorded three sacks and two turnovers on downs against Miami. Even if it was a preseason outing, the Cowboys and their fans have to be happy with the fire with which Dallas, which fielded mostly second teamers, played in Canton.
On the offensive side of the ball, with starting running back DeMarco Murray on the sidelines, the Cowboys’ backups had an impressive night. Although rookie Joseph Randle was expected to be the center of attention, it was Phillip Tanner who stole the show with 10 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown in the first half. Lance Dunbar also stood out with elusiveness and good hands. All three backs finished the night with averages of five-yards per carry, while Kendial Lawrence also had a successful night by recording his first touchdown, which turned out to be the game-winner.
On a night when the running game and the defensive bursts were highlights for Dallas, the receiving corp was relatively quite with the exception of the unlikeliest of Cowboys. Jared Green, son of Washington Redskin defender Darrell Green, hauled in a 32-yard catch to help make a case for a spot on the 2013 Cowboys squad.
I know a lot of folks don’t put much stock in preseason. They find the games boring, since many of the cast of characters that will be wearing the Star come September are standing on the sidelines. As for me, I’m just glad to be able to look forward to seeing my favorite team playing my favorite sport every week once again. It’s been a long off-season and after watching the Cowboys on Sunday night it feels better than ever to be back to football.