Oct 6, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) is sacked in the fourth quarter by Denver Broncos defensive end Shaun Phillips (90) at AT

Dallas Cowboys: Close, But No Cigar

If the NFL were more like NASCAR, where you get points for how well you do even when you don’t win, then the Cowboys would be in great shape after yesterday’s game that featured such a record breaking offensive performance.  But it’s not like NASCAR and this just goes down as another loss, bringing them to 2-3 on the season, right down there with the defensively challenged Philadelphia Eagles as co-leaders of the NFC East.

Many will want to point directly at Tony Romo for the loss, due to the interception he threw in the last two minutes of the game when all the Cowboys had to do was to take the ball down the field and get into field goal position while running down the clock.  But when a quarterback that is under pressure throws an interception, you must put some blame on the offensive line as well. 

The Cowboys offensive line is no doubt playing better than they were earlier this year, but there are still too many times Romo has to escape to keep the play alive.  Romo had many good and some great plays in what turned out to be a record setting performance by a quarterback in a Cowboys uniform, but all that will be remembered is the late interception with the game on the line.

There will be plenty of doom and gloom to go around after this game and it will be mostly all you will find to read about this week.  But let’s look at the positive.  The Cowboys hung in there with a team many consider to be the best in the NFL with a supposed lock on representing the AFC in the Super Bowl.  That tells me the Cowboys can play with anyone and it also tells me they underperformed in losses to the Chiefs and Chargers, both games as winnable for them as yesterday’s game was.

What this indeed tells me is that the Cowboys have not opened up the playbook on offense in previous games and have held themselves back.  I would like to see more of this wide open attack in future games, which would be very helpful to a team whose defense is still in transition to a new defensive scheme.  Speaking of that, it was great to see much maligned cornerback Morris Claiborne be personally responsible for the two takeaways Dallas had in this game.

The Cowboys were able to overcome the absence of Miles Austin with the performance of Terrance Williams, who seems to be starting to get it, although he should have gone out of bounds after that catch just before the half.  He may never be the slot receiver that Austin is, but the Cowboys have Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley for that.  What they appear to have with Williams is a big, strong outside receiver with the speed to run away from defenders.  The rest of the league will need to watch out once this guy fully understands the pro game.

Oct 6, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Cole Beasley (11) runs after a reception against Denver Broncos cornerback Tony Carter (32) at AT

And speaking of Harris and Beasley, they really do a good job of breaking or avoiding tackles as they run for the first down marker after catching a short pass.  The bottom line is the Cowboys already have the players that will allow them to transition from Austin.  And with Austin continuing to have issues with strained hamstrings there is no reason to believe there will come a time when he doesn’t have these issues.  Will Austin be back this year?  If so will he be at full speed?  I suspect he will be back and I suspect he will be less than full speed for the rest of the season.  Next year it will be necessary to move on from him.

So let everyone else with an opinion spout all their negatives this week.  I leave watching this last game with the opinion that the Cowboys just found out how good they can be on offense and can use that to their advantage as this season plays out.

I haven’t mentioned the bad officiating, so I will close with the following insightful assessment of the game sent to me this morning by good friend Alton Vrana, a Cowboys fan since 1968:

You have to love yesterday and this morning’s comments. 5 touchdowns to 1 interception and 500+ yards passing and he is the reason for the loss? WHAT! Once again could not run the football, Romo was sacked and knocked down a bunch, including the play before the interception.

The Defense scares me! In the first half Denver was scoring every what 2 min.? They did get better with Lee coaching from the field with an audible every time Manning made a change in offense. But when your safeties and linebackers are making all the tackles you are in trouble along only 40+ yards rushing (I don’t count Romo’s yards) for the Dallas offense

I think Dallas can say they lost but they won long-term if the offense can continue to score with their newest receivers. The defensive line has to step up, and if the officials would have been on Dallas’s side versus Denver’s side we would of won. The push out of bounds on Witten at the back of the end zone(really you missed that?) plus the many tackles of the Dallas Defensive lineman  definitely helped Denver. One of the best was the pass interference call on Lee, the receiver grabs Lees hand to keep him from reaching up, Lee grabs his hand to push off and is then called for PI?

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Tags: Alton Vrana Dwayne Harris Morris Claiborne Terrance Williams Tony Romo

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