The Dallas Cowboys Fall Prey to the Play-Action


The Dallas Cowboys out scored the Cleveland Browns last week 20-7 in the second half of the game causing the game to go into overtime where the Cowboys managed to perform a feat that hadn’t been done since week one of the 1983 season. In overtime the Cowboys outscored the Browns 3-0 to win after trailing by 13 points heading into the third quarter. In 1983 at the Washington Redskins’ RFK Stadium, the Cowboys won the game after trailing 23-3 at the start of the third quarter. It’s been 30 seasons and some change that the Cowboys have displayed the resolve to overcome a 13 point of more deficit. On Thursday the enigma that is known as the Cowboys offense once again tried to summon the same resolve needing to come from 25 points down going into the second half of play.

Nov 22, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Washington Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon (88) runs after a catch against Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr (39) during a game on Thanksgiving at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

On this day the roof of Cowboys Stadium was opened. The Cowboys have happened to manage a feeble 2-5 record when the roof has been opened but on Thanksgiving Day the Dallas Cowboys had a 3-0 record versus rookie quarterbacks. The Cowboys 1st half offensive struggles on the year have been duly noted along with the rash of injuries that have hampered the Cowboys on both sides of the ball. The Cowboys started Jeremy Parnell in the place of second year first round pick Tyron Smith with Derrick Dockery to serve as swing tackle in the extreme but not unlikely case of Parnell or Doug Free being the subject of injury. The Dallas offense have been plagued by injury on both sides of the ball and Thanksgiving Day was not very FOR-giving to the Cowboys. Losing another offensive weapon early in the match, Miles Austin left the game and did not return. So for the record that is now Miles Austin, Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray, Phil Costa and Kevin Ogletree all missing from the offensive side of the ball. As the game progressed Bruce Carter was injured trying to make a tackle and now is likely out for the remainder of the season with a dislocated shoulder. But I digress.

On this day the Cowboys allowed the Washington Redskins to have their first 28 point quarter since 1999, allow RGIII to be the first rookie QB to throw four touchdowns in back to back games, and as mentioned before be the first rookie QB to beat the Cowboys on Thanksgiving day. It was far from amazing on how the rookie quarterback of the Redskins was able to do this. Washington’s run game had early success. Alfred Morris ran for 113 yards and one touchdown on the day while RGIII added another 29 yards on six play-action option-read runs. Due to the early success of Washington’s run game the Cowboys fell victim to the play-action run by RGIII along with the play-action pass. Total number of plays for the Redskins on play-action pass and/or run were seventeen. RGIII accumulated his 29 yards rushing on four play-action option reads and ended the game completing nine of fourteen, passing for 230 of his 311 passing yards, with three touchdowns, one interception and one sack all off of the play-action set-up by a quality running game by the Redskins.

Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys ran play-action a grand total of four plays. Tony Romo was three of four passing for 12 yards on play-action plays. While 31% of the Redskins offensive plays were based off of the play-action option read of RGIII, accounting for 55% of Washington’s total points, the Dallas Cowboys play-action accounted for 5% of the teams total plays accounting for less than 3% of offensive production and zero points on the board. Does much of this due to a lack of running game? Most certainly and the fact that even after missing six games DeMarco Murray is only second to Felix Jones in team rushing by four yards speaks volumes.

The Cowboys are without a doubt one-dimensional on offense and until the teams addresses apparent offensive line issues in the off season the one-dimensional offense will continue to be a a third tier NFL offense. In the interim a quick suggestion is getting Jeremy Parnell some playing time in place of a struggling Doug Free once Tyron Smith is healthy and capable of lining up back at left tackle.

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