Dallas Cowboys Struggling To Escape Mediocrity


The title to this story was going to be about the Dallas Cowboys continuing to find ways to win, but that changed with about twelve seconds left in the game, when the Cowboys allowed a touchdown that secured the win for the Detroit Lions.  When everyone in the world knew the Lions needed to complete some long passes to get in position to score the touchdown they had to have, the Cowboys somehow let them.

Oct 27, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr (39) runs the ball during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

So, despite the Lions turning the ball over four times to the Cowboys zero, the Cowboys were unable to secure the victory, which allowed the Lions to be one of only two teams since 2011 to win a game while being minus four in turnovers.  Despite the way this Cowboys defense was able to shut down the Redskins and Eagles offenses the two previous weeks, it’s quite apparent that the Cowboys defense is still struggling against the pass when facing the better passing teams.

And how do you allow the other teams’ biggest weapon an NFL record for passing yardage in a game at 329 yards?  Use triple coverage against him if you have to.  During this game I was worried when the Lions kept coming back to keep it close every time Dallas tried to build a cushion and the worry, as it turned out, was quite justified.  I don’t fault the Cowboys offense in this game, after a slow start they did what they had to and put up 30 points.  That should be more than enough to win most games, but not when your defense allows 31 points.  I shudder to think how may points the lions would have put up if not for the four turnovers.

The Cowboys had a chance to escape mediocrity with three wins in a row, for a 5-3 record.  Instead they continue to be deeply mired in mediocrity with a record of 4-4.  We knew this would be a tough matchup and it was, but the Cowboys had many opportunities to put the Lions away and just didn’t get the job done.

Other takes from the game:

It seems like a little more use of Cole Beasley might have helped the Cowboys to control the ball more and punt less, but Beasley was only targeted one time for a pass that fell incomplete

Terrance Williams continued to show being worthy of his selection in the third round with a long run after catch for a touchdown.  His fourth touchdown, one each for four games in a row, is a Cowboys rookie record.  There really is no reason to keep Miles Austin on this team, at least not at his current salary.

Joseph Randle did an adequate job filling in for the injured DeMarco Murray, and Lance Dunbar had a few encouraging carries, but I would like to see the Cowboys try to get the ball to Dunbar more in space and give him a better chance to do something with it.  I’m hoping Murray will be ready to come back next week.

With the Lions selling out against the run in early downs, I don’t understand why the Cowboys weren’t more successful with first down passes.

The Cowboys offensive line did much better than I might have thought against the Lions interior pass rush.  Romo was hurried and knocked down some, but the Lions were not able to sack him.  It does appear they had an effect on his accuracy though.

Oct 27, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) slides near the goal line during 2nd half of a game at Ford Field. Lions won 31-30. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Heath did a good job in replacement of injured J.J. Wilcox at safety by forcing a fumble, but could also have been part of the reason for what seems to be the Cowboys digression against the pass.

The Cowboys defensive line put some pressure on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, but came away with only one sack.

The Cowboys did a good job of stopping Reggie Bush and the other Lions runners, but they were done in by the Lions passing game.

Cowboys’ linebacker Sean Lee continues to impress.  He had two interceptions in this game and has the most interceptions by a linebacker in the last three years.

As a receiver Dwayne Harris didn’t do much in this game, although targeted several times, but he continues to be impressive as a kick returner with a couple of long returns in this game.

Next up are the one win Minnesota Vikings at AT&T Stadium.  I expect nothing less than total dominance by the Cowboys, but they rarely do what I expect, so I guess we shall see.