Dallas Cowboys: Great Start-Nerve Wracking Finish


Question: What young Cowboys players think they’re playing under NCAA rules?  That would be Bruce Carter and Jeff Heath.  They both stood and watched as the Giants tight end that fell down making a catch near the goal line got up and ran into the end zone for a touchdown.  All they had to do was touch him while he was down.  I kind of understand it with Heath, he’s a rookie after all, having just left the college game.  But Carter certainly should know better.  This is his third year in the league.  Maybe the Giants would have made the touchdown anyway, but the Cowboys successfully held them to field goals in two previous attempts to score touchdowns with goal to go.  The point is the miscue helped the Giants get close to and eventually tie the Cowboys.

Nov 24, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan (12) is unable to catch a pass while defended by Dallas Cowboys cornerback B.W. Webb (20) in the first half during the game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the Giants throwing a touchdown pass and running the ball in for two points close to the end of the game, the Cowboys found a way to win.  However, it was disappointing to see the Cowboys give up another touchdown after holding them to two field goals with goal to go, and then let them run for the two pointer after that.  And that’s when the game the Cowboys started so well became really nerve wracking.

Too many times the Cowboys have been in this position and not been able to seal the deal with a drive to win the game at the end.  As much trouble as they’ve had trying to convert third downs, it would have been easy to expect them to end up not converting one of the third downs on that last drive and punting it back to the Giants with hopes of holding them to force overtime, even though they would have plenty of time to move downfield for a game winning field goal themselves.  Fortunately it didn’t come to that as the Cowboys took care of business and kicked a field goal in the waning moments.

The Cowboys defense continued to take this bend but don’t break philosophy to the max, giving up lots of running yards to the Giants.  But their pass defense was somewhat solid, no doubt aided by the swirling 20 MPH plus winds.  They managed to hold it together despite the absence of injured linebacker Sean Lee and then lost cornerback Morris Claiborne during the game to a hamstring injury he just came back from that was re-aggravated during this game.  The return of defensive lineman Jason Hatcher from injury loomed large as he was able to put pressure on Giants quarterback Eli Manning, including two sacks.  But where on earth was DeMarcus Ware?  He is no longer an impact player and rarely gets to the opposing quarterback these days.  On defense credit needs to also be given to Orlando Scandrick for prying the ball out of the hands of Giants receiver Victor Cruz and for safety Jeff Heath catching the fumble and turning it into a touchdown.

Nov 24, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett during the game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

I am not sure how much Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett’s decision to take the play called by offensive coordinator Bill Callahan and send it in to Romo himself factored into the game, but the Cowboys offense did look a bit more balanced and crisp, despite issues caused by the wind.  Well, except when the snap was flying over Romo’s head.  And they certainly converted third downs, especially during the last drive.  Something they were unable to do at all two weeks ago against the Saints.  I wouldn’t be surprised to hear Garrett took over calling the plays during that last drive.

The Cowboys actually worked at achieving more balance in this game, handing or pitching the ball to running back DeMarco Murray and occasionally Lance Dunbar.  They didn’t quite make it to 100 yards on the ground, but got fairly close.  Murray was also active in the passing game, but I sure would like to see him finish the play, rather than running out of bounds as soon as a defender gets close.  All in all this was a more balanced effort than we have seen from the Cowboys in a while and more balance tends to help secure the win, as we saw yesterday.  And how about Cowboys tight end Jason Witten and his two touchdown catches?  He had been missing from the game recently.  I must mention that Dez Bryant had an impact in this game as well.  Credit Dan Bailey though too for turning a tie into a win with his field goal at the end of the game.

The Cowboys will have a short week as next up are the Oakland Raiders at AT&T Stadium on Thanksgiving Day, just three days away.  The Raiders have been up and down this season, but mostly down.  The Cowboys cannot afford to overlook them.  The celebration of victory over the Giants will be short, then it’s time to get busy preparing for the Raiders.