Cowboys Fall To 49ers 28-17 In Season Opener


The Dallas Cowboys pass rush actually looked pretty good Sunday, but quarterback Tony Romo threw three first-half interceptions, running back DeMarco Murray fumbled on the third play of the game, and the Dallas cornerbacks were absolute garbage as the San Francisco 49ers spoiled the home opener 28-17.

Linebackers Bruce Carter and Rolando McClain both brought pressure on 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli called several defensive back blitzes. Rushmen Jeremy Mincey, Tyrone Crawford, Devon Coleman, George Selvie and Nick Hayden all flashed at one point or another in the backfield. As a result, Kaepernick was often off his spot, but the Cowboys coverage was so bad it didn’t really matter.

The Cowboys outgained the 49ers, had the ball for longer, collected more first downs, had a higher 3rd-down conversion percentage… But they had four bone-headed first-half turnovers and that was the difference.

The Cowboys showed a commitment to the run early. With three minutes to play in the third quarter, and down 28-3, the Cowboys had a 22/23 run/pass split. Even though they were down early, they kept feeding their Pro Bowl back. Fat lot of good it did them. All you folks out there screaming for the Cowboys to run the ball more: It’s not the playcalling, it’s the execution. The Cowboys offense executed poorly on Sunday, hence they got their tails handed to them.

Here are the five plays that decided it. All five occurred in the first half:

Running back DeMarco Murray puts the ball on the deck on the third play of the game.

Really? You want the rock, DeMarco? You think the Cowboys haven’t showed the kind of commitment to the running game that they need to? Then you put the ball on the deck the first time you touch it? No Bueno. You want to be the man, you need to act like it. This play set the tone for the entire first half, and it wasn’t pretty.

Defensive tackle Justin Smith blows by left tackle Tyron Smith on 2nd down from the 2-yard line.

After Murray’s fumble, with the Cowboys down 7-0, the Cowboys offense marched down the field, making each gain look easy. A nice route and run after the catch by backup running back Lance Dunbar put the Cowboys just two yards from pay dirt. On 2nd down, instead of running the ball into the end zone, the Cowboys chose play action, looking for wide receiver Dez Bryant in the corner. But left tackle Tyron Smith blew his blocking assignment, and defensive tackle Justin Smith blew up quarterback Tony Romo for an 8-yard loss, resulting in a third-and-long and, ultimately, a field goal.

Romo misses wide open Terrance Williams downfield, throws pick in triple coverage to Dez Bryant.

Down 14-3 and driving, quarterback Tony Romo tried to fit a play-action pass into triple coverage to wide receiver Dez Bryant. At the same time, wide receiver Terrance Williams had turned his cornerback around, and was wide open on a post route with no one between him and the end zone. The interception was returned to the Dallas 1-yard-line, and San Francisco scored one play later. At this point in the game, San Francisco was leading 21-3 and had run just four offensive plays.

Romo throws a red zone interception on 1st and goal from the 5 yard line.

Down 21-3, and with a first down just five yards from pay dirt, Romo forces a pass into triple coverage. This was the most ridiculous play of the half. Forcing the ball into triple coverage on first down from the five-yard line? Utter crap.

Romo throws his third interception of the first half trying to force the ball to Dez Bryant.

Down 21-3 with just over 5 minutes to go, the Cowboys had the chance to run out the clock and cut the lead to 11 at halftime. Instead, Romo forces the ball to Dez in double coverage and throws his THIRD INTERCEPTION of the half. This is the worst I’ve ever seen Romo play. People love to blame Romo for the Denver loss or the Green Bay loss last year. No. That’s bull. Those losses were on the defense, and Romo played well enough to win. This loss is on Romo. Nearly everyone else on the team played well enough to win, and Romo played his worst game as a pro.