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10. And that, sports fans, is why you don’t knee-jerk. You don’t sign Josh Hamilton to a new contract immediately after his 4-homer game in May. And you don’t cut Felix Jones when he fumbles the opening kickoff in Week 2. Felix was good Sunday both with burst on the edge and surge between the tackles. Admit it. You were wrong. Try some calm, calculated perspective. In your microwave society Tom Landry wouldn’t have lasted 29 games, much less 29 years.
9. I didn’t think this was possible, but the Cowboys lost a game in which they had enormous edges in first downs (30-19), total plays (a franchise-record tying 79-49) and time of possession (40:03-19:57), and in which they punted just once and ran 42 times for 227 yards. I don’t ever remember Dallas rushing for that many yards in a loss. How did they turn this terrifying trick? 13 penalties, a dropped 2-point conversion, horrendous clock management and by, let’s not forget, missing a 51-yard field goal. Dan Bailey’s first miss of the season is understandable, but oh so costly.
8. At this point Ray Lewis’ pre-game speech is an embarrassing joke. Sunday’s “Let’s punch ‘em in the mouth! From the first play!!” rings real hollow when Dallas promptly takes the opening kickoff and drives 81 yards for a touchdown. In fact, it was the Cowboys’ first points on an opening drive in 7 games, since way back against Tampa Bay last December. And when did it start Ray Ray? That’s right, from the first play!! Lewis’ lone play of the game? A hit on 3rd-string running back Phillip Tanner when totally unblocked. Congrats.
7. That Morris Claiborne duck-dive-and-whiff non-tackle was sponsored by the good folks in the University of Texas secondary.
6. The Cowboys certainly hurt their cause late in the first half, when 2 penalties on consecutive drives cost them a total of 8 points. On 3rd-and-4 from Baltimore’s 12, Felix Jones plunged for 6 yards to set up 1st-and-Goal. But, um, an illegal shift penalty cost them 5 yards and mandated only a field goal out of the promised drive. On Baltimore’s ensuing possession, the Cowboys produced an incompletion on 3rd-and-Goal from the 2, only to give the Ravens a 1st down – and ultimately a touchdown – on an illegal hands to the face penalty on Kenyon Coleman. Again, they’re just not good enough to give away points. And in a loss by 2, they silver-plated 8 to the Ravens.
5. The Cowboys have played 5 games. They have 0 interceptions from their upgraded cornerback tandem of Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr. In fact they have picked off just 1 pass in 130 throws by opposing quarterbacks, and that came by linebacker Sean Lee. Dallas’ turnover margin is minus-8, 2nd-worst in the NFL.
4. The Cowboys are now 0-4 all-time against the Ravens, the only NFL team they’ve never defeated.
3. Joe DeCamillis’ special teams suck. No other way to say it. They gave up 10 points to Seattle in Week 2, should have had another punt blocked if not for a horrible angle by a Buccaneers’ player and Sunday surrendered an NFL-record tying 108-yard kickoff return to Jacoby Jones. The Cowboys simply aren’t good enough to have special teams produce anything but a tie each week, and right now they’re a harsh liability.
2. Dez Bryant produced the 1st 10+-catch game of his career. In the last 2 games Bryant has caught 21 passes for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns, and factored in to 2 losses. He dropped an open touchdown with the game still within reach against the Bears, and Sunday let Tony Romo’s 2-point, on-target pass sail through his hands in the end zone. Technically he screwed up, trying to catch the ball with his chest instead of putting his thumbs together for a “hands” catch. Shame, because Romo deserved better. He was money on Dallas’ gutsy 18-play, 81-yard drive. Dez is getting better, but still far from good enough. Said owner Jerry Jones, “Everybody drops them, but he needs to make that catch.”
1. Long-term, yes, there are many reasons to be encouraged by Sunday’s showing. But short-term, screw moral victories and a feel-good future. The Cowboys lost this game because their head coach grossly mismanaged the game-ending clock. Why in the world are you settling there? You’ve got :22 and a timeout to get closer than a 51-yard field goal. Garrett saying we “took too long for everybody to get unpiled” to get to the line and run a play is laughable. And just flat-out wrong. There was no pile after Dez caught a pass at the 34. Every offensive linemen, Felix Jones and Tony Romo were upright while receivers Miles Austin and Kevin Ogletree jogged back to the line of scrimmage with zero urgency. The clock ran aimlessly from :22 to :06 while the Cowboys lolly-gagged to line up for another play that never got snapped. Sorry, but that’s a team that’s not well-coached and a coach that’s not well-schooled in clock management. Should’ve been a spike to stop the clock. A run to pick up another 3-4 yards. A timeout. And a win. Instead, sans a game-saving application of deodorant by Dan Bailey (who missed the 1st game-winning kick of his career after 4 makes), the Cowboys lost a game they should’ve won. Maddening.
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