By Shawn Lealos
The Dallas Cowboys had everything going their way on Sunday, with the Philadelphia Eagles losing as they headed into battle with a Green Bay Packers team starting a backup quarterback. They even exploded out of the gate and took a huge lead into halftime. However, the Cowboys’ December woes continued as they blew one of the biggest leads in franchise history and lost to the Packers, 37-36, thanks to a second half performance that ranks as their worst of the season.
Here is a look at the Dallas Cowboys grades for their loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Offensive Grade: D
If only the first half was taken into account, the Cowboys would have surely have aced their test. However, this was a game of two halves: the first dominated skillfully by the Cowboys, and the second an inept, poorly played and poorly coached half that allowed the Green Bay Packers to outscore Dallas 34-10.
Tony Romo had one of his worst games of the season, and while he threw for 358 yards and two touchdowns, he also threw two interceptions in the final quarter of play. Even more damaging to Romo was his head coach’s words after the game. Jason Garrett told media that the play called was a designed run but Romo chose to throw the ball instead, which resulted in the interception by Packers cornerback Sam Shields – an interception which sealed the game for Green Bay.
Despite it being Romo’s call on that particular play, it doesn’t negate the bevy of poor coaching decisions made throughout the game. Dallas went into halftime with a dominating 26-3 lead. However, despite a huge lead, Dallas came out and continued to throw the ball over and over again. For some reason this team does not want to run the ball no matter how lopsided the score is, and that is why Dallas lost this week.
DeMarco Murray had a great game. He carried the ball 18 times for 134 yards and a touchdown. Despite averaging 7.4 yards per carry, Garrett had Romo keep throwing the ball in situations where Dallas should have been working on the clock. This was a horrible performance by this offense, but none of that was Murray’s fault.
Dez Bryant had a good game, catching 11 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown. However, after Romo’s final interception, with just over a minute left in the game, Bryant walked off the field and up the tunnel, a horrible display of sportsmanship.
Defensive Grade: D
The same thing that happened with the Dallas offense happened with the defense, however, there was one big difference: injuries.
Dallas was missing linebacker Sean Lee to a lingering neck stinger and Bruce Carter to a strained hamstring heading into the game. During the Packers game, Dallas lost their third starting linebacker, Justin Durant, in the first quarter to a strained hamstring and second string linebacker Ernie Sims to a hip/groin injury at the end of the first half. That meant that Dallas was starting a rookie in DeVonte Holloman, who has not played in seven weeks, and undrafted rookie Cameron Lawrence in the second half of the game.
The fact that Dallas was missing their top four linebackers meant they had no chance of stopping backup quarterback Matt Flynn from throwing for 299 yards and four touchdowns in the game. They also gave up 141 rushing yards and a touchdown to Eddie Lacy.
After the loss, owner Jerry Jones said he still has complete confidence in defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
Special Teams Grade: A
If anything good can be said about Dallas, it is that Dan Bailey is still one of the top kickers in the NFL. Bailey hit all five field goals he attempted, including one from 50 yards. Chris Jones also had a good day punting the ball, with a 51.5 yard average. Dwayne Harris missed this game due to injury, but Terrance Williams played well in his place, with two kick returns for 46 yards.
For more Cowboys news and updates, visit Cowboys Central.
Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.