Uninspiring win for Big D
With the Eagles and the Giants winning on Sunday, the Cowboys desperately needed to keep pace. Although a win is a win, Cowboys fans should not feel great about this win over one of the worst teams in the NFC South.
One week after Tony Romo had one of the worst showings of his career, the Cowboys executed a game plan that limited his opportunities to make game changing mistakes. The plan worked, it’s just strange seeing Romo relegated to a game managing role, instead of a game-changing role. The Panthers sat in a deep cover 2 look all night long, determined not to let the Cowboys generate any big passing plays. Romo did a good job of taking what they gave him, instead of trying to force something big down field. Romo threw for 255 yards and 0 interceptions, not an inspiring game, but good enough this time.
Once again, the rushing game was spectacular, accumulating over 200 yards. Cowboys’ fans really should appreciate the running backs they have. After Jones went down, Tashard Choice did an excellent job filling in. An area of concern for me is the ability of Felix Jones to stay healthy. The kid is the most explosive player in the lineup and it feels like any time he touches the ball he could break off a big play. But last year he was gone most of the season with injury problems, and now he gets double digit carries for the first time ever, and he strains his knee. In my opinion, Jones could be the future for the Cowboys, if he can stay healthy. It’s not often that you can keep that many talented running backs on your roster for long, so Dallas best take advantage of their situation.
Game ball goes to the defense, which played a much better game than they did last week. The secondary blanketed Steve Smith and really limited his ability to do damage. Dallas was finally able to generate a turnover and get their first sack of the year. DeAngelo Williams is one of the best backs in the league but the Cowboys D-line really shut him down. Also, great job by Terrence Newman to jump in front of the crossing route late in the game to get that pick 6, wrapping things up for Big D. Dallas needs to be careful though. Putting that much pressure on the defense to win games is a tight rope to walk and one of these days it will come back to bite them.
The last thing I want to comment on is one of the worst offensive play calls I’ve seen this year. The Cowboys had 2nd and goal at the 1-yard line, and tried twice in a row to score on fade routes to Roy Williams and Martellus Bennet. What was Jason Garret thinking? They have an offensive line that outweighs Carolina’s defensive line by 40 pounds a man and they were gashing holes and their front 4 all night long. To me, this sequence of plays is one of the most perplexing of the season. If they get that score, they start to pull away and don’t put so much pressure on their defense.
Next week the Cowboys take on the undefeated Broncos on the road, who’s defense is giving up only 16 points per game, fewest in the league. With Marion Barber coming back, they should be able to pick up blitzes better and give Tony more time to throw. The Broncos have tons of momentum on their side and all the confidence in the world; it’s going to take another huge effort to move to 3-1.