Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ramming speed: DAL 14, STL 34

Newly acquired Cowboys receiver Roy Williams described this loss the best while talking to Brad Sham after the game.

"I'm used to this. ... Really nothing new to me," said Williams, who spent his entire career with the Detroit Lions until this week's trade made him a Cowboy. That should put this loss into perspective. As (hopefully former cornerback) Pacman Jones would point out, they played the Rams, dude. And it wasn't close.

Had you told me 21-7 after the first quarter, I would have 100% believed you. I just would have been wrong as to which team held the lead. Dallas dominated the first 5:18 of the game, marching down the field for an early 7-0 lead. Unfortunately for Dallas, football games don't last 5:18, and the remaining 54:42 turned into a St. Louis showcase. Greatest Show on Turf 2.0? No, but Dallas sure helped the Rams make their case.

There is no singular reason for this loss. Everything stunk. Dallas couldn't pass protect or run block, leaving the offense about as mobile as a tree stump - or Brad Johnson. The defense got burned for deep balls and failed to wrap up when tackling, leading to big plays on the ground. And I'm starting to think the special teams is special in the way that "Mommy told us we were special." I'm talking to you, Bobby Carpenter. Then there was the lack of discipline, the coaching, the kicking, the punting, the lack of energy, lack of urgency, and - in the end - lack of dignity.

The Cowboys drop to 4-3 after a 34-14 butt-kicking that wasn't as close as the final score indicated ... and they lost by 20! Dallas hasn't hit the bottom of the division because Philadelphia sat idle on their bye at 3-3, but they looked every bit of the part of a last-place team.

I don't know if Romo will go next week against Tampa Bay back in Irving, Texas. Dallas suffered more injuries today - Roy Williams (SS, not WR) might be out for the season. And while the head coach won't - and shouldn't be - fired after this loss, the temperature is rising on the hot seat.

Some notes from a game I wish I hadn't attended:

+ Let's start with something positive - the only positive I could find. DeMarcus Ware once again brought down an opposing QB behind the line of scrimmage for the 10th straight week. He finished the games with 3.0 sacks, giving him nine so far this season. At least he played with some fire.

+ Another brighter spot in this game was #84. So much for Patrick Crayton taking a backseat role with the addition of Roy Williams #11. True Williams is only three days into his Cowboys career and won't be 100 percent functional in the offense until after the bye week (Nov. 9). On the Cowboys first possession of the second half, Crayton jump-started things with a 33-yard punt return (Adam "Pacman" who?), and Dallas was able to move the ball effectively for the first time since the game-opening drive. Crayton finished with 3 catches for 30 yards and a carry for 11 yards.

+ Penalties killed the Cowboys today. Dallas surrendered 8 penalties for 56 yards. On the afforementioned second-half drive, the Cowboys moved to the St. Louis 33 yard line with 3rd and 1. Two false start penalties later (Flozell Adams and Martellus Bennett), Dallas settled for sending in the field goal unit. Folk missed the 46-yard attempt.

+ For the second straight week, special teams troubled Dallas. It wasn't the fact that Sam Paulescu's punts only averaged 32.0 yards or that he had to punt five times. Paulescu actually had a nice directional punt that sailed out of bounds on the Rams 13 yard line. Folk's kickoffs routinely fell short of the goal line. Fortunately, Dallas wasn't kicking off too often. Kick and punt coverage seemed a little more under control. One Paulescu punt in the second quarter hit at the 10 yard line and began rolling toward the end zone with plenty of time for the coverage team to down the ball inside the five. Instead, Dallas misplayed the ball: Touchback.

+ Three Cowboys offensive linemen made the Pro Bowl last year? Really?

+ Mike Jenkins lucked out on a near-fingertip catch when he got turned around the wrong way leaving receiver Donnie Avery wide open. The ball probably could have been caught. Jenkins may be a rookie, but his blown coverage on Avery probably should have cost the Cowboys more than it actually did.

+ As much as the secondary struggled today, Pacman's permanent absence from this team would not bother me.

+ The Cowboys starting field positions from today's game: Dal 26, Dal 22, Dal 20, Dal 20, Dal 44, Dal 42, Dal 40, StL 44, Dal 22, Dal 21, Dal 13, Dal 10. Average starting position: Dallas 28 yard line. Their best starting field position came from a missed 54-yard field goal attempt, forcing a Rams three-and-out when they were pinned deep, a kickoff out of bounds, and Crayton's long punt return.

+ The Rams starting field positions: StL 38, Dal 44, Dal 17, Dal 34, StL 13, StL 20, StL 20, StL 19, StL 37, StL 27, StL 35, StL 49, StL 22. Average starting position: StL 37 yard line.

+ Brad Johnson: three interceptions. One deflected off Jason Witten's hand, but the others were throws into crowded parts of the field. There were plenty of other shoulda coulda woulda interceptions the Rams missed out on.

+ April 2004 NFL Draft. Dallas trades the No. 22 pick to Buffalo, moving out of the first round. Two picks later, the Rams select RB Steven Jackson out of Oregon State. Dallas took RB Julius Jones 19 picks later. Today, Jackson ran 25 times for 160 yards and 3 touchdowns. Julius Jones no longer resides in the Cowboys backfield. Enough said.

+ As if the Cowboys injury situation heading into today's blowout loss was not already trouble, the Cowboys defense became even more banged up. Roy Williams #38 might be out of the season with another fracture in his arm. Bradie James hyperextended his elbow, but it shouldn't cause him to miss any games. Keith Davis found himself writhing around on the turf after a big head to head hit on Crayton's long punt return. While he also probably won't miss any time, the Cowboys are already thin in the secondary and cannot afford to lose any more DBs.

The road ahead gets bumpy as Dallas will match up against first-place Tampa Bay in Irving followed by a division showdown in East Rutherford against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Dallas could very well be looked at 4-5 going into their bye. Wade Phillips needs to instill some discipline in his football team. Jason Garrett needs to remind the offensive line that it's hard to do anything productive if they don't block. The faster Romo can get back under center, the better, but what will he be coming back to?

And for a team thought to be a Super Bowl contender on opening day, three losses in four games have humbled and embarrassed this proud franchise. The last time Dallas looked this lost, coach Bill Parcells decided enough is enough and installed Tony Romo as the starter, and the 3-3 Cowboys took off to finish 2006. The Cowboys better hope Romo's return from injury has a similar effect.

1 comment:

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

How bout dem cowboys?
Sorry man had to rib you.

But when I look at the last couple weeks its similar to what the Eagles went through: an injured QB (Donovan is more prone, but Romo hurt slows your team) Owens simmering to blow, and one side of the ball decimated by injuries and Pacman Jones (offense has been that way for us).

So I look forward to battling for last place with your team in the East

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