Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cowboys-Vikings halftime report

The Cowboys just completed their worst half of football in over a month, trailing the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome, 17-3, after two quarters. Dallas has encountered more problems in one half than they have in every game since the last loss on December 13 against the Chargers.

Tony Romo has fumbled three times already, losing two of them. His last fumble was half a season ago (9 games). He's been pressured plenty, already being sacked four times.

Left tackle Flozell Adams was going to have a hard time facing pass rusher Jared Allen. Now the Cowboys are in even bigger trouble with Adam out with a strained calf. While his return is questionable/doubtful, it's prognosis negative for the Cowboys protection schemes. Doug Free got plenty of playing time in place of Marc Columbo for half the season, but that was on the other side of the line. And if the Cowboys continue to use Jason Witten to help on Jared Allen -- which by the way didn't work when Allen strip-sacked Romo -- then Dallas loses a solid target in the passing game.

The miscommunication on the offense is apparent. The Cowboys were lucky on a tipped ball where Witten and Miles Austin were in the same area.

Only once in franchise history have the Cowboys come back from a 14-point deficit in franchise history, according to the Fox halftime show. That's a hard stat to believe, considering the long history of the franchise dating back to 1960, but for a Cowboys team that hasn't dwelled on the success/failures of past Cowboys teams, don't expect that stat to bog them down.

Speaking of stats, here's a breakdown of this game through the first half:
1st Downs119
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays3728
Total Yards145167
Yards per pass
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-11-2
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown

The offense has been capable of moving the ball, but the two turnovers cost the Cowboys chances to close the gap. Shaun Suisham missing a 48-yard field goal didn't help either.

And I still don't know what Gerald Sensabaugh was thinking on the long touchdown pass from Brett Favre to Sidney Rice. From the looks of things, the Cowboys safety didn't know Rice had the ball even after he hauled it in and continued toward the end zone for the opening score, a 47-yard TD pass.

Cowboys didn't get penalized in the first half (well, not an accepted penalty at least). Granted, Flozell is hurt, so six-to-one, half-dozen to the other I guess. I would rather have the big fella on the left side than a goose egg in the penalty column. We'll see if he has any chance of getting back in the game or if Free can handle the load.

Still 30 minutes of football to go. We've seen big comebacks before in the playoffs, just never from the Cowboys. Most notably, the Colts came back from a 21-3 deficit against the Patriots in the 2006 AFC Championship game. There was also the big Frank Reich comeback in Buffalo against Houston in the '92 Wild Card round. These comebacks happen ever now and then.

Dallas needs to find a spark and find it quickly or else their traveling secretary will be making tee time reservations instead of booking a hotel in New Orleans.

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