That’s the sound of the Dallas Cowboy’s 2015 football season and Super Bowl dreams crashing to earth despite the fact the team is 2-0 after a 20-10 drubbing of the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Cowboys have beaten two division rivals to the start the season. Big deal!
Those victories have cost Dallas dearly. Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant broke his foot in a close win over the New York Giants. His loss forced the receiving corps to step up its game, and it did. However, it was the injury to Tony Romo that has threatened to derail the team’s entire season.
For lack of a better term, the Cowboys victory over the Eagles was truly a sight for sore eyes, but not the way you would expect. Dubious records were either tied, set, or fell by the wayside in this boring, lackluster contest. Though Dallas did notch its 10th straight regular season road win, there was little to cheer about with this performance.
The team set a franchise record for penalties by committing 18 of them (20 if you count the two that were offset by Philly penalties on the same play). Going into the game, Tony Romo had gone 86 consecutive pass plays without a sack (there were three today, including the disastrous last one by the Eagles Jordan Hicks that broke his clavicle in the third quarter). As for defector DeMarco Murray, his decision to jump ship for the sake of the dollar bill is coming back to haunt him more than he could have guessed. The former Cowboy, who rushed for a franchise record 1,845 last season is now on course to rush only 88 yards for the entire 16-game season.
This was a day both teams would have liked to forget. Chip Kelly’s offense was ground to a halt by a stellar Cowboy defense led by linebacker Sean Lee, who was seeing his first regular season contest since the 2013 season. He made his presence felt all day long as did the entire defensive squad.
The Eagles offensive effort was so bad that afterwards Philly players were saying Rod Marinelli’s squad knew what plays the offense was going to run before the ball was ever snapped. Even if the Cowboys didn’t know what was coming against the Eagles, Philadelphia’s offense sputtered at most the entire game. The offensive line didn’t block well. Passes were dropped. Throws to open receivers never made it there. And the running attack – it took a late effort by Murray to turn a negative rushing day into a net positive of two yards. This time last year, the former Sooner running back had amassed nearly 300 yards.
The Cowboy front office and head coach Jason Garrett are doing their best to say the Cowboys offense will be fine with Brandon Weeden. They aren’t fooling the media or its fan base with their optimistic attack. Last year in two home losses to Arizona and the Washington Redskins (a game that in hindsight probably cost Dallas a Super Bowl berth), Weeden was totally ineffective in running the Cowboys high-powered offense that featured both Bryant and Murray.
The defense has stepped up its game significantly this year. It could be too little too late for this year’s squad.
Significant miscalculations by the front office, especially when it came to the running game, are now coming back to haunt the team. They thought the offensive line, one of the finest in the NFL, could make any running back a star. They were wrong. The team should have put the franchise tag on Murray and signed Bryant (which they eventually did). Had they done that, it’s doubtful Romo or Bryant would be injured right now because the running game would have been front and center for the offense, thus changing the destinies of both players this year.
Now the team is stuck with the 32-year-old Weeden who has already proven he can’t handle the pressure. Sure, he went 7-7 against Philadelphia and found receiver Terrance Williams open for a 42-yard touchdown, but that highlight reel is going to be quickly forgotten when he takes the field at home against the Atlanta Falcons Sept. 27.
As of this writing, the Cowboys just traded for Buffalo Bill backup quarterback Matt Cassell. He gives the team some hope before Romo comes back. He saved the New England Patriot season after Tom Brady went out with a knee injury guiding them to an 11-5 record. He wasn’t able to help the struggling Kansas City Chiefs rebound when he quarterbacked that team, but at least he is a proven winner.
Until then, the only highlight the Cowboys will have is the sight of Tony Romo throwing 11-yards to his tight end Jason Witten at the goal line with seven seconds left to tie the game. Kicker Dan Bailey finished the job for a 27-26 victory over the New York Giants. The funny thing is this victory happened despite the plethora of mistakes Dallas made that put their opponents in position to beat them in the first place.
The Cowboys drove 72 yards in 1:27 after stopping New York at the 1 and forcing kicker Josh Brown’s fourth field goal of the game. Why New York opted to pass for a touchdown instead of run it is a mystery. Regardless of the outcome, it would have ran at least 40 seconds off the clock and sealed the Giants’ first ever victory in an opener against Dallas.
The defending NFC East champion Cowboys are 8-0 against their division rival in openers, and have beaten them five straight times.
The Giants tried to throw on third down from the Dallas 1 with a 23-20 lead, but the Cowboys weren’t fooled by the play-action fake. Quarter back Eli Manning ended up throwing the ball away instead of taking a sack. That move stopped the clock and gave Romo the necessary time he needed to march the team downfield for his 29th career comeback victory.
Manning would be made the scapegoat for the loss, but he was hardly to blame. The Giants converted two Dallas turnovers into 10 points in the 60 seconds of the second quarter to take the lead. Rodgers-Cromartie picked up a fumble by receiver Cole Beasley just before he hit the ground at the end of a run and ran untouched for a 10-6 lead, cutting from the sideline to the middle of the field to avoid Romo along the way.
On Dallas’ next snap, Romo threw behind Witten, who tipped the ball into the arms of linebacker Uani Unga. The Giants settled for a gift field goal as the half ran out. In the end, it didn’t matter.
– David Huff
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