At least it was an entertaining game. And for the first time in six weeks, the Dallas Cowboys offense finally showed it had a pulse for an entire game instead of maybe a couple of quarters then flat-lining.
Unfortunately this week’s opponent, division rival Philadelphia, extended the team’s current woes by helping extend its losing streak to six games with a 33-27 overtime win. It’s the longest losing spell the Cowboys have had to endure in over 25 years.
Perhaps it was a fitting ending to the circus-like week that surrounded the Cowboys leading up to the contest. First running back Joseph Randal was given his outright release from the team. Then a bizarre custody battle started to develop over Dez Bryant’s pet monkey. Then the roof caved at the teams training facility at Valley Ranch when a website somehow was able to retrieve pictures of Greg Hardy’s domestic abuse case in 2014 and release the images on the Internet. A predictable media firestorm erupted.
Backup quarterback Matt Cassel had his first breakout game in five years as he tossed three touchdowns and passed for nearly 300 yards. He guided the team on five scoring drives, but one miscue – an interception returned for a touchdown – proved to be his and the Cowboys ultimate undoing.
For the first time since quarterback Tony Romo went down with an injury, the Cowboys offense had a real heartbeat. The blood finally flowed to All-Pro Dez Bryant as he caught five passes for 105 yards and a circus-like touchdown. Slot receiver Cole Beasley was also jolted alive this day as he caught his first two touchdowns of the year and gained 112 yards on nine receptions in the process. Also making a strong impression on his return to AT&T Stadium was running back DeMarco Murray, the former Cowboy All-Pro running back the Jones brain trust cast aside this past spring. He came back to his former stomping grounds scoring one touchdown and gaining 161 all-purpose yards against his former teammates.
When you are in the midst of the worst losing streak in over a quarter of a century, it’s easy to blame your defense. But not in this case! The Cowboys D played well enough during regulation to win this game outright. Another ill-advised throw by Cassel ended up in the arms of Philly linebacker Jordan Hicks towards the start of the fourth quarter. He ran the ball back 67 yards for a touchdown. The Cowboys responded with a 76-yard kickoff return by Lucky Whitehead. It eventually led to Bryant’s circus-like 18-yard touchdown catch that was thrown from the Cowboy 35.. After trading off field goals, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, Dan Bailey, clanged one against the goal post to go in with just 2 seconds left in the fourth sending the game to overtime.
And just like the New Orleans game three weeks earlier – when ironically linebacker Sean Lee was out of that game with a slight concussion like he was this one – another unlucky coin toss gave the Eagles the ball to start the fifth period. And just like the Saints game four weeks earlier, the Cowboys would lose this overtime contest in similar fashion. Philly QB Sam Bradshaw found wide receiver Ryan Matthews on a short crossing route and he was able to break free for the end zone when safety Byron Jones slipped down. Game over.
Cowboy Notes – Mathematically, Dallas still has a chance to crawl back into contention within the East Division because all the teams involved are mediocre at best. It’s not going to happen with the Cowboys because of all things you need in the NFL, Lady Luck is nowhere to be found with this team. The Dallas offense held the ball for nearly 40 minutes yet it still wasn’t enough to overcome the no-huddle Eagles whose “hurry up” offense left Dallas defensive players gasping for air during the 20 plus minutes they were on the field. Jordan Hicks, the Eagles linebacker who intentionally drove Tony Romo’s shoulder into the ground breaking his collarbone in Week Two, suffered a season ending injury trying to tackle Cole Beasley. The rookie tore his pectoral muscle. Karma is a bitch.
NBC sports personalities acted like the morality police Sunday night as analyst after analyst condemned Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy saying he should be run out of the NFL after photos appeared on the website Deadspin showing the injuries suffered by his ex-girlfriend. Funny that no one on this network called for Baltimore Raven linebacker Ray Lewis’ head 13 years ago after he was involved in a double murder of Richard Lollar and his friend Jacinth Baker, outside an Atlanta nightclub after the Super Bowl his team won. Lewis pleaded guilty in relation to the case: for obstruction of justice, a misdemeanor. He originally was charged with two counts of murder but struck a deal with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony against two of his companions that night, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting. Lewis never directly linked his two friends to the killings, and they were acquitted. Lewis had testified that Oakley, Sweeting and another man had gone to a sporting goods store the previous day to buy knives. Baker’s blood later was found in Lewis’ limo. Having fled the crime scene, Lewis told the limo’s passengers to “keep their mouths shut.” The white suit Lewis was wearing that night — on Super Bowl Sunday — never was found. For his punishment, Lewis received probation for a year and a $250,000 fine by the NFL. Apparently NBC deems domestic abuse a far more serious crime than murder.
– David Huff
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