Sunday, October 26, 2008

Week 8: Dallas 13, Tampa Bay 9 (5-3)

According to some simple math, the Cowboys went 34 days with just 1 win after dismantling the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night football on September 21. In some circles, that is not that bad a total (Detroit, Cincinnati), but around here, the sky was falling. Now, with 2 wins in 35 days, after a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Cowboys have a reason to play the 2nd half of the 2008 season. At the halfway pole, they sit at 5-3, and are right in the thick of things as far as trying to make the NFC playoffs.

But, wow. That was ugly. The offense was as painful to watch as anything since Chad Hutchinson was under center, and about as unproductive. 172 yards total offense and 3-15 on 3rd downs! And yet, we should all remember that the ugly win against Tampa Bay with a back-up QB who cannot seem to throw a ball in the ocean from the beach is worth no less than the systematic throttling of the Packers 5 weeks ago.

The NFL season is certainly far more marathon than sprint. And on a Sunday where style points were not being accumulated, a superb defensive effort was required and received by Wade Phillips and the Boys. Otherwise, they surely would lose. And although it took all 60 of the minutes on Sunday, the Cowboys did exactly what we said they had to do; figure out a way to get a win.

Give full marks to a team that was down several star players and on the brink of a certain disaster if they lost again. They absolutely need a result. And, although it was far from easy and farther from pleasing to the eye, I think the fight and resolve we saw from members of that defense especially should be congratulated. Now, let’s all remember how hard it is to find wins in this league, and soldier on to New York City for a date with the Champs next Sunday. Hopefully, the Cowboys will have enough bodies to fill out the roster.

Notes, Views, and Observations from “Winning Ugly in Week 8”:

• Sam Paulescu is the new hero of Texas Stadium after his crunching hit on Clifton Smith. Have you ever seen anything look weirder than a #2 with a wrap up tackle? Geez.

• I mean this in the best possible way: Brad Johnson is horrible. I know he is trying, and I know the back shoulder fade to Roy Williams at the half was a throw that may have won the game, but he missed so many throws in the Tampa game that he actually missed more than he did against St Louis. To his credit, the only difference was that he did not throw picks this week. At least if you are going to be bad, make your bad throws to nobody rather than the opponent. He did that pretty well on Sunday. Every other element to his throwing the ball was below the grade requirement for the position. He missed open receivers. He missed a Touchdown to Owens that is a throw he has to make. He repeatedly checked down for no gain to end drives, and he shows no signs of it improving now that defenses are clearly in on the tendencies. I don’t see any way they can stretch and test the New York Giants defense, so I am willing to take suggestions for next Sunday unless Mr. Romo is feeling better. Is Brooks Bollinger a possibility? Could he be worse?

• Possible play of the game (or one of Norm’s 5 plays you may not remember)? 3rd and 3 for Tampa at the Dallas 25 late in the 2nd Quarter. Garcia back to pass and has no place to go, he rolls to the right sideline before slipping and Jay Ratliff falls on top. Ratliff gets the sack and a 43 yard FG becomes a 51 yard FG. Next play, Bryant misses wide right, and the Cowboys not only save 3 points, but take over at the 41 yard line with 2:23 left in the half. Can’t take that sack if you are Tampa.

• Here is the big question: Was Tampa Bay picking on Anthony Henry because they knew he was hurt? Or was he fine until Garcia picked on him for most of the first 3 quarters? You know a guy isn’t playing well when Garcia would rather throw at him than 2 rookies elsewhere on the field.

• The first 3 offensive drives of the Cowboys on Sunday were amazingly bad. They really set the bar low for what the afternoon would hold. Also, Texas Stadium set a new record for booing the Cowboys. By my watch, the Cowboys fans began booing Johnson and the offense at 14:06 of the 1st Quarter. That is right. :54 seconds of patience before the faithful felt compelled to voice their displeasure.

• Antonio Bryant looks like a different human being. He is just 27 years old, and he looks fully grown as a WR in this league. After many wasted years of screwing up, maybe he is ready to grow up as a man. If so, the Bucs have a talented player at a huge discount. You have to be a pretty big screw up to have that much talent and not be employed in the NFL in 2007.

• Near the end of the 1Q, on a play where Garcia hit Michael Clayton for 17 yards to the Cowboys 14, did Mike Jenkins try a flying leg kick?

• It took Marion Barber 31 touches to accumulate 100 yards. And you know something? I thought he was great on Sunday. He ran with abandon and conviction. I thought he was the best player on the offense by a mile.

• Flozell Adams versus Gaines Adams? Give me Gaines Adams. Hard to believe he has only 4 sacks this season, and only 2 before today.

• I really, really hope Jason Witten is not out for long. This team cannot take any more injuries. Especially of that quality.

• Bobby Carpenter made a play! Bobby Carpenter made a play! Bobby Carpenter made a play!

• I think Bradie James is playing some of the best football of his career. I also think that he has plenty of leadership in his bag as well.

• The Cowboys almost got another punt blocked on the play with the running into the kicker penalty. They surely cannot afford that nonsense at this point.

• If we are going to rip Wade (and we are) then let’s give the man some credit. He ran that fade with six seconds to go rather than play it safe with the Field Goal before half time. He went for it at his own 39 in the 4th Quarter (which once again demonstrates that he was trying to do whatever he could to get a win). And, he called several blitzes and a pretty aggressive game for his defense. I thought he did a nice job. The playcalling on offense will get ripped, but I ask whoever rips it, “what would you call with Brad Johnson as your QB?”

• DeMarcus Ware had his sack streak end. Oh well. He still was the most dominant member of that defense. But, bro, can we wait until the ball is snapped? I think the center was baiting him, but if they don’t call the center for the false start, that is on #94. Ware: Watch the ball!

• Is Chris Hovan wearing a tank top? That is the goofiest jersey cut ever. We should not be able to see your nipple through your arm hole. And by the way, I would consider testing that dude for steroids.

• 5 trips for the Bucs inside the 25 and they came away with only 9 points? That is a credit to the defense. If they cracked for 1 TD, there is a good chance the Cowboys lose. They had to be great yesterday, so let’s credit them where it is surely due. They could not afford one busted coverage over the top, and with nearly a completely reserve secondary they held it together. Dave Campo should get a game ball given that Alan Ball, Orlando Scandrick, Mike Jenkins, and Keith Davis were all on the field plenty.

• Is it asking too much to get Roy Williams on the field a bit more?
Shouldn’t he have a reasonable idea of his role by now? I bet he is not on the field 33% of the plays yet. That Touchdown is a testament to his ability, but he cannot help from the sideline.

• Giants week? Yikes. This doesn’t look good. The good news is that the worst they can hit the bye week at is 5-4. And now, they can relax, and fly under the radar knowing nobody will give them a chance next Sunday at the Meadowlands.


Crisatunity said...

Did you count how many irritating over celebrations on defense there were?

If Phillips had a pair, he'd fine every defensive player that celebrates like an buffoon on tackles that amount to them doing their frickin' job.

Sam Paulescu should give the defensive squad lessons all week on how to play football like men.

Josh said...

Forget Bill Lumberg. Bobby Carpenter embodies everything that is soulless and wrong on this earth. Any goodwill he earned by recovering the fumble on the second half's opening kick off, he lost on the Cowboys kick off after Nick Folk's 3rd quarter field goal. On Bucs KR Clifton Smith's return, he tried to cut back at the 20 yard line, slipped and fell. Carpenter bellyflopped onto him then sprang up and threw his hands in the air as if he had just obliterated the guy. Seriously, Bobby Carpenter. It's on film. You didn't do anything more than touch him down. Not even the worst hit Smith experienced on the afternoon thanks to Sam Paulescu.

What an awesome win. Who knows what will happen next game, but it's going to be a fun week enjoying this win after such a gloomy month in Cowboysland.

Jay Beerley said...

I felt the same way about the celebrations until I realized maybe this is part of that defense playing with conviction and passion. So, I don't mind the goofiness as long as there's a reason for it. But coming from rookies is a bit strange.

Sean said...

Sadly, I fear our best three corners were on the field in the second half. Ball, Jenkins and Scandrick played very well for being so young. Henry looks old and slow. He has the entire year. The quad muscle injury won't help. Newman has been inconsistent and not the speed player he used to be ever since the plantar injury last year. He has not been the same and likely will never be given his increasing age. Play the young hungry and quicker guys. It can't hurt and with Roy Williams, Terence Newman and Anthony Henry now sidelined (with Pacman rehabbing and suspended) we don't have much choice. But frankly, I think it's to Dallas's benefit given the poor play we've seen from the vets in the secondary.

Still need to work on D-line pressure. Better in the 4th quarter yesterday, but on pass plays the tackles still get stood up far too often and our ends still take too wide of an angle to the QB. Did you notice that Garcia started to get really bothered when Ware began more of a bull rush strategy on the last two Tampa drives? He didn't get sacks, but he was much closer to them than he had been all day when he just started pounding the Tackle, TE or RB straight into Garcia's face. Nice adjustment, Demarcus. Start doing that more often and the edge will be yours later.

Bitterwhiteguy said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed Jenkins' Bruce Lee imitation. I thought I was watching an out-take of 'Rush Hour 4'.

Michael said...

"You have to be a pretty big screw up to have that much talent and not be employed in the NFL in 2007."

2 things. 1) What did Bryant do to work his way off this team? I seem to recall he had plenty of talent when he was here.

2) Can what he did to work his way off the team be any worse than our collective homey (homie? homy?) Pacman? Jerry is a confusing human being.

MrSimic said...

Let's not forget all of Tampa's penalties on our touchdown "drive."