Monday, November 24, 2008

Week 12: Cowboys 35, 49ers 22 (7-4)

Terrell Owens put on a show Sunday at Texas Stadium. I must tell you, after he opened his mouth last week for another one of his “look at me” interviews with Deion, it is impressive that he then arrives at the stadium on Sunday and proceeds to have the biggest game in the NFL in 2008 for a Wide Receiver. Most athletes can not accomplish the feat of speaking out of line and then backing it up with a huge performance. Many, including me, were starting to wonder again if he is worth the trouble, and if Jason Garrett and Tony Romo need the absurdity of satisfying Owens while trying to keep this team afloat on the way to what they hope is the NFL Playoffs. Making the playoffs is hard enough, but trying to do it while massaging the incredibly high-maintenance persona of Owens sometimes seems like it is more trouble than it is worth.

Until he breaks off a game for 7 catches and 213 yards. Then, you remember why you put up with the diva to begin with. Obviously, if he would pop open on occasion the rest of the weeks, this type of performance may not be so rare and his numbers may have not been so pedestrian. But, there he was, and there San Francisco was, refusing to play “press” coverage – the style of defense that has limited Owens to roughly 4 catches and 51 yards per game for the first 10 games this season.

Each team plays the Cowboys differently, and as long as the objective remains to win the game, the Cowboys can feed off that. However, when the objective evolves into “satisfying the diva”, then I am not sure what Garrett, Romo, and the rest of the Cowboys world can do to get Owens open. Press coverage is his kryptonite, so we are going to see how he like corners putting their hands on him at the line of scrimmage with a safety over the top, when the Cowboys play the Steelers, Giants, Ravens, and Eagles secondary in December.

Isn’t the most maddening thing about Owens boil down to his timing? To come out when the team is just getting healthy and just getting its QB back is just flat out absent-minded. Does he really think that his role and his stats are not affected dramatically by having Brad Johnson on the field? If he does realize that, then why the rant? If he doesn’t realize that, then should he be fitted for a straight jacket?

Now look what he made me do. 5 paragraphs into my game story and I have not mentioned the Cowboys won the game. They did what they needed to do in the 2nd and 3rd quarters to systematically grind the San Francisco 49ers into a mound of powder to get their record to 7-4. The good news is that they effectively and efficiently (no major injuries it would appear) took care of their own business and now see a date in 3 days against the very beatable Seahawks to get them to 8-4 on Thanksgiving. The bad news is that nobody else in that Wildcard race obliged them by losing their way out of the mix. The Falcons, Bucs, Redskins, Vikings, and Bears, all kept the winning up. Therefore, the road still looks incredibly difficult to navigate. But, keep winning, and good things will keep happening on that front.

So, besides that, let’s all wonder how long it will be before the 49ers are an NFL power again and break down the 35-22 win at Texas Stadium…

• What constitutes a “monster game” for an NFL QB? You know, not just a great game, but a flat-out monster? In my estimation, that would be hitting the daily double of 300 yards and 3 Touchdowns…an incredibly rare feat. Well, Mr Romo did that yesterday. And against Washington, Philadelphia, and Arizona this season…Against the Giants, Rams, Eagles, and Packers in 2007, and against Tampa Bay in 2006. That is right. Romo has thrown for at least 300 yards and at least 3 Touchdowns in the same game 9 times already. In 34 career starts, he has done it 9 times. Now, cross reference that with other QB’s in other cities and other eras to see how absurd that stat truly is. Next time someone tells you he is over-rated, agree with them and save yourself a headache.

• The complete list of 49ers QBs who have started a game since 2004: Tim Rattay, Ken Dorsey, Alex Smith, Cody Pickett, Trent Dilfer, JT O’Sullivan, Chris Weinke, and now, the great Shaun Hill. Yikes. Joe Montana and Steve Young are no longer around. When you get really spoiled and bitter about some goofy Romo turnover streak, imagine how long it will be before teams like the 49ers are good unless they find “the guy” at QB. The key, of course, is to take “the guy” when it is your turn at the top of the draft. I am not saying Aaron Rodgers will be in the Hall of Fame, but when you take a guy who is not the “home town guy” over the guy who is and wants to play for you like 2005 when they took Alex over Aaron, you better be right. The 49ers appear to have been wrong. And now their penalty is sorting through these guys. Hill looks ok, but I wouldn’t get carried away just yet.

• Tough day for Jason Witten. Nate Clements really hit him hard, and he only caught 1 ball for 11 yards. Thankfully, Witten appeared no worse for wear, but that dude is surely banged up as bad as he has been. After the St Louis game in Week 7, Witten was on top of the NFL with 45 catches and 541 yards. In the 4 games combined since, he has 4 catches for 53 yards. I would imagine Jason Garrett needs to be called out by Witten to get his numbers back up, but something tells me that Witten will likely not be asking Deion to put on his goofiest sweater and head over to the condo anytime soon.

• If San Francisco could convert in the red zone, you have to wonder how that game would have been different. Surely, a case could be made that the Niners could have been up 17-0 at the end of the 1st Quarter, and that would have tested everyone’s resolve. But, they settled for 3 FG attempts, only made 2 of them, and the deflation must have been immense when Romo dropped back early in the 2nd Quarter, hit Owens on 1 play and put the Cowboys ahead for good after being dominated in the first 15 minutes of the contest.

• Was it just me or did the Cowboys leave their starters in there way too long in garbage time? Wade, you have a game on Thursday. I don’t want to even imagine what would happen if the Cowboys have to go into Pittsburgh without a healthy Marion Barber. They must keep him healthy, and part of that process is NOT giving him 9 touches in a 4th Quarter where the game is most certainly not on the line.

• Nick Folk is an exceptional FG kicker. He is generally flat-out money, and once again yesterday hit all 4 kicks, all over 40 yards. I will trade the good of hitting 85% of all of his career FG attempts for the bad of just 4 touchbacks in 147 career kickoffs (2%). I wonder if Parcells would demand 2 kickers so he could get a designated kickoff guy in here and flirt with the occasional touchback?

• I had almost no opinions of #52 Carlos Polk until yesterday. Then, of course, he unleashed his much-needed special teams expertise. He ran down and made a big tackle on a return, and of course, his blocked punt may have helped turn that game as well. If you are at the game, you can see his dancing and gesturing before the kickoff that rivals Keith Davis for most animated on the cover crew. They say those special teams guys have to be part-nuts, and I think Polk is. For some reason, #52 still registers in my head as the great Dexter Coakley, but I will have to move on it appears.

• Have you ever seen Terence Newman look so lost like he did on that deep pass to Issac Bruce in the 1st? Bruce, who had a season-high of 5 catches, caught 4 in the 1st Q alone yesterday on his way to 8 grabs for 125 yards.

• The Cowboys two biggest plays to Owens yesterday were both out of the same personnel package and formation. “S11” is shotgun with Barber and Witten and 3 WR’s. Then, they were deployed in a “Bunch” lineup with Owens and Crayton in tight on the right, and Williams and Witten on the left. Then, Crayton goes shallow, Owens goes deep, and Romo stayed alive to make them both work. I swear, they might have even been the exact same play that went for 75 yards one time, and 52 yards the next. Mark Roman cannot run with Owens.

• Manny Lawson is a freak of nature. I remember him on draft day and remember for a while being convinced the Cowboys were going to grab him at #18. Instead, they tabbed Bobby Carpenter. Could you imagine Lawson opposite Ware? Holy Cow. The league might not have allowed that because it could have been unfair to the opponent.

• Keep taking care of business and get to the holiday at 8-4. You absolutely must beat Seattle. Then, enjoy your weekend. On to the Seahawks.


Jay said...

The Cowboys still might not make the playoffs but they are in the mix as they play a few more weeks of musical chairs with the Redskins, Falcons and Panthers (or Bucs).

I think good teams week in and week out get plays from their playmakers (Romo/TO/Ware/Ratliff and plays from less likely players Polk, maybe Spencer so I like the Cowboys chances #1 bc they have Romo.

All the wilcard teams have good QB play this year which per usual shows that the QB is by far the most important position and it's not even close in football. Norm can rant ab the rest of the team's play but the team is completely different with Brad Johnson bc QBs win games.

Also I would love to see the Cowboys spoil the Giants season as revenge to last season, they'll certainly have the opportunity to get a win at home and then maybe just maybe a road matchup in the playoffs. That would be delicious and I think the Cowboys are the best suited team to spoil the Giants run should they make the playoffs.

John said...

Gooooooooooo Raaaaaiders!!!! LOL!

Josh said...

about Nick Folk's kickoffs...

was at the game yesterday, listening to Brad and Babe on my radio and they said that the special teams coach is having Folk try to land his kicks between the numbers and the sideline so the coverage team knows exactly where on the field the return man will be. because of this, they specifically tell him not to kick the piss out of the ball.

this strategy does seem to help not give up big returns unless he kicks the wrong way and mike jenkins pulls an ole, although you do have to live with the occasional kick out of bounds.

I know it was against the 49ers, dude, but it's always nice to see the Cowboys play a complete game.

Now, who's ready to get into the wayback machine and watch Julius Jones run at Texas Stadium!

MK said...

Chalk it up in the "W" column.

However, isn't it a little concerning that the rest of the team had to be jump started by some Romo magic to wake up and push San Fran around? If this team starts any of the December games like they did yesterday, they'll be playing come from behind against much better teams.

Folks waiting for Chinese Democracy all these years have to be scratching their heads.

No disrespect or anything.

Jay, Christi and Andrew said...

No offense, Josh, but is it gay or not gay to link to your own blog in someone else' blog every week?

bevo said...

Josh..I liked it better when Jimmy was here..He always had a guy to kick off..Most of the time the punter..
The Cowboys are the only team in the NFL not to have a touch back..It has cost us and will continue to..

Doctor Jones said...

St. Louis & New York remind me that this was a great day to be a Cowboy fan. At this point, I'll be satisfied with one playoff victory. Shake that monkey off and then we can cross the Super Bowl bridge with Felix in the new stadium. The one that is costing Arlington tax payers big time! Thanks Arlington!