After two games on the road, the 2012 Dallas Cowboys had their home debut against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It is evident that the cure for whatever sickness that plagued our Offense in Seattle has not been found. Versus one of the worst passing defenses in the NFL, Tony Romo and company only had one Touchdown. This was on a DeMarco Murray run that was set up by the Sean Lee interception. But that was the lone highlight of the Offense. The passing game could not get into a rhythm and the running game was non existent. Turnovers and penalties killed every drive that did not result in points. You could run faster if you didn’t shoot your self in the foot after every turn.
Tony Romo’s day consisted of four sacks, three (recorded) pressures, two fumbles, and one interception. DeMarco Murray rushed for 38 yards on 18 carries. When will the Cowboys look at the Elephant in the room? The offensive line was not creating any push against that Tampa Bay front. Their play has not gotten to the point that DeMarco Murray and Tony Romo can have regular games. If Murray can’t create the hole, there is no running game. If Romo doesn’t display his Wizardry and tremendous feel for the pocket, our offense looks stale. How many times is Romo expected to Salvage the play? Sunday we saw first hand what happens if they don’t make something out of nothing.
When the play does break down or Romo has to evade the defenders, you usually has Jason Witten to turn to. His safety net. The one player that Tony could always count on. It is obvious that he is still suffering from the lacerated spleen that he suffered in the preseason. Since this is an injury that needs to heal on its own you can not rush it. There is no way to speed the recovery up. Jason Witten is tough as nails, but he is not the Jason that we know and love. He has already totaled more drops in three games than what he accumulated all of 2011. In fact, out of the 97 catch-able balls from 2010, he only dropped three, the same number of drops he had in this game alone. One can only speculate about how much pain and agony that he goes through in a game. Blocking, reaching for the ball, and making sudden turns could affect his injury. One point made about this would be the psychological effect it will have on him. To not be able to be the player you know you can be. To try as hard as you have ever tried and go out there and hurt your team. I guess we are all playing the waiting game.
Miles Austin’s nagging hamstring has been a point of concern since Camp, but he showed Sunday that he is just fine by racking up 107 yards receiving on five receptions. Then he hurt his ribs. He returned back to the game so hopefully this was just a small thing. The Cowboys will continue to monitor his health. While Dez Bryant did not have a great game receiving, he was physical and made some nice plays out there. The most amazing thing he did was not catching the ball but receiving a punt and taking it up field for 44 yards (on the TB 6 yard line) to set up a Field Goal. Wish we would have found a way to get into the end zone, but at least we picked up points. What a remarkable athlete Dez Bryant its. His passion for the game only adds to his physical tools. He is one of the most dangerous players in the NFL.
A huge bright spot for the Dallas Cowboys was the way our Defense played. With this performance we became the number one Defense in Yards allowed per game. Shout out to Rob Ryan who had to answer questions regarding his conservative approach to last weeks game. The Cowboys Defense shutdown the Tampa Bay Offense all together, both the running and the passing game. They only allowed 75 rushing yards and 91 passing yards. In Josh Freeman’s last 18 pass attempts, he only had 5 completions. And four came when our best corner back was playing safety. While this is not a winning formula you have to appreciate the results. The use of a band-aid at safety is not going to work long term, but sometimes you have to make do with what you have. How will Rob Ryan and Jason Garrett address this position in the future with Barry Church out for the season?
The front seven did a great job. Good to see them respond like they did after the punishment that they took in the second half of the Seattle game. They stopped the run and the Tampa Bay three headed Monster at running back barely peeked out of the cave. They put pressure on Freeman and stalled 9 drives out of a possible 11. The Tampa Bay offense was assisted by the Tony Romo interception. DeMarcus Ware provided the play of the game with his strip sack on Josh Freeman. He had two of these, but the second was right on time and prevented them from a potential score. Since his rookie season, Ware has been one of the best in the league at getting strip sacks. He always has the mindset of not just getting there but making something happen. Anytime Ware gets in the backfield there could be a game changing moment. The Line backing corps continue to be the heart and soul of this Defense. Sean Lee also created a turnover with his interception. Victor Butler and Bruce Carter are getting the job done as well. Anthony Spencer has been the model of consistency. He has had 7 tackles in each game this year. He is making plays in coverage and had a nice stop last game. Overall, the defense was as dominant as they should have been. The question is rather they can bring this type of execution and performance against better offenses in the NFL. How dominant can they be against a skilled offense like Chicago, Baltimore and Atlanta? We will have our opportunity. Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall are up next.