Do you have some Tylenol? An Excedrin? Or maybe a shot of Jack? Something to kill the pain.
This one hurt so bad. It wasn't an epic collapse. Just leaving way to much time for possibly the best quarterback playing the game today to operate.
It is not the easiest thing to award a Game Ball after a performance like this. Today, I rather doubt any of the players want an award, because they didn't win. But there were assuredly some great performances for the Dallas Cowboys against the Patriots. After giving it 24 hours, there are several people from the game that did do a very good job.
I think most of you will guess that the Game Ball this week will go on the defensive side. But I did want to mention a couple of things the offense did well, even though it ultimately failed in putting enough points up. First off, it did lose an interception and a fumble, but that was half as many of each as New England, so they did help Dallas win the turnover battle. The Cowboys receiving corps looked much better than the Patriots'. Tony Romo spread the ball around much better than Tom Brady did, and Miles Austin looked good in his return. And with Felix Jones likely having been lost to injury after a fairly unproductive game, DeMarco Murray stepped in and actually looked pretty good, especially if you take away the two runs on the next to last possession when he was sent straight into a defense that was just waiting for him to come.
But it was the defense that did by far the best job.
See who gets the award after the jump.
There is one big problem. It is hard to single out one individual for the award. It was a team effort, called very well by Rob Ryan, and executed with enthusiasm by Rob's Mob. Kegbearer has put up a great post on how well they did in meeting key objectives of stopping the run, pressuring Tom Brady, and containing the big three receivers, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez.
Sean Lee was back in form, leading the team in tackles and grabbing another interception. So was DeMarcus Ware, getting to Brady twice for sacks and putting a couple more hits on him. Jay Ratliff had a great game with 9 tackles. Marcus Spears scored a sack. Anthony Spencer was third in tackles. They gave up a season high 101 yards rushing, but did not let the Patriots control the ball through the ground game. And they sacked or hit Brady 11 times. As for the big three receivers, they did not stop them outright, but the Patriots only got 289 passing yards, so I think the argument can be made that they were, in fact, largely contained.
As good as the front seven was during much of the game, I still have to look at a different bunch of guys. Namely the defensive backs. Orlando Scandrick, Terence Newman, Gerald Sensabaugh, Abram Elam, Frank Walker, Mike Jenkins, Danny McCray, Barry Church, and Alan Ball. (They were the ones credited in the box score. I apologize to anyone who was on the field but unmentioned.) So often maligned, particularly the holdovers from last season, they were the unit that mainly was assigned the task of stopping the wide receivers, especially the incredibly elusive Welker. Gronkowski and Hernandez, being tight ends, were more likely to see a linebacker on them, but the wideouts were pretty much the responsibility of the defensive backs. The results:
Deion Branch 3 catches/69 yards/0 touchdowns
Wes Welker 6/45/1
Chad Ochocinco 0/0/0 (I mention him because he is the only other wide receiver who was even thrown at.)
Folks, that is as close to getting shut down as I think you will see the New England wide receiving corps all season. Three other WRs are on the roster, and although I don't know how many were active, obviously none of them were even targeted.
That takes a lot of coverage. And not just from one person, but from all of the DBs who saw the field. I don't particularly like giving group awards, but I don't know how to single anyone out, or how to say one did not contribute. So this week, if you are a cornerback or safety and if you wear the Star on your helmet, you get a share of this week's Game Ball.