Game Balls: Cowboys vs Vikings

Here is the second edition of the highly anticipated and SB Nation Dallas Editor Pick, Game Balls.

The Cowboys really came out of Minnesota with a pretty decent performance. The defense did give up too many yards, but continued to show the "bend don't break" philosophy we have seen so far. We continued to create turnovers and that really is what I am looking for this year.

The offense was again firing on all cylinders. I wanted to see a crisp and smooth performance from both sides of the ball, but the offense was really impressive to me. Our offensive line started three rookies and only surrendered one sack, pretty impressive stuff.

The special teams unit was outstanding as well. I wasn't impressed with the one long kickoff return, but besides that they looked really good.

Without further wait, let us take the dive into this weeks winners.

Gerald Sensabaugh

Again for the second straight week, I am handing out a game ball to one of my most loathed players on the Cowboys. As you all know, Sensabaugh isn't exactly my favorite player on the team. But this goes to show you my non-bias when it comes to handing out accolades and achievements. I don't sugarcoat things, I just tell it how it is.

Sensabaugh finished with three tackles. He did have one really ugly play and whiffed on AP in the backfield. We will let that one go. The other ugly play was on the TD to Bernard Berrian. Elam missed the pick, but he made a great play recognizing where the play was going and almost made the pick. Scandrick was playing zone and then passed of Berrian to Sensabaugh, who got his ankles broke when he turned around, and then quit on the play.

The good overshadowed the bad for Sensabaugh, just like last week when he earned his first game ball of the season. Sensabugh leapfrogs the line and blocks a Longwell field goal attempt that Alan Ball kicks, then picks up for a easy 6 points. The Vikings special teams coach was complaining to the referee about Sensabugh using leverage to jump the line, but Vikings special teams coach whoever you are, Sensabaugh straight jumped over the line. He owns the vertical jump record for a reason, the guy is a freak.

Sensabaugh again made an amazing diving leap to secure an interception. He did it last week and he did it against the Redskins last year. This is something he is really good at, kudos to the Sensabaugh for that. On the play Hatcher gets his big mitts on the football, McNabb looks shocked, Sensabaugh stumbles around the turf after making the play and I am going wild.

So that is game ball #2 for Mr. Sensabaugh, another great game for him. Maybe he heard all my hating on him this summer and decided to make a business decision and prove me wrong. Show me up all year Sensabaugh, because if you do then that means you will have played a great season!

Anthony Spencer

This is a surprise pick here, but I really thought Spencer played well the other night. Spencer finished with 3 tackles and sack, but his overall game looked really solid. When I re-watched the game today, I watched every single player on defense at least twice. So when I broke down #93, I really wasn't looking forward to it.

But when I sat down and looked it over again, Spencer really played pretty well. He was generating some pressure, it could have been better, but it wasn't awful. I really liked what he did on a play to Percy Harvin. The Vikings ran a college play, a fake pitch rollout. McNabb fakes the pitch, and basically the whole defense bought the play fake, but not Spencer. Spencer see's the play developing and rushes McNabb, and almost sacks him. I liked that he recognized what was going to happen, kudos there.

Spencer also dropped back into coverage a few times and looked really good doing it. In the run game he was doing a good job getting some push and not getting manhandled (unlike #99). Spencer may not ever be what we thought he could be, but his role is defined by other aspects of the game. In the aspects he is told to do, he is doing a pretty good job at it.

Mr. Spencer, enjoy your controversial game ball, because I know I will be bashed to death for it.

Alan Ball

Second straight week and Alan Ball gets a game ball. He is really looking comfortable at cornerback and I think he is going to have a good year there. Ball was very good in coverage once again and if he continues to do that I think Ball will earn some of the fans trust back. He has a long way to go, but at the cornerback position Ball can really play at a good level for us.

It was great to see him kick the ball (which was an accident and is legal) and finally get his hands on the football. Nothing like strolling into the endzone for an easy 6 points. Plays like that may seem minor to you or me, but they are confidence builders for guys like Alan Ball.

That is game ball #2 for you Mr. Ball, you are beginning to look like the dark horse candidate for Game Ball of the year!

Mario Butler

Mario Butler has really risen the cornerback ranks the past few weeks with his play. I am beginning to fall in love with the UDFA from Georgia Tech. He wasn't drafted because of his speed, but he makes up for his speed with lock down coverage ability.

Butler again broke up a few passes and made sure he trailed his wide receiver down the field. He didn't allow a big play all night. This kid can cover folks, he has really good cover skills. Then he makes the play that seals the win when he makes sure to tackle the Viking player in bounds. Smart football will help you a long way in making this team.

Mr. Butler enjoy your game ball and one more big performance next week and you might be a Dallas Cowboy!

Tony Romo

Tony Romo was flat out perfect the other night. I have come to this conclusion about Romo, he is either really "ON" and will make perfect and accurate throws. Or he will be really "OFF" and make bad and inaccurate throws. On Saturday night we saw the "ON" Tony Romo going 15-20 with 141 yards, no turnovers. When we get to witness this type of Romo, I truly believe we are seeing one of the best in game doing his thing. If Romo can do this on a consistent basis again, like he did in 2009, this offense is going to be unstoppable.

Romo stepped up into the pocket when the pressure was starting to come from the outside by the tackles. Romo is a smart football player, hate it or love non Cowboys fans, he is smart and his intelligence is a big part of his game. That intelligence plays a huge part in his success and it was on full display the other night. The non Cowboys fans won't know that Romo is killing a play into either a run or pass basically every time we walk to the line. Romo is really developing into one of the best at being given two plays in the huddle and then killing to the right play.

His accuracy was just amazing the other night. For me there were really two passes that displayed to me that Romo was just unstoppable that night. First there was the perfect pass to Ogletree. If Olgetree actually looks where he is and attempts to keep his feet in bounds, that would have been a walk in TD. That pass was beautiful and right where it had to be.

The second pass that blew me away was the one to Dez Bryant in the endzone. He throws a pass that only Dez Bryant can catch. It was insanely accurate, too bad it didn't work though.

Romo was amazing the other night. Here is a well deserved game ball for you Mr. Romo, enjoy your first of many to come this season.

Felix Jones

I am going to give Felix another game ball even though he didn't play that much, but he showed again that he is going to have a huge year the other night. Felix finished with 5 carries 20 yards and 1 TD. He also caught 3 passes for 18 yards, displaying he is still a threat as a receiver out of the backfield.

There were a couple runs where he almost went to the house. That is a feeling we may start to get every time he touches the football. Felix is just incredibly exciting to watch and if he stays healthy man, boy oh boy it's going to be a long season for opponents. On the 5 yard TD run, Felix again showed us he is a physical running back, not just a speed demon.

Enjoy your 2nd game ball of the season Mr. Jones, I think your going to be receiving a lot more of those awards in 2011.

Dez Bryant

On my blog before the game I mentioned that I wanted to see Romo and Dez on the same page Saturday night. I wanted to see them start to build some sort of chemistry. Romo and Miles have chemistry, that is obvious. Romo and Witten are like BFF's, we all know that. But imagine if Romo and Dez continue to have the type of chemistry they displayed the other night? Man, this offense has the opportunity to be really amazing.

Dez finished the night with 5 catches for 67 yards, basically owning any defensive back put on him and in his path. This is my favorite player and man it is just exciting watching him play football. Dez did a better job on his hot routes and was running smoother routes. He easily found the holes in the Vikings zone scheme and made them pay for it.

This is his first game ball of the season, Mr. Bryant enjoy the first of many my man.

DeMarco Murray

It was really a good feeling getting to see DeMarco suit up for the first time this season. I know I have been looking forward to seeing him play since we drafted him in the 3rd round back in April. What really impressed me was how he ran lower to the ground and lowered his head for the tough yards. The book on Murray was that he ran too high and was susceptible to big hits.

Well Skip Peete must be doing a fantastic job coaching then, because Murray was staying low and picking up hard yards. I think Skip Peete, our running backs coach, is a little undervalued. Felix continues to grow and develop. Tanner looks like the real deal. Murray appears to be adjusting his game as well. I just want to take the time out to thank Skip Peete here, good job sir.

DeMarco finished with 7 carries for 32 yards, leading all Cowboys rushers. Mr. Murray, enjoy your first game ball!

Jesse Holley

Now I have been really hard on this guy ever since he came into the league. He is a great special teams player, there is no denying that, but he isn't that good of wide receiver. Holley is starting to show me wrong and I am loving it. if Holley can perform like that all season and do his thing on special teams, we will have a really good player on our hands.

Holley caught 3 passed for 51 yards. All three of his catches were tough ones, and a few kept drives alive. Romo appears to have some trust and chemistry with Holley, so that is really encouraging to see. All of the catches Holley had were really impressive. He used his hands instead of his body, something good wide receivers do. There was tight coverage on all three catches and Holley wasn't afraid to get a little dirty to make the play.

Mr. Holley enjoy your game ball, because you flat out deserved it, great job!

The Entire 1st Team Offensive Line

Doug Free, Bill Nagy, Kevin Kowlaski, Kyle Kosier and Tyron Smith. Each and every one of you deserve game balls. 3 rookies started the other night and only one sack was allowed. They opened up huge holes for Felix and got great push in the run game. They did a great job of protecting Tony Romo and felt great seeing a good offensive line performance like that. 

Great job guys, enjoy your game balls. On here we recognize the big boys, so don't you worry, we got the offensive line covered all season long IF you guys perform well.


Up To Date Game Ball Leaders

Gerald Sensabaugh-2

Alan Ball-2

Felix Jones-2

Bill Nagy-2

Tyron Smith-2

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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