Here is my first go at a fanpost.
I have been reading this blog for over a year now and have enjoyed the sidelines but last night's game and the outburst on this website after has led me to finally jump in the game and write a post of my own.
This loss was devastating, there is no way around it. We were on the road in the most emotional environment possible against a team that has played in 2 consecutive AFC Championships and was on many lists of pre-season Super Bowl Contenders YET we were winning by 14 points in the 4th Quarter.
The negative takeaways from this game are numerous:
1) Romo's end of game/big game performance will continued to be called into question. The way that he played through the first 3 quarters was amazing. He was picking his spots and making great decisions and plays against a Defense that has been a top 5, if not the best defense in football over the last 2 years. He threw 2 touchdowns passes against a pass defense that had allowed ONLY 32 touchdown passes over the past 2 SEASONS.
However, as we have seen many times before, he committed turnovers and mental errors when the game was on the line. As bad as the fumble was, he should have just thrown it away, the interception was atrocious. Even if Dez ran the wrong route, it was a bad throw into double coverage. With the game tied at the point, he would have been better to throw the ball away and try again later.
Even with these negatives, getting rid of Romo is not the correct answer nor will it happen. He has been a great QB for this team and even though he seems to fall apart in pressure situations, the same thing was said about Peyton Manning until he won his first Superbowl. The game cannot be put total on Romo's shoulders as....
2) The Red Headed Genius' play calling should be called into question as well. With a lead, he began to use a more conservative game plan. While this is a good idea in theory, we were not able to run the ball, especially between the tackles against the Jets run defense, so the play calling in the 4th quarter was not what the Cowboys needed to win.
While running was not the answer when we were stuck at the 50 yard line, it should have been the answer when we had 2nd and goal from the 3 yard line. Felix easily scored on the pitch play when we were on the 1 yard line and there was no reason to think that he could not have been successful given 2 chances to run to the outside from the 3. Additionally with a 7 point lead at that point, a field goal would have possibly been enough to put the game away, if not make it much harder for the Jets to attempt a comeback. Even with the poor play calling, the game could have still be salvaged with...
3) Good special teams decisions and plays. The punt block was absolutely awful. The Arizona game was running on repeat in my mind as the block occurred. Thankfully, McBriar was not injured this time. I do not know whether to attribute the fault to Joe D and the formation that he put the punting unit in or whether it was a mental mistake by John Phillips and/or Alex Albright. As bad as that play was, other special teams decisions should be called into question as well. First, Demarco Murray should never have taken that return out of the end zone that put us on the 14. Did he not see what happened when Cromartie tried to take it out from the back of the end zone and we stopped him at the 10. Bone-headed play from a Rookie and hopefully a lesson that he learns for the future.
The worst decision though was allowing Dez to return punts. Our most athletically gifted player and the player who has the ability to be a star receiver should not be subjected to returning punts and allowing for injury. Did we not learn our lesson when his season was destroyed by getting hurt on special teams last year? After the game, he was reported to have injured his leg on that first punt return. He should be used situational to return punts and those situations should be limited to the 4th quarter when we need a big return to win the game or put us in position to win the game.
My heart felt as though it had been ripped out; however, this morning, I woke up much happier than I was when I went to sleep, seeing the silver lining in this game.
The positives that I saw in this game were promising and allow me to see a bright future.
1) The Yuglies held their own. While there were miscues like the snap at the end of the game when Romo wasn't ready (something we had seen from Andre Gurode a number of times as well) and some other missed blocking that allowed for Romo to be sacked, the unit looked good as a whole. Tyron Smith looked like the future star that we know he can be. Nagy pulled well and even though he missed an open field block on one screen, he had a good game overall.
One of the more underrated things is how hard it is for Kyle Kosier to switch from playing LG to RG. It was apparent on one of Felix's runs when he pulled from RG to the left side and looked somewhat lost as his body was moving in the opposite direction that it has moved for the last few years. I expected growing pains with this line and they are occurring but I believe that in a few weeks with some game experience under their belts, this line will be a positive for the team, something we surely lacked last season. The O-line was not the only place where youth shined as...
2) Sean Lee was a stud. He looked to be the player that I prayed he could be coming out of Penn State. He has clearly supplanted Keith Brooking as our 2nd ILB and by season's end may be better than Bradie James. He seemed to be in on or around every tackle and added an interception and near touchdown to that. Great 3-4 defenses seem to always have a great ILB (Steelers, Ravens, Jets) had hopefully Sean Lee can be that player for us. He led a rush defense that held a Jets offense that was 4th in the NFL in rushing offense last year with almost 150 yards a game to under 50 yards for this game. While some of this can be attributed to our Pass Defense being shaky, the Run Defense was stout. Speaking of our Pass Defense ...
3) They played decent considering the circumstances. We went into the game without our top CB and lost our next 2 for most of the game. Mike Jenkins played extremely well when he was in the game and continued to fight off injuries in order to play. This has allowed me to see him in a better light than I used. It shows his resilience and hopefully this season will be his redemption for last seasons struggles.
While I hope that we do not have to deploy our 4th and 5th CBs as Starters or players who need to play for most of a game, I was encouraged by what I saw from them. Alan Ball actually played well and almost had an interception that could have given us the game back. After the corners went down, Barry Church was manning the slot and having a Backup Safety who was never a CB play in such a difficult position is going to hurt any team. Hopefully Newman and Jenkins will be playing next game and we wont need to rely on Ball and McCann starting but I have no problem with them as 3rd and 4th corners for the next few weeks and as 4th and 5th corners for the rest of the season.
While there are many other positives and negatives from this game, I have limited myself to 3 of each that stuck out to me.
Hopefully the CBs get healthy and the experience allows our O-line and Defense to grow as the season goes on.
Big game in San Fransisco. Let's Go Boys.