Cowboys shoot themselves in the foot...yet again.

The Dallas Cowboys controlled the ball for 40:03 minutes in Baltimore. The team gained 481 total yards: 227 yards rushing and 254 yards passing. The Cowboys ran a whopping 79 plays, averaging 6.1 yards per play, and 5.4 yards per rushing attempt.

Romo boasted a 96.3 passer rating. The offensive line permitted only one sack. Romo's lone blemish was an interception on third down while outside of field goal range. The Cowboys did not fumble once, and did not even record a bad snap with Costa starting at center.

Dallas only had to punt once in this game, and pinned the Ravens within their 10-yard line on the lone punt. Dallas converted 8 of 15 third down attempts on offense, and was a stellar 2 for 2 on fourth down attempts.

The Cowboys scored 29 points, going 2 for 3 in goal to go opportunities. Dallas also was 3 for 5 in red zone efficiency. The Cowboys offense even converted several third and short opportunities utilizing a power running attack.


But Dallas made too many critical mistakes to win. Penalties took possible points away, and gifted points to the Ravens. Once again the special teams killed Dallas. The defense was poor in several categories.

Once again, the Cowboys defense failed to register a turnover. The defensive secondary did not even get their hands on one pass. As usual, when DeMarcus Ware does not get pressure, nobody else does.

The Cowboys defense permitted Baltimore to convert on a ridiculous 60% of its third down attempts (6-10). The Dallas defense surrendered 4 plays of 20+ yards, including one for over 40 yards. The Ravens scored on offensive drives of 60 yards (14 plays - field goal), 80 yards (8 plays - touchdown), 80 yards (8 plays - touchdown), and 73 yards (10 plays - touchdown). Of the eight possessions the Ravens had prior to kneeling to finish the game, Baltimore scored on five: an unacceptable 62.5% of their possessions.

If the Ravens were not scoring on long drives, Baltimore was going 3 and out (thrice), or returning a kickoff for a touchdown. Yet another special team gaffe left the Cowboys playing from behind (11 points) with about 11:24 left in the third quarter.

Despite trailing for almost 34:00 minutes throughout the game, including the entire second half, the Cowboys ran the ball 42 times. Dallas ran the ball 25 times in the second half, despite losing Demarco Murray to a foot sprain, and Felix Jones to cramps.

Here are some of the mistakes that left Dallas 2-3, and in last place of the NFC East almost one-third of the way through the season.

Second quarter

3rd and 4 BAL12

(12:24) F.Jones left guard to BLT 6 for 6 yards (H.Ngata, P.McPhee). PENALTY on DAL, Illegal Shift, 5 yards, enforced at BLT 12 - No Play.

3rd and 9 BAL17

(11:58) T.Romo pass short right to D.Bryant to BLT 24 for -7 yards (J.Smith). Penalty on DAL, Illegal Shift, declined.

4th and 16 BAL24

(11:33) (Field Goal formation) D.Bailey 42 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-L.Ladouceur, Holder-C.Jones.

Result: A first and goal at the Baltimore 6 becomes a third and 9 leading to a Dallas field goal.

3rd and 7 BAL35

(10:12) (No Huddle, Shotgun) J.Flacco pass short middle to R.Rice pushed ob at DAL 22 for 43 yards (D.McCray).

Result: Baltimore touchdown. This play looked like Sean Lee read that Rice stayed in to block, and therefore dropped his pass coverage responsibility to rush. No other players were within the area that could or should have been in coverage on Rice. Baltimore scored to tie the game despite being outplayed to that point.

1st and 6 DAL6

(8:22) (No Huddle) R.Rice left tackle to DAL 2 for 4 yards (J.Ratliff).

2nd and 2 DAL2

(7:44) (No Huddle) J.Flacco pass incomplete short right to E.Dickson.

3rd and 2 DAL2

(7:37) (No Huddle) J.Flacco pass incomplete short left to R.Rice. PENALTY on DAL-K.Coleman, Illegal Use of Hands, 1 yard, enforced at DAL 2 - No Play.

1st and 1 DAL1

(7:33) (No Huddle) R.Rice right guard for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN.

Result: 4th and goal from the Dallas 2 becomes 1st and goal at the Dallas 1. The extra opportunity led to a touchdown instead of a possible field goal attempt.

2nd and 5 BAL30

(2:56) D.Murray right guard to BLT 24 for 6 yards (J.McClain, B.Pollard). PENALTY on DAL-T.Smith, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at BLT 30 - No Play.

2nd and 15 BAL40

(2:31) T.Romo pass incomplete short left to K.Ogletree.

3rd and 15 BAL40

(2:27) (Shotgun) PENALTY on BLT-J.McClain, Neutral Zone Infraction, 5 yards, enforced at BLT 40 - No Play.

3rd and 10 BAL35

(2:27) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short middle intended for K.Ogletree INTERCEPTED by C.Williams [D.Ellerbe] at BLT 20. C.Williams to BLT 20 for no gain (N.Livings).

Result: Baltimore ball at their 20 with 2:15 left in the half.

3rd and 14 BAL16

(2:00) (Shotgun) J.Flacco pass deep left to A.Boldin pushed ob at BLT 36 for 20 yards (B.Carter).

1st and 10 BAL36

(1:54) (No Huddle, Shotgun) J.Flacco pass short middle to A.Boldin to BLT 50 for 14 yards (O.Scandrick).

1st and 10 50

(1:48) (Shotgun) J.Flacco pass short middle to A.Boldin to DAL 30 for 20 yards (D.McCray).

1st and 10 DAL30

(1:21) J.Flacco pass short middle to D.Pitta to DAL 22 for 8 yards (D.McCray).

2nd and 2 DAL22

(1:16) PENALTY on BLT-M.Yanda, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at DAL 22 - No Play.

2nd and 7 DAL27

(1:05) (No Huddle, Shotgun) J.Flacco pass short middle to D.Pitta to DAL 19 for 8 yards (S.Lee, B.Carter).

1st and 10 DAL19

(1:05) (No Huddle, Shotgun) J.Flacco pass deep left to T.Smith for 19 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Penalty on DAL-M.Claiborne, Defensive Pass Interference, declined. No. 24 Morris Claiborne (DAL) injured.

Result: The Dallas defense yielded an 80-yard drive in 1:10. Baltimore started every one of their four drives from their own 20-yard line in the first half. The Ravens had 17 points at halftime, and one three and out. This was hardly an impressive first half for the defensive unit.

D.Bailey kicks 73 yards from DAL 35 to BLT -8. J.Jones for 108 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Jacoby Jones ties NFL record for longest kickoff return. Jacoby Jones sets Ravens record with 108-KO return.

Result: The Cowboys special teams fail the organization again for the second time within the last four weeks. If not for a missed punt block by Tampa Bay, the Cowboys could be 1-4 with three special team disasters in three of the four losses.

4th and 5 BAL35

(:13) (No Huddle) PENALTY on DAL-T.Romo, Delay of Game, 5 yards, enforced at BLT 35 - No Play.

Dallas was out of field goal range when Romo threw the interception as the team chose to punt from the same location later in the game. Garrett also noted the same during his post game press conference.

1st and 4 DAL4

(5:30) PENALTY on BLT-M.Oher, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at DAL 4 - No Play.

1st and 9 DAL9

(5:08) J.Flacco pass short right to V.Leach to DAL 2 for 7 yards (S.Lee, D.Connor).

2nd and 2 DAL2

(4:49) (No Huddle) R.Rice left guard to DAL 4 for -2 yards (K.Coleman). PENALTY on DAL, Defensive Offside, 1 yard, enforced at DAL 2 - No Play.

2nd and 1 DAL1

(4:49) J.Flacco pass incomplete short right to R.Rice. Pressure by No. 94 - DeMarcus Ware.

3rd and 1 DAL1

(4:49) R.Rice right tackle for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN.

Result: 3rd and goal from the Dallas 4, becomes 2nd and goal from the Dallas 1. For the second time in the game, a defensive penalty gave the Ravens an extra play from one yard away. Baltimore capitalized both times with touchdowns.

1st and 10 BAL34

(:26) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short left to D.Bryant to BLT 33 for 1 yard (C.Williams).

2nd and 9 BAL33

(:06) (Field Goal formation) D.Bailey 51 yard field goal is No Good, Wide Left, Center-L.Ladouceur, Holder-C.Jones.

Result: Devastating loss

Contrary to the reports from Garrett during the post game press conference, none of the players hustled back to the line of scrimmage, and Romo was left with no choice but to call the time out with 6 seconds left. There was no error in clock management, but rather a lack of awareness or hustle by the players, which is inexcusable given that similar situations are rehearsed towards the end of every Cowboys practice.

Since the entire team failed to hustle back to the line of scrimmage, either the communication in the huddle on the previous play was poor, or the Cowboys are not practicing this situation correctly in practice. Considering that training camp practices showed an up-tempo, realistic practice during these scenarios, this seems to be a problem where not every player knew what to do.

The Cowboys are making progress. Dallas played well in this game, but is still making enough critical mistakes to sabotage their efforts. This team has the talent to go deep into the playoffs, but has to learn to get out of its own way.

The season rides on a simple question:

Can the 2012 Dallas Cowboys progress to the point where the team does not make the critical errors that have been dooming them?

If the Cowboys reduce the number of errors committed overall and eliminate the critical errors such as special team mistakes, turnovers, and blown coverages, Dallas could win the NFC East, and go deep in the playoffs. The Cowboys have enough talent to win now, and are starting to show signs of playing up to that talent.

The gun is locked and loaded. Will the team stop shooting itself in the foot in time to make a playoff push, guns a blazing?

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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