QB – This just in, Tony Romo is good. Really, how much do I need to say here? Yes, he threw a floater into coverage where the safety easily picked it off, but who even remembers that? And what Crayton and Owens were doing five feet from each other running the same route, I don’t know. Besides that one mistake, Romo picked apart the defense and the line gave him plenty of protection, so he stayed in the pocket most of the game. Of course, we always remember the plays when he freelances, including the Romo Run, where he became the master over disaster and stunned us once again. Oh yeah, he ran for a TD, threw three others and wrote a love-note to Carrie Underwood on the sidelines as Brad Johnson mopped-up. (That last piece of info is only something you can get here at BTB.)
RB – Julius Jones got a rushing TD, led the team in rushing yards and caught a pass for a first down. Marion Barber had a couple of good runs and had some pass catches, too. But both backs struggled in the run game early because the Rams were stacking the box with 8 and 9 guys, especially on first down and other run situations. They were determined to stop the run first. They managed to stuff MB3 on two consecutive short-yardage runs. Eventually, the Cowboys abandoned the run for a long stretch until coming back to it later to finish the game. The line wasn’t providing a lot of running room for either back, but there were just too many guys to block in the box. Later though, they did manage to get it going, and Tyson Thompson provided a couple of very nice runs in garbage time.
WR – Terrell Owens caught three passes early, dropped a couple of others (though they were tougher catches than it first appeared) and then was essentially a decoy for most of the game. He made a big play on a 3rd and 4 on our first TD drive when he caught a ball that the safety had popped out of his hands but Owens got it on the rebound before going out of bounds. He also showed his hustle by escorting Crayton to the endzone, and opened up the passing game in general for Crayton. Speaking of Patrick Crayton, he was big time. He had catches all over the field besides his two TD catches and certainly made up for last week’s dropped TD pass. The Rams tried to cover him with CB Lenny Walls but it was no contest. Sam Hurd caught a pass to convert a third down, but was quiet otherwise.
TE – Jason Witten chipped in with his standard six catches and a TD. He’s improved his blocking and his receiving skills are on par with a wide receiver. He was beating cornerbacks in coverage a couple of times in the game. He’s hard to stop. But, uncharacteristically, he dropped two very easy passes in the game. Anthony Fasano got a catch this game but continues to be more valuable for his blocking and he had a false start penalty. Tony Curtis came into block in a 3-TE set that we ran about four times in this game.
FB – Deon Anderson got a little more playing time this week and actually threw some really good blocks to spring MB3 on a good run and JJ on a good run. He hits the defender hard and was having some major collisions at the end while blocking for Thompson.
OL - In pass protection, they were close to perfect. The Rams got one sack on a safety blitz but it was more from Romo not seeing the defender and JJ not seeing him to pick up the blitz, instead he went out into the pattern. Other than that, Romo stood in the pocket probably 90% of the game and had very little pressure. They built a fortress around the guy. The Rams rarely blitzed early in the game, they would drop the 8/9 man box into coverage and rush four. Later in the game they tried to start blitzing but the line handled it and Romo made them pay.
In the running game, they had a few more problems, especially Kyle Kosier who got pushed back a couple of times to disrupt the play. But when they pulled him, as usual, he was quick to the hole and laid a couple of nice blocks. The Cowboys offense was stuck on their own goal line twice in the game and both times they ran behind the middle of the line to get out. On one play Andre Gurode plowed the road for an MB3 run, the other time Leonard Davis did the same for JJ. And at the end, after the will of the defense had been sapped, they dominated the line of scrimmage. Flozell Adams didn’t get any penalties and collapsed the line of scrimmage on his side during JJ’s TD run and Leonard Davis pulled around to bury the leftovers. Marc Colombo was pretty solid on his side throughout the game except for one bad missed block on a run blitz. Even though the run game has been hit and miss, the line is having an excellent year.
Kick coverage – Not good. The absence of Keith Davis and Bobby Carpenter’s quad tear might have something to do with it since they were so good in the previous week. Dante Hall gashed our coverage a couple of times.
Punt coverage – Also not good. Miles Austin and Sam Hurd couldn’t contain Dante Hall on his TD return, then Tony Curtis had a shot and whiffed. Bobby Carpenter didn’t have the speed to run him down and it was over. Mat McBriar kicked a line drive punt that helped set it up.
Kick returns – Nothing special, one 20-yard return by Thompson and another touchback.
Punt returns – Patrick Crayton did a good job again in this area with a 22.5-yard average on two returns. Terence Newman was inexplicably put in the game to return a punt when Crayton seems more than capable of handling the job. He let the ball bounce instead of fair-catching it and it ended up on our 1-yard line.
Punts – Not the best day for McBriar as he helped set-up the Hall TD return. But his other kicks were solid.
FG/XP – Nick Folk had it easy by kicking 5 XP’s.