For the second straight week the Dallas Cowboys jumped on their opponent early in the game and dominated when the starters were on the field before cruising to a 31-20 win over the Denver Broncos. The Cowboys starting offense picked up where it left off last week and scored 24 first-half points even thought they turned the ball over twice and Martin Gramatica missed a 51-yard FG. The turnovers came on a Tony Romo INT on a play where Miles Austin slipped coming out of his break and Sam Hurd fumbled the ball after a short catch.
Not to be outdone, the defense cleaned up the few mistakes the offense had by holding the Broncos to two FG’s in the first half. They also got their own turnover when Marcus Spears fell on a Jay Cutler fumble, and were able to get enough pressure on the young signal-caller to turn his night into a very ordinary affair. The Cowboys weren’t able to pile up the sack numbers, but they created enough "hurries" to throw Cutler and the Broncos out of any kind of rhythm on offense.
The usual suspects turned in solid performances. Tony Romo was 11/18 for 122 yards, Marion Barber had 57 yards on 11 carries and 2 TD’s, Julius Jones chipped in with 31 yards on 9 carries and a TD. But the leading rusher was 3rd-string RB Tyson Thompson who racked up 75 yards on 16 carries. Patrick Crayton had a good night receiving, 3 catches for 61 yards, but had trouble in catching punts when he failed to fair catch one at the 23-yard line and fumbled another although he recovered it.
The Cowboys attack lost some zip on offense when the second and third-strings took over, but there were still bright spots. Besides the aforementioned Thompson, 4th-round draft pick Isaiah Stanback made his debut in style by catching two passes, one for a TD on a ball he had to reach to catch. He also was used as a kick returner a couple times, but never ran the ball back.
Backup middle linebackers Kevin Burnett and Bobby Carpenter were very active in the second-half. Burnett was in on four tackles and made a great play in pass coverage. Carpenter got to rush the passer a little more and got some pressure while also intercepting a pass. The INT came courtesy of Joey Thomas who hit the Bronco’s WR to pop the ball in the air, and he also had some very nifty pass breakups, although he did give a big pass interference call.
The Cowboys suffered injuries to Anthony Fasano (shoulder) and Jackie Battle (ankle) and they also held out Terence Newman (heel) and Oliver Hoyte (neck). WR Miles Austin had a few plays were his game wasn’t at its best; it was a tough day in some respects for the receiver. And backup tackle James Marten looked like he struggled also.
Martin Gramatica and Nick Folk continue their kicking battle, with both kickers hitting deep kickoffs, and Nick Folk connecting on a 52-yard FG, while Gramatica missed his 51-yard attempt.
Overall, the Cowboys should be very pleased for the second week in a row. A balanced offense that saw coordinator Jason Garrett mix his attack with skill, and a defense that has yet to hit its stride but still is holding opponents down. And the Cowboys haven’t even utilized T.O., Jason Witten or Terry Glenn yet.