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Film review: Cowboys vs. Bears (offense and special teams)

I can tell you watching the game over again for the film review is much more fun when we are winning. No matter what happens, if we make a bad play, it always turns out OK in the end. So keep winning Cowboys.

Offensive film review

QB – Let me preface this with a note about Tony Romo. He’s been phenomenal and I’m thrilled at the prospect of him being our QB for years to come. Jerry can’t sign him soon enough. So I’m a fan, a huge fan of Romo. But here’s a news flash for members of the Cult of Romo, he does make mistakes. I know; that is blasphemy in some quarters where Romo is the subject of ever-growing Bill Brasky tall tales or Chuck Norris facts. I think I’ll treat him just like any other Cowboy, pointing out what I like and critiquing mistakes I believe he made. OK, enough said on that subject.

In this game, Romo again flashed his ability to make pass rushers miss, to sense when danger is imminent and to hit receivers for big plays at critical times. You can go through all his stats which are magnificent, but the big thing for me is his ball security. He hasn’t fumbled this year and has only thrown two INT’s, including one this week on a high throw that was tipped in the air and picked off. His decision-making was solid and his calm under pressure doomed the Bears who were depending on their pass rush to stop the Cowboys passing game.

Besides the INT, Romo also had some misfires in the first half which seems to be a pattern and his bad passes tend to be high. I don’t know why, but he settles in after a quarter or so and really hits his groove in the second half. The twist in this game was in the first half he actually had better protection than the second half, but he was more accurate and made bigger plays in the second half while on the move from the pass rush. You figure it out.

RBJulius Jones is cursed. Every time he has a big play in the past few games it’s called back for a penalty. This week he had a long screen pass called back on a phantom penalty against Witten and he had a big run up the gut that ended close to the goal line but Flozell was called for holding. Besides those two plays he had a couple of decent runs, a good run after a pass catch, and a good blitz pick-up that saved Romo. In fact, JJ looked about as good as I’ve seen him in a while during the game, but his numbers don’t reflect his effort. Marion Barber just keeps doing what he does which is run hard, gain yards and score TD’s. MB3 had the last four plays on the Cowboys second TD drive, running three times and catching a swing pass that he turned into a TD by running over Adam Archuleta. In the fourth quarter when Dallas wanted to kill the clock they gave MB3 the ball on eight consecutive runs including his 54-yard jaunt and his second TD. On the negative side, MB3 missed a blitz block that led to pressure and an incomplete pass, and also had confusion on a blitz pick-up assignment with Deon Anderson that led to an Urlacher sack. Tyson Thompson saw limited duty in garbage time.

WRTerrell Owens dominated the game with crossing patterns and his ability to run after the catch. CB Charles Tillman tried to shadow Owens but was repeatedly burned. Romo and Owens have developed a real chemistry and whenever Romo is in trouble he looks for Owens. Terrell will still bobble a catch every now and then and he picked up two penalties, although one was ridiculous, but he was the dominant offensive player on the field besides Romo. Patrick Crayton had a big, huge, visible blunder. When you drop a sure TD that is right in your hands and with nobody else in the vicinity, it’s a rough night. He was also involved in Romo’s INT, although after watching the play in frame-by-frame replay the ball was high and to his right and he only got the top part of his right hand on the ball and none of his left hand. So that’s more on Romo than Crayton and had little to do with his finger. He did end up with three catches on the evening.

Sam Hurd had two plays in the game and they were noticeable plays. On a T.O. crossing route he blind-sided Archuleta with a block that was a thing of beauty, unless you’re Archuleta. He followed that up with a 25-yard catch against broken coverage in the Bears’ secondary. I never saw Miles Austin line up at receiver and he made no catches or significant contributions.

TEJason Witten was the compliment to Owens that made the Bears’coverage pick their poison. Witten had numerous big catches on the evening including a TD pass. He is also much-improved in his blocking since entering the league, he is no longer just a pass-catching TE but a blocking one, too. He got called for a ridiculous block in the back penalty on JJ’s screen pass, which actually was a great block and further shows his skills. Anthony Fasano was used mostly in a blocking role and caught one short pass. He had a chance at a TD catch in the game but Romo overthrew the pass. I didn’t see Tony Curtis play so no report on him.

FBDeon Anderson was the "starter" but the Cowboys actually used their TE’s in the FB role for most of then night. Only toward the end and on some short-yardage plays did Anderson see the field much. I saw him get a couple of good blocks but he also confused a blitz assignment with MB3 that led to a sack.

OL – The offensive line is getting the job done, but lately they’ve been much better in pass protection than in run blocking. Against the Bears, they just couldn’t produce holes for the backs until later in the game when their size began to dominate. In the passing game, they started to get beat by blitzes in the second half but Romo saved them repeatedly. The guy who hardly made any mistakes was Marc Colombo. He had a few standard missed blocks, but for the most part he played extremely well. Leonard Davis had a few bad errors, he was beat by Tommie Harris on the pass rush causing a Romo scramble-and-throw, he was hit with a holding call, blew a couple of run blocks and was culpable (along with snapper Ladouceur) for the blocked FG. He did have a highly visible pancake block on a JJ screen.

Andre Gurode also had a few problems with Bears interior line, as did Kyle Kosier. Gurode and Kosier left a gap between them on a blitz and the Bears ran right through it for a sack and both had problems on run blocks throughout the game. Gurode did have an excellent blocking picking up Lance Briggs on a full-speed blitz and stoned him. Flozell Adams had problems all night. He led the game off by allowing a Romo sack, he got called for two holding penalties and a false start and he let his man in a couple of times forcing Romo to scramble. Flozell’s game could have been better. But, having said all that, the offensive line had plenty of plays where they gave Romo time and they protected him enough for him to get the job done. Plus, the Bears defense was attacking the run with 8 and 9-men lines while blitzing frequently; and they are a talented group so the Dallas line gets a good grade even though they have looked better.

Special teams review

Kick and punt coverage – Excellent. All week we worried about Devin Hester but he was a total non-factor. Guys like Pat Watkins, Sam Hurd, Keith Davis and Bobby Carpenter made sure Hester went nowhere. Davis poked the ball lose for a fumble and Watkins had a great tackle on coverage. Watkins also was smart enough to cover the guy going out for a pass on the fake FG and let Nate Jones close down on the kicker and snuffed the play.

Kick and punt return – Tyson Thompson bobbled a kickoff out of bounds and finished with a poor night on returns. Miles Austin got a holding penalty on a return and Patrick Crayton caught his punts but didn’t really return them.

PunterMat McBriar did a good job of angling his punts to the corner or making Hester fair catch them.

KickerNick Folk had his first bad plays of the season. His first kickoff went out of bounds and he had a kick blocked, even though that wasn’t really his fault. But he hit all his extra-points, made two more FG’s and the rest of his kickoffs were OK.

And a special shout out to Pat McQuistan, who ran across and down the field to knock Archuleta out of bounds after the blocked FG. At first, I thought the Bears were going to score, but big McQ came out of nowhere to make the tackle. Great hustle.

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