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Film review: Offense, Cowboys vs. Bengals

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Time for the Film Review. I'll start with the offense, the defense will come later today.

Caveat: For those of you out there who don't think we should be criticizing or micro-analyzing the Cowboys performance on Sunday, I'd advise you to read no further. Because I will be doing that. I have no reservations about evaluating the Cowboys based on what I see and will report both the good and bad without prejudice. It's something this particular blog has always been based on and that will continue. It is part of the job for me, so I hope you will indulge that belief. And yes, I will be critical of Tony Romo where I believe it's justified.

QB - Tony Romo is still performing at a high level. When it comes to wins and losses, he's still getting the job done. But I don't think he's been as sharp over the last few weeks as he's been in the past. For example, on the first drive after the Greg Ellis INT, he had an opportunity to hit Martellus Bennett for a TD. Bennett wasn't wide-open, but he was in single coverage and if Romo leads him right he makes the catch. Instead, Romo led him just a bit too far and it was incomplete and Romo was not under pressure on the play. He also overthrew a wide-open Deon Anderson, threw a bad pass to Tony Curtis, forced one to Jason Witten on the sidelines when he had both Marion Barber and Tony Curtis totally uncovered short, and threw poorly to Patrick Crayton. On these plays he wasn't under pressure as the Cowboys protection was very solid in the first half. Later in the game, he threw short to Patrick Crayton (who dropped it) but if Romo led him deeper it probably is a TD. Now, he was getting some pressure then, as he was on bad throws to Witten and Terrell Owens. He also chose to throw to Witten short of the marker on third down on a play when he was under no pressure and could have waited to see if someone uncovered downfield. A lot of these were plays that in the past he had no trouble making, but was off just enough in the game to make it much harder on the Cowboys offense. Then there was the INT where I don't think he ever saw the linebacker and the fumble.

Now, I've done my Romo bashing. On the positive side, he dropped a beautiful pass into Witten's hands and connected with him several other times to convert third downs. He also led Owens perfectly for the long TD, threw a strike to wide-open Witten for a TD and  managed to pick up a crucial third down running the ball. The TD at the end of the game was pretty lucky, but Austin probably should have caught the ball anyway. In the end though, he led us to scores when we needed it most and Dallas won the game. But it was not even close to one of his better efforts.

RB - Marion Barber had a good game but a lot of the credit goes to the offensive line that was opening some massive holes early in the game. Barber was running hard, but left some yards on the field by not picking up some of the holes and cut-back lanes and occasionally going east-west when he should have gone north-south. He also put the ball on the turf. But he was excellent in blitz pick-up, I counted three great blocks and when he did get into the open he turned in some good gains. A solid game from him. Felix Jones was sublime. His speed to the corner is undeniable, including his TD run where he got some good blocks and a couple of other pitch plays where he simply blew past the outside contain of the defense. I also got him down for a nice block in pass protection. The kid can play.

WR - Well, they weren't very involved in the game. Terrell Owens has the one big pass play for the TD. On two other plays he had nice blocks in the run game but Romo stayed with Witten as the main target. Patrick Crayton had one drop on a long pass but showed great awareness to catch the TD at the end of the game. He also had a nice block on T.O.'s TD. Miles Austin was largely unnoticed except for the miss at the end of the game. Sam Hurd had a great seal block on Felix's TD run but nothing else.

TE - Jason Witten was our most effective pass catcher in the game converting three third downs, catching a TD and a long pass for around 30 yards. Surprisingly, he had a little trouble in the run game, he did turn in several nice blocks, but whiffed twice that blew up plays and had a poor block on another run. Tony Curtis and Martellus Bennett were mainly used as blockers.

FB - The addition of Deon Anderson in the run game shouldn't be overlooked. I saw him blow up defenders at least three different times and contributed to blocks on a few other runs. He also had a very nice blitz pickup. He's part of the reason the run game got back on track.

OL - Flozell Adams had a great game. The Cowboys were actually able to run to the left better than they have in a long time in this game and Flo was part of the reason. I counted five running plays where he won the battle and it wasn't even close. He was blowing guys off the line and sealing the edge. He also saved MB3's bacon by jumping on his fumble. I only saw one play in pass protection where he was solidly beaten. Cory Procter still is not the force when he pulls that Kyle Kosier is. On T.O.'s end-around he totally missed his man and had to hold him, the refs somehow missed it. He also had some trouble getting to the second level and hitting the linebacker. He wasn't that bad in pass protection though and did provide some run blocks. Andre Gurode was solid except for a silly late-hit penalty. Leonard Davis had some good moments and was pretty solid in pass protection, but he had three plays in the run game where I saw something I rarely see, him getting knocked backwards into the backfield. It wasn't his best day in that department. Marc Colombo didn't have one his better days either. He had three plays where his pass protection gave way and caused pressure on Romo and despite the block he threw on Felix's TD, he had a couple of other plays where he just wasn't effective on run blocks. I've seen him play better. For the most part though, the entire line did a good job opening holes in the run game, but Flozell was great. In the first half, the pass protection was good, in the second half they had some serious breakdowns. Montrae Holland got one series and was average.