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Dallas Cowboys starters not sharp in loss to Denver Broncos

Denver 23 – Dallas 13.

Here’s the good news – it was the starters that stunk it up this week (with a few exceptions like Zach Thomas). Yup, I’m taking that as good news, because I’m pretty sure that they won’t be that bad in the regular season. Give the Broncos credit too, Cutler played well, their receivers were killing our secondary and their line protected the QB. They looked good. But I’m sure our starters will play better by the real season and we got improved play out of the backups this week.

Miles Austin really helped himself again until he sprained his knee. Let’s hope that’s not serious because Austin is starting to show real promise. He made two great catches, one for a TD. Brad Johnson looked a little better behind the Cowboys starting line and the second unit did a better job of protecting him. The two passes to Austin though felt more like Austin did all the work and Brad just threw them up there. Still, he had a few other nice plays and gave me a little more confidence. Richard Bartel also looked better; he might have led us to a game-tying TD if his receiver hadn’t betrayed him. The game seem to slow down a little for Bartel this week, it looked like he was more in command of his offense.

The big surprise was the improved play of the special teams. Tashard Choice blocked a punt, Isaiah Stanback and Orlando Scandrick had a couple of good kick returns. Adam Jones looked good on his punt return. The coverage teams were much better, especially the punt team. Nick Folk and Mat McBriar kicked well. At least we came out of the game feeling a lot better about special teams.

On the other side of the ledger, the penalties are ridiculous. We killed ourselves with penalties again. We are playing undisciplined, sloppy football out there. Wade Phillips needs to get it through their heads that penalties are a sure way to self-destruct. We saw plenty of examples of that on the field tonight.

I couldn’t watch it on the big-screen or with Tivo replays, and the numbers for the players weren’t always clear on my little video, so I can’t go into deep analysis. But I can say we got very little pass rush early and our first team secondary didn’t play that well. In general, the defense of the first quarter was abysmal. Here are some other quick observations

Looking good:
Miles Austin, let’s pray his knee isn’t seriously injured.
Adam Jones, had a good night tackling plus a punt return.
Orlando Scandrick, nice hit and a couple of other good plays.
Rodney Hannah put on a little show for a couple of drives.
Evan Oglesby when playing against the backups. Not so much against the starters, but he’s a backup anyway.

Tough day at the office:
First team defense.
Team discipline.

Quick hits:
Nice run after catch by Felix Jones.
Tashard Choice blocking a punt.
Keon Lattimore with a couple of good runs.
Danny Amendola got his first catch.
Todd Lowber got his first catch for 39 yards.

Box Score.

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