Woo hoo! It may not count in the standings, but the Dallas Cowboys return to the football field in a close facsimile of a real football game. The 'Boys open their 2010 season with a pre-season game against the Cincinnati Bengals tonight at 8 PM EST. The long, dry offseason is pretty much over as Dallas begins the process of examining their current roster to determine who will make the final 53-man roster. Yeah, we all know how pre-season games are, for the average fan they mean nothing. But for us, the BTB community, the hardcore Cowboys fans, it's the first peek at the 2010 team in game situations. And that's good enough for me.
The expectation is that the front-line units will get a couple of series. The hope is that they will execute well and that they walk away from the game with no injuries. For the most part, though, this game will be about the backups and the new guys. Unfortunately, Dez Bryant will not be in action but there are plenty of other players to watch and evaluate.
Make the jump...
For the experienced members of the BTB community, you know what to expect on the site. We'll be running open threads throughout the game for game chat. If you're new to BTB and joined us this offseason, be sure to join in the conversation as the game is going on. There's nothing like watching the game and chatting with other Cowboys fans. Just a quick reminder, please observe the BTB guidelines during open threads, we know sometimes emotions can boil over at events that happen on the field, but please show some decorum.
On the other side of the field, the Bengals will bring some familiar faces with them. Yes, T.O. will get a brief shot at seeking some retribution against the 'Boys. Good grist for ESPN and the like, but for us, it's all about the Cowboys, not ex-Cowboys.
If you want to get an idea of what's going on with the Bengals, be sure to visit SB Nation's excellent Bengals site, Cincy Jungle. My good friend Josh Kirkendall does an unbelievable job of covering the Bengals and is well worth a read.
So here we go BTB community, an actual...err...sort of an actual football game featuring the Dallas Cowboys. Think back to those days following the playoff loss to the Vikings in January and how much we couldn't wait for the 2010 season to start. This may not be the official start of the new season, but it's pretty close.
What are you looking forward to in tonight's game?
Notes on the Cowboys/Bengals:
Game: Dallas Cowboys at Cincinnati Bengals
HOF Game Record: Cowboys, 0-3. Bengals 1-1
Series Leader: Cowboys 6-4
Streak: Cowboys, four of the past six
Coaches vs. Opponent: Phillips: 3-0. Lewis: 1-1
Broadcast: NBC (8:00 PM ET): Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth & Andrea Kremer (Field reporter). Westwood One Radio: Howard David, James Lofton.
SB Nation: Cincy Jungle
NFL.com: Game Center
Weather: Mostly Sunny with a high of 85 and light winds [Weather.com]
- This will be the Bengals third Hall of Fame game and first since 1988.
- Steelers defensive coordinator and Hall of Fame inductee Dick LeBeau spent 18 seasons with Cincinnati as a coach (1980-1991, 1997-2002).
- Carson Palmer enters this season as the franchise career leader with an 87.9 passer rating and a career 63.2% completion rate. Palmer recorded his fourth season with 3,000 yards passing and 20 touchdowns last year.
- Running back Cedric Benson recorded a career-high 1,251 yards rushing and tied a career high six rushing touchdowns in 2009.
- Benson recorded six 100-yard rushing games (a career high) during the regular season last year; the Bengals went 6-0.
- Chad Ochocinco recorded his seventh 1,000-yard receiving season and earned his sixth Pro Bowl.
- Terrell Owens ranks third all-time with career receiving yards (14,951) and touchdowns (144) and ranks sixth all-time with 1,006 receptions.
- Bengals defense ranked third in the AFC and 4th in the NFL allowing only 301.4 yards-per-game in 2009.
- Dhani Jones has led the Bengals in tackles for consecutive seasons (142 last year).
- Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph each recorded an interception (career high for both) and are the only AFC teammates to record six interceptions or more each.
- The Cowboys will be celebrating their 50th year anniversary this season.
- This will be Dallas' fourth Hall of Fame game, first since 1999.
- Quarterback Tony Romo passed for a franchise-record 4,483 yards passing in 2009, setting additional franchise marks in attempted passes (550) and completions (347).
- Cowboys are 27-5 when Romo starts and records a passer rating of 100 or better (including the playoffs).
- Running back Felix Jones has eight career touchdowns (seven rushing, one on kickoff return), averaging 47.1 yards per touchdown.
- Marion Barber's 38 rushing touchdowns since 2006 is the second most in the NFC.
- Miles Austin recorded a career high 81 receptions, 1,320 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns, earning a Pro Bowl berth. Austin became just the third receiver to record 80+ receptions, 1,300+ yards receiving and ten touchdowns or more in a single season (Michael Irvin and Terrell Owens are the others).
- Austin also led the NFL with touchdown receptions of 20 yard or more and had 21 receptions of 20 yards or more -- most in the NFC.
- Jason Witten is only the second tight end in NFL history to record two seasons of 90 receptions and 1,000 yards receiving (Tony Gonzalez and Todd Christensen are the others).
- Dallas' offense included one 4,000-yard passer and two 1,000-yard receivers (Witten and Austin) for only the second time in team history.
- DeMarcus Ware has 45 quarterback sacks since 2007, most in the NFL.
- Cornerback Mike Jenkins led the Cowboys with five interceptions in 2009.