As I tweeted right after the game, only the Cowboys can make a preseason game that exciting. With time winding down in the fourth quarter, on fourth down no less, Stephen McGee found rookie Dwayne Harris in the end zone for their second connection of the night. That score brought the Cowboys within one, and with absolutely no interest in playing preseason overtime, new head coach Jason Garrett went for two. McGee continued to carry over the clutchness we saw in week 17 of last season and successfully completed the two point conversion for a thrilling comeback victory in a supposedly meaningless preseason game.
If you saw the smiling and joy beaming from everyone, Garrett on down, you know the win wasn't trivial. Don't get me wrong, there were many areas of the game in which the team needs to continue improvement. We are still miles away from wiping off the 2010 stench. However, wins are good for the soul, any time, any place. Comeback wins are better, and comebacks with two point conversions can turn a preseason game into a regular feel good moment. After the lockout threatened to drain the joy of being a football fan from all of us, and an offseason where we had to hear about a rival team winning the paper championship, this just felt good.
Follow the jump for some snap analysis on the good and the bad.
1st Team Defense Summary (One Drive)-
Bailey kicks off from the 35 and gets a touchback, as is every other kicker in the first set of games. Kickoff returns are a thing of the past.
Started off well with a batted pass by DeMarcus Ware and a Sean Lee tackle, but quickly reverted to ‘rut roh'. It would be a comedy of errors if it wasn't so eerily similar to the start last season. The Broncos marched down the field amidst missed assignments and tackles by the Cowboys, then inexplicably called a pass play on first and goal. Bryan McCann defended a fade, then Marcus Spears and Jason Hatcher were able to penetrate and force a field goal attempt. Broncos lead 3-0.
1st Team Offense Summary (One Drive)-
Felix Jones is bottled up on the left side trying to run behind Arkin. 2nd and 9, Chris Gronkowski with a catch and run on a Romo rollout for a first down. 1st and 10 again from the 32, shotgun, quick curl to Witten for 6 yards. Next play is a big one. Felix with a big run after breaking tackle, gain of 18. Definite wow play. That was followed by another run by Felix for 4. A screen pass to Felix in the left flat breaks him free for 16 yards. Insert your favorite preseason qualifier, but Felix looks really good early. Shiftiness, vision and power.
Lonyae Miller in the game, tries to run behind Arkin and gets nothing. Arkin and Costa (snap judgement) looked to struggle in getting a push. Romo drops back, pass off of Witten's fingers- should have been caught off first glance. 3rd down, pressure on Romo, skips a pass to Dez Bryant. Beuhler squeaks a field goal inside the upright, looked like he missed at first. No passes in Miles Austin direction, no catchables for Bryant.
Other Quick Notes-
-- Romo's back. He's still good.
-- Victor Butler wants more playing time, and will get it with Rob Ryan. He made a number of plays and was always around the ball. Impressive game by Butler, run stops and QB pressures.
-- Jason Hatcher showed up on a few plays, goal line flush plus a couple other QB pressures.
-- The Cowboys offensive line backups are not good at the moment. Yes, I'm being extremely kind because I'm buzzing from the win. Stephen McGee got absolutely no time when he first entered the game. I'd love to talk about Tyron Smith, but I need a DVR session to dive into it. I believe he gave up a sack, but didn't fare too badly.
-- There were a handful of his early plays when McGee had time, but his rust showed. A poster in the open thread made a joke after one play that he checked down to a sack. But that was early.
-- If you can actually project anything out of a first preseason game, the Cowboys have a quality wide receiver corps. Kevin Ogletree did nothing to embarass himself as an NFL slot receiver, although there was a play where he appeared to pick his own man. That turned into an interception for the Broncos. Tysson Poots and Dwayne Harris, who we'll get to shortly, made big plays for the team. Poots made a crucial third down snag that he had to get low for, very impressive first catch for a UDFA.
-- Raymond Radway scored a touchdown and had a great kickoff return, but he is a long way from making the squad as a receiver. On his touchdown catch, he caught the ball in his body, instead of with his hands. There were also two big route mistakes where he looked to have big plays just waiting for him. Snap judgement, good burst and seperation, but all other aspects of receiving need major work.
-- Dwayne Harris is a boss. Excuse the slang, but that dude can straight up ball. Harris came across the middle catching a short pass, then turned up the field and jetted to the end zone 76 yards later. It was 'Felix Jones break away' reminiscent. Then he turned around and made other big catches, including the games final touchdown that set up the two point conversion. Five catches, 126 yards, two touchdowns. Insert your own accolades in the comments.
-- Lonyae Miller struggled to find any running room, but he did look a bit tentative out there. Nothing like what has been reported out of training camp. Phillip Tanner looked really good, running hard, kept his feet moving after contact. Not sure about his final totals, but at one point was at seven carries for 42 yards, six a carry. Crowded backfield developing in Big D.
-- McGee is clutch, don't question it, just go with it. He led the Cowboys to touchdowns on his final three drives, bringing the team from behind each time. The first score, was the first he was afforded time in the pocket and he was finally able to start getting the ball to his recievers. It wasn't real pretty up until the middle of the third quarter. He followed it with the short catch and long run to Harris, and then led a final comeback drive that included two fourth down conversions. That included the game winning score with 15 seconds left on fourth and goal, after taking a bad sack on third down. McGee was seen telling Dwayne Harris he messed up, then found him in the end zone to bring the team within one. He then completed the two point conversion to Martin Rucker.
-- Speaking of Rucker, let's give some credit to John Garrett. Cowboys tight ends all around are just damn good. John Phillips made plays, and Rucker caught the first fourth down conversion as McGee hit him with a quick strike over the defender, in stride.Martellus Bennett tweaked his hammy earlier in the week and didn't play.
-- Obviously couldn't see DeMarco Murray or Bruce Carter in action. Josh Thomas repped well, returning after an injury and making a play on a pass in the end zone. I remember one Shaun Chapas catch; he looked nervous on the play. Dwayne Harris, boss. Need to see the tape on Arkin and Nagy.
-- I hope the NFL Competition Committee invokes an emergency session. The league really needs to reconsider moving the kickoff up to the 35. Kickoff returns were few and far between, not just in our game but around the entire league. One of the most exciting plays in football has been eliminated, as I think the only returns were because coaches told kickers to allow the coverage units to get some air under their feet.