What a game! We'll be back with more shortly, but the Cowboys won their home opener against a fiesty Redskins team, 18-16. Behind six field goal from rookie Dan Bailey and a stout defense that stiffened when they had to, Dallas has now moved into first place in the division.
Tony Romo had to battle a horrible performance by his offensive line and receivers, but gamely led the Cowboys on the winning drive. Felix Jones had his 2011 breakout game while Sean Lee made several stops, pass breakups and a second interception.
The high point of the festivities came with the Redskins trying to drive for the lead. Anthony Spencer chased down Rex Grossman from behind and forced the strip sack, which was recovered by
Chuck Norris Sean Lee.
Another game for the cardiac kids. Again, we'll have much more coming to you.
Romo: 22/36 255 1 INT
Jones: 14 Caries 115 yards, 3 catches 40 yards
Bryant: 4 rec 63 yards | Witten 6 for 60 | Robinson 3 for 49
Phil Costa: 3 fumbles (team had 6!)
Dan Bailey: 6/6 FGs
Sean Lee: 4 tkl 4 ast 2 PBU 1 INT 1 FR
Sacks: Ware, Butler and Spencer 1 ea.
Injuries: Hatcher-calf, Jones-shoulder, Newman-possible concussion (per DMN)
Game recap [update #2] after the jump.
Obviously there were numerous problems with the Cowboys performance, but the grit and tenacity to keep fighting despite all the screw-ups was pretty remarkable. The game was an ugly one, with loose balls all over the place and a first half filled with player after player slipping to the turf. The offensive line is not really working right now, and the only hope is a speedy maturation process and the fact that the Cowboys religiously have trouble against 3-4 defenses.
Even though Garrett denied it to Ed Werder at halftime, the team reeled in their Mash unit of an offense in the first half. There was even what seemed to be a give-up draw on a 3rd down from within the red zone. The Cowboys sorely missed Miles Austin from this offense, and a banged up Dez Bryant forced the Cowboys to rely on unreliable receivers for several possessions.
Kevin Ogletree had a horrible game. He faked an under-pressure Romo out, relinquishing his lone interception, then dropped a touchdown pass later in the game. He would also quit on another route on 3rd and goal. Romo repeatedly had to direct him where to line up, and he still made several mistakes. Romo still had to go to him as the number two receiver, and he would make a play that mattered.
Meanwhile the defense played their hearts out, despite several dubious calls and non-calls by the officials. The run defense is legitimate, surrendering only 65 yards on 22 carries, for a 2.95 average.
It appeared that DeMarcus Ware was held on multiple plays, and was even tackled by Trent Williams at the ankles in front of two refs and never saw the yellow laundry. No holding calls against is a disservice to fans watching line play everywhere.
Ware had a sack and what appeared to be a forced fumble, but Jason Garrett didn't challenge the ruling on the field. One play later, he was tackled by Williams with no call.
Late in the game, Alan Ball was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for tackling Santana Moss, a 'defenseless receiver'. Ball led with his shoulder and didn't appear to make any contact with the receiver's head. Just because the head snaps from impact, doesn't mean he hit him high.
Despite the broken rib and all the tom foolery surrounding him, Romo came through in the clutch. The Cowboys got the ball back with 3:44 left on the clock at their 14 with two time outs. Romo completed a quick out to Witten for seven, then found Ogletree in the seem for 20. Romo threw slightly behind him with a lot of real estate to manuveur.
On the very next play, Costa had his fourth bad snap, ball bouncing around and Romo the Warlock commands the ball to bounce to him again. After an incompletion on second and 21, Romo completed a huge pass to Dez Bryant for 30 yards. It was Romo's longest third down conversion of his career. The Redskins sent eight, and left DeAngelo Hall one on one. Hall must have been frustrated with not being able to get a blind side hit on Romo all game, grabbed Dez's face mask to pull him down. The penalty put the Cowboys into field goal position.
Now in range, the Cowboys run to eat up clock, 2:08 remaining. Choice run for a short gain, Redskins call their first time out. Run Choice up the middle for no gain, two minute warning. Third down, run to Choice, who in bouncing it out of bounds, inexplicably runs out of bounds and stop the clock. This allowed the Redskins to have two time outs with just under 2 minutes left to try and win the game.
Dan Bailey don't care. Dan Bailey says that 21 yarder was a fluke, and calmly splits the uprights for the fifth time in his six kicks. He was nailing them out there in true Nick Folk @Buffalo fashion.
When the Redskins started back from their 20, Fear O' DeMarcus caused a false start by the right tackle Jamaal Brown. The Redskins would complete their 11th pass to a H or F back and get a first, then a quick toss to Gaffney gave them another first at their 43. The Cowboys brought five from Grossman's right side on first, forcing a throw away, and then magic struck. On second and 10 with :38 on the clock, Grossman dropped back to pass and with only rushing three, the Cowboys obliterate the pocket. Grossman tried to scramble, but for the second time in the game Anthony Spencer chased him down from behind. Spencer swiped down on the ball and forced the strip, of which Sean Lee (of course) scooped up to secure the victory. A kneel down later, and the Cowboys are 2-1.