In his summary of the game, Jason Garrett credits the defense for an outstanding game:
“The game was far from artistic,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “I thought the defense was outstanding. Throughout the ball game there were pretty bad situations, and they responded. They kept the big play-making guys on their football team under wraps for the most part.”
Jason Garrett acknowledged that penalties and false starts on offense in particular are something that the Cowboys need to fix:
"We are going to work very hard to figure out why that’s happening," Garrett said. "We have to make sure we eliminate those because it is putting us in some bad down-and-distance situations."
More after the break.
But Garrett also points out that not all penalties are created equal:
"I think some of the other penalties that have happened were almost effort penalties, guys trying to do too much and getting hands up in a face mask or some things that occur in a ballgame," Garrett said. "You have to address those as well. We constantly address 'do your job,' and sometimes a guy wants to do their job well and get themselves in trouble. The pre-snap penalties we’ve just got to eliminate. We’ll keep working as a coach staff on it."
You also don't want your QB to be hit too often.
"He [Romo] did get hit too much in this ballgame," Garrett said. "It wasn’t clean. He didn’t feel in rhythm."
Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis provides some perspective his unit's play:
"We’ve just got to keep working on that phase of it," DeCamillis said. "Unfortunately, we got some balls down the middle that we should have probably capitalized on earlier today, but I thought he did a good job."
DeCamillis also emphasized said the good job the kickoff team has been doing, led by Dan Bailey:
"Danny’s done a good job," DeCamillis said. "He gave us three touchbacks today. And then on the one we got them at the 12-yard line. So he’s done a great job in kickoffs and hopefully we can continue to excel in that area."
Jason Witten was targeted six times yesterday, three balls hit his hands but were dropped, two were caught for receptions. That is unusual for the usually reliable tight end, and Garrett weighed in on Witten's struggles:
"He just has to keep playing," Garrett said. "I'm not making excuses for him, but there was a stretch of about four weeks where he didn't practice. He gutted it out for us in a heroic effort against the Giants."
"He's still getting his feet back underneath him. He's one of the best players I've ever been around, so we're going to keep giving him opportunities."
Garrett explains the rationale for the onside kick:
"We were looking for the opportunity to do it because of how they aligned. We felt like it was there," Garrett said. "It was there maybe even more so today than we saw going into the ball game, so we felt like it was the right time to do it."
"Our defense was playing well. What you are trying to do in that situation is be aggressive and steal a possession," Garrett said. "At the same time, you are injecting some confidence into the defense and saying, ‘Hey, we can do this,’ and if it doesn’t work out, you’re going to make a stop. And sure enough they did."
Yet despite all their strategizing, the onside kick didn't work. Joe DeCamillis saw a problem with the execution:
"We didn’t execute it. That ball went too far," special teams coach Joe DeCamillis said. "To me, I think that should have been an executed play, and we didn’t execute very well. We’ve just got to go back to the drawing board and keep going. We thought it was a good chance because of the way they were aligned to get a play on them."
Garrett was complimentary of Sean Lee after Lee notched his seventh interception in his 32nd career game:
"He has a nose for the football," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "You see that in the number of tackles he makes. We have seen his ability to play the ball. He has done that throughout his career. He has made some real signature interceptions in his career. His ability to track the ball and make the play in the air, in traffic, like he did is tribute to his athletic ability. He shows up throughout the game. he is a great leader for our defense."
It turns out the Cowboys had been practicing Carr at safety the whole week and liked what they saw despite the fact that Carr hadn't played safety since high school.
"It was a little bit of a challenge for us because Vincent Jackson is such a good football player. He is a big guy, and Brandon matches up with him well," Garrett said. "At the same time, Mike Jenkins is healthy. ... We said, let’s get our four and five best DBs out there as much as we can, and the guy we felt was most suited to play safety was Brandon Carr. He told me he hadn’t done it since 11th grade. He was a quarterback and safety in 11th grade."
"He looked real comfortable when we started doing it in practice early in the week. Jenks played really well. It was good to see him playing the way he is capable of playing, and Brandon’s versatility allows him to do that."
Technically, owner Jerry Jones isn't a coach and shouldn't appear in this post. But that distinction is only relevant for pencil pushers hung up on formalities. Much more important is that the Cowboys find themselves in first place in the division.
"We all know that there's a lot to work on here, but the good news is we won one with doing a lot of things that can cause you to lose them," Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said. "I think (Tony) Romo told me, 'That's a Pittsburgh game right there.' When you're not looking pretty, you figure out a way to get a win. They stayed in there and competed. I was really pleased to see Dez (Bryant) compete the way he did at the end of the ballgame in the second half. That helped us out a lot."
Jones called moving Carr to safety was a "good move."
"Rob (Ryan) had told me that if we can get Jenkins back that we could do some things with all three (corners) on the field," Jones said. "He’s true to his word and he’s getting it done."
Jones echoed Garrett on the topic of Jason Witten. It is always a good thing when Jones echoes Garrett.
"I think Witten’s probably got the fewest drops of about anybody we’ve ever had around here, so I’m not (concerned)," Jones said. "We in no way are going to do anything rather than give Witten all the chances we can give him."