It did not look like a game between two of the best teams in the NFL. For the Dallas Cowboys, it was clear that they missed Tony Romo on the field, as Brandon Weeden and Dez Bryant looked to be in different wings of the library for most of the game. The Arizona Cardinals had their own problems with inconsistency on offense. The result was a low scoring game with plenty of frustration for both teams.
But the final frustration would be for the Cowboys as the Cardinals were able to get enough offense late and win the game . Their wide receivers were total non-factors. Weeden could not find them and wound up throwing two interceptions, including one late in the fourth that sealed the game for Arizona. The Cardinals took that turnover in for to push it to a three score lead en route to the final 28-17 score after a meaningless Bryant touchdown reception after the two minute warning.
The game started out with a couple of highlight plays for the Cowboys defense, as Henry Melton got to Carson Palmer for a sack on the opening series of the game, and then Tyler Patmon took an errant Palmer throw 58 yards for a touchdown, giving the Cowboys a quick 7-0 lead. Weeden would take the team inside Dan Bailey's impressive range. The 52-yard field goal gave Dallas a 10-0 lead. But from that point on, the game was mostly about offensive inefficiencies for the Cowboys. Arizona wasn't running away with things, but they were able to put up two second quarter touchdowns to take a 14-10 lead.
The rest of the game was largely a matter of failed offense for Dallas. The defense kept them in the game, but the closest Dallas got prior to their last, meaningless touchdown was a fourth and inches play at the Cardinals' 34, when Arizona got a jump on the snap count and stuffed the play. They then marched quickly down the field, aided by a beautiful catch by Ted Ginn Jr. The Cardinals finished it off with a one yard touchdown pass, giving Palmer three for the game, and took a 21-10 lead with exactly 6:00 left on the clock.
There was even a blocked field goal at the end of the first half that kept the Cowboys from getting to within a point, and only a determined effort by Jason Witten kept the Patrick Peterson, who was all over Bryant most of the game, from returning the blocked effort all the way for a touchdown.
The story of the game was that Arizona was able to stop the run. With DeMarco unable to get to 100 yards for the first time this season, the Cardinals were able to control the clock and keep the Cowboys defense on the field. That defense often was able to rise to the challenge, keeping a lot of pressure on Palmer. Henry Melton and Anthony Spencer would team up on a second sack in the fourth quarter. But without any points from the offense, they pretty much faced a hopeless situation.
There were also some Dallas players going off the field late in the game with possible injuries. Both Rolando McClain and Tyrone Crawford were getting attention late for knee injuries and are situations that bear watching. But the big question will remain: How long will Tony Romo remain out? While Weeden seemed to find a little rhythm after the game was decided and may well be able to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in London, it is clear that he is not likely to be able to lead this team successfully against quality opponents. The team needs Romo if it hoes to make it back to the playoffs.