The Dallas Cowboys third preseason game was somewhat of a disappointment for the first team offense. The Cowboys offensive line struggled against the Dolphins defense, allowing three sacks, multiple pressures and an anemic rushing attack. Tony Romo had to avoid traffic in the pocket and was not helped by the running game, so the offense just looked disjointed in the first half. Doug Free had a lot of trouble with Cameron Wake.
The defense was also giving up big yards all through the first half, but they managed to tighten up when they needed to, only giving up three points. But they were run on and they really didn't provide much pressure. The good news was the special teams which looked in fine form, they had good returns, good coverage, long field goals and what looked like a blocked punt that was nullified by a questionable penalty.
On the injury front, George Selvie came up lame with a bad shoulder, Joseph Randle injured his ribs and Dwayne Harris was shaken up.
The Cowboys first drive showed a little promise but was derailed by Cole Beasley dropping a pass on third down that would have given Dallas a first down. The Dolphins first offensive drive exposed the Cowboys defense in a few different areas. On a 3rd and 3, the Dolphins ran to the outside and absolutely destroyed the Cowboys' right side of the defense. They proceeded to gash them on another long run up the middle. Then the Dolphins tight end totally lost Justin Durant in coverage for another big play to convert a 3rd and 7. Fortunately, Davon Coleman burst through the line on a running play for a TFL, then Barry Church and Brandon Carr made solid tackles on consecutive plays in the red zone to hold the Dolphins to a field goal. But the way they attacked Dallas, the lack of any pass rush, and poor execution against the run was disheartening.
On the Cowboys next offensive drive, Tony Romo managed to get a drive going, converting a 4th and 4 with a slant pass to Dez Bryant. But the drive ended on the first sack from the Dolphins. Romo had to hold the ball because of good coverage and Tyron Smith's man finally got free and blindsided Romo directly in the back. Romo coughed up the ball but came away physically unharmed. Smith fell on the fumble then Dan Bailey converted a 52-yard field goal. Bailey's kick was part of an excellent effort by special teams that included two nice kickoff returns from Dwayne Harris, who left the game with injury.
The Cowboys defense was getting gashed by the run again on the next drive, but they eventually stopped the drive when Tyler Patmon caused a fumble that was recovered by Barry Church. But the Cowboys were unable to capitalize on the turnover. A sack on third down killed the drive and reinforced the point that the Dolphins defensive line consistently outplayed the Cowboys offensive line. Coming in to the game the offensive line had been consistently good in the first two games, this game showed they still have things to work on.
The two teams did nothing on their next drives with Romo pressured into a poor throw on a third down. On the Dolphins next drive it looked like Dallas made a huge special teams play when they blocked a punt deep in the Dolphins territory. Instead of a block by Bruce Carter though, Tyrone Crawford was flagged for illegal formation which looked pretty questionable. The penalty gave the Dolphins a first down and they drove the ball downfield again using the run to very good effect. The Cowboys finally stopped the drive with no points.
The Cowboys responded with a nice drive of their own in the final minutes of the half. Romo led the team down to the red zone and were closing in on a touchdown until penalties derailed the effort. The Cowboys had to settle for a field goal.
On the first drive of the second half, Tyler Patmon picked off Ryan Tannehill in the red zone. The next Dolphins drive featured a touchdown led by Matt Moore. Moore set up the touchdown with a beautiful deep ball where the receiver had outrun Patmon and safety Ahmad Dixon took a ridiculously bad angle in help. Dixon may be a big hitter, but he needs work in coverage. He also picked up a penalty at the end of the game on a third down that extended a drive into the red zone
Dallas scored on a drive that was highlighted by some good, hard running by Ryan Williams. Joseph Randle had to sit out after injuring his ribs, so Williams took over the second half carries and looked very good again this week. The touchdown came on a nice throw from Brandon Weeden and even better catch from LaRon Byrd.
After a couple of punts, the Dolphins ended up deep in their own territory. On the drive, Tyler Patmon read a swing pass and proceeded to make the interception and take it in for a pick six. Patmon had a huge game by causing a fumble, hauling in two interceptions and scoring a touchdown. He's vying for the 53-man roster.
After that, Matt Moore led Miami on a long drive for a touchdown. The drive was highlighted by a very long run but Tyler Patmon ran down the back and temporarily saved the touchdown. The Dolphins also tacked on a touchdown late in the game that was aided by multiple penalties from the Cowboys secondary.
Two guys who really helped themselves tonight were Tyler Patmon and Ryan Williams.
Overall, it wasn't a very satisfying game for Dallas. The first team offense sputtered when the Cowboys offensive line was badly outplayed. The defense didn't give up a lot of points, but they let the Dolphins march up and down the field. The Cowboys offense only scored 13 points all game and six of those were on very long field goals by Dan Bailey. Fortunately, the special teams looked good for the first time in the preseason.