From the Armchair: Dallas Cowboys, Week 13
Welcome to the Dallas Cowboys Turkey Day Edition of From the Armchair. I freely admit I was in and out with this game because:
a) I was busy eating at my in-laws where, according to my beloved mother-in-law, me cursing and throwing food at the Cowboys game during dinner just "isn't as cute as it was when you married our daughter and would it kill you to not eat with your hands just once?"
b) it was the Raiders
One area where I've been critical of the Cowboys all year has been the lack of balance in the offense. Save for the Rams game, the Cowboys have pretty much lived and died with the pass, with DeMarco Murray seeing more action as a receiver out of the backfield than as a runner. That changed Thursday as Murray and Lance Dunbar combined for 29 carries, 145 yards and three Murray touchdown runs. Impressive yes, but take away Dunbar's 45 yard run in the third quarter and its a more average 28 carries for 100 yards. Either way, I'm just hopeful the Cowboys will remember how this whole running game thing can you help keep the ball away from the other team and open up more room for your receivers.
Elsewhere on offense, QB Tony Romo, who was apparently sick, went 23 for 32 for 225 yards and one touchdown. I'll give Romo as pass since he wasn't at his best but, in my eyes, it was still an average performance against an average Raiders team. Add in what has become the Cowboys' typical offensive snooze for a quarter or two, and the game was still closer than it should have been.
Defensively, the Cowboys' NFL worst defense made Oakland's third string/rookie QB Matt McGloin look like a bona fide NFLer. The Ddid buckle down a bit in the 2nd half however, and held the Raiders to 305 yard on offense, well below the 421 yards per game they've averaged through 11 games.
One final rant was the New York Times headline after the game that read in part, "True To Form, Cowboys Tantalize Fans with Late-Season Signs of Life" To my eyes, (and I was sober, in spite of what you might have heard from my beloved mother-in-law), that's a pile of crap.
Yes, the Cowboys are 7-5 and currently a half game ahead of the Eagles for first place in the NFC Easy (sic), but let's face it; they beat the Raiders, who were playing with a rookie QB and, aside from beating the Eagles (who were forced to play their third string QB) in week 7, they still haven't beaten a team with a winning record.
The offense, in spite of the presence of all the weapons Jerry Jones overpaid for, has been average and often, absent. If they choose to actually run more through the last four games of the season, they'll also have to do it without super sub Lance Dunbar, whose injured knee will keep him out the rest of the season.
Defensively…well…did I mention the Cowboys defense ranks last in the NFL? An average offense and crappy defense is not a recipe for post season success in the NFL.
Now, with that said, Dallas' remaining schedule sets up well, with the possibly Jay Cutler-less Bears up on Monday night in week 14, the potentially Aaron Roger-less Packers in week 15, and the hapless Redskins in week 16. That could all lead to showdown with the Eagles in week 17 to decide the winner of the NFC Easy.
Hope everybody had a great holiday! See ya next week!