From the Armchair: Dallas Cowboys, Week 9
All that was true again this week…for 55 minutes. Everything was going just as it had so many times this season…The Cowboys had the ball with the game on the line in the 4th quarter after the Vikes had scored to go ahead late. Then, Tony Romo, who'd been his typical good but not great self through 55 minutes, steps up and throws one of his patented soul-crushing, 4th quarter INTs, and all Minnesota had to do was put the ball in Adrian Peterson's hands, make a couple first downs, and kill the clock.
Except…the defense held the Vikings to a three-and-out. The Cowboys got the ball at their own 10 and Romo led Dallas on a 90 yard touchdown drive as Minnesota's pass defense went into prevent mode and, though the Vikings did have one more possession and 35 seconds left, it was game over.
Aside from that, the Cowboys' offense was simply frustrating. It was stuck in neutral in the first half and could only muster two Dan Bailey field goals. The O did flash to life at the start of the second half with a quick 74 yard touchdown drive that, coupled with a defensive fumble recovery for a touchdown on Minnesota's ensuing possession, seemed to give Dallas a bit of momentum.
Further, even with DeMarco Murray back on the field, the Cowboys seem determined to continue to living and dying strictly with the pass, as Murray got a whopping four carries for 31 yards, 27 of which came on one carry. I understand the concept of taking what the defense gives you but, when your offense continues to struggle as Dallas has, something needs to change.
Oh, in case your'e wondering, Dez Bryant, who threw a bigass tantrum last week that you might have heard about, managed six catches for 64 yards, with the longest and most significant being a 34 yarder during the game winning drive. That gain aside, Bryant's biggest contribution on the day was drawing double coverage for the better part of the game, which opened up the field for Jason Witten (8 catches/102 yards) and Cole Beasley (6/68).
Defensively, the Cowboys unit made the biggest difference today, as the fumble recovery for a TD right after the Cowboys 2nd half opening TD touchdown drive turned out to be a very important seven points. And, as I mentioned earlier, getting Minnesota and Adrian Peterson off the field with a 3-and-out late in the 4th was huge.
With all that said however, it was same book, different week for the Cowboys. While I think Minnesota with a healthy Christian Ponder is a better team than their 1-7 record indicates, the Cowboys once again displayed their annoying habit of playing to the level of their opponent. And, though they're 5-4 and still atop the NFC Easy (sic), Dallas still hasn't beaten a team with a winning record.
Next up, a trip to the Big Easy for a Sunday night matchup against the Saints.