Heroes & Zeroes
Heroes & Zeroes
Dallas Cowboys 21 Carolina Panthers 7
A tale of two halves. While the Cowboys seemed to control the game in the first half, bad field position, worse penalties and one good Panther drive left them trailing 7-0 at halftime. But something must have been said in the locker room because the team looked impressive from then on. They ran the ball exceptionally well, made no turnovers and actually had some sacks and turnovers of their own on the way to victory. The most telling aspect of their dominance was the fact that while Dallas woke up on offense, the defense forced 5 straight 3-and-outs.
Let's get to the heroes and zeroes for week 3.
Felix Jones/Tashard Choice, Running Backs - For the second week in a row, the Cowboys' ran for over 200 yards. This was the first time the team has accomplished this since 1979, when Tony Dorsett led the Cowboy attack. Until a strained knee ended his game, Jones averaged 11.5 yards in his 9 carries and Choice, replacing an injured Marion Barber, ran like a #1 running back, just as he did last season when he replaced Barber for three games last year. The Cowboy running attack is very, very good.
Terrence Newman, Cornerback - After two games, there was though that perhaps Newman had his best days behind him. But charged with covering All-Pro receiver Steve Smith, Newman was terrific. He held Smith to less than 40 yards, forced a fumble and sealed the victory with his first interception of the year; running it back 27 yards for a touchdown. He played tonight like a shut-down corner should.
Jason Witten, Tight End - What can I say? Witten is clearly the heart of the team. Quietly, he caught 9 balls for 77 yards and was once again Tony Romo's go to guy. But perhaps equally important was his excellent blocking, with played a huge role on the running game. Witten proves every week that he is the premier tight end in the league.
Miles Austin, Wide Receiver - When Terrell Owens was let go, it was with the understanding that the other veteran receivers would pick up the slack. Austin was the one to bring the speed. However, in three games, Austin has 2 catches and because of his inability to make any separation is causing Dallas to run more two tight end formations on passing downs. Until Austin gets his game back, the Cowboys will suffer from not having a guy who can really stretch the field, as Owens once did.
Marcus Spears, Defensive End - Is he even still in the lineup? He had two tackles in garbage time against Tampa, in week one. Since then, Spears has not made even one tackle (nor an assist). Perhaps his value is that he moves the pile for others to make a play, but I just doubt it. I really thought he had improved enough last year to be optimistic. But now, it does appear that Spears is a huge bust.
Jason Garrett, Offensive Coordinator - Just like last week, Garrett gets the nod because of of just a couple of plays. Overall, I felt he did a fine job of play calling. But with the team ahead 10-7 in the 4th quarter, they faced a 2nd and goal. Now, I can understand trying a fade route to Williams, although when you are rushing as well as the Cowboys were, why bother passing? But to do it two plays in a row? Ridiculous. Fortunately for Dallas, the defense held their end of the bargain and kept Carolina from coming back.
Statistically, the Cowboys overwhelmed Carolina. Even though they trailed at the half, you got the feeling that the Panthers were over matched and that they only way the Cowboys would lose was if they turned the ball over. They didn't and they came away with the win. It wasn't perfect, but it is a win.
Here is my pick for next week: