Heroes & Zeroes
Heroes & Zeroes
Dallas Cowboys 26 Kansas City Chiefs 20 (OT)
If you are what your record says you are, then the Cowboys are better than they seem to be. Under no circumstances should Dallas have played so close to the level of the Chiefs, who are now sitting at 0-5. O the bright side, the Cowboys out-played Kansas City by a wide margin. The total yards (498-304), the time of possession (at one point it was almost 2-1) and the quality of the two teams should have made this a blowout. But two terrible fumbles, an outrageous 13 penalties (including four offsides on one drive!) and perhaps the most unforgivable, a personal foul on Alan Ball - which turned a 4th and 28 to a 1st and 10 late in the game.
But the real culprit was the fourth quarter defense, once again. After allowing the Giants to come back late in game two to win it, the Cowboys did it again last week, when they let up a 78 yard drive late to allow Denver to win. This time, after Miles Austin made the play to finally give the team their first lead with about 3 minutes left, this same Cowboy "D" gives up a 74 yard drive against a team that - at this point - had amassed a grand total of 107 yards all day.
But the defense stiffened in the overtime and Miles Austin came to the rescue again.
Miles Austin, Wide Receiver -- Making the first start of his career (replacing the injured Roy Williams), Austin made the most of his opportunities. It took a while, as he dropped a sure TD in the first quarter and then another in the second. But he made up for it in a big way, as he caught 10 balls for 250 yards and two touchdown - including the 60-yard game winner in overtime. Along the way, he broke Bob Hayes 33-year-old record for most yards receiving by a Cowboy.
Keith Brooking, Linebacker -- For the second week in a row, Brooking, was all over the place today. He made his first sack of the season and led the team with 11 more tackles and assists. His enthusiasm is also a very welcome sign for a team that seems to be lacking a lot of it. But credit should also be given the Anthony Spencer, who made a number of big plays (finally) and DeMarcus Ware, who contributed his first two sacks of the year (finally).
Tashard Choice, Running Back -- While making the most of his limited opportunities, Choice once again showed why he should be in the running back rotation. With Marion Barber still looking less than 100%, Choice made a huge difference in the running game, totalling 92 yards on just 8 carries. If he can improve against blitzes, he could be starting for this team.
Flozell Adams, Tackle -- Flozell had perhaps hos worst game in many years. The Cowboys can ill afford mental breakdowns, and the team accepts that Flo will jump offsides at least once a game. But today he was called for three penalties and was constantly beaten by Tyson Jackson, and whoever else he was assigned to. On one critical play in overtime, he didn't even manage to get out of his stance before the defender got by him.
Alan Ball, Safety -- It was Ball's boneheaded play that allowed Kansas City new life after being faced with a 3rd and 28. There was no reason for him to come in so hard with his shoulder (and ultimately, his helmet). While the Chiefs were unable to score after that (they had their field Goal blocked), a stop there would have given Dallas the advantage in field position and they may never have needed overtime.
Wade Phillips, Head Coach -- 13 penalties and a lack of fire. This team was poorly coached once again. A good coach gives his players the tools to perform on the field. However, a team that commits as many errors as Dallas did today is a team that is undisciplined. Once again, the Cowboys were unable to get out of their own way and the lack of discipline is a direct reflection of the head coach. In addition, Dallas was unable to come up with an interception (again) and only sacked the most sacked QB in the league three times - and one of those was barely a sack. This team is ill-prepared to face the better teams and unless something drastic happens, will be exposed brutally in the coming weeks.
Thankfully, Dallas enters the bye week and now has time to heal their wounds. Tony Romo was sharp today and although he was credited with one fumble, the blame belonged to Andre Gurode. His passes were on target and he never seemed to panic. The running game was also solid and getting Felix Jones back in two weeks will help. Perhaps they have found the answer at receiver in Miles Austin as well. But unless the Cowboys stop making stupid errors - at that will not happen as log as Wade does not dish out some serious punishments - the will continue to find themselves in dogfights against even the weakest teams.
Here is my pick for next game (in two weeks):