Buccaneers vs Cowboys: The Good, Bad and Ugly from Dallas' Week 3 Win

Steven Miranda@SteMirandaFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2012

Buccaneers vs Cowboys: The Good, Bad and Ugly from Dallas' Week 3 Win

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    The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 16-10, in an ugly game. The Cowboys were able to overcome three turnovers and 13 penalties thanks largely to a fantastic defensive effort.

    Even though the Cowboys won the game, they cannot be to pleased with the overall performance of their offense. But a win is a win, right?

    So now, let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly from Week 3. Here we go.

The Good: DeMarcus Ware

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    DeMarcus Ware continues to be a huge defensive force for Dallas. He was constantly in the backfield and sacked Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman twice and forced fumbles both times.

    Ware also had five total tackles, including one for a lass and one QB pressure. Ware is on pace again to flirt with the single-season sack record.

The Bad: Jason Witten

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    Jason Witten had another sub-par performance. That makes three consecutive poor games for the Cowboys tight end. Against Tampa Bay, he was targeted six times and only managed two catches for eight yards.

    The bad part? He had three drops.

    The drops are uncharacteristic for Witten, yet they have plagued him all season. What’s worse, he was flagged for two false-start penalties and is putting the Cowboys offense in bad situations. Jason Witten is a tough guy, and nobody is going to question that, but right now, he is not getting the job done.

    This stat from the FOX telecast of the game Sunday (below) is all you need to know about Witten’s bad outing. From 2010 to 2011, Witten was targeted 245 times and only had six dropped passes. So far in 2012, he has been targeted 21 times and already has six drops. OUCH!

The Ugly: Doug Free

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    Anytime you allow your quarterback to get hit on the very first play of the game and then follow it up by committing a false-start penalty on the second, you’re in for a long day! That’s exactly how right tackle Doug Free started the game against Tampa Bay.

    Free struggled against Buccaneers defensive lineman Michael Bennett. Bennett abused Free throughout the entire game and finished with two sacks of quarterback Tony Romo, one QB pressure and two tackles for a loss.

    Free was penalized twice for false starts and once for offensive holding. If Free does not improve his play on the offensive line, Romo will go down with an injury and fail to finish the season.

The Good: Miles Austin

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    Miles Austin continues to be the most consistent wide receiver for the Cowboys. He finished the game with an average of 21.4 yards per catch as he hauled in five passes for 107 yards.

    Austin can be counted on to make the tough catch and pick up the first down when needed. If there is one receiver that is always where Tony Romo expects him to be, it’s Austin.

    Austin left briefly to get x-rays on his ribs, but he was able to return and finish the game.

The Bad: Injuries

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    The “injury bug” continues to find the Dallas Cowboys. Right now, it’s affecting the defensive side of the ball.

    The Cowboys were already missing nose tackle Jay Ratliff, safety Gerald Sensabaugh and defensive lineman Kenyon Coleman.

    This week, the defense took another hit, as safety Barry Church had to leave the game with an Achilles injury that is now being reported as a season-ending ruptured Achilles, according to Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com.

The Ugly: Penalties

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    The Cowboys continue to be an undisciplined football team. They added another 13 penalties this week, making them the most penalized team in the NFL after three weeks.

    Many of these penalties have either been false starts or offensive holding. Not a good sign for the future of the offensive line.

    Dallas is averaging 10.3 penalties per game, and at that pace, they would finish the season with 165. That number would obliterate the team record of 141 penalties set in 1998.

The Good: The Defense

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    Let’s be honest here. The Cowboys do not defeat the Buccaneers without the strong play of the defense. After allowing a touchdown on Tampa Bay’s first offensive drive (a drive that started at the Cowboys' 29-yard line after a Tony Romo interception), the defense held Tampa Bay to a single field goal for the rest of the game.

    After the one-yard touchdown pass, the defense intercepted Josh Freeman on the Buccaneers' second drive, then forced them to punt eight times. Dallas forced five 3-and-outs during the game and only allowed Tampa Bay 166 yards of total offense.

The Bad: Tony Romo

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    A mere 49 seconds into the game, Tony Romo threw an interception. Not a good way to start a game. It’s safe to say Romo did not have a strong outing against Tampa Bay.

    Sure, his offensive line has to provide better protection, and yes, his receivers have to do a better job of catching the ball. However, Romo needs to take better care of the ball, period. His three turnovers in the game were unacceptable.

    Romo finished 25-of-39 for 283 yards and no touchdown passes.

The Ugly: The Offensive Line

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    The Cowboys offensive line showed no signs of improvement against the Buccaneers, and quarterback Tony Romo paid the price for their mistakes.

    They continue to miss assignments, allowed four sacks, gave up eight tackles for a loss and were a poor run-blocking unit. The Cowboys only gained 38 net yards rushing, and that is a sign that the offensive line is doing a poor job of blocking for running back DeMarco Murray.

The Good: Brandon Carr

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    Brandon Carr continues to show why the Cowboys signed him as a free agent and paid him $50 million.

    He looked fantastic throughout the game, even when he lined up at safety. Due to injuries to Gerard Sensabaugh and Barry Church, the Cowboys had Carr lineup at safety for a handful of snaps, and he did not disappoint.

    Carr continues to shine as the Cowboys' top cover corner and now shows his versatility lining up at a position he had not played since his high school days, according to Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com. With a depleted secondary, Carr might be relied upon to continue his stellar play at both positions.