5 Things We Learned About the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night
Ask any Dallas Cowboys fan about Sunday night's loss to the New York Giants, and one will either receive an enthusiastic answer about how the Cowboys were able to overcome a 23-point deficit or talk about the six turnovers, including four interceptions from Tony Romo, and bad play-calling by head coach Jason Garrett.
Take either side, and one could argue the affirmative for both.
The Cowboys had six turnovers, four were interceptions and two were fumbles. They were down by 23 points and did come back to take a one-point lead in the second half. Dallas scored 24 unanswered points and only allowed one Giants offensive touchdown all day.
But the Cowboys still lost.
After all of the bad of the first half and all of the good in the second, Dallas just could not get out of its own way.
They lost 29-24 and dropped to 3-4.
Fans, the 7-0 Atlanta Falcons are up next, but before we head down that path, here are 10 things we learned from the Cowboys on Sunday night.
Cowboys Defense Is Solid
Corners Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne were great all game. The defensive backfield allowed just two big passing plays all game, a 56-yard catch-and-run by Rueben Randle and a 29-yarder by Hakeem Nicks.
Outside of those two plays, the defense shut down the Giants offense.
In the red zone, the Giants scored just one touchdown on four attempts. Eli Manning attempted 29 passes for just 192 yards, and maybe most important of all, receiver Victor Cruz was held to just 23 yards on two catches.
Manning was picked once by safety Danny McCray off of a dropped ball from Victor Cruz. Safety Gerald Sensabugh laid a pretty vicious hit on Cruz, forcing him to drop the ball into McCray's hands.
The Giants kicked five field goals on the day and scored just one offensive touchdown.
In regard to the running game, the Cowboys did allow over 100 total rushing yards, but it took the Giants 28 attempts and they never got into a rhythm.
For Carr, Claiborne and the rest of the secondary, it was a job well done. While it was a loss for the Cowboys, the defense's performance is surely something defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will want to build upon.
Dez Bryant Is Still Growing
Immaturity befits certain individuals. Bryant is one of those persons as he continues to disappoint and dazzle in Dallas.
He had a 37-yard touchdown catch with about six seconds left on the clock, giving the Cowboys a lead and a presumed win.
But the catch was negated because Bryant was out of bounds. He leapt pretty high in the air to snag the ball, but as he fell, he put his right arm down to break his fall. As he did, his fingers landed out of bounds, so the catch was ruled incomplete.
Bryant had just a few good plays on the day, and that was one of the best, which turned out to be incomplete.
Bryant was pulled from punt return duty due to his fumble in the first half. As he's done a few times in the past, Bryant muffed a punt, picked up the ball, tried to gain some positive yards and ended up fumbling the ball.
He also dropped a first down catch and made a few mental errors. But Bryant seemed to redeem himself on a 55-yard pitch from Romo that he caught after the ball hung in the air for a few days.
This experiment that the Cowboys have going with Bryant is interesting because the payoff can be great, but the losses are even greater.
Bryant's talent is immense; just check his leaping touchdown catch that was not at the end of the game. But his maturity has always been questioned, maybe even more so this season.
Romo's trust in Bryant doesn't seem to be eroding as he had enough faith in him to throw the ball up to Bryant as he was covered by two players.
Bryant will continue to drive fans crazy with his inconstant play and dazzling catches. Maybe they will just have to learn to live it, or buy a bottle of Pepto.
Tony Romo Is…
Finish the sentence above as it pertains to Romo’s play on Sunday. He threw four interceptions, one at the end of the game in an effort to convert a fourth down. His other three are either on him or the player he was trying to throw the ball to.
Romo’s Sunday was awful in the first half and great in the second. He set the Twitter world on fire with his terrible play in the first half, but quelled the flames in the second half by bringing Dallas back with 24 straight points.
He is such a lightning rod for controversy, just ask any Cowboys fan. He was either being slandered for the interceptions or protected. He threw into double coverage once, looking for Bryant on a post, but Bryant either didn’t cut the route off as Romo thought he would or he just shouldn’t have thrown the ball with so many Giants hanging around.
He also missed a wide-open James Hanna, the Cowboys' third-string tight end, on a third-down pass in the end zone. The Cowboys had to end up going for it on fourth down, running Romo on a bootleg around the right side for the touchdown.
On one drive, Romo missed two wide-open receivers, forcing the Cowboys to punt. On 2nd-and-9, Romo missed Austin, a pass and catch that would have been a first down for Dallas.
The next play, Romo missed Ogletree, a play where Romo either missed the throw or Ogletree ran the wrong route. Either way, the pass was incomplete and the Cowboys had to punt.
One of the more bizarre Cowboys plays came in the second quarter when Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul picked Romo off and returned it for a 28-yard touchdown.
Pierre-Paul has an 81-inch wing span, something that allows him to swat balls away pretty easily. On this particular play, JPP faked rushed, stood back and waited for Romo to pass, but instead of swatting the pass away, he picked it off.
JPP then returned it for a touchdown, giving the Giants a 23-point advantage.
While writing last night’s game blog, one commenter suggested that it is time for the Cowboys to move on from Romo.
After a four-interception game, it is tough to blame any fan for thinking that way, but where would the Cowboys turn to take over?
Who would the team draft as they will not have a high enough draft choice to pick a stellar quarterback?
For those who are ready to move Romo and his family out of Dallas, I’m sorry to report that Romo will be around for a little while longer. The Cowboys really don’t have a choice.
Jason Witten and Miles Austin Are Still Leaders on Offense
Before the season started, I truly believed that this would be the season of Dez Bryant. He would take over the top receiving slot from Miles Austin and run with it.
It hasn't turned out that way as Bryant can't seem to stabilize. For the tight end position, the Cowboys drafted James Hanna and planned on using him with backup John Phillips during Witten's spleen injury.
But Witten shocked plenty of people by suiting up and playing in the season's first game against the Giants.
Witten started the season slowly as he dropped his fair share of balls and looked lethargic. He has come back with a strong force since that injury, as evidenced by Sunday night's game.
He caught a personal-best, and Cowboys record, 18 catches for 167 receiving yards.
Austin was back on his game as he caught nine balls for 133 yards, averaged almost 15 yards per catch.
These two men are leading the Cowboys' receiving unit as the rest are too inconsistent to count on. After a 114-yard performance in the season's first game, receiver Kevin Ogletree was blanked Sunday night, failing to register a single catch.
The good thing for Cowboys fans is that whenever Romo is in a bind, he is able to count on Austin and Witten to bail him out of tight situations.
Maybe soon, he'll be able to say the same for Bryant.
Cowboys May Miss the Playoffs
Not like this is news to anyone, but the Cowboys are in danger of missing the playoffs. After Sunday night's loss to the Giants, the Cowboys are now 3-4 with a slate of very tough games approaching.
Next Sunday night, Dallas travels to Atlanta to play the 7-0 Falcons. Since 2008, the Falcons are 29-6 at home. Remember when the Cowboys traveled to Baltimore to try to end the Ravens' dominance at home earlier this season? Remember how that turned out?
Now, they will try to do it against the red-hot Falcons.
For any hopes of a playoff berth, the Cowboys will have to win three out of four games, if not all four, to make it to the second season.
The Eagles are struggling, the Browns are in the same boat and the Redskins are down five games in the loss column. Washington always plays the Cowboys hard, and while they are losing a lot, they are an exciting team to watch with Robert Griffin III behind center.
With everything on the line over the next few weeks, we'll see how Dallas reacts to saving their season.