Final/OT: Browns 20 - Cowboys 23
The Dallas Cowboys played host to the Cleveland Browns at Cowboys Stadium and almost let one slip away. In the first of three straight games at home for the Cowboys, the Browns took Dallas into overtime and gave them a good fight.
The Cowboys will say that a win is a win, but this win in overtime over a 2-7 team leaves plenty of unanswered questions for the Cowboys. The Cowboys climb back to .500 and even their record at 5-5 while the Browns drop to 2-8.
Tony Romo: B-
Tony Romo was great passing the ball against the Browns. He finished the game with a 93.2 passer rating on 35-50 passing for 313 yards. He threw one touchdown pass and did not have an interception.
Factor in another 60 penalty yards for defensive pass interference and Romo could have close to 400 yards passing on the day. Although he was sacked seven times, Romo continues to elude rushers by moving in the pocket and scrambling away when necessary.
Romo’s only mistake was the fumble late in the fourth quarter which allowed the Browns to get back into the game. Romo did not throw any picks, but the fumble that late in the game was just as bad.
Felix Jones: B-
Although he might be giving it his all, Felix Jones is just not meant to be a starting running back. He is a great change-of-pace back, but as an every down runner, Jones does not get it done.
He did the score a touchdown but his 3.1 yards per rush average leaves much to be desired. Jones gained a paltry 43 yards on 14 carries.
Lance Dunbar: C
Maybe the Cowboys are not going to give Lance Dunbar a bigger role just yet, but he did not do much with his five carries in the game. Dunbar only gained 10 yards on five carries, but we still believe Dunbar gets better the more touches he gets in the game.
Dez Bryant: A+
As expected, Dez Bryant had a huge day against the Browns sans Joe Hayden. Bryant torched the Browns secondary for 145 on 12 receptions and scored on a 28-yard touchdown catch.
Now if we can only get Bryant to run the right routes all the time, he might just be the superstar the Cowboys thought they were getting.
Miles Austin: B-
Miles Austin was limited in the game catching six passes for 58 yards. That is only half the passes thrown his way as quarterback Tony Romo targeted Austin 12 times.
Austin has not been 100 percent healthy this year, but he the Cowboys cannot afford his productivity to drop.
Kevin Ogletree: C
Although Kevin Ogletree did take a vicious hit that kept the Cowboys drive alive late in the fourth quarter, Ogletree continues to regress as the Cowboys third receiver. Ogletree only had one catch for 10 yards and continues to disappear when the Cowboys need him most.
Dwayne Harris: A
It may be time for the Cowboys to give Dwayne Harris a little more playing time on offense. Harris had another great punt return to setup the Cowboys game-winning field goal in overtime and he made some tough catches on offense.
Harris ended the game with catching all three passes thrown his way and gaining 20 yards and was on the receiving end of the pass interference call that got the Cowboys in position to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.
Jason Witten: A-
The numbers Jason Witten posted on the day would be impressive for any other tight end having caught seven passes for 51 yards. However we have come to expect bigger things from Witten.
Witten did have a solid game blocking though and so we cannot take his grade down too much.
Tyron Smith: Incomplete
Tyron Smith left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. Not a good sign for the Cowboys who already have a ton of injuries on the offensive line.
Doug Free: F
We will continue to sound like a broken record by saying that Doug Free is a turnstile at right tackle for the Cowboys. He was constantly beaten by the Browns defensive front. Free gave up three of the Browns seven sacks and his mistakes are going to get Tony Romo killed.
Mackenzy Bernadeau: B-
For someone who was not expected to play center, Mackenzy Bernadeau did a solid job at center for the Cowboys. He did not have any snap issues, although he did have a couple of slips in protection.
Nate Livings: B+
Nate Livings had a better game from his guard position today. Most of the pressure that Romo received did not come from Livings side of the line. It was important for Livings to step it up considering Smith left the game early.
Jay Ratliff: C+
Jay Ratliff was able to get pressure on the quarterback once in the entire game being credited with a hit on quarterback Brandon Weeden. However Ratliff was held in check throughout the game.
Ratliff only registered four total tackles in the game.
Jason Hatcher: A-
It appears as if Jason Hatcher is starting to understand Rob Ryan’s defense. Hatcher was able to generate some pressure from his side and registered half a sack in the game. He finished four solo tackles, one half sack and one quarterback hit.
Marcus Spears: C
Marcus Spears was quiet for most of the game and he only registered three total tackles. The defensive line was unable to generate any pressure on Weeden and Spears was certainly guilty of that as well.
DeMarcus Ware: B
DeMarcus Ware was held in check and had a relatively quiet day as Joe Thomas did a good job blocking him. Ware was held to just two solo tackles and a half sack. He also had two quarterback hits, but he was not himself for most of the game.
Ware did miss a little playing time after suffering a hit to the back of his head.
Bruce Carter: A
Bruce Carter continues to step up and is quickly becoming one of the leaders in the middle of the defense. Carter had a couple of big hits on Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson.
Carter finished the game with five tackles including a tackle for a loss and
Anthony Spencer: A+
Anthony Spencer continues to be very active on defense. He was all over the field today and for the second consecutive game, he almost had another interception in the game today.
Spencer finished with six tackles, one sack and a tackle for a loss. He also recovered a fumble and was credited with a pass defensed.
Brandon Carr: A
Brandon Carr continues to have a solid campaign in the Cowboys secondary. Carr did not give up any big plays and was big helping out stopping the run.
Carr finished the game with five solo tackles and one pass defensed.
Morris Claiborne: B
The rookie cornerback bounced back from a horrible game last week to have a better game against the Browns. Morris Claiborne did great in coverage and did not commit any penalties.
Danny McCray: A-
Danny McCray gets the “toughness” award for his performance against the Browns. After making the first two tackles for the Cowboys on defense, he left the game briefly with a hip injury. Yet, McCray came back into the game and led the team in tackles with eight solo tackles.
Dan Bailey: A
Dan Bailey remains perfect on field goal attempts inside of 50 yards. On the season Bailey is 15-of-15 on kicks of 50 yards or less. That perfection came in handy today as Bailey made a 32-yard field goal at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime and nailed another 38-yard field goal in overtime to give the Cowboys the win.
Brian Moorman: B-
Brian Moorman continues to be serviceable as the punter for the Cowboys. Moorman was good on most of his seven punts although there were two punts that got away from him.
Moorman averaged 43.1 yards per punt with a long of 53 yards. He also pinned the Browns inside their own 20-yard line three times.
Dwayne Harris: A
Dwayne Harris may never lose his job returning kicks ever again. Harris had a beautiful return in the overtime period that setup the Cowboys game-winning field goal.
On that play, he took the punt all the way across the field before turning it up field and he gained 20 yards on that return.
Jason Garrett: C-
Once again Jason Garrett continues to coach not to lose instead of playing to win and this time it almost cost him. After the Cowboys defense had successfully held the Browns without any points late in the fourth quarter, there was a mere 1:42 left in the game.
Garrett ran the ball three consecutive times and had to punt the ball back to the Browns. After a questionable personal foul call on the Cowboys the Browns wound up with the ball at the Cowboys 17-yard line. One play later, the Browns took the lead and the Cowboys trailed by three points. Fortunately for Garrett a couple of penalties by the Browns defense saved him and the Cowboys from losing the game.
Garrett also is instant on running the football when he knows his offensive line cannot open up any running lanes. At some point, Garrett needs to admit that the strength of his offense is the passing game and he needs to adjust his play-calling accordingly.