Cowboys vs. Benglas: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Dallas

Steven Miranda@SteMirandaFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2012

Cowboys vs. Benglas: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Dallas

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    Final: Cowboys 20, Bengals 19

    The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Cincinnati Bengals and kept their playoff hopes alive. The Cowboys were playing with heavy hearts amidst the tragedy surrounding Josh Brent and the death of Jerry Brown and they were able to pull out a gutsy win.

    Dallas scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, and kicker Dan Bailey kicked a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give the Cowboys a 20-19 win. Dallas is above .500 with the victory, improving to 7-6, while the Bengals fall to 7-6.

    Dallas now leads Cincinnati 7-4 in the overall series between the two clubs. Let's take a closer look at the final player grades and analysis for the Dallas Cowboys.


1 of 10

    Tony Romo: B

    This was clearly not Tony Romo’s best game of the season, but it was enough to get his team the victory. Romo was inaccurate early in the game, throwing the ball high and missing his targets.

    However, he was able to shake off those throws and lead the Cowboys on huge drives at the end of the contest. Romo finished with a passer rating of 74.6 on 25-of-43 passing for 268 yards.

Running Backs

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    DeMarco Murray: B

    Although DeMarco Murray gained 52 yards on 21 carries, it was his short gains on third downs that impressed me. Murray picked up four first downs on 3rd-and-short and helped keep drives alive.

    Murray also added 22 yards on four receptions.

    Felix Jones: C

    Felix Jones came into the game and only received two carries. He gained seven yards on those two attempts. With Murray back as the starting running back, it is apparent that Jones is being phased out in the running game.

Wide Receivers

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    Dez Bryant: A

    Although he only caught four passes in the game, Dez Bryant came up big when he needed to. He caught a 27-yard touchdown pass late in the game that allowed Dallas to come back.

    Bryant finished with 50 yards on four receptions and one TD.

    Miles Austin: C+

    Out of the 10 passes thrown his way, Miles Austin only hauled in four of them. Twice it appeared that Austin ran the wrong routes, and he dropped a couple of passes. It may be that Austin is still not 100 percent healthy.

    Kevin Ogletree: F

    Why is Kevin Ogletree even on the field? Yes he caught two passes, but he dropped a pass. He also slipped coming out of his route and almost caused quarterback Tony Romo’s pass to be intercepted.

Tight Ends

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    Jason Witten: A

    Quarterback Tony Romo only targeted Jason Witten four times, and Witten caught all four passes. Witten lead the team with 62 yards on those four receptions.

    The tight end clearly remains the most consistent option in the passing game and always seems to come up with the big play.

Offensive Line

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    Tyron Smith: B+

    Tyron Smith is becoming more and more comfortable at left tackle. He was not penalized in this game and he was able to neutralize the Bengals’ pass rush from the left side.

    Doug Free: F

    Doug Free continues to play at a low level. It is crazy to think he is still in the starting lineup. He gave up two sacks and once again he was flagged for offensive holding. On one play, Free almost got Romo killed and he was fortunate the Bengals were penalized for a facemask penalty.

    Ryan Cook: B-

    Since it looks like Ryan Cook with be the Cowboys center from now on, it is a good sign that he held his own against the Bengals defensive front. Cook was solid, and aside from one bad snap he had a good game.

    Nate Livings: B+

    Nate Livings left the game with an injury near the end of the game. Prior to him exiting the game, Livings was doing a good job. Outside of a couple of running plays where he allowed pressure from the middle, Livings blocked well.

Defensive Line

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    Jason Hatcher: B+

    Jason Hatcher stepped up his game today. He was quiet against the run, but got involved in the passing game. He had a sack, a quarterback hit and had two tackles including one for a loss.

    His sack in the first quarter forced the Bengals to settle for a field goal inside the red zone.

    Marcus Spears: C-

    The Cowboys are struggling up front on the defensive line, and Marcus Spears is still unable to get any pressure against the run. Spears finished the game with a single tackle.

    Tyrone Crawford: D

    Tyrone Crawford played in place of Josh Brent and notched one tackle.


7 of 10

    DeMarcus Ware: A

    DeMarcus Ware was constantly in the backfield and appeared to be just a little late in sacking the quarterback. He did have one sack after chasing down quarterback Andy Dalton.

    Ware had four tackles including a tackle for a loss and one quarterback hit to go along with his sack.

    Ernie Sims: A-

    Ernie Sims was getting into much of the action on defense. He had double-digit tackles in the game and had a sack in the second quarter.

    Anthony Spencer: A+

    Although Anthony Spencer missed part of the game as he left suffering from dehydration, he was a beast when he was on the field. He finished the game with a team-leading 11 tackles (five solo) and one tackle for a loss.

    He also had two big sacks and was credited with two quarterback hits.

    Dan Connor: B

    Dan Connor appears to be getting more comfortable. Outside of a couple of plays where he was out of position, Connor was able to get to the ball to make the play. He finished with four tackles.

Defensive Backs

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    Brandon Carr: A-

    Brandon Carr was much better today in coverage. He had a huge interception early in the game, setting up the Cowboys first touchdown.

    He finished with one interception, one pass defensed and four tackles.

    Morris Claiborne: B-

    Morris Claiborne suffered an injury at the beginning of the third quarter. He was lost to a facial laceration and did not return to the game.

    Prior to his departure, he was holding his own against A.J. Green, and he tallied five tackles before he left the contest.

    Danny McCray: C

    Danny McCray still has problems in coverage and is more comfortable near the line of scrimmage. He finished with five total tackles (three solo).

Special Teams

9 of 10

    Dan Bailey: A+

    Kicker Dan Bailey remains perfect on field-goal attempts inside of 50 yards. He made two kicks, including a 40-yard game-winner as time expired.

    Bailey is now 23-of-23 on attempts of 49 yards or less.

    Brian Moorman: D

    Punter Brian Moorman had a horrific day punting and the Cowboys will need to discuss bringing in another punter if this continues.

    He averaged 33 yards per punt on five punts with two going under 30 yards.


10 of 10

    Jason Garrett: B-

    Jason Garrett continues to dodge bullets and somehow the Cowboys keep getting wins. They now have four wins in the past five games and continue to have a shot at winning the NFC East.

    Garrett was in a tough situation as his team was struggling through a horrible tragedy, yet he was able to get his team to focus enough to go there and win the game.