Although he looked a bit rusty in the first couple of offensive series, Tony Romo looked great when making the right reads and selling the defense with his eyes. Case in point, on the 80-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Crayton, Romo rolled slightly to his right and stared down Jason Witten. The safety, Sabby Piscitelli, bit on Romo going to Witten in the flat, which left Crayton streaking down the sideline wide-open for the easy score.
Let's remember Romo can't look good unless his receivers run good routes and catch the ball. Jason Witten, Roy Williams, Miles Austin and Patrick Crayton didn't disappoint.
Special praise should be given to Roy Williams. Despite having just three receptions for the game, the much maligned receiver made his presence felt from his finger tip grab of an off-line Romo throw on the first possesion, to his 66-yard TD catch and run early in third quarter.
Bobby Carpenter deserves some love as well. Carpenter will probably never make it as three-down linebacker in any scheme, but he may have found a niche in the Cowboys' nickel package. Carpenter made two nice tackles of note today. One occured on special teams when he made a nice open field tackle on the returner who had just cut back to run up an apparent open lane. The other happened on a crucial third down late in the fourth quarter. Carpenter stopped the ball carrier on a short pass in the flat for what would have been a first down.
Chuck Norris...I mean kicker, David Buehler, justified his roster spot with his performance today. Out of seven of Buehler's kickoffs, six made it to the endzone and three were touchbacks. Doesn't sound too impressive? Keep in mind that in 169 career kickoffs, Nick Folk has registered just four touchbacks.
Speaking of Folk, his performance today (2/2 FG, 4/4 XP, long of 51-yards) was a good sign he's back from offseason surgery and a shaky preseason.
Looks like safety Gerald Sensabaugh is an upgrade. Sensabaugh was all over the field making tackles (don't forget, he prevented a TD by running down Cadillac Williams), and blocking a FG.
Finally, got to give some credit to the Cowboys offensive line. The pass protection was solid, though the run-blocking was somewhat uneven throughout the game. However, the fact that they didn't register a single false start, hold or any other of their patented mental gaffes should be noted. We'll just look past the fact Flozell Adams did get an apparent personal foul call (the replays did not show it) on him.
It appears safety Ken Hamlin is intent on continuing his Poor Tackling Tour for another season. The fact that Hamlin continues to refuse to wrap-up ball carriers is a reflection on the coaches. No player should be above being reprimanded for poor technique. Throwing a shoulder into a ball carrier simply isn't going to do it. Hamlin not only got ran over on few runs, but he outright whiffed on a couple of plays.
The Cowboys defense needs an identity. It's apparent that the defensive energy generally goes as the team's offense goes. They certainly weren't stout against the run, as the Bucs ran roughshod through the defense all game, allowing 174 yards, 5.6 YPC and 2 TD.
Question, where was the pass rush all game?
Byron Leftwich is essentially a reincarnation of Drew Bledsoe. The Cowboys did put Leftwich on his back a number of times bu the fact they were unable to register a single sack is a bit disconcerting.
Perhaps the stinger he suffered early in the game affected his play, but DeMarcus Ware wasn't much of a factor in the game. Nor was Anthony Spencer for that matter.
The Cowboys will make their regular season debut at Cowboys Stadium in primetime againt division rival New York Giants. Dallas has beaten the Giants in three of their last four regular season matchups. Dallas also owns the all-time series edge (55-37-2).
Look for both teams to utilize their deep running back rotations to control the clock and keep each others offense off the field.
If Dallas can shore-up their run defense, they should be able to handle the Giants' passing attack. As with most of their recent games, I expect this game to be hard fought, with Dallas squeaking out a win.