The fictional character Forrest Gump once famously said, “stupid is as stupid does.”
At least for this week, the Dallas Cowboys are the embodiment of that adage.
The game’s final play was only a fitting end to a mistake filled night for the Cowboys.
Before a national primetime audience, Dallas had a would-be game-clinching last second touchdown yanked off the board due to a holding penalty. After witnessing them notch 12 penalties (91 yards) against themselves, it's not hard to find people to point fingers at.
Nevertheless, listed below in sequential order are five boneheaded moments that made Sunday night memorable.
1) Garrett’s Play Calling
Really, this could aptly fit anywhere on the list, but Garrett's peculiar penchant for not deviating from script (*see two straight slant attempts to Sam Hurd in the end zone against Champ Bailey last season) helped set the frenetic tone for the Cowboys in the first half.
The plan did work in a sense; the Redskins failed to get any consistent pressure on Romo. The offensive line was displaying all signs of being able to contain the Redskins pass rush. Despite this reality, Garrett dogmatically stuck to his game plan. As a result, Romo and his receivers failed to get into any rhythm and timing.
This was most evident when the Cowboys called for two straight simple bubble screens to rookie receiver Dez Bryant. The net result of both plays was one yard and a subsequent punt.
2) Tashard Choice’s Fumble
It’s inexplicable really.
You’re at the end of the first half; on the wrong side of the field with 70-yards to go; and you got time for one play.
Either go for broke and let Romo chuck it down the field, or take a knee, concede the first half and go into the locker room down 3-0. Pretty simple stuff, right?
Nope. Not these Cowboys.
You could put it on Romo for not dropping to one knee or putting the ball out of reach and danger, but I’m going to lay blame to the guy who ultimately ended up with the ball, Tashard Choice.
After being pressured, Romo scrambled up the pocket and decided to dump a short innocuous pass to Choice. Choice was met almost immediately by DeAngelo Hall for what should have been a simple tackle and cessation of the first half.
Yet for some reason, Choice decided that moment would be the perfect time to fight for an extra yard and maybe eke out a couple extra feet.
That plan failed miserably.
Hall stripped the ball, recovered the fumble, and made an easy jaunt and euphoric summersault into the end zone which ultimately proved to be the difference in the game.
3) Orlando Scandrick’s Penalty on the Field Goal Attempt
Yes, I know, the Redskins didn't end up scoring after superb back-to-back plays by deft cornerback Mike Jenkins and a botched field goal attempt.
However, whether he knows it or not, Scandrick is in my dog house and has been since last year. I simply don’t think he’s as good a cornerback as he thinks he is.
Forget the notion of “just being aggressive,” you simply cannot make that mistake at such a critical point in the game.
4) Martellus Bennett’s Illegal Block in the Back
You’re going to see a theme with these last two plays. Both were blatant, preventable, and inexcusable.
On the Cowboys final fourth-quarter drive, Romo found Miles Austin in the middle of the field. Austin alertly cut up the field and towards the sideline for a significant gain.
Unfortunately, Bennett threw a textbook illegal block in the back of DeAngelo Hall for all to see which negated the big play.
Compounding the mistake was the fact it took the play away, moved the Cowboys in the opposite direction and killed valuable time off the clock.
5) Alex Barron Does His Impression of Huggy Bear
Leave it to Alex Barron to find a way to become the most hated player in Cowboy Nation.
I don’t think Barron could have dreamt of a more miserable debut with the Cowboys.
He managed to register three penalties (one false start and two holds) on the night, while displaying some of the same skills (or lack thereof) that got him the boot out of St. Louis.
His last mistake was the easily the most egregious.
We’ll never know if his hold was the sole reason why Romo was even able to roll out of the pocket and locate Roy Williams for the apparent touchdown.
The problem in my eyes is the fact Barron’s go-to move was to hold Orakpo. It wasn’t as if Barron latched onto Orakpo in desperation as he raced past him. Rather, he came off the line and instantly bear-hugged him and lassoed him around the neck.
As Cris Collinsworth stated during the broadcast, the refs don’t want to end the game on the penalty. However, Barron’s hold was so blatant that the league office would have had to do some apologizing on Monday had the refs not called it.
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