The big key, in my eyes, is the running game. Dallas cannot win a game through the air. Yes, Tony Romo had a good game statistically as he was 24-39 for 321 yards and 3 TDs. But Outside of the shootout in Philadelphia,where Marion Barber and Felix Jones combined for only 73 yards on 21 carries, Dallas has had a strong run attack to balance the passing game.
For whatever reason the pass attack just does not gel. They do not seem to get the plays when they need them. There was that great pass to Witten in the closing seconds yesterday, but once the overtime started, Dallas' offense did not.
The offensive line, especially the left side, was beat out too many times yesterday. A hurried and relatively new quarterback does not make the best decisions. When your running back leads in receptions you know that Romo is getting rushed and forced to dump it off. Kudos to Barber for making the most of those catches.
Maybe the Cowboys offense can throw in some more short passing plays involving Barber, Jones, and tight end Jason Witten. When the running attack seems to sputter at the line of scrimmage. The only way to combat an aggressive defensive pass rush is to dump the ball off quick and get some yards.
We all love stats so here's some food for thought.
In their four wins Barber and Jones had 112 carries for 613 yards, yielding 5.5 yards per carry. In their losses to Washington and Arizona they managed only 93 yds on 28 carries, only 3.3 yards per carry.
I repeat the game will be won on the ground. I'm a bit old school. But an offense with the ferocious running of Barber and the speed of Jones cannot fall to relying on trying to force the ball to Terrell Owens. If Barber and Jones are involved, I guarantee that will open up Owens.
As for the defense, Dallas' secondary is pretty beat up. Dallas needs Roy Williams and Terence Newman. It's hard to say when they will be back. Safety Pat Watkins should be back against St. Louis.
The key for the Cowboys the rest of the year will be special teams. Yikes!
Dallas needs to work on fundamentals.
We can rant about the offense and defense, but this game was lost on special teams. The opening kick return for a TD and then the blocked punt in overtime were both crucial plays in the loss.
Dallas' special teams has a lot of younger players and you have to look at the coach to shore up the young crew on the fundamentals of special teams. In close games, special teams makes the game.
Arizona hung in there against a team that is superior on paper. Kudos to the Cardinals.
Their special teams came up big and they played an all-around stronger game. Larry Fitzgerald played well. Even though Adam "Pacman" Jones and Anthony Henry were right with him, Fitzgerald still made some great catches.
Hopefully we can rebound next week and don't count out the Cardinals in the West!