A week after being thoroughly handled by the Seattle Seahawks, the Cowboys returned to Dallas to be thoroughly handled by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Fortunately for Dallas, Tampa didn't have a running back near the caliber of Marshawn Lynch, and their punt coverage team couldn't resist going for Cowboys' punter Chris Jones' thigh as opposed to the ball. The fact that the Cowboys were victorious is great, but they didn't come close to restoring any of the optimism they tossed out the window last week. Let's get to some observations and awards.
Negative Plays Killing Drives, and Brain Cells: If there was one thing the Cowboys did consistently during the game, it was back themselves up. They tallied 13 penalties on the day, which shockingly isn't a first for them this season (Week 1 against the Giants, also a win!). Five came on the offensive end in the form of false starts, which you don't expect to see nearly as much of when you're eating home cooking. Worse than the penalties, Tony Romo nearly had every drop of life exorcised from his body thanks to Swiss cheese blocking from Doug Free. The Bucs came up with 15 tackles for loss in this one, and the Cowboys only had 12 drives in the game. Against any other team, the 'Boys would have been steamrolled on the scoreboard as well.
That "New Girl" Commercial Needs to Die Immediately: It feels like Fox has been promo-ing the spot featuring Zooey Deschanel scrub-felching some guy in a trash bag diaper for months. It wasn't funny the first time, and amazingly it's still not funny the twelve millionth time. If I ever hear the word "giblets" again, I will throw a chair through somebody. Maybe they just need to show it on a continuous loop during every commercial break and I'll finally get it, and the relentless Zooey Deschanel hype.
Dez Bryant Runs A Punt Forward, Success Ensues: Dez Bryant's worst enemy on punt returns, as displayed on his first two returns against Tampa, is his tendency to take his first steps east-west. He starts to run sideways and backwards, never shy about reversing field, but never getting that ever-important positive yardage. Midway through the 4th quarter, Dez caught a punt near midfield, started upfield, and 44 yards later gets tackled on the "Wipe Your Paws" mat of the endzone. The fact that the Cowboys couldn't put the ball in the endzone when starting at the 6 yard line is another issue, but hey, we won, so everything is perfect right?
And this week's awards go to...
. When the NFL puts out their content-loaded scab ref blooper reel at the end of the season, this play just might make the cover. Kevin Ogletree, who many fantasy owners are surely dumping out on now, was the butt of some weirdBuffalo Wild Wings
style prank as the side judge launched his hat right into the receiver's path. Sure the ref could have thrown his hat anywhere else on the field, including behind Ogletree, but then we wouldn't have a moment of pure, innocent comedy like this.
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Best Performance By An Ensemble Cast, Muscial or Comedy: The Cowboys defense. A week after getting worn down by the Seattle ground and pound attack, Demarcus Ware and company returned home to provide a stiffer challenge to Tampa Bay. Yielding only 10 points and under 200 yards after your offense coughs up three turnovers is fairly stingy, especially when you consider that the Bucs hung 34 on the Giants the week before. The Buccaneer offense isn't a juggernaut, but shutting down any team should be seen as a positive at this point. Brandon Carr earned his entire contract with his complete silencing of Tampa receiver Vincent Jackson, even filling in a safety when the Bucs trotted out three receivers. Sean Lee and Bruce Carter looked like an unstoppable tandem again, and the defensive line got great pressure on Tampa QB Josh Freeman. I'm pretty sure if Ware have gotten his mitts on Freeman once more, he would have taken the quarterback's arm off.
Best Offensive Performance Among A Slew Of Bad Ones: TIE Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. Nabbing a combined 11 receptions for 169 yards, the receiving tandem carried an offense that limped along most of the day. Both Austin and Bryant made some big catches, but more importantly didn't drop many. That may sound ridiculous, but after last week, ball security can't be taken for granted. Dez still carries the ball way too far away from his body, but that's a habit that can be fixed. Here's hoping Witten will start to find his groove again soon. Having him full operational will be key against better teams.
Time to chunk this game in the can and move on to the next one. Other iterations of this Cowboys team could easily be 0-3 at this point, but this year's version has somehow scrapped their way to 2-1. The Chicago Bears, featuring the Jay Cutler mehxpress, pull into town for a Monday night tilt next week, so the Cowboys O-line will have some extra time to focus on Tony Romo out of a gurney.