By Zach Walker
Sunday – November 3 – Noon
AT&T Stadium – Arlington
And Welcome back! In case you’re just joining us, allow me to fill you in. The Cowboys lost to the Detroit Lions, in the last 75 seconds of the game. Well, that’s at least when the Lions would go up for good, but the Cowboys lost in other aspects of the game. They could not get Calvin Johnson contained. It wasn’t like he was open on all of his catches, but he just has next level ability to catch damn-near anything thrown his way. The Cowboys just didn’t have an answer for anything Johnson could do, and by the time the game-winning drive was being played, the Cowboys were down to using three rookies in their secondary, which wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t playing the pass crazy Lions, trying to get the victory.
Rookie Jeff Heath actually played a pretty alright game for his first career start, he caught Calvin Johnson on his first big gain catch, and knocked him out of bounds, and if the Lions wouldn’t have gone for the throat on fourth down, he would had been responsible for preventing a touchdown. And if he would have timed his jump correctly, he could have knocked the ball away from Johnson, but that is what safeties have been saying in hindsight since Johnson came into the league, and he did force a fumble on Reggie Bush who was not at all worried about ball security. Linebacker Sean Lee was stuck on full hero mode and was absolutely great in his performance; collecting two interceptions off of Stafford who had only thrown five all season long. Brandon Carr showed not much of anything he had showed the previous two games against Garcon and DeSean Jackson, and Morris Claiborne left the game with an injury that will keep him out for two weeks.
I’ll pump the brakes a bit and say that the offense doesn’t get to look at the defense like it was only their fault in the loss, as Doug Remer once said, it was a team effort and it took every player working together to lose this one. Because the offense was terribly ineffective. The runs were uninspiring, and the passing game… I’ll be one to point out, that Tony Romo was awful in the first half. Sure there were drops, but if you throw behind your receivers, that helps nothing. And if it wasn’t for the field position off of the second Sean Lee interception, the Cowboys would not have scored in the first half, on a sinful touchdown catch by Dez Bryant. But if you take two throws away from Romo, his stats would be, 12 of 28 for 96 yards, that would be, off the top of my head, Romo’s worst game as the starter. I just struggle to understand the game plan going into that Detroit game, you look at what the Bengals did against the Lions, and you just must wonder, what the hell was in the tumble dryer between the collective ears of the brain trust in charge of game preparation.
When you three and out off of three of four turnovers, that’s playing losing a football game. But they do have some fight in them, more than the perceived urge to fight each other. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, at the end of the game, were shown yelling at each other. One venting frustration, the other, trying to calm the other, letting him know they have one possession to try and win the game. One showing expert leadership, the other, showing what the Cowboys’ Nation was feeling at that moment. It was a showing of who has the leadership on this football team, and what needs to be remedied.
The Cowboys have played 16 of their last 24 regular season games decided by seven points or less, and the Cowboys have an 8-8 record in those games. They are a crap-shoot in close games, a flip of a coin. The way that they played, and the way that they lost, for me at least, means a coaching change is needed. As I pointed towards earlier, the game plan was uninspiring, and this year, they can’t afford to be uninspiring, because this is the Cowboys’ division to lose. And for them to lose it, would mean a possible head coaching change. The Cowboys need to win a game, in inspiring fashion, to get back on track. And that’s exactly what they have slated for this week.
This upcoming game against the Vikings is a slump-buster, and the meaning of the term is quite appropriate. For the Cowboys to regain command of the NFC East, they need to break free of their offensive lull. And the Vikings might be just what the doctor ordered. The Vikings defense might be slightly better, statically, than the Cowboys, but their offense is nowhere near as potent as the Lions. The Vikings are searching for their next starting quarterback, and whether that person is Christian Ponder or the recently dumped Josh Freeman, the Vikings haven’t been a serious passing threat since Brett Farve retired. But the Vikings are holding the MVP within their deck. Adrian Peterson is capable of just about everything that a running back can do, but he hasn’t been able to carry the Vikings like he did a year ago, and their problem is terrible quarterback play. Ponder started the year, then Matt Cassel played, and then they bring in Josh Freeman to possibly bring some stability to the team. But the entire troop has been bad in their own ways. There isn’t a whole lot of Vikings to worry about, but rookie Cordarrelle Patterson is a player capable of breaking a game, evident by his opening kickoff touchdown return a week ago. But the game is about putting a lid on Peterson, which is easier said than done. But if the Cowboys linebackers can contain Peterson, the game will be the Cowboys’ to lose.
Matchup of the Game: Vikings RB Adrian Peterson versus Cowboys LB Sean Lee: Lee has been playing lights out football, earning the NFC’s player of the month, and he will attempt to contain the reigning MVP Adrian Peterson, who is capable of breaking a game wide open on any play. I’d bet on Lee and the rest of the Cowboys defense to contain Peterson.
Matchups to watch:
MIN DE Jared Allen vs DAL LT Tyron Smith
MIN LB Chad Greenway vs DAL RB DeMarco Murray
Prediction: Minnesota 17 – Dallas 34; The Cowboys must win this game by two touchdowns to carry some momentum into the New Orleans game.
Players of Last Game:
Offense: Dez Bryant
Defense: Sean Lee
Special Teams: Dan Bailey