By Zach Walker
I’m a huge fan of the draft and that whole four month process. So when the Cleveland Browns draft top five seemingly every year, it’s really difficult not to really like some of their players. Phil Taylor from Baylor is my personal favorite Brown’s player; he’s big, strong and relentless. So when last Sunday rolled around and one of my favorite players was dominating two Cowboys offensive linemen at a time, it hurts my heart a bit. Him and Jabaal Sheard, another favorite of mine, absolutely wreaked havoc on the entire offensive line, which had Tony Romo running for his life. And even with Romo’s elite evasive maneuvers, he was sacked seven times. The offensive line, as it has been all year long, is the biggest, most obvious problem. This group suffered yet another blow Sunday against the Browns. Tyron Smith, by far the team’s best O-lineman went down with a minor ankle sprain early in the game, but could be seen standing on the sideline late in the game. Which hopefully means he’ll be okay to play Thursday against the rival Redskins, which has epic playoff implications and is the first division tasting of Robert Griffin III.
Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan said before the Browns game, that the game was “personal”, because the Browns let him go when they had a head coaching vacancy and he felt he showed enough to at least receive consideration. When you make things personal though, you use your heart and not your mind and it showed in the first half. Adjustments had to be made, and they got through to the field where the pressure was turned up. The offense also got a shot in the arm and started to put drives together. Romo was a different animal in the later quarters, not missing a pass during the entire third quarter. Dez Bryant had his best game of the year, posting close to 130 yards with a chunk of yardage coming on a 28-yard bullet on the ninth play of an impressive drive.
But perhaps the most impressive drive of the game was the final drive during regulation. With 68 seconds left, both Kevin Ogletree and Dwayne Harris put it on the line pulling penalties off some aggressive coverage and an illegal hit to set up the overtime forcing field goal. The Cowboys won the coin toss in overtime and after a nerve-racking exchange of possessions, Dwayne Harris took a punt return for 20 yards then the Cowboys put knuckles to grindstone and covered 28 yards to setup Dan Bailey’s 38-yard game-escaping field goal for the win.
This game was played impressively by both teams, because let’s face it, this is who the Dallas Cowboys are. A team who dances around while things heat up against them until they feel like they should start playing “for real”. Moves have to be made to the offensive line, move Ron Leary up from the practice squad. Using Dwayne Harris in the passing game is a great move, the guy is dangerous with the ball in his hands, but I can’t help think giving Cole Beasley could yield the same type of results. If the Cowboys have to abandon the running game late in games, short accurate passes can fill the void that puts so much burden on Jason Witten. The Patriots played the high percentage passing game to set up manageable third downs for years. Why not give that a shot, are the Cowboys too good for that because their record would argue otherwise.