By Will Martin
Based on all reports passed along via social media and based on what these eyes and ears saw, it was very clear that many a Cowboys fan was content to stay at home, sell their season seats, and watch the free fall from the privacy of their home or local tavern.
Did anyone else notice just how loud AT&T Stadium-affectionately known as Candlestick Park South this day-got each time the 49ers of San Francisco got the ball, made a stop, had a sack, scored on a turnover, converted a first down, stopped the Cowboys cold in their tracks?
The first two plays of the day foretold the doom that was coming. The 130 million dollar guy at tackle-Tyron Smith-got whistled for a procedure call.
The very next play DeMarco Murray took a handoff that was fumbled and run back by Chris Culliver for a touchdown and an early 7-0 San Francisco lead.
That took all of 30 seconds. The rest of the first half was an absolute blur of a fiasco where the Dallas Cowboys and Tony Romo would get picked off on three straight possessions-a first in Tony’s career-as the 49ers and their faithful fans proceeded to make AT&T Stadium seem like a less than neutral site for a football game.
28-3 was the lead at the half for San Francisco. Was anybody else trying to remember a game where Dallas looked so flat and so listless in the first half of a game and trailing by 25?
Sure, you had the NFC Championship game from almost 20 years ago when San Francisco jumped out to a 21-0 lead before the Cowboys and all those Hall Of Famers made it a close defeat 38-28. This game was never even close.
1. DeMarco Murray had a 100 yard game. The first time in 12 tries that Dallas was on the losing end in a game where Murray had 20 touches in a game.
2. Tony Romo kept wanting to throw into double coverage instead of to the wide open guys on two of his three interceptions. Going back to being Gunslinger Tony made Cowboys fans close their eyes. Terrence and Dez Bryant were better options.
3. While the Dallas defense did surprisingly well between the 20s they had no answers for Anquan Boldin converting on third down pass completions or Vernon Davis in the end zone.
4. Seven different Cowboys receivers got the ball and caught a pass form Tony. There were four instances where Romo and a receiver were crossed up with the pass route. Poor offensive showing overall as Tony Romo suffered three sacks. One deep in Niner territory.
5. Why did Tony Romo opt to want to pass and not run at the 1 yard line? Why was Tony Romo checking off at the line wanting to pass and thus getting sacked?
6. Statistically Dallas did better than the 49ers in yards running, yards passing, even one less penalty (11-10) than San Francisco. Yet, those four turnovers.
7. The score should have been 45-17 if it weren’t for all those ‘illegal contact’ calls made by the refs which in fact were non-calls.
8. The 49ers crowd was large and loud while Dallas was less than present.
9. Colin Kaepernick was deadly on the edge and he made the necessary conversions when needed.
10. Frank Gore is a beast.
10a. Dez Bryant taken out for dehydration? That was interesting.
Scott Linehan’s play calling wasn’t bad. The execution left a lot to be desired. Tony Romo promised us we’d see a smarter, sharper quarterback in the pocket this year and onward. It seemed like the same old Tony to me. Gunslinging and going against the grain. He missed a sure touchdown to Dwayne Harris all alone in the endzone, instead opting for a Patrick Willis interception.
Was it just me or did it seem like every pass he made was being telegraphed without checking off on other receivers? Why Romo felt he could thread the needle and throw into double coverage is beyond me.
Watching Colin Kaepernick rotate his eyes before going to his primary receivers and using play action for a rush or a slant pattern to Michael Crabtree was akin to watching a surgeon wetting the needle before starting the operation. Impressive, but painful to watch.
For all the talk of a preseason that wasn’t the best for San Francisco, Kaepernick was a workmanlike 16 for 23 for 201 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
While it appeared Tony Romo did not look to be affected by any back pain, his eyes and his head were his nemesis Sunday. Rusty, out of sync, unable to go deep and a passer rating of 45 through the first 55 minutes.
Same old Tony Romo. The chant was being tweeted and sent this way all afternoon.
Some friends dared to ask if there were other games in the Cowboys past that looked as bad as this one. I reminded them of the 44-0 shutout by the Bears at Texas Stadium 11-17-85. There was also the game at Washington DC in 1972-73 where the Redskins scalped Dallas 26-3 to advance to Super Bowl VII.
I even remembered a game also at RFK in early November 1974 where Dallas let Washington get ahead 28-0 in the first half before the Cowboys bounced back to make it a game yet still lost 28-21. This was about two weeks before we learned to say Clint Longley on November 28 of that year.
Most Cowboys fans were thinking back to Deion Sanders in Red at Candlestick Park 1/15/95. The Niners put up 38 points on that day while seeing Red.
There was a huge sea of Red Opening Day at AT&T Stadium in the 28-17 loss to Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers.
Frank Gore had 63 yards rushing while surpassing the 10,000 yard mark in his career. Gore also became the tenth player in NFL history to amass 10,000 yards in ten years with one NFL team.
After the game Jason Garrett addressed the media with regards to Tony Romo having the ability to check off a run play in the red zone.
“If you look at the body of work and the efficiency that we’ve had and he’s had, it’s been fairly high,” Garrett said. “Sometimes, in certain situations when it doesn’t work out, people will really highlight that type of a thing, but you have to go back and look at the efficiency of him throwing the football and us running the football over time.
“Sometimes, when it doesn’t work out, people overreact to something like that, but you do have to look at the whole body of work. We do that all the time.”
That being said why not run the ball when 1 yard away?
“In some cases, you give him a run/pass option to get into the most favorable play in a certain situation,” Garrett said. “Often times, when you’re down in the tight red zone, teams will play coverage, meaning they’ll have seven or eight guys deep and have three or four defensive linemen or they’ll just blitz you. Sometimes, when you have runs from particular formations or particular personnel groups and they blitz eight guys off the side, the run has absolutely no chance when you’re overmatched by two and three guys.”
And there you have it. The Dallas Cowboys problems in a nutshell. Great between the 20s, so-so in the red zone with an ineffective quarterback who was picked off three times while overmatched by two or three guys.
This could become a long and trying uphill battle to secure that first win. Don’t expect a cakewalk in the land of Elvis.
It’s off to Tennessee for the Dallas Cowboys for a noon start. There’s lots of work to be done. I’m not convinced much will improve against a smash mouth team like the Titans who are now led by coach Ken Whisenhunt and their new 3-4 alignment under Ray Horton.
It will be the Titans lone home game in September as they came off a dominant 26-10 victory on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs while Jake Locker rolled for 265 yards passing. The Titans also won the battle of ball control with over 37 minutes of ball control. Best performance since a 2009 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009.
Defensively Michael Griffin might make Tony Romo’s afternoon a long one. The Titans created three turnovers on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.