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The good, the bad and the ugly in the Meadowlands

Tim's picture

First, a quiz for you (answer at the end): What do Patrick Crayton, Laurent Robinson and Kevin Ogletree have in common?

It's always hard to know what to take away from the season opener. While it is tempting to say "the Cowboys are Super Bowl Bound" I think the more likely take is "the Giants might really, really suck this year."

THE GOOD

Romo had a really nice night, of course. I will correct Cris Collinsworth, who said during the broadcast that it might have been Romo's best game ever. You see, I have actually watched all of Romo's games, and this one was closer to typical than to exceptional. I thought it was funny also when they explained after Romo's interception that the book on Romo is to get pressure up the middle. As the game went on, he converted several key third downs and threw two TD passes against hard pressure up the middle.

The key against any QB is pressure in his face. Duh. The problem in Dallas has not been Romo's unique vulnerability to that, but the complete inability of the interior line to stop it.

Romo ended the game with 307 yards, a 129.5 passer rating, 10.6 per attempt and 3 touchdowns. It was the 32d 300 yard game of his career and the 25th with three or more TD passes – both team records. Biggest two plays were that TD pass to Mile Austin on 1st and 30, and the 1st down pass on 3rd and 12 to Ogletree to effectively end the game.

Murray was stellar. It seemed early on that neither team could run the ball. But Dallas controlled the clock throughout the game, and never gave up on the run. That time of possession wore the Giants down and by the second half, Murray had his way with them. He ended up with 131 yards on 20 carries, 6.5 per carry. More importantly, he seemed to always be aware of the situation. On his 48 yard run, as defenders closed in on the sideline, he turned it back to the middle, not to gain yards, but to keep the clock running in the 4th quarter. On a 3rd and short, it was an outside run. Vickers made his sealing block and there was a possibility to keep running for the corner and try to make the big play. But Dallas needed a first down, and Murray immediately cut upfield behind his blocker to get the first down. It was a great three yard run.

Kevin Ogletree, of course, had a huge night. He was absolutely clutch on third down. He also read the breakdown and scramble, and broke loose in the end zone where Romo found him for a TD. He caught the game-ender on third and 12. He also covered for one of Romo's mistakes – a poor throw that could easily have been picked off in the end zone. Ogletree reached out and batted it to the ground. Had Romo made a better throw, it would have been KO's third TD.

Ware did his job, getting two sacks against Manning. The new corners held up, although they were bailed out by a few drops. Jason Hatcher looked good, as did Anthony Spencer (yes, he did) and Barry Church.

THE BAD

Romo's interception was pretty bad. Was it an underthrow? Was he maybe hit a little as he threw? Did he see Boley at all? Maybe, maybe and no. All on Romo, I'd say.

Ware was not even on the field in several key third down situations, including that 39 yard pass to Hixon in the third quarter. I can't explain that.

THE UGLY

Penalties were atrocious. There is no way Dallas is good enough to overcome that many penalties per game all year long, and that is the main reason I think the Giants might stink this year. On the real game-sealer in the 4th quarter, Dallas took more than seven minutes off the clock, despite stopping the clock five times on penalties. Five! And the false starts in the game were on Witten, Smith and Free. Plus two delays on Romo. A hold on Witten. Not rookies or new guys to the team.

The refs seemed mighty confused. The bad and missed calls seemed to balance out tonight, but I can foresee games this year where teams will have legitimate reason to complain that the refs cost them the game. The NFL needs to figure this out pretty soon.

Answer to the trivia question: Tony Romo. You got it right, didn't you?

Danny Smith
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 Murray has a tendency to do this. Try me in the film room they will all laugh at him (since we won the game) but he should have scored on that run. If he stays along the sidelines he scores.  Go back and watch some of his long runs last year - he honestly almost never scores on them because for some reason he starts looking for contact after he breaks away.  
 
They teach you to find the safety and go right at him but not after you have already broken away :)
 
I agree with most of the rest of the points in the article except for the fact that the Giants might be bad this year. They are actually are very strong and capable team and to be honest if Victor Cruz could catch a pass the outcome of this game might have been very different.  The Cowboys are basically extremely good this year (for the first time I can remember) on BOTH sides of the ball and can actually beat very good teams now despite 13 penalities. If they eliminate a lot of the foolish mistakes AND stay healthy, they are easily a top 5 caliber team in this league.

Danny Smith
Dallas Cowboys Fan Network Creator and Administrator

Danny Smith
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 Murray has a tendency to do this. Tomorrow in the film room they will all laugh at him (since we won the game) but he should have scored on that run. If he stays along the sidelines he scores.  Go back and watch some of his long runs last year - he honestly almost never scores on them because for some reason he starts looking for contact after he breaks away.  
 
They teach you to find the safety and go right at him but not after you have already broken away :)
 
I agree with most of the rest of the points in the article except for the fact that the Giants might be bad this year. They are actually are very strong and capable team and to be honest if Victor Cruz could catch a pass the outcome of this game might have been very different.  The Cowboys are basically extremely good this year (for the first time I can remember) on BOTH sides of the ball and can actually beat very good teams now despite 13 penalities. If they eliminate a lot of the foolish mistakes AND stay healthy, they are easily a top 5 caliber team in this league.

Danny Smith
Dallas Cowboys Fan Network Creator and Administrator

philyew3
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 I agree it's unlikely he would have made it to the endzone, but I do think there were more yards to the outside.
 
Laurent Crayton it is! :)

philyew3
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Excellent analysis, as usual, Tim. Maybe a couple of quibbles, just to keep it interesting... 
I understand and appreciate that Murray kept the clock running on his 48 yard run, but it came with 5 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter. I think, at the time with a four point game, an opportunity to hit a home run was the higher priority and Dez Bryant was clearly in his line of vision sealing off a wide seam along the sideline. I have to think therefore that it was either an error in judgment, or Murray felt that he didn't have the juice to go all the way and therefore cut inside to ensure he wasn't run OOB. Either way, it was a great play and it helped to deflate the Giants defense.
Unquestionably, Romo's INT was off a bad throw, but it looked like he made an adjustment right before release to avoid his arm hitting the advancing pass rusher during delivery. Obviously, that is going to mess up accuracy and trajectory, but I'm not sure how a more positive outcome would have been possible in the circumstances.
I want to see this team play in less noisy surroundings before concluding that the penalty situation is as bad as it seemed last night. There won't be many places, despite their tough road schedule, that will generate the kind of noise that they encountered in NY. I do think that Romo's constant effort to take each snap down to the very last second needs to be addressed strategically in those kinds of circumstances, but I'm not sure the problem is as big as it appeared last night.
 
Lastly, I felt sure that the common factor was going to be that Ogletree is to be know hereafter as Laurent Crayton...but I guess the TR factor will have to do :)
 
 
 
 
 

Tim
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I re-watched that run, and I think you are right that he was not trying to keep the clock running. However, I didn't see any clear path to the end zone down the sideline, either. There were three Giants defenders in front of him with a good angle and another one step behind and gaining. I think he was trying to make a quick cut and get behind them to score. Obviously, he did not succeed, but I don't think there is any way he'd have made the end zone down the sideline, either.
 
Oh, we will call him Laurent Crayton, for sure!