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Dallas Plagued By Own Mistakes in Disappointing 1-5 Start

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Chris Kent

Six games into the 2010 season, the Dallas Cowboys are playing anything like the star on their helmet. A 41-35 home loss on Oct. 25 to the division rival New York Giants in their only Monday night game of the season dropped the Cowboys to a dismal 1-5 with their third straight loss. Dallas is 0-3 at home this season and is off to its’ worst start since 1989 when it finished 1-15. As if things could not get any worse, starting quarterback Tony Romo suffered a broken left clavicle in the loss to the Giants and will be sidelined anywhere from six to eight weeks.

Dallas quarterback Tony Romo lays motionless after taking a hit from New York Giants' linebacker Michael Boley in the second quarter. Romo suffered a fractured left clavicle (non-throwing side) on the play and will miss six to eight weeks.

All of a sudden a team picked to contend for the Super Bowl finds itself all alone in the basement of its’ own division. A winning record let alone a wild card playoff berth seems to be a distant and unlikely feat this season. All those lofty preseason expectations have seemed to gone up in smoke.

Yet, when a talented team like the Cowboys stumbles, they need to look at themselves. Such is the case for Dallas this season as the Cowboys have defeated themselves. Penalties, turnovers, bad plays, breakdowns in special teams, and poor play calls by coaches have all been factors in the losses. Everyone from owner, president, and general manager Jerry Jones is involved in what is a serious case of underachievement.

It started in a week one loss at Washington when a holding call on right tackle Alex Barron nullified what would have been the game-winning touchdown pass from Romo to Roy Williams on the final play in a 13-7 loss. That was the final mistake in a night of goofs for Dallas which committed 12 penalties for 91 yards. Furthermore, Romo had two passes intercepted.

Besides that, a fumble by reserve running back Tashard Choice was returned by Redskins’ cornerback DeAngelo Hall for Washington’s only touchdown of the game on the final play of the first half. Romo had delivered a screen pass to Choice when he should of just thrown the ball away. However Romo should not of even gotten the chance to throw it. Why didn’t offensive coordinator Jason Garrett just call a kneel down and go into halftime with a 3-0 deficit? That boneheaded play gave the Redskins momentum and confidence.

The Cowboys’ misfortunes continued in week two when they lost their home opener 27-20 to Chicago. Three turnovers and six penalties for 50 yards played a big role in the loss.

With his left (non-throwing) arm in a sling, Romo will look to contribute from the sideline.

After a 27-13 win at Houston on Sept. 26, Dallas had a bye. They came out of it with a 34-27 home loss to Tennessee on Oct. 10. A lack of self-control and a breakdown on special teams hurt the Cowboys big time in this one.

Jason Witten’s 18-yard touchdown catch from Romo – and the subsequent PAT – forced a 27-27 tie with 4:30 left to play. However an excessive celebration penalty by ninth-year offensive tackle Marc Colombo resulted in Dallas kicking off from it’s own 15. Titans’ rookie Marc Mariani returned the ensuing kickoff 73 yards and Chris Johnson scored from one yard out soon thereafter. Johnson finished with 131 yards on 19 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns.

At 1-3 the Cowboys went to face a disappointing Minnesota team on Oct. 17 that was also 1-3. It was a rematch of their NFC Divisional playoff game last year which Minnesota won. Special teams let Dallas down again as multi-purpose threat Percy Harvin returned the second half kickoff 95 yards to force a 14-14 tie which gave the Vikings instant momentum in a 24-21 win.

Wide receiver Miles Austin had an offensive pass interference call nullify his own touchdown. The Cowboys did not help themselves on defense either as pro bowl cornerback Mike Jenkins was flagged for two pass interference calls. The second one came with 2:18 left in the game and Dallas trailing 24-21. The penalty gave Minnesota a first down and they nearly ran out the clock en route to the win.

The Vikings’ previous possession had seen them kick what ended up as the winning field goal. That possession had come off a Romo interception with 7:33 left to play. Again, mistakes at the worst possible time doomed the Cowboys.

The recurring theme of Dallas beating itself by committing untimel penalties and turnovers continued as the Cowboys left Minnesota at 1-4. Somehow, they had a shot to turn things around with a home win over the division rival New York Giants on Oct. 25. You would think that even with their backs to the wall, Dallas would come out with fire in its’ eyes.

Backup quarterback Jon Kitna will look to his 13 years of experience to help Dallas win.

They did. Yet, it would not be enough.

The Cowboys intercepted Eli Manning on each of the Giants first two drives and turned the mistakes into a 10-0 lead. Romo hit Witten with a 4-yard touchdown pass and David Buehler kicked a 26-yard field goal for the early lead. Rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant was a bright spot for Dallas as he scored three touchdowns in defeat. Bryant ran a punt back 93 yards for a score in the second quarter for a 20-7 lead. After that it was all Giants as they outscored the Cowboys 34-15 the rest of the game.

While it did not help Dallas with Romo going down, he was not to fault. Romo suffered his injury with 12:20 to go in the second quarter. Romo was cleanly tackled by blitzing linebacker Michael Boley who drove Romo’s left (non-throwing) shoulder into the turf. Romo stayed on the ground motionless before being helped to his feet. It was the final action on the night for Romo who now faces a six-to-eight week rehab. Jon Kitna, in his 14th year out of Central Washington, becomes the Cowboys’ starting quarterback.

Dallas lead 10-7 at the time of Romo’s injury. The Cowboys would get a 41-yard field goal by Buehler on the drive where Romo was hurt. Dallas forced a punt on the Giants ensuing possession and Bryant took it to the house, his second such return of the season.

Dallas rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant scores one of his three touchdowns on the night in the loss to the Giants.

While Bryant has been a bright spot for the Cowboys, one man does not make a team. While the rookie has five touchdowns on the season to tie Williams for the team lead, Bryant is still a work in progress.

After missing most of training camp and the preseason with an ankle injury, Bryant is still developing the all important chemistry with Romo and the team. His repore with Romo will know be delayed with Romo’s injury. However based on his exploits against the Giants, Bryant will be a player all opponents have to account for at all times the rest of the season. Bryant can get better by running routes more precisely and protecting the ball from would be tacklers who attempt to strip the ball.

Despite Bryant’s impact, Dallas needs help. The defense was gashed in the loss to the Giants. While there was a collective letdown when Romo was lost, the veteran players on this team have to regroup and salvage whatever is left of their season. Head coach Wade Phillips said affirmatively in the postgame press conference that this team will bounce back and fight to win games the rest of the season.

The core of this team needs to step up and serve as leaders of this team to have a competitive showing the rest of the season. It is not even the halfway point and the Cowboys needs to show some life, not just on paper.

This is where the core of the team – Colombo, Andre Gurode, Marion Barber III, Williams, Witten, Miles Austin, DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Bradie James, Terrence Newman, and Keith Brooking – needs to assert themselves by showing some leadership on the field, in the locker room, and off the field.

That would be a significant step in the right direction. In the process it can only help to provide a marked improvement over what has been dysfunction in Dallas thus far. Anything less than that and Jones’ 1.2 billion dollar palace – Cowboys Stadium – might lack attendance.

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