In a game in which the Dallas Cowboys faced unbelievable adversity due to the loss of their fellow running mate Jerry Brown, the team was able to pull together and tough out a gritty, hard-fought win over the Bengals. The Cowboys now sit at 7-6, tied with the Washington Redskins at second in the NFC East (pending the results of the Giants game). No matter what happens in that Giants game, we've still got some meaningful football to look forward to in Arlington.
Dez Came Up Big Again (Photo by John Grieshop / Getty)
The Bengals came in to this game winners of four straight, and started the first quarter like they were going to try and run away with this one. After the Cowboys opening drive stalled and resulted in a Dan Bailey FG, the Bengals took the field with a powerful attack. Andy Dalton and Benjarvus Green-Ellis led the way and met little resistance, while WR Andrew Hawkins caught a little shovel pass from 8 yards out and took it in for the score. After a quick 3-and-out by Romo and company, Brian Moorman kicked off his terrible game with a 23 yard punt. On 5 punts for the game, Moorman only mustered an average of 33 yards per punt. His status for next week will likely (and hopefully) be re-evaluated. His punting was simply unacceptable.
The Bengals were able to capitalize in the form of a FG and made it 10-3. After another failed drive by the offense, the Bengals looked poised to break it open. On a 1st and 10 from the 50, Dalton was looking for A.J. Green but found Brandon Carr on the other end. Carr made a beautiful break on the ball and returned it back to the Cincy 27 yard line. From there, Romo found Witten down the seam and Murray pounded the rock into the endzone to tie the game. The Bengals were able to tack on a Field Goal before halftime to make it 13-10 going into the half.
The 3rd Quarter was all Bengals, but fortunately for us Cowboys fans they couldn't bury the game away. The Bengals were forced to settle for only two field goals in a quarter that saw Romo under extremely heavy pressure on almost every single down. That would be a trend for the rest of the game, and it didn't matter who was playing at RT. Both Doug Free and Jeremy Parnell were in a rotation-type setup at the position. Free struggled all game and was called for a holding penalty, while Parnell didn't do too much to stand out either way. Maybe that's the best it'll get for the Cowboys at that position this year.
When the Cowboys needed a big play, they again found it on the hands of #88. Bryant had a mostly quiet game, but finally broke out for a 27 yard score on a bullet from Romo. Bryant sliced through a couple defenders as Romo laid the ball out over the middle for Bryant to run under it. With that score, the game was down to a 2 point differential and the Cowboys had the momentum.
The Dallas defense was able to force the Bengals off the field, aided in large part to a huge 3rd down sack by Jason Hatcher. The Bengals also suffered from big-time drops all game, seemingly most of them coming on 3rd downs. Even A.J. Green dropped a couple of passes, one a sure touchdown.
On the final drive of the game, Romo and Murray both made big plays to put the team in scoring position. No play was bigger than a 6 yard run on 3rd and 5 by Demarco Murray, again making his presence felt late in games. He stumbled and dove his way across the line, effectively cementing the Cowboys into FG range. The Bengals were unable to stop the clock due to their burning up of their 3 time outs on personnel issues earlier in the half. Bailey trotted on with 4 seconds left and drilled the game-winning 40 yard FG. Both Jason Hatcher and Demarcus Ware could be seen waving the jersey of LB Jerry Brown, and Ware carried it off the field himself.
It was a true show of heart by this team. The fact that this unit was able to come together and pull out a win is truly remarkable, but the celebration was in no doubt more somber than most. The Cowboys now are setup for a showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers back home in Arlington, a game that will be as tough a test as they've faced all season. But today, it's about the fight and heart displayed by this team. Let's fret about the other things later.
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