Roller coasters go up, they go down, they have sharp turns, they loop, and they go upside down, they go backward, they go sideways. I’ve just explained the 2011 season for the Dallas Cowboys. Against the Seahawks it was an up week as the Cowboys won, 23-13 to even their record at 4-4 and stay two games behind the division leading Giants who they still have to play twice.
Once again DeMarco Murray took over the running game against the Seahawks. He showed his quickness, his moves and his toughness as he rushed for 139 yards. He now has 539 yards rushing for the season and is averaging 6.7 yards a carry. It’s been reported that injured Felix Jones will be practicing more this week in hopes that he can play against the Buffalo Bills next Sunday, but to remove Murray from the starting lineup at this point would be wrong. Murray has given a spark to the Cowboys running game that they desperately needed. The offensive line has been opening holes and has been playing better as a unit.
With the running game working that leads to better results in the passing game. Tony Romo threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns and was never sacked against the Seahawks. He had time to look for the open receiver and had the time to step up in the pocket where he seems to be at his best. As each game passes Romo’s ribs are healing and hopefully that will mean the end to him wearing his protective vest.
Injuries remain a concern for the Cowboys as once again Miles Austin left the game when he hurt his hamstring. He is scheduled to get an MRI today to find out the extent of the injury. But with Austin out it was Laurent Robinson who stepped in and continued to impress for the Cowboys as he caught five passes for 32 yards and added a fourth quarter touchdown to put the Cowboys ahead , 20-6. If Austin is out for any amount a time it should be Robinson who takes over the starting spot opposite Dez Bryant, who caught four passes for 76 yards, but also fumbled on the one yard line when it looked like he was going in for the touchdown. Jason Witten remains the one constant in the passing game as he collected four receptions for 71 yards and a 33 yard touchdown from Tony Romo.
Once again the Cowboys offense gained over 400 yards against their opponent, but they also failed to score touchdowns on two of their the red zone visits and had to settle for two Dan Bailey field goals of 20 yards each. Bailey also connected on a 42 yard field goal and is now 20 of 21 this season.
On defense the Cowboys intercepted Seahawks quarterback Tavaris Jackson three times in the second half. Two of the three interceptions, by Jason Hatcher and Terance Newman were converted into ten points by the Cowboys offense. The third was by Gerald Sensabaugh that ended the game. Just like against the Eagles the Cowboys defense gave up a lot of yards rushing to the Seahawks. Marshawn Lynch led the way with 135 yards and scored once. A Cowboys defense that had played great at stopping the run has been anything but great the last two weeks.
The Cowboys now turn their attention to the second half of their 2011 season. Sitting at 4-4 it’s going to take a tremendous effort to win the NFC East or even reach the playoffs as they prepare for the Bills, Redskins, Dolphins, Cardinals, Giants twice, Buccaneers and the Eagles.
The Cowboys roller coaster ride cannot continue like it did in the first half of the season. Some things that need to improve is the run defense, red zone offense, both punt and kickoff returns as well as getting the injured players back on the field. For those who have watched this Cowboys team know how up and down they have been all season and how many twists and turns that have happened as each game has been played. If there is more of the same in the second half of the season they are looking at an 8-8 record. I can’t write that should have beat this team or they could have lost to that team or they should beat these teams coming up. They are what they are right now and that is a roller coaster team.
Photos provided by Wikipedia