Can’t talk about the Cowboys without mentioning the tragic death of linebacker Jerry Brown in a car accident the night before the game. If you haven’t heard, Brown was killed while being the passenger in a car driven by teammate, defensive lineman Josh Brent. Brent has been charged with vehicular manslaughter in the accident as he got behind the wheel after a night of partying. What really makes this a senseless death is that the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys have a program where any player can call a service that will drive the player home from anywhere, at anytime. There is never a reason to drive under the influence. The program is even free for the player. Just no excuse.
As for the game last week. I’m really not sure how the Cowboys won this game. They really didn’t throw or run the ball well until the fourth quarter. The offensive seemed to be doing their best to get QB Tony Romo carried out on a stretcher. Dumb penalties again, including one by defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, not to mention a few dropped passes again. So how did they win? The Bengals pretty much handed this one away. Wide receiver A.J. Green had several dropped passes including one that would’ve been a touchdown. A defense that locked down Dallas for three plus quarters all of a sudden got soft when the game mattered most. Questionable play calling by the Bengals may also have hurt the team as they kept trying to throw the ball instead of taking time off the clock with the running game. This gave Dallas the time needed to secure the win. If you’re a Dallas fan, you could look at it like this, they should have beat Baltimore and lost to Cincinnati, so now you’re even.
Head coach Jason Garrett deserves a good deal of credit for keeping the team together after the tragic death of Brown. Dallas played hard throughout the game. How they handle this week with the memorial and funeral for Brown will yet be another test for Garrett and the team.
Garrett did make one questionable decision however. He settled for a game winning field goal attempt from 40 yards despite having around a minute of game time left and two time outs. Dan Bailey made the kick but if had missed, there would be a good deal of criticism heading his way. Not like trying to get a few more yards wouldn’t have been a bad idea. In the end, it worked out, but Garrett needs to work on his end of half/game management, it’s not good.
Wide receiver Dez Bryant suffered a broken finger during the game and the fear this week is that it may be season ending. As of this writing Dez has decided to try and play through the injury, but has stated that if doctors advise him against playing, that he would undergo season ending surgery. The problem with the broken finger is that Bryant could lose mobility in the finger if he waits to long to have the surgery. If the Cowboys lose Bryant, their season is more than likely done.
As it is the Cowboys more than likely need to win out to have a shot at the playoffs. They are still a game behind the Giants in the NFC East and a game behind Chicago and Seattle for the final wildcard spot. Problem is they already lost to both teams so would lose any tiebreaker. They are also tied at 7-6 with Washington and Minnesota, so quite a lot has to go their way in order to make the playoffs. The good news is that they do play the Redskins in Week 17, that could be a make or break game right now.
This week the Cowboys host the Steelers. A team that is also badly in need of a victory and may need to win out to make the playoffs. Pittsburgh has some of the same problems the Cowboys do. An inconsistent running game, a poor offensive line, injuries on defense, and a quarterback who scrambles to keep plays alive. Ben Roethlisberger is the key to this team. His running game is so-so with Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman carrying the load, but the passing game is dangerous with Mike Wallace, Antonio Bryant, Emmanuel Sanders, and Heath Miller running loose in the secondary. This game could end up being a shootout with whomever makes the least amount of mistakes the victor in end. Whichever team can establish a running game could go a long way toward deciding a winner as well. I’m always wrong on these predictions, so being a fan of the Cowboys I’m going to predict Pittsburgh 28 Dallas 23.
Feel free to follow me on twitter, @georgeKurtz