The Cowboys (2-1) were penalized 13 times for 105 yards, almost matching their total for the first two games combined (18 penalties, 133 yards). Included were six false starts by the offense that contributed to multiple stalled drives.
“When you’re starting first-and-15, behind the chains, it’s never good,” said running back DeMarco Murray, who rushed for 38 yards and scored the team’s lone TD on an 11-yard run in the first quarter. “We made a few mistakes at different positions. We’ve just got to pull together, be on the same page and make sure we’re all focused.”
False starts have been a recurring issue for the Cowboys all season. Dallas combined for six false starts, including a league-leading four by left tackle Tyron Smith, in their first two games. Smith added his fifth of the season against Tampa Bay and right tackle Doug Free had three, bringing his season total to four.
Asked about the excessive number of false starts, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said: “We have to clean that up.”
Receiver Miles Austin said the onus is on players, not just coaches, to make the corrections.
“It’s tough to get a rhythm when you have a couple of penalties and you’re starting first-and-15, second-and-20, stuff like that,” Austin said. “At the same time, it’s something we have to correct. It’s something that we need to work on. We’re hopefully going to put a little bit more attention on that as players.”
_ Jimmy Burch