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September 24, 2012

JUST CHILL: Defense, special teams get A's; offense and coaching need improvement fast

Clarence Hill

JUST CHILL: Cowboys grades vs. the Buccaneers

Rush Offense: F—The Cowboys got their first rushing touchdown of the season, also the first in 10 games dating back to last year. But the total of 38 yards on the ground was abysmal. DeMarco Murray had 18 carries for 38 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown. Take away the score and he had 17 carries for 27 yards. Awful.

Pass Offense: D—Quarterback Tony Romo was beat up because of poor blocking up front and let down because of three dropped passes by tight end Jason Witten and a poor spacing by receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin that led to an interception. He was sacked four times and lost two fumbles. He was under pressure all day and took a number of quarterback hits. He completed 25 of 39 passes for 283 yards and a quarterback rating of 75.1. Austin caught five passes for 107 yards.

Rush Defense: A— A Week after getting run over by the Seattle Seahawks the Cowboys run defense held up against the Buccaneers, allowing 75 yards on 25 carries. They gave up only 28 yards in the second half. Linebacker Anthony Spencer, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter and DeMarcus Ware took upon themselves to stop they run and not surprisingly they were the four leading tacklers in the game.

Pass Defense: A— All you need to know about the stellar pass defense is that Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman had 20 yards passing before the final drive of the game. He only had success then because cornerback Mike Jenkins was out with cramps putting special teamer Lequan Lewis into the game. Still Freeman ended up completing just 10 of 28 passes for 110 yards. He was intercepted by linebacker Sean Lee to set up a Cowboys touchdown. He was sacked twice by linebacker DeMarcus Ware. More importantly, the short handed Cowboys shuffled their lineup before the game, putting cornerback Brandon Carr at safety on passing downs for the injured Gerald Sensabaugh and using Jenkins and Morris Claiborne at cornerback on the outside. They were handicapped even further when strong safety Barry Church was lost with season ended Achilles injury. Yet they still dominated.

Special Teams: A— The special teams finally came up with a strong game. Dan Bailey kicked three field goals. The punt coverage team recovered a muffed punt that led to a score. And receiver Dez Bryant broke off a 45-yard punt return that led to a field goal. Punter Chris Jones continued his strong start to the season, averaging 43.3 yards on four punts. Now they just need to find some juice in the kickoff return unit in place of the disappointing Felix Jones.

Coaching: C – The Cowboys had 13 penalties for 105 yards, including six pre-snap penalties. That is unacceptable. That is on the coaches to get it cleaned. The offense has scored just two touchdowns the last two games combined. That won’t cut it either. The game was won because of the stellar play of the defense but the offense needs to be fixed on this will be long season.

 Clarence Hill



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