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August 11, 2013

Cowboys' red-zone offense still singing the blues with first-team

The Cowboys' red-zone offense looked a lot like the red-zone offense of last season during the two series the starters played Friday night. That's not a compliment.

The Cowboys finished only 20th in red-zone efficiency last season. In 49 opportunities inside the opponents' 20-yard line, Dallas scored 25 touchdowns and 19 field goals.

On their first series against the Raiders, the Cowboys took over at the Oakland 16-yard line following a fumble recovery by Jason Hatcher. A holding penalty on Jason Witten on the first play put the Cowboys behind, and they ended up settling for a 38-yard Dan Bailey field on the four-play, minus-4-yard drive. Dallas drove 75 yards to the Oakland 8, but a false start on Ron Leary but them in a long-yardage situation on third down. DeMarco Murray stepped out at the 8 after an 11-yard gain on third-and-12, and Bailey's 26-yard field-goal attempt was blocked.

"We talked about our analysis of our red-zone offense last year, and I think it fit a little bit with what happened the other night in the game," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We get the ball on the 16-yard line going in –- the defense does a great job taking the ball away -- and we have a holding penalty. We go from first-and-10 on the 16 to first-and-20 on the 26. So that kind of gets you out of your down and distance thing, and you’re scrambling a little bit. And then, we didn’t execute ball plays very well after that. But certainly it started with that. We had a false start a little bit later in the red zone. We had another false start a little later in the red zone. ...So when you do those plays, you go backward once you’re down there, you’re going to have a hard time scoring.

"Obviously, the field there gets condensed down a little bit. There are more defenders in a smaller place. It’s harder to play offense down there. It’s certainly hard when you’re behind the chains. The self-inflicted wounds, they showed up. We’ve got to make sure we eliminate those to give ourselves a chance to score points."

-- Charean Williams 



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