SAN DIEGO, California – Morris Claiborne was professional,
polite and brief about his bad day at work.
Mo was just about as bad as a CB could be in the Cowboys’ 31-20 loss against the Chargers on Sunday in sunny San Diego.
In this picture, he was consoled by a former LSU teammate, Chargers safety Brandon Taylor, for the obvious reasons. These were not just two guys hugging it out; Taylor was clearing trying to cheer up his buddy.
The second-year pro out of LSU, whom the Cowboys’ traded up to acquire with the sixth overall pick in the ’12 draft, has yet to make a difference this season. It is far too early to call this young man a bust, but he was brutal on Sunday, and he knows it. He was drafted to make a difference.
“Any time they are throwing to a side you have to say, ‘That’s Mo’s side,’” he said. “They hit passes over there, so why not take it. It’s a very hard day, any time you give up that many catches. Any time you are playing within the defense and you are giving up catches it hurts the team so it’s hard.”
Claiborne quickly became a favorite of Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who threw for over 400 yards on Sunday. Unless this improves, quickly, expect the same next Sunday when Claiborne faces Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
“My confidence is up,” he said. “I'm not worried about my confidence. It's not down.”
I asked Claiborne if his left shoulder injury was limiting him in any
way, or if he felt he was putting too much pressure on himself. He said no to both.
I don’t believe him.
ABOUT THE THIRD QUARTER
The Cowboys led 21-13 at the half, and then the third quarter happened.
In the third quarter, the Chargers had the ball for 11:23 with 11 first downs. They were 2-for-2 on third downs. They had one 10-play, 80 yard drive that ended in a touchdown.
The Cowboys were moving the ball on their one drive of the quarter and had the ball at the 50, but Tony Romo’s pass to Dez Bryant went off his fingers to force the punt. It was a tough catch, but one that even his head coach said needs to be made.
“I was trying to see where I was on the field,” Dez said after the game.
HOW MUCH DID GATES HAVE?
This doesn’t happen often, but Orlando Scandrick asked me after the game how many yards Chargers tight end Antonio Gates had.
“He had to have 170,” he said.
I looked up the stats on my phone and then played an over/under game with him, cornerback Brandon Carr and safety Danny McCray.
Scandrick took the big figures because he figured Gates had several long gainers, specifically one for 56 yards in the fourth quarter that was the decisive touchdown.
Carr took the lower figure. McCray was thinking 145.
Gates finished with 10 catches for 136 yards.
“I knew it wasn’t that many,” McCray said. “I mean, I was watching the game.”
MILES AUSTIN IS MISSED
It took only three games for Miles Austin to miss a game, so perhaps we should be celebrating it took this long. He was out for the Chargers’ game with a hamstring, and his absence was noticed. He is better than Dwayne Harris, Cole Beasley or rookie Terrance Williams.
Williams may have finished with a team-high seven catches for 71 yards, but he also had the key fumble at the goal line late in the game with the Cowboys ostensibly still in it. Austin is better, and he is still needed.
MORE LONG FIELD GOALS
No head football coach in America loves the long field goal try more than Coach Process. Granted, when Dan Bailey is your kicker a long field goal is not a bad idea. But when Garrett elected for Bailey to try a 56-yard field goal midway through the second quarter it ignored the whole field position thing.
Bailey missed, and the Chargers took the favorable field position and turned it into their own field goal for a 10-7 lead. Garrett usually does this type of thing a few times a season.
They allow us scum media on the field in the final minutes of the game, so here are a few obligatory shots of the pretty people on the sideline. Considering how ugly the game was, it beats action shots.
The Cowboys returned an interception for a touchdown.
Tony Romo threw two touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Cowboys running game averaged 5.8 yards per attempt.
The Cowboys committed five penalties.
The Cowboys lost.
Of the man players who are adjusting to Monte Kiffin's 4-3 scheme, linebacker Bruce Carter was considered to the player who would flourish the most. Plays flow in his direction.
He was awful in pass coverage against the Chargers, so much so that he was benched in favor of Ernie Sims.
Carter has thus far not contributed the types of plays this defense needs from this position.
BRIAN WATERS KNEW WHAT HE WAS
Tip of the cap for what was a solid move by the veteran guard from North Texas. He knew the Cowboys needed him. He wanted to come out of retirement to play. He really didn’t want to go through training camp. The Cowboys signed him just before the start of the regular season to a contract that is now guaranteed.
He is now the full-time starter.
NEXT SUNDAY: BE AFRAID
The Broncos are 4-0, and have out-scored opponents 179-91.
Quarterback Peyton Manning threw 16 touchdowns in September, breaking an the NFL mark of 14 set by Dandy Don Meredith in ’66 and Kurt Warner in ’99.
This should go well.
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