The circus came to town once again as the 2012 Dallas Cowboys cemented their status as the most schizophrenic team in the NFL. The major swings of fortune the Cowboys used to experience from game to game now occur from quarter to quarter.
The Cowboys gave up 28 points in the second quarter against the Redskins and followed that up with 28 points of their own. All semblance of a game plan was thrown out the window against the Redskins, and it looks like Romo may one day soon pass Vinny Testaverde for the most passes ever attempted in a single game. (He was only seven short.)
But for all the ups and downs of another roller coaster game, it was these game changers that gave the Redskins the win:
Garrett ignores reality, then begs Romo to create a fantasy
Anyone who has watched the Cowboys this year knows exactly what to expect: Dallas spends the first half running the ball and executing short, inside passes in an attempt to systematically move down the field and control the game's momentum.
Garrett needs to take the best of Romo's sandlot style and implement it in the first half.
After this fails miserably, the Cowboys find themselves down by an absurd number of points (20-plus seems to be the most common). Tony Romo then takes over the game, runs for his life and manages to come this close to orchestrating the greatest comeback in NFL history.
Any sane person who saw the glaring discrepancies between the failure of the ordered, classic method of play and the success of the erratic, high-octane method of play would decide to abandon the former and commit to the later. Not Jason Garrett.
The Cowboys are now officially the worst rushing team in the league (averaging just 78.7 yards per game). Yet Garrett decided to force the run game against the Redskins anyway.
In the first half, the Cowboys ran the ball eight times for an average of 3.5 yards per carry. The result? Three measly points. In the second half, the Cowboys had a grand total of zero runs. (Yes, you read that right). The result? Twenty-eight points.
Garrett needs to take the best of Romo's sandlot style and implement it in the first half. Why not run the no huddle in the first quarter or draw up a few intentional bootlegs?
The first half was classic Garrett: three-and-out drives where two of the three plays were Felix Jones runs up the gut. The second half was classic Romo: wild bootlegs, pinpoint passes and lots of points. It's obvious which Cowboy is not upholding his end of the bargain.
The Cowboys secondary made RGIII look like the second coming of Tom Brady.
Cowboys secondary makes RGIII look like Tom Brady
There's no denying that RGIII looked nearly perfect against the Cowboys. He was quick on his feet as he picked up 30 yards on the ground (more than both Cowboys running backs), and his ability to sell the option kept Alfred Morris moving down the field.
But how did Griffin look in the pocket? The Cowboys secondary made him look like the second coming of Tom Brady.
Griffin had only 20 completions for the day; one out of every five of those was for a touchdown.
The Cowboys' inability to cover the deep ball against a notoriously deep-ball-hungry quarterback showed a lack of both scheme and ability.
The woefully inept Danny McCray let Aldrick Robinson blow past him on the first touchdown, while Brandon Carr fell down as Pierre Garcon whizzed by for 59 yards. Add a blown coverage by Ernie Simms (at least he has the excuse of coming off the street recently), and the Cowboys pass defense entered official meltdown territory.
Yes, the Cowboys defense has been struck with a strong injury bug, but the onus is on Rob Ryan to get his players in position and ready to handle the deep balls that were guaranteed to come their way. All blame falls on him for putting out a squad that simply gave the big plays to RGIII on a silver turkey platter.
Credit where credit is due
The one bright spot against the Redskins came from the play of Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris who combined for 11 catches and 139 yards. They both seemed more than ready to handle the responsibility of prime time, something you can't say about former standout Kevin Ogletree.
The one bright spot against the Redskins came from the play of Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris.
Beasley's amazing one-handed grab and Harris' down-field blocking on Bryant's first touchdown showed veteran ability.
Dez Bryant continued to impress, even considering his terribly costly fumble. The jump ball he couldn't come up with in the end zone was disappointing as well — particularly because he was drafted specifically to make those kinds of plays — but otherwise Bryant made the most of a night.
And while the secondary had their worst game of the season, the defensive line played surprisingly well, especially considering they were without Jay Ratliff. With all the physical abuse RGIII received from the D line, it's amazing he stayed limber and injury free.
Shame where shame is due
The Cowboys coaching deserves a second helping of shame for the inability to instill any sort of discipline in this team. From not getting all of the players off the field on a punt return to the absurd amount of false start penalties, the Cowboys continue to show first-game jitters as they enter the final stretch of the season.
But the ultimate reason for the loss (and the Cowboys losing season) comes down to Jerry Jones. His sub-par management tactics include throwing money at failures like Roy Williams and Marion Barber and underachievers like Doug Free, as well as getting penalized millions of dollars for trying to gyp the salary cap.
Jones ran out of the money necessary to field a squad that had the proper amount of depth to adequately compete in a 16-game season. Deep teams win championships, and the Cowboys are just hoping for another 8-8 season.