Last night’s Cowboys vs. Jets game could not have had a better beginning.
It all started with a moving pre-game tribute to honor the victims of 9/11 which included a rendition of Amazing Grace on the bagpipes, followed by chants of, “U-S-A!” I doubt there was a dry eye in the house.
As the night progressed, however, the Dallas Cowboys went from good, to bad, then to flat out ugly.
The Cowboys looked good in the first 3 quarters of the game. The offense was moving the football, mostly through the air, and surprisingly the Cowboys’ first half defense was stellar.
Rob Ryan’s unit held the potent Jets’ offense to one first-half touchdown, and that didn’t come until less than a minute remaining in the half. In fact, the Jets had only 10 points heading into the 4th quarter.
Dallas also forced two key turnovers in the 4th quarter, including Sean Lee’s interception which he returned to the Jets’ 1 yard line, and Danny McCray’s sack on Sanchez, forcing then recovering the fumble.
The rushing defense did an outstanding job, holding the Jets’ to a mere 45 rushing yards for the game.
Also, while it may not seem like much , rookie place-kicker, Dan Bailey, hit his lone field goal attempt of 34 yards and was perfect on extra points.
As usual, Jason Witten was incredible, with 6 catches for 110 yards, and Miles Austin, despite missing several weeks, had a solid game.
Even Tony Romo started out looking quite good in the first three quarters, but unfortunately for him, a football game consists of four.
As good as the offense and defense looked in the first the quarters, they looked equally bad in the fourth.
The Cowboys’, already thin secondary, got even thinner during the game. Orlando Scandrick and Mike Jenkins were both knocked out of the game, and at one point, the Cowboys were playing their 4th and 5th cornerbacks. The Jets took full advantaged and attacked.
Dallas managed only 64 yards on the ground for the entire game, and the offense stagnated at the most inopportune times. The passing attack, which was successful early, began to flounder when it was most needed. Dez Braynt was fighting cramps all night, and did nothing after catching 3 passes, including a touchdown, on the first drive of the game.
The fourth quarter turned very ugly for Dallas, with 12 minutes left in the game, when it looked as though they were going to put the game out of reach.
It all began when Tony Romo fumbled a ball on the Cowboys’ own three yard line, and the Jets recovered.
From there, it just got uglier and uglier.
Dallas’ next possession ended with a blocked punt that the Jets returned for a touchdown to tie the game, though Dallas had their chance a couple of possessions later, but on the very first play of the drive, Romo threw an interception.
Then, in a huge twist of irony, former Cowboy Nick Folk, kicked the go-ahead field goal with 49 seconds remaining in the game.
Just as Dallas was moving into field goal range to try and tie the game, there was miscommunication between Rookie, Bill Nagy and Romo, who fumbled the snap, though he did recover it in time to throw it away. However, it wasted valuable time, and the clock eventually ran out with yet another opportunity wasted.
It’s apparent that the Cowboys have the talent to win games (though injuries are killing the secondary and the run game needs to find its stride).
They showed us that they have the ability to go into a hostile environment and play well against a very good team.
They just have to figure out a way to keep their heads on straight when push comes to shove. For a team that has been struggling mentally for years, it unfortunately, isn’t that easy.