A week after suffering their first lost of the season, the Dallas Cowboys were back at work against the Cincinnati Bengals on national television. This game proved to be way closer, and much more difficult than it should have been.
The Cincinnati Bengals are a winless team that took the New York Giants to overtime. Their star quarterback Carson Palmer has a hurt elbow that caused him to sit out against Cleveland, and he missed all of last weeks practices. Their superstar receiver Chad Johnson may as well be back at Oregon State because outside of a couple interviews this past week, he has done absolutely nothing on the field. Nonetheless the Bengals are a team that has not given up on their coach Marvin Lewis, and they appear to be ready to fight to the bitter end of this season.
The Bengals let it be known early in the week, that they felt they could move the ball against the Dallas secondary and for three quarters they did exactly that. The problems within the Dallas secondary seem to get worst every week. Terrence Newman is not healthy, and it shows. Adam Jones honestly is not a strong defensive back, and he is having trouble adjusting to the new schemes. At Tennessee he was able to run a lot of man coverage and just use his natural athletic ability to make plays, that does not fly in the Cowboys defense.
The Bengals moved the ball against Dallas with relative ease, T.J. racked up two TD’s including one that he walked in for in the late moments of the third quarter.
On the otherside of the ball, Dallas went back to basics and by God it worked. The Cowboys ran the ball early and they ran it often. Felix Jones had a monster day, finishing up just shy of his first 100 yard performance. Why they do not feed that man the ball 15-20 times a game I will never know. On a 4th and 3 he showed why he is so dangerous when he broke to the outside and scampered for a 33 yard touchdown.
Marion Barber came out and did exactly what he does best. He fought and he clawed and he bullied his way to another solid day. Barber is the type of back that has to get a lot of touches. The more he gets his hands on the ball, the more he gets used to the contact. Conversly, the more he touches the ball, the less the defense wants to confront him and come late in the game, guys are throwing arm tackles at him, and he can break those everytime.
Tony Romo had two turnovers on Sunday, an interception in the third on a horribly underthrown ball, and fumble in the second quarter when he was scrambling for a first town. I’m at the point now when I just expect Romo to turn the ball over. And that may not be the best way to view a starting QB, but he seems to be unable to control himself, and he is going to put a ball on the turf or toss it to the other team. Much like Brett Favre you just have to expect those things, and just hope and pray that it does not ruin your team.
The Cowboy’s escaped with a win on Sunday, and were able to keep pace with the NFC East. The importance of that cannot be overstated. The Washington Redskins are a legitimate threat and will be a NFC powerhouse. The New York Giants already are a powerhouse and look like they can repeat as Super Bowl Champions. The Eagles are banged up and they are down, but they always play hard, and you can bet the Eagles would love to play spoiler to a couple NFC East teams come late in the season. The Cowboys have to continue to find ways to win games to keep pace in the most difficult conference in football.