First Response: Packers 37, Cowboys 36

First Response: Packers 37, Cowboys 36

Credit: Getty Images

Running back Eddie Lacy #27 of the Green Bay Packers scores a fourth quarter touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during a game at AT&T Stadium on December 15, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 37-36. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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by LANDON HAAF

WFAA Sports

Posted on December 16, 2013 at 5:00 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 16 at 8:57 PM

Alright, if you want my genuine “first response” to the Cowboys’ meltdown against Green Bay, it would read something like this:

… Speechlessness.

It’s hard to come up with words about that performance at the House That Jerry Built – by the Team that Jerry Built, run by The Coaching Staff that Jerry Built – but I’m gonna try to come up with about 900 of ‘em in this space.

A breakdown of the one-point debacle of a loss, including the positives, the negatives, and a glass-half-full outlook... Just kidding about that last part, there is nothing to be optimistic about.

The positives

I’ll keep this short and sweet, cause You the Reader know what the bulk of this baby is going to be about.

Dez Bryant followed his two-reception, twelve-yard performance in Chicago with his first 100-yard day since week 7. His 11 catches, 153 yards, and 17 targets were all season highs as no. 88 saw double-digit targets for the sixth time in 2013. Bryant isn’t the sole reason for offensive success – as we’ve now seen the Cowboys lose six of the eight games in which Bryant caught at least one touchdown – but his consistent involvement in the offense looked to be a great sign early and was a big part of giving Dallas a chance to win. 

An area of the great sport of football that is often overlooked is the kicking game. As Ray Lewis said in a TV commercial for EA Sports’ Madden 2004 video game, “kickers speak when spoken to.”

But I think Dan Bailey has earned the right to initiate conversation. And that conversation could very well be about him being the most talented player at his position on this Cowboys roster. Bailey hit five field goals Sunday, including kicks from 43 yards, 47 yards, and two from 50 yards out. The Oklahoma State product is 19-of-21 on the year and hasn’t missed a field goal since week 4. He’s as automatic as they come, and has been a consistent bright spot on a wildly inconsistent team.

And, for the weekly installment in the positives section of this piece, the starting tailback for your Dallas Cowboys, DeMarco Murray. Murray averaged 7.6 yards per carry, totaling 134 yards on the ground, and added four catches out of the backfield.

But…

The negatives

Albert Einstein – who, by my estimation, was much smarter than I am – said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And by that logic, the Cowboys are certifiably insane on the offensive side of the football.

Playcalling, playcalling, playcalling.

DeMarco Murray repeatedly puts up strong numbers in the running game, and is repeatedly abandoned as games progress. Murray had seven carries for 77 yards in the first quarter, but only four carries (for 16 yards, which included a one-yard touchdown) in the second quarter. On Dallas’s first drive of the second quarter, Romo dropped back to pass eight consecutive times before the ‘Boys punted it away.

Then he had just seven more carries in the entire second half. All the while gaining the aforementioned 7.6 yards per carry. Now, I don’t want to insult anyone’s math skills. But to put that in a different perspective, Murray’s effort was good for a first down every 1.3 carries. The fact that his touches decreased throughout the game is beyond me, and quite frankly should have Bill Callahan cleaning out his office on Monday.

Now, Tony Romo can certainly shoulder a lot of the blame for how the end of the game played out. He seemed to make a concentrated effort at losing that football game. Romo threw two inexcusable interceptions, and what I thought was a bad call on an instant replay prevented a third. His first INT was a perfect microcosm of the Romo narrative – he made an impressive play to avoid a pass rush and get the opportunity to make a throw, and ended up throwing it into the arms of Sam Shields, just behind his intended receiver.

But no. 9 should’ve never been in that situation to begin with. No one in their right mind asks the quarterback to throw 48 times in a game in which their team is winning for 58:29 (over 97 percent of the game). Ever.  

At the half, the Cowboys had 27 pass attempts and only 11 rushing attempts. But yet, they carried a 23-point lead into the intermission. Jeff Sullivan (@SullyBaldHead) tweeted this at the break:

Okay, just so I'm clear, fans are [complaining] about the play calling with the Cowboys leading 26-3 at halftime. Now I've seen it all.

Well, those complaints were completely justified, as the refusal to run the football preserved the clock and gave Green Bay ample opportunity to get back in the game.

The Cheeseheads scored touchdowns on each of their first five drives of the second half – a genre of statistic that is becoming all too commonplace for the 2013 Cowboys defense. Yet another backup quarterback looked like John Elway throwing against the ‘Boys. That’s embarrassing. The defense is embarrassing. They can’t stop anyone doing anything. Period. And the ailing unit was depleted even further as Justin Durant and Ernie Sims left with injuries.

But again, the D probably shouldn’t have been in a situation to lose the game. I’d bet a good amount of money (we’ll go with Monopoly® money, since I might get in trouble for betting real American currency on sports I cover) that Green Bay wouldn’t have even gotten the ball enough times to mount a comeback if Murray ran the ball 30 times in Sunday’s game.

The Cowboys seemed to be playing not to lose, rather than playing to win. And, well, mission sorely unaccomplished, due to atrocious defense and flabbergasting, unintelligent playcalling.

It leaves me rooting for a loss in Washington – the only thing that might be more embarrassing than Sunday’s defeat – in week 16. Because the Dallas Cowboys don’t deserve the playoffs. The coaching staff, the owner, and the players don’t deserve the playoffs. 

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