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Analysis/Reaction | Page 2

Dallas Cowboys Analysis/Reaction

Written by Darren | 10 November 2011

As we get ready for the showdown with the Buffalo Bills, we decided to do another Q&A session with one of our Bloguin colleagues. This week, we get the answers about the Bills from Buffalo Wins. We appreciate their insight and taking the time to answer our questions.


Q: Ryan Fitzpatrick is putting up numbers this year that far exceed anything else he has done in his career. What has been the difference this season compared with his other years in Buffalo?

A: I think it is just about getting in a comfort level and having more experience. Entering this season, Fitzpatrick only started two seasons worth of games. You don't have to be a football historian to know that when you play more, you will get better. I think a lot of the credit has to goto Gailey, who has really designed the offense around Fitzpatrick's skill sets. He's not a QB who is going to burn defenses with the deep ball, but he is better suited for underneath routes. You will be seeing a lot of 8-10 yard comeback routes or slants. In Fitz's last 21 starts, he has 38 touchdowns and has passed for almost 5,000 yards. We are talking about a guy who during his first year in Buffalo had only one game where he passed for over 200 yards (8 starts). He's also gone from completing 55% of his passes last year to 65% this year.

Q: I see the Buffalo Bills as a team with a few wins where the other team got complacent with the lead which opened the door for a come back, a few wins where the other team threw four interceptions, and a quarterback putting up numbers out of line with the rest of his career. I question whether this fast start can be repeated in the 2nd half of the season. As a Bills fan, tell me why I am wrong to think it won't be.

A: You make a few good points. I think you have to give them credit though for coming back in those games. It's not every season that you have a defense intercept Tom Brady and Mike Vick four times each. You also have to give credit to Fitzpatrick for being able to throw for 300 yards in back-to-back games against the Raiders and Patriots. Now do the Bills have issues? Yes, there defense is kind of useless when they don't force turnovers. Besides their 9-sack performance against the pitiful Redskins, they have only forced 5 sacks in the other 7 games. They have also give up over 400 yards in offense in 5 games this year. I think if the Bills have any success going forward, they need to get better on defense. As for the 2nd half, the Bills schedule does have some winnable games. Broncos, Titans and Dolphins (twice). The Bills opponents for the first 8 games had a combined 36-28 record. Only two of those teams are one game under .500 while the rest are over the mark. I should also note that they came very close to knocking the Bengals and Giants off, which would have given them a 7-1 record.

Q: What are the Bills’ strengths, both offensively and defensively?

A: Offensively, I think the way they use Fred Jackson is their biggest strength. Fred can do everything. Pass block, catch screens and run over people. Fred's averaging over 5-yards a carry and is on pace to go over 2,000 yards in total offense. The Bills also do a decent job in protecting Fitzpatrick, as he's only been sacked 9 times this year. It will be interesting to see how the Cowboys defend him. As for the defense, they are great when it comes to forcing turnovers. I'm not sure where it comes from because we give up a lot of yards, but the team has caused 20 turnovers this year. They have also 3 interception returns for touchdowns. However, I wouldn't exactly say our defense is a huge strength. I think Cowboys fans should keep an eye on Nick Barnett, Marcell Dareus, Jairus Byrd and George Wilson. They are our best players on defense.

Q: Give me one matchup that favors the Bills you want them to exploit and one matchup favoring the Cowboys you are afraid they will exploit.

A: I think the Bills can beat the Cowboys defense by going over the middle and using the tight end and running backs out of the backfield. I think the middle of your defense is kind of suspect. You guys don't seem to have quick linebackers inside and I think the Bills can take advantage of your safeties. Cowboys offense scares me a bit. The Bills have given up 20 points or more in 6 out of 8 games this season. If I'm the Cowboys, I get Jason Witten involved as often as possible. The Bills have always had issues with defending the tight end. 

Q: Chan Gailey is a face Cowboys fans are familiar with. To be honest, I never really liked what he did while he was in Dallas. What are your thoughts on Chan Gailey?

A: Chan has been great so far for us. If you look at the Bills personnel on offense, our QB and #1 WR are carryovers from the Jauron era. Stevie Johnson had something like 11 career catches before Gaily got his hands on him. Fitz was a nobody. Hell, the whole offense is a bunch of nobodies. Only Eric Wood (1st round), Andy Levitre (2nd round), Scott Chanlder (4th round) and Kraig Urbik (3rd round) were drafted below the 7th round. The rest of the starters on offense are either 7th round picks or undrafted free agents. We've had a ton of injuries to our wideouts and the offensive line, and yet, we haven't missed a beat. Gailey calls the offensive plays and he is really a master of game planning. I will say, the one thing he does that can annoy Bills fans is that he can be too pass happy. He just seems to kind of pass on the wrong times. He tried to force feed the pass last week against the Jets, when he should have just ran Fred more.

Q: Who wins this game?

A: I think this will be a  high scoring game. I think both offenses can roll up some serious chunks of yardage. I'm not sure how I feel about Rob Ryan's defense, because you guys seem to shut down some bad offenses (Seahawks and Rams), but when Stafford and Vick came around, they made Rob look like the black sheep of the Ryan family. I think it boils down to QBs.  Fitz and Romo have a few traits in common. One second, they can look like top tier QBs, the next minute you are just shaking your head at a key interception they just threw. I think the Bills will be able to force turnovers and should be able to pull it out. Bills, 30-24.
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Written by Darren | 03 November 2011

It’s not too late to write this ship. To sit here and say the Dallas Cowboys are done for the season is a little premature. As I said in a previous post this week, I believe the Cowboys can go 4-1 over their next 5 games and get their record to 7-5. Of course a 7-5 record is nothing to phone home about but the Giants have a tough schedule coming up and the Eagles got off to a slow start, which could hurt them. I’m not expecting the Redskins to really make any noise the rest of the season.

The Giants – Currently lead the Division at 5-2 but their next 5 games are: @New England, @San Fran, Philly, @Nola and Green Bay. At best I could see them going 2-3 but I think 1-4 is more realistic. We play NY twice in the month of December so things could get very tight between us.

The Eagles – Currently 3-4 and their next 5 are: Chicago, Arizona, @NYG, New England, @Seattle so they don’t have a very hard schedule. The could realistically go 3-2 over their next 5 which could make the Christmas Eve showdown in Dallas an extremely important game.

I’m trying to be optimistic here!! Our first obstacle is beating the Seahawks. It’s one of those games that makes me a little nervous because there is no reason the Cowboys shouldn’t run them out of the building but they hung in there with Atlanta one week, losing the game late, beat the Giants pretty easily, then lost a 6-3 game to Cleveland and then got run over by the Bengals. I honestly don’t know what to expect from Seattle. They are a very young and very inexperienced team but that doesn’t mean they can’t figure out how it all works one week. I do like that the game is in our building. Tarvaris Jackson is no Michael Vick, Marshawn Lynch is no LeSean McCoy, Sidney Rice and Mike Williams are no DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin but that doesn’t mean we can just look past this game.

Seattle’s rush defense is actually pretty decent, only giving up an average or 3.2 yards per carry and have only given up 5 rushing TD’s this season. Their passing defense is the key to beating them as they average 7.4 yards per pass and have given up 8 TD’s but they do have 8 INT’s. I am expecting Romo, Witten, Bryant and Austin to have big games this week. Offensively, Seattle isn’t very good and I think this might be the week that Ware at least ties Jim Jeffcoat for the most sacks in franchise history.

I do think Dallas wins this game and I think they do so by a decent margin. We need to show the world that we aren’t as bad as what we put on the field the other night in Philadelphia.

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Written by Darren | 02 November 2011

Are we over the Cowboys loss to the Eagles yet? It is currently Wednesday but I still have a really bad taste in my mouth after sitting through that game the other night. There was a game last season that left me in a similar state of mind. That game, a 45-7 blowout by the Green Bay Packers which ended up being Wade Philips last game in Big D. The difference between that game and this game against the Eagles is that the Cowboys just gave up on Philips and it showed on the field. In this game, the Eagles were just a stronger football team which still doesn’t leave me feeling very good but it was a different reason they weren’t in the game. Hopefully the players have gotten the images from the other night out of their minds and are ready to move on to the Seattle Seahawks, who have put together a good game here and there.

It seems that all the criticism that comes with being the Dallas Cowboys QB has finally broken Tony Romo. It looks like he’s afraid to do anything out there on the field. When Romo makes a mistake, the following week is spent crushing the guy’s spirit.  On the flipside, when he does something great, he’s paraded around town for the week. He gets too much credit and too much blame and I think he’s playing the type of football where he’s hesitant to do anything because he doesn’t want to get the blame again and probably doesn’t want the credit either. When you’re out there trying to find a way for your team to win, whatever the outcome, mentally all the finger pointing and jokes has to weigh you down at some point. Troy Aikman was a great QB but he had a great Running Back and a great line, something Romo has never really had. I’ll never question if Romo is a great QB because we already know that he is. I just don’t know if he’s strong enough to play the mental game that is needed in Dallas.

There has been a lot of talk this week about who is the bigger disappointment, Felix Jones or Doug Free. I honestly don’t think it’s been either of them. Going into the season, I questioned whether or not Felix Jones could handle the #1 job. Jones had 185 carries last season and Barber had 113. The most carries Jones saw before last season was 116. More carries meant a lot more hits and we weren’t sure what kind of durability Jones would have. We found out that he wasn’t very durable but to say he’s a huge disappointment isn’t exactly fair since we might have been asking him to do something he’s just not made to do.

I was never really sure about Doug Free as a player. A few years ago, Flozell Adams went down in the playoff game at Minnesota and the Cowboys had to rely on Free. From that moment in the game, the Vikings Defense took control of the game. I realize Free had a decent season leading up to that but I never bought into the idea that he was THAT good but Dallas did and cut ties with Flozell after the season. There are arguments that can be made about the Cowboys doing the right thing by getting rid of Davis and Columbo but you can’t argue that those guys knew how to move the line. So far this season, the Dallas O-line hasn’t done a great job at pushing the defense back. So if you asked me for my vote in the” biggest disappointment” department, it would have to be the O-line as a whole.

Like I said, I’m not over what I saw and didn’t see on the field the other night and I don’t know if I will get over by the time the Seahawks game starts. I’m thinking that I need a great performance from the Cowboys this weekend to put the Philadelphia Massacre behind me.


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Written by Darren | 27 October 2011

Cowboys–Eagles, are you ready? This is a HUGE game. I don’t care which way you look at it but this game is HUGE. As I’ve touched on before, the only way I see Dallas making the playoffs this season is by winning the NFC East. So no matter how you look at it, the Cowboys can’t let the Eagles win this game. Of course, that might be harder than we think. Andy Reid and his Eagles are a perfect 12-0 when coming off the bye and oh look, they had a bye last week.

All eyes have to be on the ground game. The Eagles own the #1 rushing offense in the NFL while the Cowboys own the NFL’s #1 rushing defense.  If you look at the flipside, the Eagles have a poor rushing defense and the Cowboys, while coming off a huge rushing performance against the Rams, haven’t really had success in that department this season.
When it comes to the passing game, we know Vick can be a great quarterback and we know that Romo can be a great quarterback. Notice I said can be in both cases. Both QB’s have a lot of options when it comes to passing plays and both will get some points through those options but I really believe the team that walks away from this game with the win will be the team that had success on the ground.

The story of Rob Ryan saying he’d kick the Eagles ass is starting to creep up again but I think that headline is irrelevant at this point. First off, the comment was made in August so I don’t see a 12 week old comment really being used to fire up your squad. Secondly, if you need that comment to fire up your squad, then something is wrong. I would think that having your season on the brink of doom should be enough of a spark to fire up your team. Sadly though, the media is running wild with this comment.

Of course this game makes me nervous because I feel, for the first time this season, that this is a critical game for Dallas. I’m not overly confident about the Cowboys when it comes to critical matchups. At least Dancing Andy make me laugh and relax a bit..

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Written by Darren | 20 October 2011

In my season preview, I had the Dallas Cowboys at 3-2 going into this game with the Rams. Surprisingly I’m not too far off but honestly this team could be 4-1 or 5-0 if it wasn’t for them beating themselves, so being 2-3 is depressing.

This game has a familiar feel to it mainly because St. Louis is under performing. Back in 2008, the Cowboys were playing host to the 1-4 Rams. The Cowboys had lost in Arizona the previous week and also lost Romo to a thumb injury. The Rams left Dallas with a 34-14 victory. Let’s hope this time it is a little different.

It’s getting pretty tight for Dallas in my opinion. If Dallas wants to get into the playoffs, then the only way to do that is to win the division. I know it is early in the season still but stick with me for a moment. No one argues that Green Bay is going to win their division and right now, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that Detroit will end up with one of the two wildcards. In the NFC South you have Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Atlanta battling it out for that division and I feel fairly confident that the 2nd Wildcard team will come from that division. That means, in order to play in January, the Cowboys are going to have to win the NFC East. Currently they sit in 3rd place with a 2-3 record, behind Washington and New York. The Cowboys still have 5 games to play against NFC East opponents but they typically split the season series with NY and Philly. What does this mean? The Cowboys HAVE to stop losing and have to do so now!! Games like the Jets and Lions are killing us because those were wins that were within our grasp.

This game is winnable, BEYOND winnable but it’s a trap game as well. Dallas could technically go into this game thinking the win is in the bag and focused on a huge game against Philly next week.  St. Louis has to be hungry for a win and I am sure Spagnuolo would welcome a win against an old NFC East opponent (remember Spagnuolo came from NY). A win for Dallas keeps them in hunt for the division, while a win for St. Louis gives their team some validation for showing up every day and working hard. So I ask you, which team is hungrier??

Things I would like to see from this game:

Philip Tanner – Our running game is pathetic so why not turn to him a little more at this point. He showed some promise in the preseason but hasn’t seen any valuable time in the regular season. He can’t do any worse than what has been done can he?

Tony Romo –Enough with the conservative play calling. Let Tony be Tony and if Tony loses the game on an interception late, so be it but you can’t have what happened in San Fran happen by going conservative and not letting Tony take a chance down field.

Dez Bryant – For god sakes put him back on punt returns. Thankfully the Cowboys parted ways with Dwayne Harris but now it is sounding like Olgetree will be taking Harris’s spot on returns. Bryant had some nice moves last season so why not put him back there? Did anyone see him juke two Patriots last weekend on a catch and run??

A Win – There is just NO EXCUSE to lose this game..NONE!! If the Cowboys lose on Sunday, I am warning you now about the kind of article that will be written Monday morning.

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Written by Darren | 18 October 2011

aDan Bailey – The Cowboys kicking game was always a point of frustration for me.  Dan Bailey has been a bright spot in a position that has really been a sore spot for the Cowboys in recent years.  David Buehler was so-so last season when it came to kicking FGs, making 24 of 32 but Bailey has gone 15 of 16 this season and done a decent job on kickoffs while Buehler heals from a groin injury. Will Buehler be able to get any part of his job back when he’s healed?

fRunning Game – This continues to be a sore spot for the Cowboys this season. They currently are last in yardage gained on the ground this season (348 yards total) and are 29th in Yards per attempt with 3.3.  Felix Jones has suffered the dreaded high-ankle sprain and will likely miss the upcoming game against St. Louis and then some. So now we have to rely on DeMarco Murray and Tashard Choice.

dJason Garrett – His play calling is somewhat questionable. At one point. the Cowboys have 3rd and goal with Bryant lined up with man on man coverage and instead of calling a high percentage fade to Bryant, Garrett gets cute and pulls out the old shovel pass, a play the Cowboys haven’t run all season. When the Cowboys get the ball back with a few minutes remaining, Garrett decides to go to his running game to try and run out the clock. Keep in mind that the Patroits have a great rush defense and a poor pass defense. When facing a 3rd and 18, Garrett opts to keep it on the ground, thus giving the ball back to Brady for one last drive and we know how that ended.

bCornerbacks– Yes, the Cowboys lost the game with the defense on the field and it was done so by Brady throwing the football but Brady is tough to beat in that situation. I thought overall, our corners did a bang up job. Deion Branch had 3 catches/69 yards/0 touchdowns and Welker has 6 catches/45 yards/1 TD. That is as close to getting shut down as I think you will see the New England wide receiving corps all season.

fJerry Jones – He’s not escaping me this week. He’s a problem but that is something Cowboys fans have lived with and dealt with for a very long time. Once again Jones has gone to the media and voiced his displeasure, this time on the conservative play calling made at the end of the game on Sunday. Once again Jerry Jones didn’t hesitate to second-guess his own coach after a loss and did so in a public forum. I’m not angry about the second-guessing, I did it above in this article. I’m angry that he always does this publicly. Why can’t Jerry Jones figure out that if he feels the need to let the coaching staff know his opinion, that he should do so privately?
Believe it or not. on Tuesday, Jerry had this to say on a KRLD Radio interview  about the whole thing. "I would say that probably if I had that to do over again, I wouldn't comment, period.”  And I would say if you had to do it over again, you would act the same way you’ve always acted. There is a reason I don’t make posts directly after the game and that reason is because I would regret my first reaction to a loss. There’s a lot to be said about removing yourself from the situation while you calm down but that is something Jones will never learn.

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Written by Darren | 11 October 2011

Heading into Foxboro this Sunday, the Cowboys will have something they haven’t had yet this season, a complete set of cornerbacks. Orlando Scandrick returned to practice on Monday, Terrence Newman has played the last two games and Mike Jenkins continues to battle through all his injuries.  It’s a good thing these three are ready to go because they are going to be needed this weekend, along with Gerald Sensabaugh and Abe Elam because the New England Patriots are a serious threat when it comes to passing the ball.

Through five games, Wes Welker has proved to the Patriots how valuable his services are because he leads the NFL in receiving yards. In fact, his 740 yards so far this season is the most accrued through five NFL games ever.  To think Miami gave up Welker for a second and seventh round pick in 2007 (Samson Satele and Abraham Wright). You’re probably saying “who?” right about now, I know I did when I looked up who they got in return.

Welker has made himself a house hold name and his numbers over the last few years have been good but this year, they are off the charts. He’s averaging 16 yards a reception and already has 5 Touchdowns to go along with his 740 yards. To put that in perspective, Witten leads the Cowboys in most yards received with 366 and Austin leads the team in Touchdowns with 4. Does shutting down Wes Welker mean putting a huge dent into the Patriots abilities on offense? Is it possible to shut down Wes Welker?

The Cowboys will need to do a fantastic job of stopping the underneath and across the middle routes. Looking at the breakdown, it appears that this is where Brady finds Welker a lot. In order to create this space, look for the Patriots to occupy Sean Lee (James and Brooking when Lee is not out there) with their two tight ends. If they are successful, it will be up to Scandrick, Jenkins and Newman to try and stop the underneath option. The key with disrupting any offense is to try and put pressure on the QB but Welker is so quick that the defense will have to be prepared for what he brings to the Patriot offense.

This will certainly be a test for the Dallas defense but I do feel better about it knowing that the guys we need to be in there, will be in there.

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Written by Darren | 10 October 2011

Let's hope this isn't an image we see very often next Sunday!!

We've neglected our duties here during the bye week and we apologize but now it is time to get back to the Dallas Cowboys.

Anyone see the Patriots game yesterday?? I'm not very comfortable knowing we get to go into that environment on Sunday. However, I'm a little excited about playing the New England Defense because they've seem to allow teams to run all over the field. It's Tom Brady and that potent offense that I worry about. The Buffalo Bills proved that the Patriots aren't the Green Bay Packers (who even though they might lose a game here or there, I view them as unbeatable) and the Cowboys should focus on what made Buffalo so successful against them. The one thing we won't be able to replicate and that's that the Bills have complete confidence in Fitzpatrick but look at the little things Buffalo did and replicate that.

Believe it or not, when the Cowboys resume practice Monday it might be the first time the team has a healthy 53-man roster. Miles Austin, who missed the last two games with a hamstring injury is expected to return for the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon. This will be the first time that Austin and Bryant are on the same field since Week 1 and Bryant was severly hadicapped most of that game. This will be a boost to the Cowboys offense that clearly misses Austin and would allow Olgetree to see a significant decrease in playing time (a good thing). 

We will get way more in depth this week about the upcoming Cowboys/Pats game but we just wanted to let you know we were sorry for neglecting you for a week!!

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Written by Darren | 29 September 2011

Truth be told, the Dallas Cowboys are exactly where I thought they would be at this point. I didn’t feel that they were going to beat the Jets (although looking back they should have) and I thought they would rebound with wins against the 49ers and the Redskins. I didn’t predict that the Jets game would come down to the final few minutes and I thought the Cowboys would have had an easier time in San Francisco and the Washington rivalry is always a tricky one to predict. None the less, they are 2-1 like I thought they would be.

Now, the Lions are NOT where I thought they would be.  Week 4 was going to present the Lions with their 3rd road game of the season and while I knew the Lions needed a healthy Stafford to have any success, I didn’t think Detroit would march into Minnesota and beat them in their own building and honestly thought Tampa Bay might take care of them in their building back in week 1. I also didn’t predict Calvin Johnson to be the monster he is. I was wrong about  Detroit, they are a good football team and a 4-0 start for Detroit is certainly in the realm of possibility.

Going into the game on Sunday, here is what I feel good about. I think the Cowboys Defense will be able to get to Stafford and I think they could do it all afternoon and create stability problems for their offense. Like last week, I am not going into this game fearing the Lions running game at all. I would expect Jahvid Best to mirror what Felix Jones did on Monday night, which was struggle for the most part and bang off a few big gains but for the most part, the Lions running game should be contained.

Now, on to the things that worry me about this match up. Tony Romo is already banged up and I truly fear for his wellbeing this weekend. On Monday night, we got to watch former Cowboy Stephen Bowen run right over Bill Nagy on a few plays and created havoc for Doug Free in other parts of the game. And that was just Stephen Bowen. The Cowboys offensive line now has to deal with one of the scariest defensive tackles in the league, Ndamukong Suh. In fact, the Lions front four is probably the best unit the Cowboys will have faced this season with Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch and the possibility of Nick Fairley getting back in the lineup. It could be a LONG day for our line, Tony Romo and our running game.

Stafford has a great weapon in Calvin Johnson and he proved just how great he was last week. If the Cowboys can’t get to Stafford like I think they can, WATCH OUT. When Stafford throws the jump ball up to Johnson with the right velocity and height, there isn’t a defensive back in this league that can stop that. The only hope for our secondary is to put a huge hit on Johnson during those jump balls in hopes that they jar the ball loose but the guy is so good that probably won’t do much. It could be a  LONG day for our secondary.

Hopefully the Cowboys have worked hard this week to correct the mistakes they made against Washington because unlike Washington, Detroit will make Dallas pay for those mistakes. If the Cowboys can find a way to be successful against the Lions and head into our bye week at 3-1, it would be a huge boost to our confidence. We are going to need the boost because we are looking at a trip to Foxboro after our bye week but the Lions front 4 and the Stafford to Johnson aspect of their offense has me worried, REAL WORRIED.

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Written by Darren | 28 September 2011

I was pretty hard on the Cowboys in my recap yesterday but to be honest, that feeling hasn’t gone away so don’t expect my Pass or Fail marks to have a different tone.

aSean Lee – Keith Brooking and Brady James are still spending most of the game as spectators and there is a very good reason why. Sean Lee comes to play and in the case of the other night, was one of the few players I felt good about. It used to be when the defense hit the field, I would focus on D.Ware but lately, my attention has been moving to Sean Lee.

fMartellus Bennett – We’ve been waiting on the Bennett’s game to show up for years and its becoming painfully obvious that it is never going to show up, at least not while he wears a Cowboys uniform. Witten is our star tight end, no one argues that but I always thought that Bennett had the size and ability to make teams fear a 1-2 punch from the Dallas tight ends. At this point, we just have to wait this guy out I guess and start scouting NCAA Tight Ends to find Bennett’s replacement.

bTony Romo – He put on a gutsy performance the other night. In the pregame warm ups, you could see that his broken ribs were causing him quite a bit of discomfort and when the Redskins would get to him, there were times I wondered if it would be too much pain. He didn’t get much help from his team and on the game winning drive, the 3 and 21 floater to Dez was mostly on Tony to get him the ball. Dez also mentioned that Tony’s decision to play inspired him to put aside his own injury and get out there. No Touchdowns though so I can't go higher than a B+

fPhilip Costa – He’s lucky that Tony didn’t choke him to death, right there on the 50-yard line. Even if the Redskins were calling out snap counts to confuse him, it shouldn’t be that easy. Why they didn’t go to a silent snap count to fix the issues is beyond me but I just can’t believe what I was seeing the other night. Thankfully those mistakes didn’t cost us too much during the game but they certainly could have.

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