By Chris Murray
For the NFC'Easter
You can't blame Terrell Owens for this one.
The Cowboys 33-31 loss to the New York Giants in what was a very winnable game came down to a couple of malingering problems from the last couple of seasons—Tony Romo's penchant for mistakes and having one of the worst secondaries in football.
For starters, I don't want hear from any Cowboys fans who say Romo is a better quarterback without the melodramatics of Owens. All three of Romo's interceptions against the Giants led to 24 points. What should really bother Cowboys fans about Romo's miscues was that it wasn't like the Giants were bringing a whole lot of pressure on the quarterback.
New York had zero sacks, but held Romo to 13-of-29 passing for 127 yards, one touchdown and three picks-including one that went for a touchdown. He completed just four passes to a wide receiver. In front over 100,000 fans at the new state-of-the art Cowboys Stadium in the glare of a national television audience, Romo was simply awful. He stank on toast against a Giants defense that was without two of its starters.
This was the Cowboys squad that hasn't a won a playoff game in over decade and has struggled in December. Once again, Dallas comes up a small in a big game. The only bright spot in this loss was that the Cowboys rushing attack rolled up 251 yards on the ground. Marion Barber, who left with a leg injury, gained 124 yards rushing while Felix Jones ran 96 yards.
I'm thinking the Cowboys should resort to a three-pronged rushing attack similar to what both the Eagles and the Giants have had in recent years to take the
pressure off Romo.
But given some of the silly mistakes that Romo made, you have to wonder if that will even if that will help him from making that game-killing throw.
There's no Owens crying and moaning about not getting catches—he's taken that act to Buffalo. There's no one to blame in this situation but Romo himself. The good news for Cowboys fans is that it's still early in the season and Romo and erstwhile offensive coordinator Jason Garrett have some time to get it together. But they better do it quick.
Just as bad as Romo's performance was the Dallas defense—most notably the secondary. When Romo wasn't giving the Giants a score or a short field with which to work, the Cowboys defensive backs could not guard anybody. G-men receivers—Mario Manningham and Steve Smith combined for 20 receptions and 284 of Eli Manning's 330 yards passing.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys front seven, which includes All-Pro defensive end DeMarcus Ware barely laid a glove on Manning and let him have all the time in the world to pick apart a weak secondary.
And so it wasn't surprising to see Manning do a reenactment of his Super Bowl-winning drive against the Patriots on the Giants final drive against the Cowboys, who had taken a one-point lead with 3: 46 left in the game. On the 11-play, 56 yard drive, the Cowboys didn't even come close to knocking Manning down and the secondary allowed Giants receivers to run right by them.
So far this season, the Cowboys have no sacks and no turnovers in their first two weeks of the season. The Boys are ranked 30th in total yards allowed and they are allowing 303 yards passing per game, which also ranks 30th in a 32-team league. Excuse me, but Super Bowl teams don't get torched like the Cowboys have in the first two weeks of the season. Last week, the Cowboys defense allowed a not-so good Buccaneers squad to run the ball for 174 yards.
This week, Dallas stopped Brandon Jacobs and company on the ground, but the Cowboys lack of a pass rush and coverage made it all too easy for the Giants to say to heck with the running game.
But again, it's early in the season, maybe head coach Wade Phillips and Garrett can fix the issues that bother this team on both sides of the ball.
Folks like to talk about the Cowboys falling flat on their faces in December. If they don't get their act together right here in September, December could be a moot point.