I have talked about this catch/uncatch on Twitter and Facebook and here on my blog. First, let me say that I don’t think that Dez Bryant’s fabulous catch changed everything. An NFL game has several critical points. The Dallas Cowboys had several opportunities to beat the Green Bay Packers. In my opinion, not going for it on 4th and 1 late in the second quarter was a huge mistake. This allowed Aaron Rodgers and the Packers an opportunity to march down the field and kick a field goal before the half. Big mistake. The second huge, glaring error was DeMarco Murray’s fumble. This is the play of plays. I have watched this play five or six times. I’m positive that DeMarco Murray is running this play over and over in his head because that was really the game. Murray had a touchdown. The play was blocked up perfectly. There was a safety in the center of the field. There was no one else. Simply heartbreaking.
SB Nation has a great article on the catch. If you simply go through the sequence, Dez Bryant rises up and snatches the ball from the air. He turns away from Sam Shields. Dez takes two steps as he twists toward the goal line. Dez takes another step and lunges toward the goal line. He hits the ground as he stretches the ball toward the goal line. The ball pops up and Dez regains control as he rolls into the end zone.
First, it was a very athletic play. This catch was as beautiful as Lynn Swann’s sliding catch in the Super Bowl against the Cowboys more than four decades ago. Secondly, when does a receiver become a runner? Why does this matter? Because the rules for ball control are different. If Dez were still a receiver, then the ruling was correct. On the other hand, if Dez were a runner, since he had taken three steps and did what I think was a “football move” by twisting toward the end zone, then when Dez hits the ground and the ball pops up, this is a fumble which was recovered by Dez.
I don’t think that the NFL will ever clarify this play. It is what it is. I do not feel sorry for the Cowboys or Dez Bryant. The Cowboys had several other opportunities to win this game. Aaron Rodgers was on one leg and the Packers simply made more plays. Or to misquote John Madden, “The Cowboys lost because when time ran out and the game ended, they didn’t have more points than the Parkers. That’s why they lost. They needed more points.” 🙂
I was standing in AT&T stadium watching an amazing thing. All year, I have been sitting in wonder as I watched the Cowboys. I have been waiting for the Dallas Cowboys to unwind, unravel and implode. On Thanksgiving Day, the Cowboys did collapse as promised. The Philadelphia Eagles ran all over the Cowboys. Mark Sanchez looked like a pro bowl quarterback. Tony Romo was truly awful on Thanksgiving and he said as much. He promised that he and the Cowboys would play better.
Lo and behold, the Cowboys have played better. They flew to England and took can of business against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. They then played the Eagles again with a much better outcome. This Eagle game was critical. The Cowboys got off to a fast start and then allowed the Eagles back in the game. Mark Sanchez and the Eagles had two of those fast paced patented Eagle drives that ended in touchdowns. Then, and this is key, Romo held the ball for far too long and gave up a sack-fumble. The Eagles scored another touchdown. The Cowboys, when faced with adversity like this in the past, have rolled over and played dead. Not this team. The Cowboys re-grouped and decided to play a little more football. They scored points. The defense pressured and sacked Sanchez. Instead of rolling over, they played their best football of the game. I was amazed. Continue reading Maybe I’m Truly Amazed – Dallas Cowboys
So, everyone had jumped on the Cowboy bandwagon. They had been ranked near the bottom of the league in week 1. In week 7, everyone was drinking the Kool-Aid. SI had Dallas ranked 1 and NFL.com had the Cowboys ranked 2. Not in the division or in the conference, but in the league. I said that the Cowboys still had some huge problems. I didn’t understand how the defense was working. McClain was playing out of his mind. The corner backs and safeties were playing way above their pay grade. Then came the lowly Washington Dudes (I’m refusing to use that R-word. I know it is insulting. We need to move beyond it) who didn’t believe the craziness.
To describe the Washington team as having issues would be an understatement. Quite frankly, they have been awful with a capital “A.” They were still awful went they played the Cowboys. They made just about every mistake that you can make. Critical, thoughtless drive-killing penalties. A 3rd string QB who should be coaching some high school team threw a knucklehead interception into double or triple coverage. It wasn’t just a poor decision. It was a terrible moonball throw which any high school corner back could have gotten under.
The Cowboys lost this game for 3 reasons. First, DeMarco Murray put the ball on the ground for the 5th time this year. We had driven deep into Washington territory. We were going to get at least 3 points. He was fighting for a couple of extra yards and 15 or 20 (seemed like the whole team) of the Washington Dudes were holding him up and stripped the ball. There is no excuse. You can’t fumble. Emmitt Smith was great for a number of reasons, one of the primary reasons being that he didn’t fumble the ball. Secondly, the Cowboys defense was awful. They gave up over 400 yards of total offense to a Washington team without Robert Griffin III. That’s just crazy. DeShawn Jackson torched the Cowboys with not one or two, but three big plays. I have to mention Jordan Reid was just about unstopped on short yardage plays. Everyone knew Colt McCoy was going to throw to Reid, but we didn’t stop it. Finally, our much heralded offensive line couldn’t figure out how to block an all out blitz. So, Washington used it time and time again. There was nothing fancy. It was everyone. At the line of scrimmage everyone was coming or everyone was dropping into coverage. DeMarco Murray missed blitz pick-ups at least twice. Dez Bryant needed to win this one on one match up with a 4th round draft pick rookie, Breeland, who played like a first round draft choice. Bryant had to win that battle but he didn’t.
Many people are getting all caught up in the argument on whether or not to put Tony Romo back in the game or not. I don’t think that it matters. The problem wasn’t Tony. The problem was Dez, the offensive line and our defense.
Look for the Cardinals, who have much better corner backs, to blitz early and often. Until the Cowboys have proven that they can handle the blitz, look for the NFL to blitz on just about every passing down.