Ten Observations About the Cardinals-Cowboys Game

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2)      If you want to hand out a game ball for the win today, give it to the entire Cardinals defense. They held DeMarco Murray to only 38 yards, and they sacked Tony Romo five times (and it could have been more as he escaped several potential sacks by scrambling or getting off a throw at the last minute).  Most important, they kept the Cardinals in the game all day with big stops and gave the offense an opportunity to win the game in overtime.

3)      It is very rare that you’ll see an NFL game with zero turnovers on both sides. But that’s exactly what happened today.  In overtime no less.  I kept waiting for a turnover to change the outcome of the game, but it never happened.

4)      Andre Roberts seemed to get open a lot, and was Kevin Kolb’s favorite target today.  His nicest catch was the first play of the fourth quarter, a beautifully executed 40-yard play-action pass down the left sideline.

5)      I have a couple of questions for the Cowboys, besides the obvious one of why you would want to ice your own kicker before he tried a game-winning field goal. (Coach Jason Garrett explained that the clock was down to six seconds and he wanted to make sure he had enough time for a clean kick.)  First, why not call a timeout with 20 seconds left and try to advance the ball with another running play before kicking a field goal?  And second, why give up on the run when it was so successful on the first three drives? (The Cowboys gained 41 yards on their first 8 rushes, which is over 5 yards per carry, and then virtually gave up on trying to run the ball for rest of the game.) Garrett has some ‘splaining to do to angry Cowboys fans.

6)      Two critical plays that might not make it to the game recap, but which I think where as important to the Cardinals victory as any other play: Clark Haggans sack of Romo on third and five in the fourth quarter, which forced the Cowboys to punt after it looked like they were marching in for a go-ahead score, and the false start penalty on Dallas when they were trying for a first down on a fourth and one.

7)      The tackling on defense once again was excellent.  This was a real sore spot in the Cardinals six early-season losses, but the Cardinals have vastly improved in this area.  There were several instances where good tackling stopped the Cowboys a yard or two short of a first down and forced the Cowboys to punt.

8)      The winning screen pass to LaRod Stephens-Howling was a textbook play, and should be watched over and over again to see how a screen should be executed.  Kolb waited until the last minute when LaRod had cut around the defenders before dumping off the screen to him.  And LaRod followed his blockers beautifully and found the open lane.  And here’s the icing on the cake: If you watch the highlights, you’ll notice two great blocks—from the Cardinals two wide receivers, Andre Roberts and Larry Fitzgerald!  What a great way to end the game!

9)      Tony Romo had 299 passing yards, and you might think that the Cardinals pass defense was poor.  It really wasn’t.  Romo did find receivers all day mostly because he had a lot of time to find them.  Also, he threw a lot of passes in order to complete those yards, and only had one touchdown.

10)   The defense really played like a well-oiled unit today.  They made only a few mistakes, and when they needed the big stop, they got it.  (The Cowboys went only 4-12 on third down conversions.)  The botched coverage that often resulted in long touchdown passes, which was so much a part of the first half of the season, seems to have magically and thankfully disappeared.