Dallas Cowboys report card vs. Titans
Tony Romo completed 31 of 46 passes for 406 yards and three TDs. Miles Austin was magnificent with nine catches for 166 yards and a score — a 69-yard highlight-reel leaping catch and run. Roy Williams (six catches, 87 yards, TD) and Jason Witten (five catches, 84 yards, TD) were outstanding. But there were way too many negatives. It’s tough to overcome six sacks and three INTs.
What took so long to make Felix Jones the lead horse? Marion Barber was the ceremonial starter, but Jones (15-109) carried the load quite well. The only game that he’s posted better numbers was in the Cowboys’ playoff win last season (16-148). Marion Barber (6-19) had another ho-hum day.
The Cowboys gave up a 100-yard rusher for the second consecutive game after going 19 straight games without letting a running back hit that milestone. Chris Johnson finished with 19 carries for 131 yards and two TDs, celebrating the second by posing on a star in the end zone. He’s a terrific back coming off a 2,000-yard season, but he’d struggled against 3-4 defenses this season. Not Sunday.
Vince Young completed only 12 of 25 passes, but he did a lot of damage, throwing for 173 yards and two TDs. Orlando Scandrick was beat on both scores. CB Mike Jenkins had perhaps his worst day as a pro. He was called for two pass interference penalties on the Titans’ opening possession — accounting for 48 yards on an 80-yard TD drive — and gave up a 52-yard catch to Kenny Britt.
David Buehler made a 51-yard FG but had his third clutch miss of the season — missing right by inches on a 44-yarder. The rookie return men made no impact, with Akwasi Owusu-Ansah averaging 22.8 yards on kickoffs and Dez Bryant gaining just 1 yard on three punt returns. The play that killed the Cowboys was a 73-yard kickoff return by Tennessee’s Marc Mariani that set up the winning TD.
Several players wanted to take the blame for the undisciplined performance, but it’s a poor reflection on the coaches — especially when it happens repeatedly. Twelve penalties for 133 yards isn’t shocking when you consider the Cowboys have ranked among the most penalized teams during Wade Phillips’ tenure. With two weeks to prepare, Phillips failed to come up with a scheme to confuse the Titans’ Young.