Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Marinelli Report - Week 16 - Seattle

https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/dallas-cowboys/cowboys/2017/12/27/marinelli-report-defense-allowed-little-loss-seattle

The Marinelli Report

If you are wondering, the answer is Nov. 11, 1966.
Fifty-one years ago and some change is how long it had been since the Dallas Cowboys managed to lose a game to an opponent that produced as little offense as the Seahawks did Sunday, when they took a vital game with high stakes after generating just 136 yards of total offense.
I was wrong in assuming it had never happened before in Cowboys history. Just not in my lifetime. But evidently, it happened twice in the 1960s. And the most recent time -- that day 51 years ago -- was a day in which the Eagles beat the Cowboys 24-23 and generated all of their points off three special teams plays. Two Timmy Brown kickoff returns and Aaron Martin's punt return accounted for all three of the Eagles' touchdowns and overcame the fact that the Eagles had 80 total yards of offense as they took down Don Meredith and the Cowboys.
The other occasion was even longer ago, in 1965, as Craig Morton took the loss in Milwaukee against those Green Bay Packers, who generated all of 63 total yards to beat the Cowboys 13-3 in one of the more forgettable meetings between the two rivals.
But if you are asking if it had ever happened in a Dallas Cowboys home game, the answer is no. Before Sunday, the Cowboys had never lost a game in which their defense had allowed so few as 136 yards. For that previous record, you had to go all the way back to 1961, when the St. Louis Cardinals took the win in the Cotton Bowl against your Cowboys with 193 yards of offense, two Bill Stacy interception returns for touchdowns and the aid of five Cowboys turnovers from Eddie LeBaron and friends.
That is how rare Sunday's result was.
The Cowboys defense allowed very little. Here is a look at what should be a victorious defensive drive chart:
As you can see, the Seahawks did put together two successful drives -- both started by Cowboys turnovers -- that were taken into the end zone. Add to that a third touchdown on the Dak Prescott pick-six, and you see how the Seahawks won something rather uncommon: a game in which their offense did not move the ball all day long. But in games where they are minus-3 in the turnover battle, the Cowboys lose almost every time (as would everyone else). The Cowboys are now 11-113 in games all-time when they take a minus-3 in the turnover battle. Can't do that and survive.
... Which leads us to the actual issues of Sunday for the defense. If you are going to choose between giving up yardage or taking the ball away, we certainly know the correlation stats. Takeaways are how a team wins football games. Yardage is generally just yardage. And while we properly place most of the blame on the offense for the way the season has deteriorated, we should take careful note of this defense not generating any takeaways for the fifth time this season. That doesn't lead the league -- Miami has actually had seven games with no takeaways -- but it has led to losses. As a league, regardless of any other factor (quality of the opponent, site of the game, etc.), teams win just 26 percent of the games in which they generate zero takeaways. The Cowboys, now 1-4 in those games (they beat Arizona), are at 20 percent.

WEEKLY DATA BOX

It certainly takes the analysis out of an analysis piece to surmise that you reached just about every objective you would like in a game like this, but people, let's be reasonable here. No team is supposed to lose a game in which the defense allowed 2.5 yards per play. That is just insane. The Seahawks are a very poor offensive team -- no doubt about it -- but this is the NFL, and they have Russell Wilson. You limited them to one drive of substance, one play of 20 yards and sacked Wilson three times. And you still lost.
Defensive reasons for losing? Well, the red-zone defense allowed two touchdowns in two opportunities and you never got a takeaway. Otherwise, there isn't too much to complain about.

RUSSELL WILSON THROW CHART

You would be hard-pressed to play Wilson much better than this. He is a dangerous playmaker who has speedy weapons that can cause issues, for sure. And the Cowboys limited him almost totally. Almost. He will take shots down the field, but there was almost nothing in this game.

EXPLOSIVES ALLOWED

SPLASH PLAYS - VS. SEATTLE

SPLASH PLAYS - SEASON TOTALS

Again, it was the Cowboys defense in a bit of a nutshell. It played well. It played fine. But it didn't generate a play to win the game and, by anyone's measure, was the second-best defense on the field Sunday. It plays hard, it gets things accomplished, it could be worse ... But in the end, it is a defensive unit that is middle-of-the-road. That worked well when the offense was top five. But middle-of-the-road offense and middle-of-the-road defense means a season around 8-8.
And here we are.
Let's check a few videos:
I think Taco Charlton can feel good about the finish to his rookie season. More and more as the year has gone along, he has started to show up a bit more and there are signs that he has a future. I know opinions are all in ink and I definitely had views on draft weekend about the Cowboys taking him, but since he has been here, I have no real issues with his attitude or tools to develop. I think in Year 3, he has a chance to be pretty nice. This shows his size and his power. He closes Wilson down on a four-man pressure that brings a linebacker and drops Maliek Collins into a spy role. Charlton now has three sacks, and we can be optimistic that he can make a run at 6-8 next season.
Here is the "Deacon" package on third down -- three rushers and one linebacker spy who delays his rush. On this, Benson Mayowa gets left tackle Duane Brown nicely. That requires some real strength to grasp on and bring him down in that frenzy, and he made it look easy. Mayowa has just this one sack after six last season, but I still really like his flashes that have drawn multiple holding penalties and caused other plays despite not getting the sacks.
Here is the fantastic sack by DeMarcus Lawrence on Sunday that demonstrates he was not an early-season fluke. He now has 14.5 sacks on the season (admittedly, September and October were his best work), which likely says he has received much more attention as the season has gone along and that it would have been nice to have had David Irving play more this season. Regardless, he is just a half-sack behind the league lead and I bet a sack title would cap off his fine pre-free agency season.
I don't know what your first reaction was when Lawrence ran down Wilson, but this was mine:
Now, that is an obvious reference to some and a confusing tweet to others. So, let's let everyone in on the fun. Here is the Bob Griese sack by Bob Lilly in Super Bowl VI (the very rare Bob-on-Bob sack):
They still haven't posted the All-22 from Super Bowl VI, but it does show you that even with all of this time passing, quarterbacks running backward to try to keep a play alive often goes very poorly.
Now, those two red-zone touchdowns were a big story, so let's view them.
This is Jimmy Graham. He is 6-foot-7, 265 pounds. Jourdan Lewis will try to cover him. He is 5-10, 188. How did you think this was going to go? On the goal line, they are trying pre-snap motion to see if they can get this matchup or if Byron Jones will follow him (which causes its own issues and may not fare considerably better). This is their Dez Bryant fade, but it is even more of a sure thing. If you have a big target on a tiny defender, this is a pretty easy decision for your quarterback to make.
Look at the Cowboys trying to sort through this after the motion. Wilson is thinking, "Are they serious? They are leaving their 5-10 corner out there against him?"
Second and goal from the 6-yard line. This is where you really needed to force a field goal if possible. You can see the Cowboys are going to double Graham here and the Seahawks are going to isolate a rub route to where they find individual coverage. Red-zone defense is really difficult if they have a Graham, because either you double him or you don't. And either decision is going to be wrong because the Seahawks have seen it all. This time, they use Doug Baldwin to the corner and Chidobe Awuzie gets caught sitting on the slant (it appears). Touchdown.
Next week, we finish up 2017. For now, let's put this Seattle game to bed and turn the page.

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Morning After: Seahawks 21, Cowboys 12 (8-7)

https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/dallas-cowboys/cowboys/2017/12/25/morning-after-nothing-changes-nothing-changes

The Morning After - Nothing Changes Because Nothing Changes
During the good times, you never appreciate how difficult it is for your heroes to make you happy. You don't know how taking down their rivals was next to impossible, because they made it look pretty simple. You had Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin and the other team didn't. Simple. You win. You had Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, and Drew Pearson. Easy. You win again.
They made football look easy, even when it wasn't. If they didn't win the whole thing each year, they sure came close, it seemed. You didn't have to slay the dragon all of those years. You were the dragon. The NFL was your kingdom and Dallas Cowboys Football would live forever.
Over two decades later, we still have the tall tales of their conquests. We still have the momentos and the memories of those banners and trophies that make the franchise what it is today - one of the biggest brands on the planet. The mere value of the organization is such that there is nothing for sale that the franchise cannot afford 10 times over. This is verified by frequent projects that are erected all over North Texas that show the rest of the NFL that a sporting franchise doesn't have to stop at mere football. It can showcase art, architecture, and grandiose wealth in such a way that would make small countries jealous of resources and surplus.
But, as your grandmother would tell you, there are some things that money cannot buy. Evidently, conquering the NFL again is one of them. Given that this organization will continue to wander the wilderness for at least a 22nd season without so much as a trip to a NFC Championship game - let alone another Super Bowl - we can surmise that buying another "Sky Mirror" will have to suffice, rather than a new chapter of NFL dominance. When locals who already have their own children have never actually seen you crack the NFL's version of the "Final Four", then we realize the truth - that the current state of affairs continue to reveal that while the trophies will always sparkle, the need to expand the trophy case may once again be put on hold.
And so it goes for the Dallas Cowboys. Just when you think they cracked the code to find their way back, they come back to earth in a thud that makes you want to think about something else.
Lucky for you, it is Christmas. You literally have the greatest distraction day of the year available to you. Unless you were hoping to unwrap a nice playoff berth this morning.
That is not going to be possible. Once again, with everything to play for, this team proved they cannot win a home game when needed. Sure, they did take down three home wins this season. In September, they defeated the New York Giants. In November, the Kansas City Chiefs were taken down. And again, on the final day of that same month, they beat the Washington Redskins.
Unfortunately, they also lost to the Rams, Packers, Eagles, Chargers, and now Seahawks on home turf, which meant they went 3-5 at home. Playoff teams almost never go 3-5 at home and the Cowboys insured that stat will be safe because they are not going to the playoffs. If you want to feel extra depressed, you should know that yesterday was the 75th time the Cowboys have played a home game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, and during that spell they are a mere 39-36 overall (including playoff games). Take away that 7-2 in the opening season of the stadium in 2009 (the final full season of Wade Phillips), and since the first year of the Jason Garrett era the Cowboys hold a home record of 32-34. That would seem to be awfully problematic.
If you are wondering just how problematic, here you go. Since 2010, the Cowboys rank 24th in the NFL in home win percentage. They are better than just the Raiders, Bears, Rams, Redskins, Titans, Jaguars, Buccaneers, and Browns. But, when 5 franchises - the Patriots, Seahawks, Packers, Ravens, and Steelers are winning 70% or more of their home games, and you are winning 48% of yours, you see where the biggest issue sits.
They have constructed the greatest stadium that money could buy and allow the opponents to win more often inside it than they do. If any truth best describes the modern era of Dallas Cowboys football, this might be it.
===
So, there they were. Yet again, in a spot where maybe they could pull their disappointing season from the fire. The Cowboys held a halftime lead, but as soon as the 3rd Quarter began, the Cowboys 2nd offensive snap turned into a Seattle go-ahead Touchdown with an ill-advised throw from Dak Prescott to Ezekiel Elliott was tossed well over his head and into the path of an oncoming defensive back. 30 yards later, Justin Coleman is jumping into the Salvation Army pot and the Seahawks are ahead for good.
The offense was not done giving the ball away, however. After the first turnover where Dez Bryant allowed the ball to be punched away and after the second turnover where Dak airmailed a pretty simple pass to Coleman, they killed the buzz of the stadium late in the third quarter with a third turnover. This time, on 2nd and 12 from the Seahawks 25 - in a spot where the Cowboys were poised to take a lead, Prescott's short pass to Bryant on a crosser made the receiver reach back to catch it, but both hands were on the ball. We can debate whether the throw or the catch was more to blame, or we can offer the common-sense approach to the tandem this year: They both share the blame like they do the entirety of 2017. Anyone who wishes to isolate one's role from the other is grasping at straws and missing the very essence of the sport.
Dak Prescott has been very poor at times this season when so much was put on his shoulders. He did not quiet the critics who feared he was a product of the game situation for this team. If they keep him ahead of the score and ahead of the chains, he would be fine. But, put him in a spot where he had to do what QBs frequently must do - make lemonade out of lemons - they would reveal him to be rather limited at the highest level. He has taken a major step back this year and has to get guys like me who were very impressed with his football IQ a few weeks back to reevaluate our thoughts moving forward.
Dez Bryant has been poor for large swaths of the last three years. We have discussed why this is and the many logical reasons and excuses why he no longer measures close to the other elite receivers in the game. But, after a 3-year span of 3,935 yards and 41 touchdowns, he signed one of the richest contracts his position has ever seen. Since then, he is about to complete another 3-year span, which with 1 game to go, has 2,012 yards and 17 touchdowns. That no longer leads the industry - not even close. In fact, it is 15 yards more in that span than Terrance Williams and 58 yards less than Sammy Watkins. It ranks 42nd in the NFL which sounds about right, unfortunately. And nobody disputes his special play in the red zone leading to touchdowns galore, but he isn't even the top 20 in that stat over those three years and once again trails guys like Sammy Watkins, Kyle Rudolph, and Kenny Stills in touchdowns over that span (let alone DeAndre Hopkins who might tell you how important QBs are to his stats).
So, was that pass Dak's fault or Dez's fault? It doesn't matter. The organization counts on both of them and they both failed this season - despite their intentions.
To be fair, they aren't alone. Ezekiel Elliott is the golden boy who nobody who resides locally seems interested in holding accountable for his role in this season. He has been portrayed as a complete victim, despite his repeated behavior WHILE BEING INVESTIGATED. I'm sorry, but I won't be able to get past that fact for a long time that while the NFL is looking into your actions for discipline, you give them more actions to consider. It all seems incredibly dense, to be honest.
If that wasn't enough, when he returned to the field - with 200-yard projections dancing in his head - he forgot the part of his job that made some want to draft him so high. He is excellent at pass protection, we were told. He will always get that blitzing defender blocked. Well, unfortunately, with the season hanging from a thread, he busted on several blitzes yesterday. Apparently, the mental reps were not available in Cabo and he came back looking completely ill-equipped to know what the Seahawks had planned to rock Dak Prescott on 3rd downs. If Prescott looked a little rattled, it might have something to do with his RB not knowing who to block on no fewer than 3 different blitzes.
So, the moment that will forever be paired with this disappointing loss will go back to the 1st and goal at the 3-yard line in the 3th Quarter. Because of the three giveaways - all three put into the endzone as Seahawks touchdowns, by the way - the Seahawks were up 21-12. But, there was still time. Just get this 1st and goal into the end zone and perhaps everything will be fine. Surely, between the aforementioned touchdown makers - Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott - the Cowboys would get this lead down to 21-19 with plenty of time to save the day.
Instead, neither would touch the ball. Dak kept the ball on the RPO keeper for a yard. Then, on 2nd down, they decide to pass the ball on the rollout, but Jason Witten is called for a massive holding penalty because pass protection has been an issue all day long. Now, it is 2nd down from the 12. You are now out of running territory. On 2nd and 12, Byron Bell gets rolled like Chaz Green by Frank Clark and Dak goes down again. 3rd and goal from the 23 means no chance, and the day was made awful by a Dan Bailey missed FG from short range.
Perhaps, Dan Bailey's year is actually the perfect metaphor for the season. I am losing track now.
But, with the season on the line, neither Ezekiel Elliott nor Dez Bryant factor in. How this happens is anyone's sad guess.  The Cowboys turned the ball over three times and come up short in a game that means everything.
Unfortunately, we have seen butchered offensive execution and self-inflicted wounds so often in the Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan era that we sometimes minimize their roles. But, as Troy Aikman said yesterday, if Dak Prescott is making decisions that you don't agree with as coach, then it is up to you to take those decisions back from him. This isn't that complicated unless you make it so.
And, repeatedly, under Jason Garrett, the Cowboys make the simple appear complex. You could do worse than him as your head coach, but I am under the belief that it seems time to consider doing better.
But, as always, the case when discussing Cowboys football, every time you try to follow the trail to the true culprit, the trail continues to a bigger culprit. Is it your QB? Or is it his boss? Is it your OC? Or is it his boss? Is it your head coach? Or is it his boss? Oh, yes. Here we are again looking at Jerry Jones again.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. We will not blame Tony Romo for this one or Wade Phillips or Dave Campo or Quincy Carter. Only one thing ties 22 years of Cowboys disappointment together and the stubbornness to try a different route.
Instead, we line up each July for another trip of speeding directly into the same concrete wall by January that this organization has so steadfastly defended all these years.
In fact, we just inducted that concrete wall into the Hall of Fame to verify that all the methods were correct.
It is so maddening and yet so familiar. Nothing changes, and therefore, nothing changes.
Go do something else today. It is Christmas.
And this Dallas Cowboys mess will be right where we left it tomorrow morning.
It always is.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Marinelli Report - Week 15 - Oakland

https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/dallas-cowboys/cowboys/2017/12/20/marinelli-report-surviving-dramatic-last-moments-oakland



Cowboys safety Jeff Heath (38) breaks up a pass intended for Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) in the end zone during the final minute of the Cowboys-Raiders game at Oakland-Alameda County Stadium in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)
Louis DeLuca/Staff Photographer
Cowboys safety Jeff Heath (38) breaks up a pass intended for Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) in the end zone during the final minute of the Cowboys-Raiders game at Oakland-Alameda County Stadium in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)

The Marinelli Report

Sunday night may possibly have nothing to do with the final fate of the 2017 Dallas Cowboys. That doesn't mean it wasn't wildly entertaining or memorable from a pure drama standpoint.

 
These games are played for three-plus hours between two teams that don't want to give in to each other. They are often not separated by more than one play here or there. That is the sport and that is why we love it so much. For all of the off-field drama and stories that annoy us, plus the vague manner in which the league draws its on-field rules, it is still the best soap opera any writer could ever conceive. It is two teams of amazing athletes destroying their bodies in the pursuit of a win.
Even if that win does not stand the test of time.
The Cowboys survived Sunday night. They survived because they made one more play. Or maybe just the one play that matters. Or maybe the opponent just made the vital mistake at the wrong moment and the Cowboys were the beneficiaries of that gift.
Choose your own description.
Today, I wish to go back to that final drive and just look at each of the nine plays from a defensive standpoint to see how the Cowboys did survive and notch their third win in a row. They again held their opponent under 300 yards of offense (fifth time this year) but also failed to get a takeaway (fifth time) or sack (fourth time).
In fact, what was once a very promising season for sacks -- they were third in the NFL after eight games with 27, trailing only Jacksonville and Carolina -- has now disintegrated. Since the Kansas City game, the Cowboys have played six games and registered five sacks, which, as you may imagine, ranks 32nd in the NFL. During that same span of time, Tennessee has 27 sacks and the Rams have 22.
Their team total of 32 sacks still ranks 16th in the league, but the idea that the Cowboys were a sure bet to reach 40 for the first time in years is just a far-off fantasy again. They would do well to just get to last year's total of 36 in the last two games.

WEEKLY DATA BOX - AT OAKLAND

Several of the numbers above will please you. They did a nice job of limiting big plays, making sure Oakland got nothing easily and even fighting hard against the battering ram that is Marshawn Lynch. They failed on third downs many times and, with no sacks or takeaways (even those that hit them in the chest), flirted with losing a game in which the defense played pretty well.
Oakland obviously is depleted at the skill positions and, aside from Michael Crabtree, had very little. He isn't a top-tier receiver, but he has some very Dez Bryant-like attributes with his ability to win with strength on third downs and in the red zone. But beyond that, the Raiders found almost nothing.

DEREK CARR THROW CHART

Looking above, you can see the secondary was very strong. Derek Carr had almost nothing down the field and that would suggest the pass rush was effective, despite no sacks. You want it to be more effective, mind you, but Carr certainly didn't appear to have all day to throw from the pocket.

SEAN LEE - W.O.W.Y.

Sean Lee "With Or Without You" stats continue to impress. We know he is good and we know the Cowboys desperately rely on him (probably way too much), but we are going to have a full season of very impressive defensive days when he plays, and not so much when he doesn't. That, of course, begs the question of how this season would be different if he had perfect attendance, but I suppose every team has a sob story to tell -- and nobody wants to hear them.

SNAP COUNTS

SPLASH PLAYS - AT OAKLAND

I hate to make splash plays subjective -- and I don't believe I did, technically -- but there are two that are not as cut and dried as others. Chidobe Awuzie's third-down stop was a driving tackle that left Crabtree a yard short of the sticks on a third-and-8. Normally, positive yardage is not allowed, but if you get the team off the field with a tackle, I make a third-down stop a splash if deemed a strong personal effort. And the same goes for Jeff Heath on the final play. That was a five-yard gain by Carr and Heath did not technically cause the fumble. But, if you watched it, I assume we all agree it was an extraordinary effort by Heath to save the day.

SEASON TOTALS FOR SPLASH PLAYS

OK, let's look at that final drive -- from the first play to the last.
First and 10 at the Oakland 11, 1:38 to go. Carr quickly unloads to his left to Seth Roberts in the flat, in front of Anthony Brown. Brown is right there and bats the ball away. Good, aggressive break on the ball that prevents a short Oakland gain.
Second and 10 at the Oakland 11, 1:34 to go. Carr and Roberts go again, this time from the opposite slot, and Brown releases Roberts to the safeties. Roberts settles before he gets into Heath's area and is able to pick up 19 in a small window, qualifying as the longest pass play of the game that connected. You can see that Xavier Woods is more conservative than Heath because he has to account for the sideline man to his left running vertically. Heath is ready to pop Roberts if he continues, but he wisely sits down in the soft spot. First down.
First and 10 at the Oakland 30, 1:16 to go. Now Carr tries the right sideline to Crabtree. Awuzie does what he always does, and that is aggressively go up and make a play on the ball. He is so good right now and his confidence is only making him better. It helps to know that Crabtree has speed limitations, but Awuzie does not allow for any separation and doesn't want to give up any completions, either. A really nice player.
Second and 10 at the Oakland 30, 1:10 to go. Here is Crabtree's best move. In the middle against Lee, Crabtree simply pushes him to create space. That is some tight end strength there, but Carr is off with the timing and accuracy of the throw. Lee is looking for a flag, which seems to be a reasonable request. Incomplete.
Third and 10 at the Oakland 30, 1:05 to go. Carr wants Roberts again. Brown knows this and undercuts the route. The ball hits Brown in the chest. It may not be a pick-six, but even if it is not, it still ends the game then and there. Instead, as Brown has shown against the Rams and Eagles, opportunity falls to the ground. Nice play for sure, but these are game-changing moments that you can't let get away.
As you can see, Carr did not play well, but he also doesn't have the most dynamic options ever. And if the Cowboys are just going to rush four, that means they have a seven-man zone to make sure there are small windows. The pocket is collapsing and he has to get rid of it. Also, the Cowboys don't leave many escape routes.
Fourth and 10 at the Oakland 30, 1:01 to go. Huge moment, and the Cowboys still can't get home. They try the tackle-end stunt and DeMarcus Lawrence is closing fast, but almost like Aaron Rodgers last January, Carr steps to his left and is able to launch a pass 55 yards down the field to Crabtree. Heath sees an issue up at the 50 and that leaves Jourdan Lewis by himself with Crabtree. The ball is underthrown, Crabtree knows how to draw the flag and Lewis looks like he is a little panicked. Flag.
The end-zone view. Tyrone Crawford falling gives Carr the escape path, and then you see Lewis is the victim of the underthrown ball. Pass interference looks like the easy call and the Raiders get their fourth-down miracle.
First and 10 at the Dallas 15, 51 seconds to go. Here is a great pass rush off the edge by Taco Charlton and he almost gets home. Carr sees Cordarrelle Patterson on the sideline and takes the quick 7 there before Awuzie pushes him out of bounds.
Second and 3 at the Dallas 8, 44 seconds to go. This is a close call that looks like improvisation from Crabtree or a very rough-looking double move. Either way, he has Anthony Hitchens here and it is up to Heath to dive in and save the day. This is a tremendous job by Heath because he has to watch two threats and, if he is not on his toes, this might be the game-winner.
Heck of a play by Heath against a guy who doesn't lose in the red zone very often.
Third and 3 at the Dallas 8, 39 seconds to go. This is the play. Oakland has a timeout. The Raiders really just need three yards and the Cowboys are in big trouble. But, Dallas could make a stop and force overtime at least. Lawrence is over the left tackle and this is another "almost sack" for No. 90. He has to get Carr to the ground here, but Carr is pretty slippery. Once he does slip away, Carr seems to have a chance to get to the pylon. Look at Heath and all the things he has to consider before realizing that Carr is taking off. Awuzie has to stay with Jared Cook, or Carr will pass it to him. Then Cook looks like he is trying to impede Heath.
Again, I have no idea why Carr didn't just take his first down and get out of bounds. I think it is a horrible mistake by the quarterback to put the game on a reach for the pylon. He almost threw a pick a few plays ago, and then he does this. If I am a Raiders fan, I definitely feel like my $125 million quarterback let the team down on this final drive.
But from a Dallas standpoint, perhaps this drive gives you a better appreciation for Heath and this secondary. Rod Marinelli didn't blitz once and if Carr gets in, I likely would wish to discuss that with Rod. But they survived. It was quite a finish, and the Oakland quarterback gave the Cowboys a lifeline when it looked like they were in big trouble.
Great stuff.