Why the Cowboys are not a legit contenderBy Ashely Powell
How 'bout them Cowboys who once again failed to maintain the lead in Sunday night's game against Atlanta. This appears to be a developing trend for 3-5 Dallas who has dropped their last two games. It would be unfair to blame one person for the blunders and mishaps in the loss 19-13. But in this case you can pick your poison.
The Cowboys offensively were flatter than day old beer for much of the contest. The offense didn't show any signs of life until crunch time. Quarterback Tony Romo operated from the no-huddle late in the fourth quarter out of sheer desperation. He drove the offense 78 yards in 2:28 capping off the drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kevin Ogletree. This made the score 16-13 Atlanta with 5:28 left on the clock. The problem here is too little, too late. It would have been wise to run the hurry-up much sooner.
Head coach and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was conservative in his play calling and trying to establish a nonexistent run game. There was no chance of the Cowboys winning the game without being aggressive on offense and taking shots downfield early.
On defense, cornerback Orlando Scandrick will take the brunt of the loss for his performance. His missed tackle in the fourth quarter on running back Michael Turner, who scampered 31 yards, was critical. Scandrick also had a costly holding penalty that seemingly put the nail in the coffin for Dallas.
Rookie first-round pick Morris Claiborne didn't fare much better in my estimation. He was beaten by Atlanta receivers often. Claiborne really showed his inexperience when facing talented receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones. If it weren't for the play of inside linebacker Bruce Carter on defense this game wouldn't have been close. Carter accounted for 10 tackles and one pass defensed.
The continuous lack of discipline with Dallas is what indicates they're not ready to be contenders in this league. It's another sign that this version of the Cowboys cannot compete with the elite in pressure situations. They are consistently outplayed and outcoached by their opponents. The club must prove they can to go toe-to-toe with these teams or it will continue to be unhappy times in Big D. The 'Boys are making it easy for diehard fans to become critical. Just sayin'!