NFL Week 13: Cowboys Blow Chances, Fall 19-13 To Cardinals In OT

The Cowboys look to extend their NFC East lead in Week 13 as they head to Arizona to take on the Cardinals.

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Dallas Cowboys Playoff Picture: Dallas Controls Their Own Destiny as the New York Giants Await

The Dallas Cowboys are one game ahead of the New York Giants as they prepare to face off twice in the next four weeks to decide who wins the NFC East.

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Jerry Jones Doesn't Want To Talk About Jason Garrett's Clock Management

Jerry Jones has shown a willingness to criticize Jason Garrett’s management of the game at times this season. At others, not so much. Sunday would be one of those other times. Asked about his coach’s decision to spike the ball with eight seconds rather than use one of his two timeouts with 13 seconds, which would have allowed his offense to run another play at the Arizona 31, he opted to play the part of record keeper.

My understanding is, the explanation I got is it was to let time run off the clock. I’m not going to agree or disagree right here. But the point is it was to let time run off the clock.

(After a follow-up from reporters)

Just a minute, I’m just telling you what my understanding is.

Tim McMahon described Jones as agitated at that point. Jerry can join the crowd.

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Jason Garrett Addresses Questions Over Timeout Management

Most Cowboys observers will think that Jason Garrett made a mess of things late in regulation of his team’s 19-13 overtime loss to the Cardinals. Garrett opted to ice his own kicker and saw him make the first and miss the second field goal try, but possibly the more egregious decision was a lack of a timeout after the previous play.

The Cowboys had two timeouts remaining when Dez Bryant caught a miraculous 3rd-11 converting pass from Tony Romo that put Dallas at the Arizona 31 with 13 seconds remaining. They could have called one of their timeouts then, run a play – even a running play – and called their second time out, then kicked a potential game winner. Of course, there was no guarantee that they would have improved their position, but that won’t stop the criticism of Garrett. Garrett himself acknowledged that it might have been a good idea to get in one more play.

We very well could have taken a timeout there. We felt like we were in field goal range. We have yard lines that we use as guidelines before the game. We felt like we were in range at that point. Tony [Romo] had them on the line of scrimmage quickly, so we went ahead and clocked it and used that as a timeout. …

You see so many situations where you have negative plays in those situations. We felt like we were in his range to give him a chance to kick the game-winner.

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VIDEO: LaRod Stephens-Howling Rumbles Through Dallas Defense For Long OT TD

LaRod Stephens-Howling just posted his entry for NFL play of the year. On a 1st-15 from the Arizona 48, Stephens-Howling took a screen pass and ran though most of the Dallas defense for a game-winning, overtime touchdown. Check it out:


Dan Bailey had made an apparent game-winning field goal at the end of regulation for the Cowboys, but Jason Garrett was granted a timeout just as Dallas snapped the ball. Bailey, of course, missed the second try and brought on overtime.

The Cardinals won the toss and ran into a 2nd-19 deep in their territory, but Terence Newman committed a needless pass interference, giving the Cardinals a first down at their 34. Kevin Kolb hit Andre Roberts for a 16-yard gain that moved the ball into Dallas territory. After a false start, he made a nice play to avoid Anthony Spencer and hit Stephens-Howling for the wide screen. Stephens-Howling did the rest, running through several Cowboys to reach the end zone. The loss drops Dallas to 7-5 and puts their playoff hopes back in question.

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VIDEO: Jason Garrett Ices His Own Kicker, Costs Cowboys Game

This may be Jason Garrett's low point as a head coach in the NFL. On a day when his offense managed just 13 points against a porous Cardinals defense, Tony Romo and Dez Bryant still had his team in position for a game winning, 49-yard field goal at the end of regulation. Dan Bailey made the field goal, drilling it right down the middle after a perfect snap and hold.

Unfortunately, Bailey had been iced ... by his own coach. When the Cowboys lined up again the kick was short and to the left after a bit of a high snap.

The Cardinals won the OT coin toss and drove straight down the field against a tired, demoralized Dallas defense, scoring on a 52-yard screen pass from Kevin Kolb to LaRod Stephens-Howling. The attention, however, will be on Garrett and his decision to take his kicker out of his rhythm, instead hoping to give him extra time to line up the kick. See the video below:


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Jason Garrett Swipes Victory From Cowboys

Jason Garrett just cost his team a win. With seven seconds remaining in the game and the Cowboys and Cardinals tied at 13, Dan Bailey hit a 49-yard field goal to win the game for the Cowboys. Except that Jason Garrett called a timeout just as the ball was snapped. Dan Bailey missed the next kick, not getting enough leg on the ball after a high snap.

That means that Dallas and Arizona are headed for overtime in a stadium where Dallas has experienced two miserable endings in recent years. The Cardinals won the toss and will receive the overtime kickoff. Jay Feely has made two 55-yard field goals in his career. Bailey has a long of 51 in his rookie season and hit a 52-yarder in college.

The Cowboys have dominated yardage, 336 to 241, in a game with no turnovers. The Cardinals offense woke up in the second half, however, after accruing just 49 yards, 3 first downs and 3 points in the first half.

End of regulation score: Cowboys 13, Cardinals 13

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Cowboys Vs. Cardinals Score: Cardinals Offense Awakes, Ties Game In 4th Quarter

After an ugly first half, Kevin Kolb and his offense have scored on both second half drives. They drove to the Dallas one on their first drive but had to settle for a field goal. After a Cowboys field goal restored their seven-point lead, the Cardinals raced back down the field in six plays for the game tying score.

The drive covered 79 yards and featured Kolb completions to Andre Roberts for 40 and 22 yards. They set up an easy four-yard scoring run for Beanie Wells. Arizona already has piled up 145 yards on the two drives, after just 49 in the first half.

Early fourth quarter: Cowboys 13, Cardinals 13

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Cowboys Vs. Cardinals Score: Arizona, Dallas Swap Field Goals

After a first half in which they gained 49 yards and earned just three first downs, the Cardinals took the second half kickoff and drove 74 yards to the Dallas 5. They were held on third-goal from the five, then would have gone for it from the one, but were penalized before the snap. They instead settled for a 23-yard Jay Feely field goal.

Dallas took that kickoff and drove for 13 plays and 65 yards for their own field goal. Tony Romo completed seven passes along the way, but a first down blitz at the Arizona 17 by Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton got to Romo. Dallas couldn’t recover from that and had to settle for a 37-yard Dan Bailey field goal.

After three quarters: Dallas 13, Cardinals 6

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Cowboys Vs. Cardinals Haltime Score: Dallas Leads 10-3

The Cowboys haven’t been able to get out of their own way, but they still lead the Cardinals 10-3 at the half. Dallas converted just one third down all half – and that was just before half – and could not sustain promising drives. They wasted a drive that began at the Arizona 35 and entered plus territory two other times before hitting paydirt on a Tony Romo to Dez Bryant 15-yard strike midway through the second quarter.

The Cardinals started drives at or inside their 20 on five of six drives, but converted for a field goal after Dan Bailey missed a 54-yard field goal attempt. Arizona has just 49 yards of offense and three first downs for the half, as the Dallas defense has slowed Beanie Wells to 11 yards on seven carries. Kevin Kolb has completed 7 of 11, but he’s been sacked four times and is only gaining 4.0 yards per attempt.

Romo is 11-20 for 135 yards, while Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray have combined for 13 carries for 48 yards. Neither team has turned the ball over, and Mat McBriar has kept the ball away from Patrick Paterson on three punts.

Halftime score: Cowboys 10, Cardinals 3

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Cowboys Vs. Cardinals Score Update: Cowboys Use Field Position To Punch In TD

Good field position finally paid off for the Cowboys. After starting at their 45 and 38 and Arizona’s 35 with only three points to show, Dallas finally turned plus field position into a touchdown. Mat McBriar punted out of bounds at the Arizona 13, and DeMarcus Ware sacked Kevin Kolb for an 11-yard loss back to the two.

With Arizona punting from their end line, Dez Bryant returned to the 33, thanks to a broken tackle and two pad cracking blocks. After an incomplete pass, Tony Romo found Jason Witten down the middle to put Dallas in scoring position. Romo then found Dez Bryant in the end zone after Bryant beat Patrick Peterson badly on a slant.

Late second quarter: Cowboys 10, Cardinals 3

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Cowboys Vs. Cardinals Score Update: Cowboys Limp To FG

The Cowboys have had the benefit of good field position all day and have made their way into Cardinals territory four times, but it took a 50-yard banked field goal by Dan Bailey to get them on the board.

Bailey had missed wide left from 54 yards earlier in the game, ending his near team record 26-straight streak. His position coach Chris Boniol holds the team record at 27.

Second quarter score: Cowboys 3, Cardinals 3

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Cowboys Vs. Cardinals Score Update: Arizona Strikes First With FG

The Cowboys seem to have a running edge today, but it hasn’t paid off early. They took the opening kickoff and moved smartly into Cardinals territory, but Jason Garrett opted to pass on 3rd-1 and kick a field goal at the 36 yard line, rather than going for it. Dan Bailey pull the attempt wide left.

The miss granted Arizona starting field position at the 43, and Kevin Kolb moved them into position for a 48-yard field goal, which Jay Feely hit.

Felix Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 69 yards, but Dallas went three-and-out and decided to punt at the Arizona 35 yard line.

After one quarter: Arizona 3, Dallas 0

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Cowboys Vs. Cardinals Inactives: Miles Austin Sits Another Week

The Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals have turned in their inactives. and there are no real surprises. Miles Austin is out for the fourth straight week, while fullback Tony Fiammetta will miss his third straight game for Dallas due to his mysterious illness. Here is the full list:

Dallas: Jon Kitna, Miles Austin, Tony Fiammetta, Phillip Tanner, David Arkin, Daniel Loper and Josh Brent

Arizona: Richard Bartel, Chansi Stuckey, Stephen Williams, Kerry Rhodes, Joey Porter, Anthony Batiste and Todd Heap

Shaun Chapas was promoted to the active roster to give the Cowboys a presence as a lead blocker. He’s no Fiammetta, but he will allow John Phillips to rotate back to a tight end role where he’s most effective. Tanner sitting means that DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones will be the only available runners for Dallas. Sean Lissemore should spell Jay Ratliff at nose tackle with Brent out. Former Cowboys Bartel will not see the field for the Cards.

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Report: Cowboys Will Use Dez Bryant As Punt Returner

Tim McMahon quotes a source saying that Dez Bryant will return punts against the Cardinals Sunday.

There had been internal discussions about waiting until [Miles] Austin returned for next week’s game against the Giants to use Bryant as the primary punt returner, but the coaching staff has opted to use their most dynamic threat in that role this week.

While there certainly is some risk involved in this decision, it’s December. The Cowboys are in position to win their division and improve their late season reputation. It’s time to put your big guns in winning positions, and it looks like the Cowboys have decided to do so here.

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Laurent Robinson Week 13 Fantasy Projections

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Laurent Robinson has proved himself to be a reliable fantasy wide receiver ever since he took over for the injured Austin Miles. Robinson has scored seven touchdowns over his last five games and had two last week against the Miami Dolphins. Even if Miles returns for today's game -- unlikely but Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones says so -- he will not take away of Robinson's target due to his hot streak.

This weeks matchup against the Arizona Cardinals should provide Robinson with chances to get into the end zone and have a big game. The Cardinals have allowed 12 receiving touchdowns over the past 11 games.

Over at SB Nation's fantasy sports site Fake Teams, they are not as high on Robinson and have him ranked No. 18, whereas numberFire has Robinson ranked ahead of Dez Bryant at No. 12.

For more on the Dallas Cowboys head over to Blogging the Boys; for more fantasy football news head over to Fake Teams and SB Nation's fantasy football hub.

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Dez Bryant Week 13 Fantasy Projections

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is almost always a start for fantasy football owners and this week could be a big week for Bryant. This week against the Arizona Cardinals, Bryant should get back into the endzone after being shut out on their Thanksgiving Day game last week against the Miami Dolphins.

The Cardinals have given up 12 receiving touchdowns in the past 11 games, and with how the Cowboys offense has been playing the past few weeks expect Bryant to grab at least one touchdown this week. 

There is a small chance that Miles Austin could return, this is according to team owner Jerry Jones, but even if Austin gets in the lineup he should not reduce the number of targets for Bryant.

Over at SB Nation fantasy sports blog Fake Teams they rank Bryan as the No. 6 receiver and numbeFire ranks Bryant at No. 13 this week.

For more on the Dallas Cowboys head over to Blogging the Boys; for more fantasy football news head over to Fake Teams and SB Nation's fantasy football hub.

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DeMarco Murray Week 13 Fantasy Projections

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has been on a hot streak ever since he took over for Felix Jones who was out with an injury. Murray has rushed for 761 yards over his last six games which comes out to 126.8 yards per game during that stretch.

The Cowboys face the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday and the Cardinals are allowing 123 rushing yards per game. However over the last three games the Cardinals did hold LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore and Steven Jackson to under 100 yards. During that same stretch only McCoy was able to score a touchdown. So, Murray could face some challenges against the resurgent Cardinal rush defense. 

SB Nation's fantasy sports blog Fake Teams project Murray as the No. 5 running back and numberFire ranks Murray at No. 7 this week.

For more on the Dallas Cowboys head over to Blogging the Boys; for more fantasy football news head over to Fake Teams and SB Nation's fantasy football hub.

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Tony Romo Week 13 Fantasy Projections

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is still going to be without wide receiver Austin Miles who is out with a hamstring injury, but Laurent Robinson has filled in nicely and has been able to produce. In Romo's last four games he has 10 touchdowns to only two interceptions.

In Romo's last two games against the Arizona Cardinals he has thrown for 629 yards and five touchdowns. The Cardinals are No. 25 in passing yards by allowing 250 passing yards per game this season and have given up 12 passing touchdowns. Combine Romo's hot streak and the Cardinals defense inefficiencies in the passing game, Romo should have a good game. 

SB Nation's fantasy blog Fake Teams ranks Romo as the No. 6 quarterback and numberFire ranks Romo at No. 5.

For more on the Dallas Cowboys head over to Blogging the Boys; for more fantasy football news head over to Fake Teams and SB Nation's fantasy football hub.

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Dallas Cowboys Weekly Recap, Courtesy Of Blogging The Boys

It's been 10 days since the Cowboys defeated the Miami Dolphins 20-19 on Thanksgiving night. Since then, we've been treated to another full weekend of team's falling back to the pack. Most notably The Eagles losing two games and the Giants being blown out on national TV. If the Cowboys are first and foremost the team we root for, the opponents of our NFC East rivals rank highly as well. With four victories in a row combined with three straight Giants losses, this has been a great stretch for Dallas and their fans.

Dallas has a big game Sunday afternoon against the Cardinals. A loss erases all the hard work that has gone into winning five of their last six. Let's take a look at the week of preparation that was, through the eyes of SB Nation's Cowboys blog, Blogging The Boys, and our writers. These are just snippets, click on any of the titles to take you to the full articles so you can read more.

Cowboys Overcome Themselves, Rally To Defeat Dolphins | KD Drummond

The game-winning drive started out with a nice return from Dez Bryant, who was still strapping on his helmet when he was retreating to field the punt. 20 yards later, Dallas was in decent field position with three minutes remaining. Quarterback Tony Romo connected with Jason Witten on two consecutive catches, the first came from his now patented spinout from the pocket. Dallas then turned the show over to DeMarco Murray, who received five straight touches to drive the Cowboys down close. Up the gut for six and a first down. Left side for 9 then back up the middle for three and another first. Right tackle for for and again to the right for 5 and Dallas was easily inside the Miami 10.

It can't be stated enough how beautiful it was for Dallas to be able to play it safe and still conduct a game-winning drive.

 

Cowboys 20, Dolphins 19: Things We Learned | One.Cool.Customer

Where was DeMarcus Ware? Everywhere. Ware only shows up on the stat sheet with one assisted tackle and and one fumble recovery. Many fans and observers who're caught up in the number of sacks Ware has and could have by the end of the season consider that stat line pretty disappointing.

But Ware was as disruptive as ever, just differently. The Dolphins' All-Pro left Tackle Jake Long got flagged three times for a false start and once for holding ('tackle' was the words the announcers used). Ryan also used Ware in coverage a lot, and Ware was critical in disrupting a potential TD pass to Reggie Bush at the end of the second quarter.

Dolphins @ Cowboys By The Numbers | rabblerousr

10: the number of times Romo targeted Laurent Robinson. By comparison, Bryant was targeted six times.This imbalance is due in no small part to the fact that Bryant is receiving much tighter coverage, and Garrett's offense is predicated on going to the open man. But mostly, its all Robinson. Not only is Robinson getting open, he's making other teams pay with clutch plays. Nobody's talking about Robinson's first TD, but it rivals Jason Avant's oft-played fingertip grab on Sunday night: he scooped up a low Romo throw off the Cowboys Stadium carpet.

Anothony Spencer: Refuting The Hate | Tom Ryle

Let's start with a little statistical info. I was really stunned to see some people making comments about how Spencer needed to be gone right after a game when he was the leading tackler, with eight total tackles, six solo, three for a loss, and one pass defended. Maybe it was the fact that he did not record any sacks or quarterback hits that made so many commenters dismiss his contributions...

If you haven't quite picked up on my point, it is this: Anthony Spencer contributes a lot more to this team than just rushing the passer. Looking at his sack total and deciding he is not worth having on the team and should be replaced is just not an intelligent way to evaluate him. Sure, he has had games that did not go as well as the Thanksgiving game did, but he is often doing a lot of things that don't show up so clearly. The two pass plays I described showed a remarkable degree of athleticism and football smarts, particularly the one where he tracked down Reggie Bush. And those plays were clearly just as good as a sack, and likely stopped a couple of nice runs after the catch.

Grading Dolphins @ Cowboys Performances Of Note | One.Cool.Customer

The Front Seven

Just like in the Redskins game, the official NFL gamebook credits the Cowboys defense with 9 tackles for loss, tied for a season high. The Cowboys defense also held their opponent to under 100 yards rushing for the seventh time this season, which moves the Cowboys back into the top ten of run defenses in the league. Lots of green grades follow as a result:

DL OLBs ILBs
Starters Backups Starters B.U. S B.U.
  K.C. J.R. J.H. M.S. S.L. J.B. D.W. A.S. V.B. S.L. B.J.
K.B.
Snaps (69)
29 52 35 21 16 11 63 68 15 67 30 13
Rating
+1.0 +2.3 -1.0 -1.0 +1.2 -0.9 +1.6 +3.9 +0.5 +1.3 +2.0 +0.7

On a solid day for the front seven, Anthony Spencer stood out with four QB pressures, one pass defended and eight tackles, including three tackles for loss.

Sean Lissemore again had a very strong outing. With only 170 defensive snaps for the season to his credit, he narrowly misses out on making the PFF ranking at his position. If he were to be included, his +10.6 season grade would rank him sixth among all 3-4 defensive ends, sandwiched between Texans Antonio Smith (+11.7) and J.J. Watt (+8.6). I'm sure there is a good reason why the coaches aren't playing Lissy more (he he he), but I expect him to get a lot more playing time next season.

Dallas Cowboys Football Forecast @ Arizona Cardinals | Tom Ryle

Linebacker Anthony Spencer had an excellent game. DeMarcus Ware was a presence, even though he did not show up statistically (well, according to the announcers, at least). Sean Lee is better one handed than about 75% of the ILBs with two good hands. Bradie James and Victor Butler were contributing. Just, guys, watch that Beanie fellow.

CHANCE OF LB BEING A PROBLEM: 20% Last time: 40%

Defensive Backs Larry Fitzgerald. Any questions? (And yes, I know Mike Jenkins is supposed to be back, but I still think this is where the biggest problems will be, even if Kevin Kolb and John Skelton are the options at quarterback for Arizona.)

CHANCE OF DB BEING A PROBLEM: 70% Last time: 50%

Cowboys Playoff Push: Reasons For Optimism But Cardinals Are First Priority | Dave Halprin

The Cowboys chances of winning the division: 70%. Chances they get in with a wild-card: 74%

If Dallas goes 5-0 or 4-1, they have a 100% chance of making the playoffs. If they go 3-2 they have a 99% chance. Going 2-3 brings the odds down to 71%. If we collapse to 1-4 or 0-5, the odds are 14% and 0%, respectively.

That's a pretty rosy picture, but let's not get fooled. These Cowboys, while showing definite signs of progress, are by no means a sure thing. This week against Arizona, we'll see if they have the killer-instinct needed for a playoff run.

Cowboys DeMarco Murray Named NFL Offensive Rookie Of The Month | KD Drummond

For the year, Murray ranks fifth amongst all backs in Football Outsiders' DYAR stat with 157. This advanced metric measures how many more yards a player has gained than an average-level replacement player would against the same defenses. This, on only 147 carries. His FO success rate of 57% (a 'success' is gaining 40% of necessary yardage on first down, 60% on second down and 100% on third and fourth downs) ranks second in the league; only trailing New Orleans' first-round rookie Mark Ingram's 58%...

Note that in three of the four games, over half of Murray's yardage totals have come after first contact. As Dave pointed out here, Murray's yards-per-carry average has suffered the last two games without fullback Tony Fiammetta. Dallas has chosen to go with TE John Phillips as the lead blocker in Fiammetta's absence with putrid results. The club promoted rookie Shaun Chapas to the 53-man roster in hopes of paving a better path for Murray to continue reaching the defenses second and third levels.

Video Review Of The Arizona Cardinals | Tom Ryle

The Cardinals defense was impressive overall, holding the Rams to 268 total yards, giving Sam Bradford fits and keeping Steven Jackson under control. They did show some blitzing, and this may be a vulnerability as the Rams got their only offensive touchdown when they picked the blitz up and Bradford was able to complete a 16-yard touchdown pass.

One of the other defenders is cornerback Patrick Peterson, who had a good day with five tackles. But that is not why you may have heard his name. He, of course, tied that NFL record for punt returns. That was all over the news, and it was a brilliant return, set up by beautiful blocking that let him streak untouched right up the middle of the field.

Kickoff is at 3:15 CST. If you like some live tweeting to go along with your football announcers, make sure to follow me on the @BloggingTheBoys twitter account.

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NFL Week 13 Picks

The staff at SB Nation Dallas picks the winner of each and every Week 13 game.

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Cardinals Injury Report, Week 13: Kevin Kolb Probable For Dallas

The Arizona Cardinals have a tough task before them in Week 13 in the form of the Dallas Cowboys, but they will, at least, have most of their backfield healthy enough to play. Kevin Kolb, who has missed time in 2011 with a toe injury, is listed as probable for the Cardinals' game against the Cowboys on Sunday, and he'll have his backfield behind him, too.

Running backs Beanie Wells and LaRod Stephens-Howling are also both probable for Sunday's game.

Here's the rest of Friday's edition of the Cardinals injury report for Week 13:

OUT: none.

DOUBTFUL: LB Joey Porter (knee), S Kerry Rhodes (foot).

QUESTIONABLE: TE Todd Heap (hamstring), LB Reggie Walker (hamstring).

PROBABLE: CB Michael Adams (hamstring), TE Rob Housler (groin), QB Kevin Kolb (toe), RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (shoulder), RB Beanie Wells (knee).

For more on the Cowboys, head to Blogging the Boys; for more on the Cardinals, visit Revenge of the Birds.

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Cowboys Injury Report, Week 13: Miles Austin Still Out For Dallas

The Dallas Cowboys enter Week 13 with a chance to put some space between themselves and the NFC East. They will continue to have to try to do so without the services of Miles Austin, out again with a hamstring injury.

Dallas, currently a game ahead of the New York Giants in the NFC East after a four-game winning streak, gets the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13; the Giants have a much tougher road to hoe, considering they will be facing the undefeated Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

Here's the rest of Friday's edition of the Cowboys injury report for Week 13:

OUT: WR Miles Austin (hamstring), DT Josh Brent (knee), FB Tony Fiammetta (illness), QB Jon Kitna (back), RB Phillip Tanner (hamstring).

DOUBTFUL: none.

QUESTIONABLE: CB Mike Jenkins (hamstring), G Kyle Kosier (foot), S Gerald Sensabaugh (foot).

PROBABLE: LB Bruce Carter (knee), LB Sean Lee (wrist), P Mat McBriar (left foot)

For more on the Cowboys, head to Blogging the Boys; for more on the Cardinals, visit Revenge of the Birds.

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Week 13 NFL Lines And Odds: Cowboys Vs. Cardinals

Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys are favored on the road against Arizona in Week 13.

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Public Service Announcement: Dallas Cowboys Will Be In The Rumor Mills.... Forever

Just a quick public service announcement folks. Every time 'Player X' gets released, he will be rumored to be a good fit for Dallas. Every time 'Coaching Position Y' becomes available, a Dallas Cowboys assistant will be rumored to be in the running for it. There doesn't have to be any truth to the rumor, no substance, no smoking gun.

The only requirement is a website, television station and requisite opening and eventually the Cowboys will become involved.

This is the world we live in folks, nothing we can do about it but enjoy (have disdain for) the ride. I don't know if owner/general manager Jerry Jones is ultimately behind some of the occasional linkage. He could in fact be, as the snake oil salesman doesn't believe negative is a linguistic possibility as an adjective for attention. Jones loves the spotlight, we know this.

Of course, this article is fueled by two things. Early in the week, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was linked to the Jacksonville Jaguars opening after head coach Jack Del Rio was mercifully relieved of his duties. Can you see Rob working his way up the coaching ladder... for Jacksonville? Now, maybe if they admit they are moving to LA in the couple years taht might do it. I'm more concerned about losing Rob to a team like Philly or the New York Giants. Seeing the recent trends, both jobs should be available by mid-January.

Then there were the questions yesterday about Dallas' interest in recently waived quarterback Donovan McNabb. As I stated on the BTB twitter acount (Follow @BloggingTheBoys, shameless plug), I cannot support this move because I've actually paid attention to how McNabb has perormed over the last three years. In actuality, he may turn out to have something left in the tank., I know what I saw of him in Washington in 2010 and the first few games of 2011 in Minny, though... that love boat has long sailed away.

What makes it worse, is that Dallas actually is in need of a backup quarterback with Jon Kitna's back injury appearing to be of the major variety. However, I would much rather roll with third-year pro Stephen McGee (whom I'm also not all that enamored with) than to reach out to Mr. Chunky Soup. Who needs the hoopla and hysteria for a backup quarterback? Not I, especially after how I've trashed him all over the interwebs.

So all in all, if you're new to this, just take every rumor with a grain of salt, and keep chewing over the fact that Dallas sits alone in first place of the NFC East. They play the Arizona Cardinals in the late afternoon slot on Sunday and look to extend their winning streak to five games. Don't get distracted by the fact that just uttering the words 'Dallas Cowboys' generates clicks, viewers and all sorts of warm and fuzzies for company execs. Stay focused.

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Kevin Kolb Injury Update: Cardinals QB Will Play Sunday After Missing Four Games

After missing four weeks with a foot injury, injured Arizona Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb is expected to start on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

Kolb, a Texas native who played at the University of Houston in college and was originally drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, has had an up-and-down season in his first year as an NFL starter.

The 6'3 220 QB, a four-year NFL veteran, has completed 56.8% of his passes for 1,708 yards, 8 TD's and 8 INT's. 

He has much better statistics than backup QB John Skelton, but the Cardinals are 3-1 in Skelton's starts and only 1-6 in Kolb's. 

But a Dallas secondary that has given up big days to Rex Grossman and Matt Moore in consecutive weeks might be an excellent "get better" present for Kolb. 

Larry Fitzgerald, a 6'3 220 deep threat, is the same type of big, athletic receiver (Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall) that has given the Cowboys' undersized CB's problems this season.

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Donovan McNabb Released By Vikings: Dallas One Projected Destination

Veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb was released Thursday by the Minnesota Vikings, a vote of confidence for rookie starter Christian Ponder and the end of the road for McNabb, who is now officially bouncing around the league since parting ways with Philadelphia two seasons ago. 

One noted destination for McNabb: Dallas, where he would back up Tony Romo, as current No. 2 John Kitna is out with an injury, and as Joel Thorman notes at SBNation.com, the Cowboys did put a waiver claim in on Kyle Orton before he landed in Kansas City. Still, McNabb might best be suited in Chicago, his hometown and a rival to Dallas' playoff chances:

The Bears are probably the most popular destination for McNabb for a number of reasons. First, they lost Jay Cutler for what could be the entire season and they're now starting Caleb Hanie, who had his first career start last week (in a loss). Second, they put a claim in on Kyle Orton so you know they're willing to upgrade at quarterback. Third, Chicago is McNabb's home city, which doesn't necessarily mean anything because it's not his choice whether a team claims him, but it does show a willingness by him to play there. That said, there's some concern that McNabb may not be familiar enough with the Bears offense for them to make a claim.

ESPN Dallas is against McNabb to the Cowboys, citing "the drama" a veteran acquisition like McNabb would bring to a team renowned for its chemistry issues over the last decade. Writer Tim McMahon vetoes McNabb as a prospect right in the lede:

IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys don’t need the circus returning to Valley Ranch. Especially not because of a backup quarterback. 

That’s why they’d be wise to pass on making a waiver claim for Donovan McNabb after the Vikings released the former Pro Bowler. Well, that plus the fact that McNabb isn’t an effective quarterback at age 35. 

For more on the Cowboys, check out Blogging The Boys. For more on the NFL, check out SB Nation's NFL page.

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Cowboys Wideout Dez Bryant Lifts The Couch Cushions; Settles Jewelry Debt

Laaaaa... Laaa... La La... Wait Til I Get My Money Right...

Laaaaa... Laaa... La La... Then You Can't Tell Me Nothing Right...

--Kanye West "Cant' Tell Me Nothing"

Well, Dez Bryant says at least you can't tell him nothing about his jewelry debt. You'll just have to find something else to hate about him now.

Earlier today, Bryant settled a civil lawsuit that was filed against him; dealing with unpaid debts from loaned jewelry, loaned money and sporting event tickets from North Texas business man Eleow Hunt. The lawsuit originally asked for over $600,000, but was settled for between $400k and $500k according to NFL.com.

Over the summer, when the NFL players were locked out from the league, it became public knowledge that Bryant was facing three separate lawsuits for various debts. It appears that this final settlement puts all of those obligations to rest. On his couch. Charlie Murphy style.

Bryant is still playing under his rookie contract, which did not include any preseason bonuses for 2011. His deal with Dallas nets him a little over $1.1 million for the season; roughly $70K per game and $834K to date.

For those looking for something else to complain about Bryant, one could gripe about his production on the field. That is, if you only look to volume stats to quantify a players performance. The second year receiver "only" has 38 receptions and 620 yards on the season, to go along with his very respectable six scores.

Bryant has only been targeted 64 times on the season however, barely more than half of league leader Wes Welker of the Patriots who checks in with 112 targets. Bryant ranks 10th of all receivers in Pro Football Focus' cumulative game grades, meaning that he performs well in the capacity that he is asked to. One needs to only look at how defenses are rolled over to him with lead receiver Miles Austin out several weeks with a hamstring injury.

Austin is rumored to be returning for the Arizona Cardinals game on Sunday, but hasn't made it onto the practice field just yet. All of the attention afforded Bryant has allowed mid-season acquisition Laurent Robinson to excel, as he's scored seven touchdowns in his last five games. If Austin is able to return for the final stretch of the season, Dallas could finally have an offensive arsenal ready to compete with the big boys of the NFC.

For more coverage of the Cowboys, make sure to check out Blogging The Boys.

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Arizona Cardinals Week 13 Injury Report: Beanie Wells Limited In Practice After Career Day

During Beanie Wells career game against the St. Louis Rams, while the former Ohio State Buckeye was essentially running wind sprints against subpar defense he did initially come up lame and seemed to have tweaked his knee. After testing his knee, the tailback went off for 228 rushing yards on 27 carries and propelled the Arizona Cardinals to a 23-20 victory.

So yes, the Cardinals decided to take it easy on Wells this Wednesday, as the ball carrier was limited in practice.

Here is the full practice report on the Cardinals as they prepare to face-off against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday:

Did not participate: LB Joey Porter (knee), S Kerry Rhodes (foot)

Limited participation: CB Michael Adams (hamstring), TE Todd Heap (hamstring), RB Beanie Wells (knee)

Full participation: TE Rob Housler (groin), QB Kevin Kolb (toe), RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (shoulder)

For more insights and analysis on the Cowboys, check out the SB Nation blog Blogging with the Boys. For more insights and analysis on the Cardinals, check out the SB Nation blog Revenge of the Birds.

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Dallas Cowboys Week 13 Injury Report: Still No Practice For Miles Austin And Tony Fiammetta

While the majority of the Dallas Cowboys fan base (and fantasy football) owners will worry about Miles Austin still being held out of practice due to a hamstring injury. If you asked running back Demarco Murray who he's most concerned about, he'll probably say third-year fullback Tony Fiammetta.

In two games with Fiammetta healthy and starting at fullback, Murray's averaged 137 rushing yards a game. In two games without, just 80.

Here is the practice report for the Cowboys as they prepare for the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday:

Did Not Practice

  • Receiver Miles Austin (hamstring)
  • Nose Tackle Josh Brent (knee)
  • Fullback Tony Fiammetta (illness)
  • Quarterback Jon Kitna (back)
  • Right Guard Kyle Kosier (foot)
  • Running Back Phillip Tanner (hamstring)

Limited in Practice

  • Linebacker Bruce Carter (knee)
  • Cornerback Mike Jenkins (hamstring)
  • Safety Gerald Sensabaugh (foot)

Full Participants

  • Punter Mat McBriar (left foot)
  • Inside Linebacker Sean Lee (wrist)

For more insights and analysis on the Cowboys, check out the SB Nation blog Blogging with the Boys. For more insights and analysis on the Cardinals, check out the SB Nation blog Revenge of the Birds.

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Miles Austin Misses Wednesday Practice

Yesterday, the Cowboys and Miles Austin expressed optimism for a return this weekend for the star wide receiver. That optimism was quelled a bit today, as Austin missed practice on Wednesday, which does not bode well for a return this weekend.

Austin missed two weeks early in the season because of a hamstring injury as well, missing Dallas' Week 3 win over the Redskins and Dallas' Week 4 loss against the Lions before returning after Dallas' bye week against New England. 

If Austin is out this weekend, it will be the fourth straight game that he's missed. He suffered the injury in Dallas' Week 9 win over the Seahawks.

Dallas' four game winning streak, coupled with New York's three game losing streak, makes the decision to rest Austin easier, as the Cowboys currently have a one game lead over the Giants -- the same Giants who play the Packers this weekend.

Laurent Robinson also makes it easier for Dallas' coaching staff to hold Austin back until he's 100%, as Robinson has excelled in Austin's absence. Robinson has 14 receptions the past three weeks, including five touchdowns.

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NFL Week 13 Odds: Dallas Cowboys Vs. Arizona Cardinals

To finish their stretch of games against opponents with records under-.500, the 7-4 Dallas Cowboys are -4.5 road favorites against the 4-7 Arizona Cardinals.

And while Dallas has taken care of business in the month of November with a four-game winning streak, cracks have started to show, as they eked out an OT win over Washington and a 1-point victory over Miami in the last two weeks.

Arizona, despite getting mediocre play from third-year QB John Skelton in relief of the injured Kevin Kolb, is playing their best football of the season, having won three of their last four games. 

In four starts, Skelton has completed 50.4% of his passes for 750 yards, 4 TD's and 7 INT's. However, he still has WR Larry Fitzgerald, one of the NFL's most dangerous deep threats, and Dallas' secondary has struggled against similar big, physical WR's like Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall this season.

Third-year Ohio State RB Beanie Wells has carried the offense, setting the Cardinals franchise rushing record with 223 yards against St. Louis last weekend.

Defensively, Arizona hasn't done much this season, as they are ranked 25th in passing yards allowed and 20th in rushing yards allowed. Dallas native and former Texas Longhorn Sam Acho has stepped up in recent weeks, racking up 5 sacks and three forced fumbles.

If the Cowboys offense can click, there's little chance Arizona can survive a shoot-out, as the odds makers have set the line for Sunday's game at only 45.5 points.

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Tony Fiametta Injury Update: FB Could Miss Season As Cowboys Sign Replacement

An undisclosed illness that has kept Tony Fiametta out for the last two weeks may end the promising young fullback's season.

With the training staff still unsure as to Fiametta's long-term status, the Dallas Cowboys signed rookie seventh-round pick Shaun Chapas off their practice squad Wednesday.

Fiametta, a third-year 6'0 242 fullback out of Syracuse, was inserted into the starting line-up around the same time as RB DeMarco Murray. The young back-field formed a dominant running tandem through five games, with Murray shattering many of Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett's franchise records in the process.

However, Fiametta has not played since the Cowboys' Nov. 13 victory over the Buffalo Bills, out with an illness that has baffled Dallas' training staff.

The Cowboys had been using more two-TE sets in his absence, as well as playing third-string TE John Phillips in the back-field, but wanted a more traditional FB for the stretch run of the season.

Chapas, a 6'2 247 fullback out of Georgia, was a four-year contributor for the Bulldogs before Dallas selected him with the 220th pick of the 2011 Draft. He's been on the practice squad all season since being cut out of training camp.

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Great News For Cowboys Fans: Akwasi Owusu-Ansah Has Been Cut

According to Todd Archer, the Cowboys are calling up rookie fullback Shaun Chapas for Sunday’s game in Arizona because Tony Fiammetta may still be out with his mysterious illness. Losing Fiammetta has been a tough blow. Just as the Dallas running game seemed to be lifting off for the first time in years, Fiammetta went down and it’s sputtered. Chapas won’t be as effective of a lead blocker, but he does give Jason Garrett an element that his offense has lacked.

The silver lining in the whole thing is that Cowboys fans won’t have to watch Akwasi Owusu-Ansah field punts as he sprints toward his own goal line or return kickoffs that should be touchbacks to the 15 yard line. That will be refreshing.

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Miles Austin Injury Update: Jerry Jones Expects WR To Play Sunday

In a radio interview Tuesday, Dallas Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones expressed optimism about the injury status of Pro Bowl WR Miles Austin. When asked if he thought Austin would play against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, he responded affirmatively:

"I do, yes, but I don't know. I saw him yesterday and he was moving around real well. Austin said he could go Sunday, but we'll see how this week goes along. We don't want to push that, because we've got a lot of football ahead of us. By the same token, we could use him. We've missed him."

Austin has been bothered by a hamstring injury all season. He aggravated it in the Cowboys Week 2 victory over San Francisco, missed two weeks and then re-aggravated it during Dallas' Nov. 9 victory over Seattle.

Despite missing five games this season, Austin has caught 28 passes for 404 yards and 4 TD's.

His spot in the line-up has been ably filled by WR Laurent Robinson, so the Cowboys will likely take special care to make sure he is 100% healthy before putting him back on the field.

Check out Blogging The Boys for more news and analysis on America's Team.

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NFL Week 13: Dallas Cowboys Vs. Arizona Cardinals

The Cowboys look to extend their NFC East lead in Week 13 as they head to Arizona to take on the Cardinals.

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