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Thanks to the Washington Redskins' huge 23-10 upset of the New York Giants on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys have regained control of their own destiny in the NFC East race despite having lost to the Giants on Sunday night a week prior:
Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jay Ratliff was caught on camera snapping on ESPN Dallas reporter Calvin Watkins and needed to be restrained by Cowboys teammates in the locker room after answering questions from Watkins about former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Sam Hurd, who was recently released by the Chicago Bears after drug trafficking charges filed on Hurd.
Per Watkins twitter feed:
Had a confrontation with a player today I shouldn't have let escalate. I regret not walking away. onward to Saturday in Tampa. -- @CalvinWatkins
Who knows what words were ultimately exchanged between Ratliff and Watkins, but its clear that whatever the beat writer asked it infuriated the Pro Bowl defensive tackle. Some have questioned the relationship Hurd might have had with NFL players, especially in regards to providing cocaine and marijuana to players.
Here is the video of the exchange. Thoughts?
The staff at SB Nation Dallas picks the winner of each and every Week 15 game.
After yesterday's rousing 31-15 victory over Tampa Bay and it's semi-pro effort, the Dallas Cowboys find themselves sitting at 8-6 with a temporary half-game lead over the New York Giants in the race for NFC East supremacy. Quarterback Tony Romo continued to make his claim to being the best of the rest; the top quarterback not named Rodgers-Brees-Brady. His 133.9 QB rating yesterday was augmented by his first rushing touchdown since Week 2 of the 2009 season. He is now the only QB other than Aaron Rodgers to reach 30 total touchdowns on the season without having double-digit interceptions (Romo has 9).
The defense held the Bucs to 55 first half yards and only 190 for the game, despite playing the entire second half with DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff sitting out to rest nagging shoulder and rib injuries respectively. After the total team effort, the Cowboys can now sit back and watch some football like the rest of us do; hoping to get some assistance from the opponents of playoff-position enemies.
The New York Giants host NFC East bottom-dwelling Washington, as the Redskins have lost eight of their past nine games. The team was uber-competitive last week against the Patriots, giving their loyal and temporary fans some hope that the offense can exploit a Giants defense not much better than New England's.
If the Giants manage to lose their next two (pseudo-road game against the Jets) and Dallas can exact revenge against Philly, the Week 17 matchup between the clubs will be rendered moot. If they only lose one, or none, then the Cowboys have to defeat the Eagles due to tiebreaker rules. Either way, Dallas controls it's own NFC East destiny.
As for a Wild Card chance if the Cowboys end up 9-7, there are a myriad of scenarios and teams still mathematically alive. For the Cowboys, though, nothing matters unless the Detroit Lions lose all of their remaining games starting with today against the Oakland Raiders. Well, there's a chance that Detroit and Chicago end up tied for second place in the North and Chicago wins that first elimination (intra-division) and then the Cowboys have those tiebreakers over the Bears. Playoff tiebreakers are convoluted to say the least.
Regardless, there are two main games of focus for the Cowboys to watch today. The early Giants-Redskins tilt, followed by the late kickoff of Detroit at Oakland. For a bonus, the Cowboys could use a Jets victory over the Eagles to officially end Philly's distant chances and crush their spirits.
For more coverage of the Cowboys, head on over to Blogging The Boys, SB Nation's Dallas Cowboys blog.
The Cowboys held of a 15-point Buccaneers third quarter rally to improve to 8-6 on the year. The fourth quarter saw no points by either team. The Cowboys were concentrating on not having the same result that have plagued them this year by giving up a second half lead before ultimately losing. The Cowboys offense pulled itself back in and ran the ball more often than passing to run the clock down.
The Bucs made an attempt to get back in this game on their first drive of the fourth quarter and even converting a fourth down attempt, but they were unable to move the ball and turned the ball over on their second fourth down attempt of the drive.
The Cowboys lost rookie left tackle Tyron Smith to a left shoulder injury late in the Cowboys’ 31-15 win over Tampa Bay Saturday night. Smith exited the game with 1:48 remaining in the game and Dallas burning off the remainder of the clock.
After walking to the sideline Smith had his neck and shoulder tested and appeared not to be seriously injured. He did not return to the game.
The start of the third quarter did not start well for the Dallas Cowboys as they were backed up inside their own eight-yard line when Tampa Bay's Adrian Clayborn sacked and force a Tony Romo fumble which was scooped up by Dekoda Watson who scored the first touchdown on the night for the Buccaneers.
The Cowboys offense on a whole took a big step back from their first half performance and that has been a trend all season for the Cowboys. In the third quarter Dallas was only able to put three points on the board on a 30 yard Dan Bailey field goal.
The Dallas Cowboys defense completely shutdown the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense and did not allow the Buccaneers to get a first down during the entire second quarter. The defense also got to Josh Freeman twice in this quarter with DeMarcus Ware and Orlando Scandrick each getting a sack. The Cowboys defense has held the Buccaneers to only 55 total yards in the first half.
The Dallas Cowboys defense came up big on the first drive of this game as Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman took off and ran for seven yards but when he was being tackled he fumbled the ball and linebacker Bradie James recovered the ball at Dallas' 44-yard line.
Tony Romo showed a flash of the old 2007 “jedi” Romo on the Dallas Cowboys’ opening drive against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday night, hitting Miles Austin for an early TD. After a Josh Freeman fumble, forced by Anthony Spencer and recovered by Bradie James, the Cowboys drove smartly into the red zone on the back of Felix Jones.
The drive stalled a bit inside the ten, forcing a 3rd-goal from the eight. On the four-point play, Romo dropped back and danced around his pocket for several seconds, even bumping into his linemen, before stepping up and finding Austin over the middle just past the goal line.
Sean Jones appeared to have both hands on the ball, but Austin swiped it away as the two fell back toward the line. The call on the field was that Austin had control of the ball while still in the end zone, and after a review the call stood.
Early first quarter: Cowboys 7, Bucs 0
The Dallas Cowboys will have the services of wide receiver Laurent Robinson. Robinson has been ailed by a shoulder injury and he will be used as the teams third wide receiver. Center Phil Costa was questionable with a concussion that he suffered against the New York Giants last week, and earlier this week he was reportedly out. However according to ESPN Dallas' Todd Archer, Costa will suit up and start tonight against the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay inactive report:
Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones is back in the starting lineup since rookie DeMarco Murray's season is over as as he fractured his ankle last week against the New York Giants. Jones was the starting back before he missed four games with his own ankle injury. Last week when Jones took over for Murray when he left the game with an injury, Jones had 106 yards on 16 carries and caught six passes for 31 yards.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin is back in his second straight game after missing four with a hamstring injury. Last week was Austin's first game back and he had 63 yards on four receptions with a touchdown, and showed no ill effects. Prior to Austin's injury he was Tony Romo's favorite target and if that picks up again Saturday night Austin could have another good game.
Austin is looking to build upon that performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he will have the opportunity as the Bucs pass defense is 27th in the NFL. Wide receiver Laurent Robinson who has filled in quite well when Austin was out is questionable for Saturday's game with a shoulder injury. If Robinson is not able to play tonight then look for Austin to pick up a few extra targets.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant has scored touchdowns in each of his last two games and will be looking to make it a third straight week with a score when they face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday night. Tampa Bay has one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL and allow 249 yards per game which rank 27th in the NFL, so Bryant has a good chance to have a good game this week.
Bryant's production could depend if Laurent Robinson is going to be in the lineup Saturday night. Robinson has been great filling as the No. 2 wide receiver when Miles Austin has been out with eight touchdowns this year, but he is questionable against the Bucs with a shoulder injury which limited him in practice this week. If Robinson plays it could take away a few of Bryant's targets.
The Dallas Cowboys take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday night and Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo should have another good game against the reeling Bucs who have lost their last seven games and eight of their last nine. Romo has thrown 15 touchdown passes over his last six games and only two interceptions. Romo also has played well against the Bucs during his career and in his last two meetings he has thrown for 659 passing yards and eight touchdown passes. Romo's hot streak could continue as the Bucs rank 27th in pass defense, allowing 249 yards per game.
The 7-6 Dallas Cowboys must focus on winning all three of their remaining games to have a shot at making the playoffs. Up next, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Dallas Cowboys are hitting the road for Week 15 as they prepare to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. The Cowboys have won four of their last six games, but are coming off of back-to-back rough losses against the Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants.
The Bucs have had a much tougher time than the Cowboys, of course. They've lost seven straight heading into Sunday's game. If it weren't for the Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay would hold the longest losing streak in all of football.
The odds are definitely in the Cowboys' favor, according to our friends over at OddsShark. Dallas is favored to win by 7 points across the board. They're expected to win this game and continue their hunt for the postseason. They'll need a win to shake off the losses of the past couple of weeks and keep pace with the Giants to stay atop the NFC East.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been in a tailspin of late, and will be facing a desperate Dallas Cowboys squad in Week 15. The number of big names on the Bucs' Week 15 injury report doesn't bode well, either.
Arrelious Benn is out with a concussion; Albert Haynesworth and Aqib Talib both missed practice on Friday, though they are questionable; one-time next big thing Josh Freeman is probable with a right shoulder injury that could conceivably affect his passing.
These Bucs may need the Cowboys to beat themselves to have a chance of pulling an upset on Saturday. On the bright side, that happens every so often to Jason Garrett's team.
Here's the rest of the Buccaneers injury report for Week 15:
OUT: WR Arrelious Benn (concussion).
QUESTIONABLE: WR Sammie Stroughter (knee), DE Michael Bennett (toe), DT Brian Price (ankle).
The Cowboys took some time out of their Buccaneer preparation schedule to look towards the future on Thursday. Futures contracts to be exact. The team looked at a collection of players that have made their way onto Dallas' radar, but failed to sign any of the 17 candidates.
Interesting on the list is that the team worked out three fullbacks. This is one position that could definitely be perceived as a now-contingency need. The team struggles mightily in running the ball when Tony Fiammetta is unable to play. Although they finally diagnosed his problem as an inner ear one, TE John Phillips and seventh round pick FB Shaun Chapas have proven they are not suitable replacements to lead Felix Jones into the hole.
Here's a look at the complete list. Some even have NFL experience.
QB McLeod Bethel Thompson, Sacremento State
FB Harry Flaherty, Princeton
FB Jeff Link, Robert Morris
FB Renderick Taylor, Clemson
TE Dan Gronkowski, Maryland
WR Rod Harper, Murray State
WR ZaVious Robbins, Hardin-Simmons
WR Dominique Ziegler, Baylor
G Cordaro Howard, Georgia Tech
NT Travis Ivey, Maryland
NT Adrian Taylor, Oklahoma
LB Baraka Atkins, Miami
LB Brashton Satele, Hawaii
DB Kareem Moore, Nichols State
DB Kevin Payne, Louisiana-Monroe
DB Phillip Adams, South Carolina State
DB Donovan Warren, Michigan
DeMarcus Ware has a neck injury, and Laurent Robinson has a shoulder ailment; both were limited in practice on Friday, and are questionable for Saturday night's game, but both did play in Week 14 against the Giants.
Another major worry for Dallas: cornerback Mike Jenkins, a key to the Cowboys secondary, is still banged up, and is also questionable for Saturday's game.
The good news? Miles Austin, healthy for the first time in many weeks, is nowhere to be found.
Here's the rest of the Cowboys injury report for Week 15:
OUT: WR Andre Holmes (hamstring), DT Josh Price-Brent (knee).
Rob Ryan has become embattled in Dallas, as the defensive coordinator's unit has fallen prey to late-game swoons allowing teams to make fourth-quarter comebacks, such as last week's Giants comeback against the Cowboys in Arlington. Ryan spoke with the media on Wednesday defending his defense, citing that they had "only two bad games" all season (quote courtesy of ESPN Dallas):
"Look, I like to stretch the envelope about as far as I can stretch it mentally demanding on our players but if there are some problems and it doesn’t work I’ve got to tone back," Ryan said. "That’s the hardest thing for me to do, but it’s something that has to be done. And we’re going to do that. I’ve got better players than everybody else and that’s just a fact. For us not to execute and statistically we’re garbage, well, when you give up 500 yards to somebody you’re going to be garbage. You know, and that’s the way it is. But we’ve done a lot of really good things this year also. But our players are there. We just have to do a better job of getting everybody to play together."
Owner Jerry Jones also confirmed to ESPN Dallas that Ryan and head coach Jason Garrett were working to review the defense, which has been criticized for being too complicated.
A day after news came out that Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib was going to be back in the lineup against the Cowboys after missing this past Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, Talib sat out Thursday's practice. The reason for Talib sitting out Thursday was to give him some extra time to rest his hamstring, so that he can be as close to full strength when he goes up against the Cowboys wide receivers.
Tampa Bay did get defensive end Michael Bennett and defensive tacle Brian Price back at practice after missing Wednesday. Bennett has been bothered with a toe injury and Price has been slowed down by ankle injury.
Here is the full Tampa Bay injury report for Thursday:
The Dallas Cowboys welcomed back linebacker DeMarcus Ware to practice on Thursday after he sat out Wednesday with a neck stinger. Ware has not missed any games due to his his neck injury which has been bothering him the past few weeks and if up to Ware he will be playing on Saturday night.
Center Phil Costa who suffered a concussion against the New York Giants also returned to practice, but even if he is cleared to play it is not a guarantee that he will start against the Bucs. Undrafted rookie Kevin Kowalski could get the nod since he played well against the Giants in Costa's absence. It all depends on how well Costa responds over the next few days to see if he will be able to play.
|Martellus Bennett, TE||Ribs||FP||FP|
|Josh Brent, NT||Knee||DNP||DNP|
|Phil Costa, C||Concussion||DNP||LP|
|Andre Holmes, WR||Hamstring||DNP||DNP|
|Mike Jenkins, CB||Shoulder||LP||LP|
|Kyle Kosier, G||Foot||LP||LP|
|Sean Lee, LB||Wrist||FP||FP|
|Mat McBriar, P||Foot (Left)||FP||FP|
|Danny McCray, S||Ankle||DNP||DNP|
|Laurent Robinson, WR||Shoulder||LP||LP|
|DeMarcus Ware, LB||Neck||DNP||LP||
For a Dallas Cowboys team coming off two straight heart-breaking losses, there might be no better panacea than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose once promising season has gone completely off the rails now that they have lost seven straight games.
The odds-makers may not have much faith in the Cowboys, but they have even less in the Buccaneers, which is probably why Dallas is a -8 road favorite over Tampa Bay.
The Bucs seemed like a team on the rise coming off a 10-6 season with Josh Freeman, one of the NFL's most promising young QB's, at the helm.
But after beating New Orleans 26-20 in Week 6 to move their record to 4-2, they imploded, bottoming out last week with an embarrassing 41-14 loss to cross-state rival Jacksonville.
The Jaguars, with the NFL's worst-rated passing game, somehow put up 41 points against Tampa Bay, which is a good sign for a Dallas passing attack that is healthy for the first time all season now that Miles Austin has returned from a hamstring injury that has bothered him since training camp.
Freeman, a 6'6 250 QB out of Kansas State, has regressed in his third season, throwing for 12 TD's and 18 INT's after a sterling 25/6 TD/INT ratio in 2010.
But he's still thrown for 2,896 yards this season, and with the way the Cowboys secondary has played in recent weeks, the Saturday night game could be the perfect chance for Freeman to rehabilitate his image on national TV.
With two explosive offenses and two questionable defenses, the odds makers have set the over/under for 47.5.
Buccaneers' cornerback Aqib Talib was inactive last Sunday with a hamstring strain but practiced for the second straight day on Wednesday and looks to be ready to go for Saturday's game against Dallas. Quarterback Josh Freeman also appears on Tampa Bay's injury report but was a full participant in Wednesday's practice.
The news is not nearly as good for two of the Bucs' defensive lineman. Neither Michael Bennett or Brian Price practiced on Wednesday and their status for Saturday is uncertain. Bennett has been bothered by a groin pull of late while Price left Tuesday's practice due to an ankle injury.
|Name||Position||Injury||Practice Status||Game Status|
|Arrelious Benn||WR||Concussion||Did Not Participate|
|Michael Bennett||DE||Toe||Did Not Participate|
|Albert Haynesworth||DE||Knee||Did Not Participate|
|Brian Price||DT||Ankle||Did Not Participate|
|Sammie Stroughter||WR||Knee||Limited Participation|
Tony Romo, duh.
Besides Romo, who might be having the best season of his six-year starting career, the Cowboys find themselves a bit short-handed at the quarterback position. Backup Jon Kitna, who has supported Romo for the last three years, was placed on Injured Reserve today due to a back problem that hasn't been able to correct itself. When he first suffered it in practice, word leaked that the injury wasn't career threatening; but at 38 years old you'd have to think this might signal the end of his Cowboys career. His contract runs for two more years at $3 million per, and those might be important salary cap dollars as the team attempts to fix the uber-apparent problems on their defense.
Stephen McGee is now a permanent number two on the depth chart, but many wonder if he is simply a stop gap measure, a one or two game fill-in candidate, or the long-term answer after Romo emerges on the far end of his prime years.
Prime years that should at least stretch another three to four seasons. At least.
McGee has shown flashes in his limited exposure to an NFL pass rush, winning his lone start. That was a Week 17 contest in 2010 against the Philadelphia Eagles B squad; the rival had already secured a playoff spot and was resting some key starters. Still, the Cowboys were playing with a Mash unit of their own, and McGee led a rousing comeback victory. Rousing unless you were rooting for Dallas' draft position; in which case the win was a hidden loss.
He also performed reasonably well in the Cowboys 2011 preseason games. Here's what I wrote about him after the first preseason game against Denver:
-- McGee is clutch, don't question it, just go with it. He led the Cowboys to touchdowns on his final three drives, bringing the team from behind each time. The first score, was the first he was afforded time in the pocket and he was finally able to start getting the ball to his recievers. It wasn't real pretty up until the middle of the third quarter. He followed it with the short catch and long run to Harris, and then led a final comeback drive that included two fourth down conversions. That included the game winning score with 15 seconds left on fourth and goal, after taking a bad sack on third down. McGee was seen telling Dwayne Harris he messed up, then found him in the end zone to bring the team within one. He then completed the two point conversion to Martin Rucker.
Of course, that would be McGee's best performance of the preseason. To further exemplify the long-term impact of the preseason, one only needs look at the other players mentioned in the blurb. Martin Rucker is long gone from the roster, and Dwayne Harris is relegated to the practice squad despite the myriad of wideout injuries this team has faced.
Dallas recently signed journeyman quarterback Chris Griesen to the practice squad; he should now serve as the team's number three.
Should the unthinkable happen, Dallas might be faced with seeing how McGee performs in games that matter, now that we know Kitna isn't returning. The former option quarterback from Texas A&M has the athletic ability the team wants behind center, but he is a three-year project as the team tries to improve his throwing mechanics and pocket saavy.
Dallas tried to sign Kyle Orton off waivers when he was released by Denver earlier this year. That may have been a move to block playoff competition Chicago, or it could speak to the confidence the team has in McGee. Either way, Dallas fans can only hope that McGee doesn't have to see any action until he gets another full offseason under his belt.
Dallas Cowboys defensive captain DeMarcus Ware (stinger) sat out of practice Wednesday, according to the team's official injury report. Ware. who leads the team with 15 sacks, only tabulated four tackles versus the New York Giants in a tough 37-34 loss.
The Cowboys have begun preparing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers knowing that they must get a big win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. Ware was one of five Cowboys who officially did not participate in the rain-filled practice at Valley Ranch.
Here is the week 15 injury report for the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday:
Even worse, the Cowboys' most talented CB, Mike Jenkins, doesn't expect his shoulder, which he re-injured in the fourth quarter last Sunday, to get any better:
"I’m sure it’s going to pop out again," said Jenkins. "I don’t care how much technique you have when you go through pain like that. As a cornerback, this is everything I’ve got. I need it to re-route. I can’t catch with one hand."
The 5'10 202 CB has struggled with injuries all season, missing four games with a strained hamstring earlier in the year.
But with Terrence Newman and Orlando Scandrick the only other experienced cornerbacks on the roster, Dallas doesn't have the luxury of resting Jenkins any further, not with the Cowboys pass defense rated 24th in the NFL.
That lack of depth is one of the reasons that SBNation's first mock draft has Dallas targeting secondary prospects like Morris Claiborne (LSU), Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama) and Alonzo Dennard (Nebraska).
With the news that DeMarco Murray has been placed on the injured reserve list, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former New England Patriots running back Sammy Morris to a contract on Tuesday. via Adam Schefter's twitter.
Cowboys placed running back DeMarco Murray on IR and signed former Patriots RB Sammy Morris.
Morris' best season was with New England in 2008 when he ran for 727 yards on 156 carries with seven touchdowns. The fact that he's available this late in the season should temper expectations but the Cowboys had a need and Morris apparently fit what they were looking for. The 11-year veteran has a career average of 4.2 yards per carry with 26 touchdowns with stops in Buffalo, Miami and New England.
Morris will join starter Felix Jones in the Cowboys backfield for the remainder of the season.
For more news and coverage on the Cowboys visit SB Nation's Blogging The Boys.
With the loss on Sunday night versus the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys have now lost control of their own destiny to make the playoffs.
Not only did the Dallas Cowboys find another heartbreaking way to lose a football game, this time in a 37-34 defeat to the New York Giants, but Jason Garrett's offense also lost their rookie workhorse tailback Demarco Murray has been lost for the season with a fractured ankle.
Sounds like Sammy Morris to Cowboys. Good news for Felix Jones owners. Morris can help on 3rd down, but can't handle much of a load. — @PFF_MikeClay via Twitter
Morris, the former Texas Tech Red Raider, has played for the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and most recently the Patriots. At age 34, Morris has been a veteran presence in the Patriots locker room, and maybe the seasoned vet's calming perspective can help the Cowboys finish the season strong and secure a playoff spot.
Tony Romo and the Cowboys look to recover from back-to-back heartbreaking losses on Saturday night in Tampa Bay.