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The Dallas Cowboys starting lineup and rotation looked plenty different from it's previous versions in last night's season opening loss to the New York Jets. Second year receiver Dez Bryant took over the starters role, and make the Jets vaunted cornerback combo look overmatched. A early quad injury suffered on a punt return limited Bryant after the first quarter, even though he returned to finish the game after missing time and heading into the locker room for evaluation. Owner Jerry Jones voiced his concern over Bryant playing special teams after the game.
The offensive line boasted three new starters in rookies Tyron Smith (RT) and Bill Nagy (LG), as well as second year man Phil Costa (C). Both Costa and Smith were game time decisions due to back and knee injuries respectively, but were able to go. Tight end/F-Back John Phillips made the start after missing all of 2010 to a torn ACL. He started in place of Martellus Bennett, who was injured in preseason action and is expected to return before the early bye week.
Cornerback Terence Newman missed the contest, still nursing a groin injury, and was replaced by Orlando Scandrick in the lineup. Mike Jenkins, the team's other corner, had missed the entire preseason with a stinger but started the game. Scandrick got bit by the injury bug early in the second quarter. MRI results have yet to be released, but a high ankle sprain or bone fracture puts him out for a reported 3-4 weeks. Jenkins spent several moments hurt on the turf throughout the game, most notably after a blind side block from Plaxico Burress that included trash talk from the Jet. Burress would push off Jenk's replacement Bryan McCann for a touchdown.
"They have three big time receivers... to not have Terence here, then have Jenks out, and then have Scandrick go out. You know I thought Jenks did a great job battling back and continuing to play when he was banged up. You know we were playing with a safety out there our fourth corner, i think rob did a great job managing that situation for a lot of the game... i thought for the most part they hung in there and battled as best they could."
The youth movement on defense appeared in Sean Lee replacing veteran Keith Brooking at inside linebacker. All Lee did with the start is record 11 tackles, intercept a pass and almost score a TAINT, and recover a Mark Sanchez fumble. Expect him to become the poster boy for drafting injured players in the top rounds and waiting for their return to health (cough, Bruce Carter, cough).
Danny McCray, an undrafted 2010 free agent safety, was utilized by Rob Ryan in a variety of ways and crushed Mark Sanchez, forcing the fumble Lee snatched up. Once the secondary's injuries started mounting, McCray lined up at cornerback.
In the presser, Jason Garrett said despite the mistakes of the fourth quarter, "the guys played with tremendous passion, emotion and enthusiasm... and just kept competing." That is exactly what you want from a team full of youth and backups. As Garrett said, "There were a lot of good things that we can build on."
For more Cowboys-centric coverage, check out SB Nation's Blogging The Boys.
The Cowboys went to New York to play the meaningful 9/11 anniversary game, knowing that they were taking on a tough team in a tough situation. They might just have outplayed them, too, but in the end that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Dallas had a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost. NBC graphics told us that they had led by 14 or more 242 times before and had never lost.
How they lost it will also matter, at least to some. Running hadn’t been easy all night, but Dallas stuck with it more than New York, totaling 26 carries to the Jets’ 16. Passing successfully might have come easier than expected, at least at times. Tony Romo totaled 352 yards despite leading for most of the game, and Dallas hit big plays to Jason Witten for 64, Miles Austin for 36 and a touchdown, and Dez Bryant for 42, plus a three-yard score to Bryant. In all, the Cowboys outgained the Jets 400-360. Their defense collected two huge fourth quarter turnovers, both by Sean Lee. All of that wouldn’t be enough.
With Dallas up by seven with nine minutes remaining, the ball was at the Jets two. Romo thought he saw an opening to run for the score, but the hole closed quickly and Romo fumbled. The Jets recovered, costing Dallas a sure three points. After a defensive stop by each team, Dallas found itself punting from their 41 with five minutes left. A hole opened up in the middle of the Cowboys line and Mat McBriar’s punt was blocked. A fortunate bounce allowed Isaiah Trufant to collect the ball in stride and run it back for a touchdown to even the score.
An exchange of punts later, all seemed to be in place once more as Dallas took over at their 41 with 49 seconds and one timeout remaining – just enough time to drive about 30 yards and win the game. Instead, Romo seemed to miscommunicate with Bryant, but he decided to throw the ball anyway with Bryant’s head turned. Darrelle Revis’ head was not turned, and he caught a pass that might as well have been intended for him.
The Jets moved the ball just two yards from the 34 to the 32, but Nick Folk nailed a 50-yard field goal that would have been good from at least 60 to gain their first lead of the game. There were still 27 seconds for Dallas to get themselves in field goal range, but a big gainer to Austin on their first play was called back on a very questionable offensive pass interference call and the drive sputtered from there.
So, after many months of wondering how good this Cowboys team can be, whether its offensive line and defensive secondary could hold up against strong competition, we learned that they are good enough to beat the Jets in New Jersey, in prime time, with an emotional crowd. That should probably excite Cowboys fans. The fact that they didn’t finish the job, though, will only bring back questions of whether this team is strong enough mentally to win these kinds of games.
Beyond the mark in the loss ledger, the big scar from the game could be an injury to Orlando Scandrick. With Terence Newman already out and Mike Jenkins in and out of the game with shoulder and ankle issues, Scandrick had to be carted from the sideline with an ankle sprain of his own that could cost him multiple weeks and throw the secondary into crisis mode – particularly if one or both of Jenkins and Newman can’t go next week.
After the Cowboys recovered a Mark Sanchez fumble around midfield, the Cowboys were forced to punt after finding themselves in a 3rd and 22 situation. Dallas' punt, though, was blocked, and returned for a touchdown as the Jets tied the game for the first time since the score was 0-0 in the first quarter.
Tony Romo and Dallas' offense will now have five minutes to respond and take the lead as the game marches towards the end of regulation.
Burress had been a non-factor in the first half, but has caught two passes for 44 yards and a touchdown so far in the second half of play.
Sanchez, though, has been aided by injury as both Orlando Scandrick and Mike Jenkins are out with injuries in Dallas' secondary. With those two and Terrence Newman out, the Cowboys are without their top three cornerbacks as they cling to a seven point lead in the fourth quarter.
The Dallas Cowboys opened the fourth quarter with the ball at New York’s one yard line, and the offense didn’t squander the opportunity. Felix Jones rushed for one yard for a touchdown, giving the Cowboys a 24-10 lead over the Jets in the fourth quarter.
The fantastic field position was set up by an interception by Sean Lee, who nearly returned an errant Mark Sanchez pass for a touchdown, but stepped out at the one yard line. Lee’s interception was ruled a pick-six on the field, but the replay showed that Lee indeed stepped out prior to breaking the plane and the Cowboys offense took over at the one yard line.
The New York Jets responded to Dallas’ touchdown strike in the third quarter, but not with a touchdown of their own. New York’s drive stalled out after 10 plays and 64 yards as the Jets were forced to bring in Nick Folk to kick a 34 yard field goal, making the score 17-10.
Dallas will receive the ball with just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter, so Tony Romo and Dallas’ offense will have an opportunity to hold onto the ball into the fourth quarter as they look to make the game a two-possession game again.
The Dallas Cowboys extended their lead against the New York Jets in the third quarter as Tony Romo connected with Miles Austin for a 36 yard touchdown pass, giving the Cowboys a 17-7 lead over the Jets.
The touchdown strike capped off an eight play, 73 yard drive that took just 4:40 off the clock.
Every touchdown or score is important, especially when playing a defense like New York's, but Romo's touchdown strike gave Dallas a two score cushion over the Jets midway through the third quarter. If Dallas' defense can prevent the Jets from scoring on the ensuing drive, the clock will slowly become a factor for Rex Ryan's Jets.
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez led the Jets on a nine play, 87 yard drive that took 2:39 off the clock. Sanchez connected with Dustin Keller on a four yard touchdown pass to bring the Jets within a field goal of tying the game.
The big play of the drive was Sanchez' pass to LaDanian Tomlinson for 32 yards, which brought the ball down to Dallas' four yard line with 48 seconds to go in the half.
After an incomplete pass to Derrick Mason, Sanchez connected with Keller for the touchdown.
The Cowboys have now allowed 121 passing yards to the Jets while holding New York's rushing attack to just 25 yards on eight carries. Sanchez, meanwhile, is 11-of-18 for 121 yards and a touchdown after the drive.
The Cowboys battled field position problems for much of the second quarter, starting at their six and eight yard lines, but thanks to a pair of Jets three-and-outs managed to turn field position around enough to start the next drive at their 37. A ten-play, 47-yard drive that ensued was their most productive since their game opening scoring drive.
A dump to Jason Witten and two runs by Felix Jones picked up 24 yards and had the Cowboys into Jets territory. Two passes to Miles Austin picked up 23 more yards, and Dallas had the ball at the Jets 16. Three passes netted them nothing, however, and they had to settle for a 34-yard field goal attempt. It would be Dan Bailey’s first of his NFL career, but he converted it just inside the right upright.
Cowboys 10 Jets 0, late 2nd quarter
The Cowboys entered Sunday night’s opener without Terence Newman and with Mike Jenkins nursing a shoulder injury that has healed enough to allow him to play, but not enough for him to feel no pain on contact. Early in the second quarter, they’ve lost new starter Orlando Scandrick to a right ankle injury.
Trainers looked at Scandrick with his shoe off on the sideline. Soon thereafter he was carted off to the lockerroom. Before hopping on the cart, Scandrick was seen slamming his helmet to the ground in frustration.
Alan Ball was scheduled to serve as the third corner, with Bryan McCann the number four. Both will move up a notch, and the Cowboys are running thin at the position.
Jason Garrett surely surprised some people by taking the opening kick after winning the toss, but his offense proved him to be genius. After several minutes of stirring ceremonies commemorating 9/11, Tony Romo took his offense right down the field in ten plays and 74 yards, jumping the Cowboys out to a 7-0 lead against the Jets.
Felix Jones rushed three times for ten yards, but most of the damage was done by Dez Bryant. After a dump to Jones netted 11 yards, Romo hit Bryant for 42 on a slant and run. Dallas encountered their first down, a 3rd-4 at the Jets 11, and Romo hit third receiver Kevin Ogletree for five.
Two plays later Romo hit Bryant on a fade to the back, left corner of the end zone. Bryant hung on despite contact from Antonio Cromartie, and Dallas took the early lead. Rookie kicker Dan Bailey added the PAT. 7-0, Cowboys.
Inactives for the Cowboys and Jets are in, and Tyron Smith and Mike Jenkins are both active for the Cowboys. Both are expected to start, though the Cowboys have not confirmed that Smith will start.
Cowboys inactives: Stephen McGee – third QB, Phillip Tanner, Terence Newman, David Arkin, Martellus Bennett, Clifton Geathers and Laurent Robinson.
Jets inactives: Kevin O’Connell – third QB, Logan Payne, Andrew Sendejo, Caleb Schlauderaff, Kendrick Ellis, Bilal Powell and Robert Turner.
Arkin’s deactivation means that Jermey Parnell, Kevin Kowalski and Derrick Dockery are the three offensive line backups. Parnell is the primary backup for Smith if he has problems.
Tashard Choice is active over Phillip Tanner despite all of the hand wringing over special teams. Kevin Ogletree, Jessey Holley and Dwayne Harris are all active, meaning that Harris could see time in the offense and that Dallas may use four receivers. Martin Rucker is also active, which suggests that he could also see offensive snaps.
The Cowboys have also made two somewhat surprising starting lineup changes on their defensive unit. Jason Hatcher will start ahead of Kenyon Coleman. Coleman is regarded as stronger against the run, but Hatcher was explosive in the preseason and could help Dallas create pressure. Sean Lee will start in place of Keith Brooking as the club looks to limit Brooking’s snaps. Brooking expects to play roughly half of the defensive plays.
NBC 5 reporter Todd Barrie says via Twitter that he spoke with Cowboys starting right tackle Tyron Smith and that Smith told him that he would play tonight against the Jets.
Tyron Smith just told me he’s playing tonight. Said his knee feels good. #cowboys #nfl #jets #nfceast
Smith hyperextended his knee in practice Wednesday and was initially thought to be out for 2-4 weeks, but he’s recovered quickly and now could play despite receiving very little practice time during this week.
Todd Archer tweets that Smith’s pregame preparations have been without a brace.
Tyron Smith and Phil Costa working out early before the game. Neither in a brace.
Costa is expected to start at center. Even with Smith and Costa the Cowboys will start two rookies and a second year player in the offensive line.
Mike Jenkins and Miles Austin are both expected to play. Terence Newman and Martellus Bennett are out for Dallas.
Chris Celletti of SB Nation New York joins us to look at the Jets and their outlook entering their season opener against the Cowboys.
The staff at SB Nation Dallas predicts how Week 1 in the NFL will play out.
Tyron Smith told media members – after taking part in a Friday walkthrough but not dressing out in his full shell or fully participating in practice – that he is hopeful about his chances of playing Sunday night against the New York Jets.
It felt good. It felt better than the last couple of days when I was hurt.
Smith hyperextended his knee Wednesday in practice and was initially feared to be out for 2-4 weeks, even though an MRI returned with no damage to his knee ligaments. The Cowboys held out hope that he might be able to play in the game, and Smith’s report of progress after just two days would seem like a promising sign.
If Smith can’t play, all signs point to the one true backup offensive tackle on the roster, Jermey Parnell, taking his place. Derrick Dockery took a few snaps in practice at tackle, and one of the young interior linemen – possibly David Arkin – could slide over to provide emergency backup help if Smith can’t go.
Elsewhere on the injury front, Mike Jenkins continues to take part in pratice and appears ready to play. Phil Costa has participated all week and is expected to start at center. Miles Austin has practiced and done rehab work on his hamstring. He is expected to play, but the hamstring might be worth watching during the game.
Terence Newman is expected to travel with the team, but he has not participated in practice all week and is not expected to play. Martellus Bennett will miss the game with his high ankle sprain.
The Cowboys and Jets are set to kick off their new season in our Texas matchup of the week. Tony Romo is back and looking to revive the Cowboys, while the Jets will try once more to march to the top of the AFC.
Tyron Smith is expected to miss at least two weeks after his knee injury in practice Wednesday, according to the Star-Telegram’s Carlos Mendez. The results of an MRI are pending, but the initial reports are frightening, considering the Cowboys’ lack of depth at offensive tackle. After releasing Sam Young earlier in the week, the Cowboys are down to only Jermey Parnell as a true tackle backup.
Jerry Jones says that the team has options:
We’ve got nine offensive linemen. We’ve got enough position flex in there with maybe one, possibly two of those younger guys over there at tackle. We won’t eliminate anybody from being able to give us a little flexibility there on game day.
Doug Free, Bill Nagy, Phil Costa and Kyle Kosier were slated to start next to Smith Sunday night, assuming that Costa proves to be ready to go. None of those three interior players would seem to be good options outside. In addition to Parnell, that leaves Derrick Dockery, David Arkin and Kevin Kowalski as available backups.
None of them are good options at tackle, but Dockery and Arkin would seem to be the only remote possibilities among the backup interior linemen. Any of the likely scenarios hearken back to last season’s opener when Alex Barron tried to play at tackle against the Redskins.
Week 1 is not off to a good start for the Dallas Cowboys - and their season doesn't open until Sunday night in New Jersey against the Jets. On Wednesday, both cornerback Mike Jenkins and offensive lineman Tyron Smith suffered knee injuries. Bryan Broaddus added that both players will be receiving an MRI on their injured knee.
Both injuries are bad news for Dallas, needless to say. The Cowboys are already likely without Terrance Newman for the season opener against New York, so losing Jenkins against the Jets could prove to be very costly. Jenkins had been held out full contact drills for much of training camp with a stinger.
Smith, of course, was Dallas' first round draft choice this past season. Despite being a rookie, Smith is slated to be Dallas' starting right tackle. This is now, of course, dependent upon the results of the MRI that Smith will undergo shortly.
According to a report by ESPN Dallas, Cowboys sources say that Terence Newman is unlikely to play in their Week 1 matchup with the New York Jets.
Publicly, Jason Garrett considers him uncertain for the game.
The degree to which he has to practice, we don’t have any concrete rules about it, but you have to practice. We have to have a great feeling about him having prepared on the practice field before playing in the game Sunday night.
Newman injured his groin just days into this season’s constricted training camp and was given an expected recovery time of 4-6 weeks, which puts his likely return sometime in the first three weeks of the season. If Newman is unavailable, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick and Alan Ball will be the top three corners against the Jets.
Jenkins has been out for most of camp as well with a neck stinger, but he has been able to return to practice for the past several days. He is expected to play, even though he has not undergone contract drills.
The Dallas secondary will have to contend with Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason, meaning that Ball could be asked to cover Holmes or Burress out wide in nickel situations.
The NFL has announced the opening week’s officiating assignments, and Alberto Riveron and his crew get the Cowboys vs. Jets in New Jersey. Riveron’s crew wasn’t too kind to the Cowboys last season, as Todd Archer notes.
Riveron had only one Cowboys’ game last year, Dec. 19 vs. Washington at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys were penalized nine times for 70 yards, a high in flags and yards in the eight games during Jason Garrett’s interim run.
Dallas was among the league leaders in penalties per game last season, at 6.8.
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