Dallas Cowboys Steal Win Against the St. Louis Rams

The Dallas Cowboys stole the win against the St. Louis Rams at Edward Jones Dome on Sunday. I’m talking grand larceny, because, conventional football wisdom dictates the winners of the time of possession battle, causes the most turnovers, and racks up the highest overall yardage will typically win the game. With just 2:36 left in the second half, the Cowboys trailed the Rams in time of possession, were behind substantially in overall yardage, and were tied with the Rams for two turnovers.

The series prior, St. Louis drove 80 yards on 11 plays capped off with a quarterback Austin Davis four yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Austin Pettis, slimming the Cowboys 34-31 lead to just a single field goal. The Rams hurry up offense sliced through the Cowboys defense like a hot knife through butter, and I began to get the sinking feeling as though I had seen this once before. After a touchback kickoff, Dallas received the ball on their own 20-yard line needing to kill just 2:36. All Dallas really needed to do was get one first down, and the game’s over.

The moment the Cowboys took the field those final fateful minutes; I realized the source of my discomfort as my mind drifted back to October 27, 2013 when Dallas exhibited the melt down of all melt downs that Sunday in their 31 to 30 loss against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

Although the Cowboys didn’t trail 21 points in that Lions game the way they did against the Rams on Sunday, it was an eerily similar scenario. In last season’s Detroit game, Dallas took possession of the ball in the 4th quarter with 3:33 left in the second half at their own 25 yard line following a Detroit defensive back Rashean Mathis pass interference penalty against Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant.  The Cowboys at that point simply had to run the clock out and they win 27 to 24.

On Sunday against the Rams, as was the case that fateful day last season against the Lions, Dallas failed to gain the needed first down and corresponding time drained off the clock, and gave possession back to their opponents with over one minute remaining in the game. All I could think was, “here we go again…” I could not believe I was watching this scenario unfold for a second time. Unlike in the Detroit game, the Cowboys were running the ball effectively up until that point. Running back DeMarco Murray rushed 100 yards on 24 carries and one touchdown. But, Murray was stopped twice for no gain and Romo was sacked once when the team needed that crucial first down.

Tony Romo was asked after the game about Murray and the Cowboys sticking with the running attack, in spite of that late fourth quarter stop, and he said,

“We are who we are, and I think that’s who you want to be. You want to continue to do what you do well, and then you advance off that with some stuff that could be beneficial. It was great to see the guys play well.”

However, the similarities between the Detroit Lions game last year, and the St. Louis Rams competition this year ended at that point.  Detroit drove the length of the field, scoring a touchdown and winning the game 31-30, breaking the hearts of Cowboys Nation.  Against the Rams though, after struggling in defensive coverage all game, Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne intercepted a deep pass intended for WR Brian Quick to seal the victory for Dallas 34-31.

In addition to the late game dramatics, Sunday was filled with historical significance for the Cowboys. It marked the first time in Dallas Cowboys franchise history the team came back to win a game in regulation having been down 21-0. Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey tied former Cowboys kicker Chris Boniol with 27 consecutive successful field goals, and Cowboys QB Tony Romo threw his 212th touchdown pass tying Hall of Fame quarterbacks Y.A. Tittle and Terry Bradshaw for 28th on the all-time passing list.

It was an ugly win for Dallas, to say the least. The defense generated no sacks, gave up 448 yards of total offense, and needed a late game heroic interception from Claiborne to save the day, but a win is a win. Cowboys fans hope the team can continue the winning trend as Dallas plays the New Orleans Saints at AT&T Stadium this week on NBC Sunday Night Football.