Yards don't equal points for Dallas Cowboys

Posted Thursday, Nov. 08, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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IRVING -- The Dallas Cowboys have the NFL's third-best passing offense, sixth-best total offense and eighth-best time of possession.

But hardly any points to show for it.

They are averaging only 18.8 points as they head into Sunday's game at Philadelphia, victimizing themselves with turnovers, penalties, drops and red-zone problems that hide the production of an offense generating 382.5 yards per game.

It's a lot of yards. But the Cowboys remain on track for their lowest-scoring season in eight years. It makes them short of calling the offense successful.

"Ultimately, it's winning and losing," quarterback Tony Romo said. "Sometimes the offense can play a great game and score 13 points, depending on the way the game is structured and what the defense does. Matchups go into that as well. So you don't just go off of that. It really just comes down to winning and losing."

If it comes down to winning and losing, the offense doesn't look good, either.

The Cowboys are 3-5, have lost four out of five and face the prospect of falling three games under .500 for the first time under coach Jason Garrett.

"We judge it on winning," offensive line coach Bill Callahan said. "There are all type of ways to win. Some people run it more to win. Some people throw it more, less. It just really becomes a matter of scoring, making plays. I know that sounds cliché-ish, but you do have to make plays when you're down in those areas, whether it's third down or whether it's in the red zone."

The Cowboys can't unlock the red zone.

Last week against Atlanta, they were forced to settle for field goals on their two opening drives, which had reached the 6- and 15-yard lines.

Against Carolina, they went 0 for 3 on red-zone touchdowns.

For the season, the Cowboys' 11-for-25 rate (44.0 percent) on touchdowns in the red zone ranks 26th in the NFL.

"Yards are something that I believe can give you a measuring stick on if the ball is moving. I think that's something that you can look at," Garrett said. "Certainly, you want to be good in different situations. You want to be good in the red zone, you want to be good on third down. Again, those give you more scoring opportunities. You want to be good in short yardage and goal line. It's ultimately about scoring as many points as you can, but there are a lot of little indicators along the way that can help you decide why you are or why you aren't scoring as many as you want."

On third down, the Cowboys actually aren't bad. They rank 10th in the league, converting 42.6 percent (43 of 101). And their 31:52 time of possession per game is virtually tied with New England's. "I really seem to think that over the years, the game has come down to two things, and that's been third downs and touchdowns," Callahan said. "We call them T-n-Ts. So if we can do a better job in that capacity, convert the ball more, stay on the field longer, run it a little bit longer, I think that you'll see it manifest itself in more points. We'll generate more points if we show more consistency there."

The numbers show the Cowboys are moving the ball. They're just not scoring. Which is a big part of winning and losing, of course.

"It gets to the point where you say, 'We've got to get in somehow,' Callahan said. "But I know every week, when we sit down and we do this as a staff, the plays are there, the system is there, the players do a great job. But for whatever reason we're not converting on third down, we're not making the plays we need to make."

Or the points they need to score.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760

Twitter @calexmendez

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