Cowboys get no help from offense in defeat

Posted Monday, Nov. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The Saints couldn’t stop Dez Bryant last December. He had nine catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns in the Cowboys’ 34-31 overtime loss.

This time, Bryant’s first catch didn’t come until 1:16 remained in the third quarter.

It was his only catch, going for 44 yards.

Bryant wasn’t even targeted until the first series of the second half, on a post pattern, by quarterback Tony Romo badly overthrew him.

"They doubled Dez all night," Romo said. "When you’re double teamed, you’re going to run routes that are double-movish. They take a little more time to get open."

It was that kind of night for the Cowboys -- A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, to steal the title from a children’s book. It left them with more questions than answers.

The Cowboys’ game plan was obvious from the start: Won if by Land.

A week after setting a franchise-record low with only nine rushing attempts, the Cowboys figured DeMarco Murray was their best plan of attack against the Saints.

It made perfect sense.

The Cowboys can shorten the game, keeping Drew Brees off the field, if they can run it effectively, and stopping the run is the Saints’ defensive weakness.

New Orleans, which ranked 25th against the run, was allowing 4.9 yards per rush. Jets running back Chris Ivory ran for 139 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in a victory over the Saints last week.

Of the Cowboys’ first 14 plays, 10 were Murray carries. That included six carries for 67 yards on the Cowboys’ eight-play, 72-play touchdown drive that gave them a 10-7 lead.

But Murray had only six carries and 22 yards thereafter.

"We wanted to run the football, but we got behind and had to throw," Romo said. "It wasn't a fun night."

It’s not like the Cowboys ever got their passing game going either.

Romo finished 10-of-24 for 128 yards with a touchdown.

It was the fewest completions Romo has ever had in a game he’s started and finished. It was the second-fewest passing yards he has ever had in a game he has started and finished, with 127 against the Giants in a 2009 game the only one worse.

The Cowboys had nine first downs. They were 0-for-9 on third down.

"It was a tough game," said Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, who had two catches for 27 yards. "They outplayed us. They kicked our tails pretty good. We’ve got a bye, and we have to reevaluate."

In three of the past five games, the Cowboys have finished with less than 300 yards of total offense. They had 193 on Sunday, the fewest in at least two years.

"We are going to have to score points," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "They did a good job of keeping us from doing it tonight."



Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean

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