Dallas Cowboys

Cassel offers good, bad and ugly in his Cowboys’ debut

Matt Cassel passed for 227 yards in his Dallas Cowboys debut, but was intercepted three times.
Matt Cassel passed for 227 yards in his Dallas Cowboys debut, but was intercepted three times.

Matt Cassel did a lot of good things in his first start for the Dallas Cowboys. He completed 17 of 27 passes.

He averaged 8.4 yards per attempt. He threw for 227 yards. He threw a beautiful touchdown pass to Devin Street that tied the game in the fourth quarter.

All of it, though, was overshadowed by the three interceptions off him in a 27-20 loss to the New York Giants.

It marks the third time in his past six starts at quarterback that Cassel has been intercepted three or more times.

“It lies on my shoulders obviously,” Cassel said. “One was on the comeback. One was on the go route that got away from me. It came out of my hand funny. I have to correct those. I’ve got to give our team a better opportunity to win. If you don’t take care of the ball in this league, it’s tough to win.”

The Cowboys have not won with a quarterback other than Tony Romo since the meaningless season finale in 2010 against Philadelphia with Stephen McGee at the helm. They are 6-13 without Romo since he became the starter in 2006, including 0-4 this season.

“If we will play as hard as we played today, and eliminate the turnovers, we’ll win a lot of ballgames before Romo gets back,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “The turnovers today were the name of the game.”

Brandon Weeden lost all three of his starts this season before being benched. He has a personal 11-game losing streak. Cassel, acquired in a Sept. 22 trade with the Buffalo Bills after Romo fractured his left collarbone, has a personal three-game losing streak.

But Jones gave Cassel a vote of confidence after the game.

“We will go with Cassel, certainly against Seattle or as far as I can see in the foreseeable future,” Jones said. “So that’s what I can say. If you’re asking me if I’m confident if Cassel can help us win several of the next ballgames, I don’t know that. I saw him do some things out there today that could have helped us win that ballgame, and then obviously those turnovers are back breakers.”

Romo, who is on short-term injured reserve, can return to game action Nov. 22 against the Miami Dolphins. Until then, it will help Cassel to get star receiver Dez Bryant back on the field.

Bryant, who fractured his right foot in the season opener, has a chance to return next week against Seattle.

“I don’t know,” Bryant said of his chances of returning next week. “If I play, I play.”

Cassel vows to play better regardless who he has at receiver.

He was making his first start at quarterback in more than a year, having started the first three games for the Minnesota Vikings last year before giving way to rookie Teddy Bridgewater. But Cassel wouldn’t blame rust.

“I’m not going to make excuses,” Cassel said. “Like I said before, it lies on me. I have to do a better job.”

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