Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys reiterate their support for Greg Hardy

Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy, left, defending Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford’s pass, had a sack and three tackles Sunday but also committed two penalties and appeared winded at times.
Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy, left, defending Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford’s pass, had a sack and three tackles Sunday but also committed two penalties and appeared winded at times. AP

A long weekend for Greg Hardy finally came to an end Sunday.

The defensive end found himself in the midst of another firestorm, this time for actions off the field that took place long before joining the Cowboys.

After the game, owner Jerry Jones reiterated his support of Hardy.

“Greg has a commitment to us,” Jones said. “He has a commitment to do the right thing. We expect him to do the right thing. He has a commitment to his teammates and our team. The way it’s set up in the NFL, relative to behavior, and in fact we wanted to give Greg a second chance. And you lose that in the NFL if you don’t do the right things. If he will do the right things, if he will take advantage of the opportunities that he has got there and this second chance, then we’ll see how it goes.”

Deadspin brought the spotlight back on the Cowboys’ decision to sign the controversial player in an online story Friday. It chronicled Hardy’s alleged domestic violence incident involving an ex-girlfriend.

Coach Jason Garrett briefly addressed Hardy before declining three follow-up questions.

“I’ll just say this one thing about the Greg Hardy situation: We as an organization, we don’t condone domestic violence,” Garrett said. “We take the issue very, very seriously. We knew when we signed Greg Hardy there would be some criticism that came with that. We laid out expectations for Greg right from the start. We decided that we were going to give him a second chance, but in doing so, the expectations and the standards that we set would be very clear to him — how he, and really everybody else, is supposed to conduct themselves on the football field and off the football field. And those expectations and those standards are very clear to him. We decided to give him a second chance. He’s worked hard for our football team up to this point. He knows what the expectations and standards are, and we’re going to hold him accountable to those.”

Hardy expressed regret for “past” incidents Saturday on Twitter.

Hardy’s outing against the Eagles was uneven, at best. He had little impact on the game in the first half despite lining up against a backup left tackle, and appeared gassed on Philadelphia’s second-quarter touchdown drive.

Hardy finished with three tackles, including a sack to end a Philadelphia drive late in the third quarter. He had jumped offside on the previous play.

Hardy did pick a personal foul on an extra point in the second quarter.

Hardy has 15 tackles and four sacks in four games with the Cowboys.

Special teams

One play saved the Cowboys’ special teams from a no good, very bad day. Lucky Whitehead returned a kickoff 79 yards to the Philadelphia 24 to set up a three-play touchdown drive to tie the game in the fourth quarter.

It easily was the Cowboys’ longest return of the season.

“It was a big play,” Garrett said. “It was a big sequence in the game to come back. I thought it was symbolic in a lot of ways in the mentality of our team throughout the game. When something happened negatively for us, some adversity that happened over the course of the game, we just kept coming back, kept responding.”

Whitehead did not fare as well as the punt returner.

He fielded the first punt at the 1-yard line, with the Cowboys starting their first drive at the 7-yard line instead of the 20. Dallas replaced him as the punt returner with Cole Beasley the rest of the half.

Whitehead got another chance in the third quarter and lost a yard on the return.

Whitehead has three punt returns for 3 yards this season.

The Cowboys also had a running into the punter on the Eagles’ first series, as Jack Crawford hit punter Donnie Jones. That gave Philadelphia a first down.

The Cowboys had 12 players on the field on another Eagles’ punt, but the penalty was declined.

In the second quarter, the Cowboys bypassed a 58-yard field-goal try and instead punted. Dan Bailey is 2-for-2 this season from 50 yards and beyond — a 51-yarder and a 52-yarder — and 18-for-25 in his career.

Bailey’s game-tying field goal from 44 yards clanked off the left upright and through with 2 seconds remaining.

Backup RB

The Cowboys traded for Christine Michael on Sept. 6. They acquired Rod Smith off waivers from the Seahawks on Oct. 14. Yet, Michael had no first-half snaps Sunday, while Smith lined up all over the field.

Smith made his Cowboys’ debut last week with two snaps, while Michael entered the game with only 19 snaps.

After waiving Joseph Randle last week, though, they obviously have decided to go with Smith as their backup running back to Darren McFadden.

Smith played only a handful of plays, but he lined up at running back, fullback and receiver for a handful of plays.

Beasley breaks out

Receiver Cole Beasley entered the season with a lot of hype and a lot of promise after a strong finish to 2014, a contract extension in the off-season and an impressive training camp.

However, his season has largely been a disappointment. He made 21 catches for 215 yards through the first seven games, including none the previous two games before Sunday night.

Beasley broke out of the slump against the Eagles with his first career 100-yard game and his second career two-touchdown game. Beasley also had two touchdowns in a Dec. 4, 2014, game against the Bears.

He had nine catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns Sunday.

“Beas just did a really good job, ran a lot of stuff underneath where it just gave him a good place to throw the football,” Garrett said. “I thought his run after catch was outstanding as well. He’s just a damn good football player, and he showed up really all throughout the game and made a ton of big plays for us.”

Briefly

▪ Linebacker Sean Lee left for the locker room in the third quarter to undergo testing for a concussion. He did not return after being diagnosed with a concussion. Andrew Gachkar replaced Lee.

▪ Linebacker Anthony Hitchens left in the third quarter with a left ankle injury. He did not return.

▪ Defensive tackle Jack Crawford had X-rays on his hand on the first series, but he returned.

▪ Defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford left in the first half to undergo testing for a concussion. He later returned.

▪ The Cowboys opened the roof for the first time since Nov. 2, 2014, when they played Arizona. It marked only the fourth time in history that the roof was open and the end-zone doors closed. They are 2-2 with the roof open and the end-zone doors closed. 

Clarence Hill and Art Garcia contributed to this report.

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