Well, it was a 16-10 win and I suppose that's all that matters to the Dallas Cowboys and its fan base. But, it wasn't pretty by any stretch of the imagination.
The defense responded against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sept. 23 after getting pushed around a week ago by the Seattle Seahawks in the second half. The Bucs didn't have 100 yards of total offense until the fourth quarter, this coming after Tampa Bay had 307 yards against the New York Giants last week.
After an early turnover led to a 7-0 lead for the Bucs, the Cowboys defense buckled down, limiting most of the other opportunities Tampa Bay had, even setting up the Dallas offense for its first score after a Sean Lee interception. The defense stepped up and did an admirable job.
The Dallas offensive line, however, did not. For whatever reason, this offensive line has not gotten it together in the early goings of the season. I understand that the guards and center in between Tyron Smith and Doug Free have not had a lot of time together. But, it wasn't just the interior line that was the problem. Smith and Free had their share of miscues during the game.
By my count, Free accounted for four penalties, including three false starts and a hold. Jason Witten also had a couple false starts.
I want to enjoy this win as much as the next Dallas fan, but these pre-snap penalties that require the offensive player to listen to the snap count and then move is killing any momentum the Cowboys have on a drive. Dallas was attempting to run a hurry-up style offense, but the yellow hankies kept screwing that up.
Flags weren't thrown near as much in the second half as they were in the first, but it still has to bother the coaching staff that Dallas was flagged 13 times for 105 yards. After three games, that's 31 penalties for 238 yards. I'm not a mathematician, but that comes to about 10 penalties and 80 yards a game. It doesn't seem this team can afford to make up for those mistakes, even this early in the season.
Next up is the Chicago Bears in a Monday night game on national television. Dallas has fared well under the big lights of the Monday game, but this team doesn't seem to have the mental fortitude to beat a team that has a good defense and offense.
Jason Garrett has a lot of work to do this week to prepare the team for the Monday night showdown. At this point it's hard to tell if the problem is between the tackles or between the ears.
John Ingle is a graduate of the Midwestern State University Mass Communication program with an emphasis in journalism. He is a lifelong Dallas Cowboys and football fan dating back to the late 1970s and covered the Cowboys as a journalism intern during two training camps at MSU. Follow him on Twitter @inglejohn1973.
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