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Rams face Dallas team seeking the end zone ..

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  • Rams face Dallas team seeking the end zone ..

    BY JIM THOMAS Friday, October 21, 2011 12:25 am

    No NFL team has lived on the edge of victory and defeat quite like the Dallas Cowboys this season. All five of their games have been decided by four points or less. And with the scrutiny America's Team gets on a daily basis, it has been a well-chronicled, wildly fluctuating roller-coaster ride from week to week.

    Just two examples:

    Quarterback Tony Romo has been a superhero, leading the Cowboys to a 27-24 overtime victory over San Francisco in Week 2 despite a cracked rib and a punctured lung.

    Two weeks later, Romo was a dud, throwing three second-half interceptions in a 34-30 loss to Detroit, a game in which the Cowboys blew a 27-3 third-quarter lead.

    The winless Rams (0-5) can only hope Dallas and Romo are in dud mode Sunday at Cowboys Stadium. Despite lots of potential firepower on offense, the numbers don't add up for the Cowboys (2-3). On one hand, Dallas is seventh in the league in total offense, which ranks teams according to yards gained. Somehow all those yards have produced only 10 touchdowns this season.

    They are second-to-last in red zone offense, with only six TDs in 18 red zone trips. That 33 percent success rate trails only you guessed it the Rams, who have scored TDs on just 25 percent (three of 12) of their red zone opportunities.

    Hampered by changes and injuries on the offensive line, the Dallas running game has been close to nonexistent, ranking 27th in yards per game. On top of that, the Cowboys' top back and leading rusher, speedy Felix Jones, is expected to miss Sunday's game because of a high ankle sprain. Far removed from the glory days of Emmitt Smith and before that, Tony Dorsett Dallas has only one rushing touchdown this season. That's tied for second worst in the league with the Rams. (Kansas City has yet to score a rushing TD.)

    How can the Cowboys get their running game going?

    "Just got to keep banging away at it," coach Jason Garrett said. "Got to get better up front, got to get better as runners, and got to get better at the tight end spot, the receiver spot, fullback spot. It takes everybody, and we've just got to keep banging away."

    Another thing that's keeping the Cowboys out of the end zone is turnovers. They have coughed up the football 12 times via interception or lost fumble. Only Philadelphia, with 17 turnovers, has more in the NFL.

    One less turnover here, better red zone execution there, and the Cowboys easily could have another victory or two or three.

    "You just have to execute at different times," Romo said. "We've won a couple of really close games and executed well, and then we've lost one or two. So we're just going to do the little things better when they come."

    The Rams' defense is trying to make sure it's not a get-well card for what ails Dallas. Although they still rank 32nd (or last) in the league in run defense, the Rams played solid run defense last week in Green Bay, limiting the Packers to 96 yards rushing and 3.0 yards per carry. It was the first time this season the Rams have held an opponent under 100 yards rushing.

    Minus Jones at running back, the Cowboys would be down to Tashard Choice, who reportedly was being shopped by the team before the trade deadline, and rookie DeMarco Murray in the backfield.

    But even if the Cowboys are reduced to being one-dimensional on offense, they have more than enough weapons in the passing game to give the Rams headaches, starting with Romo at quarterback.

    "He's similar to the other guy (Aaron Rodgers) that we just got through playing," Rams defensive coordinator Ken Flajole said. "He can create plays with his feet. He does a great job of ad-libbing when the protection breaks down. He does a nice job of finding their open receivers when he scrambles."

    Romo's favorite target remains tight end Jason Witten, a seven-time Pro Bowler who has more catches (396) and more reception yards (4,543) than any NFL tight end since start of '07 season.

    "In critical times I know the quarterback likes to throw to him," Flajole said. "I'm sure (Romo) has a lot of confidence in his ability to get open, and when he does get open for him to catch the ball. Good target; very athletic tight end; a matchup problem."

    At wide receiver, the 1-2 punch of Miles Austin and Dez Bryant has yet to hit full stride this season. Slowed by a thigh bruise in the season opener, Bryant has a modest 14 catches this season, although he's averaging 17.8 yards a catch. In three games this season he hasn't had a second-half catch, and Bryant hasn't been shy when it comes to complaining about a lack of opportunities. But no lesser authority than club owner Jerry Jones has said Bryant needs to run better routes.

    Meanwhile, Austin returned to the lineup last Sunday against New England after missing two games with a hamstring injury. The Rams, specifically coach Steve Spagnuolo, have lots of respect for the two-time Pro Bowler.

    "The thing about Austin is they put him inside, outside," Spagnuolo said. "They put him in a lot of places, so that tells me he's real intelligent. He's got a full repertoire of routes, too. I think he's one of those courageous guys that'll catch the ball anywhere."

    If he and his teammates catch too many Sunday against the Rams' injury-depleted secondary, the Cowboys won't have to sweat out another close contest.

  • #2
    Re: Rams face Dallas team seeking the end zone ..

    I am sure glad they're seeking the end zone. Considering the RAMs scoring history so far this season, if Dallas wasn't, I'd have been real confused about why anyone is actually playing the game.

    I feel so much better know this. Order in the Universe.
    Semper Fi!


    • #3
      Re: Rams face Dallas team seeking the end zone ..

      Stop the run and take away Witten. I know easier said than done but that's the formula for success.
      sigpic :ram::helmet:


      • #4
        Re: Rams face Dallas team seeking the end zone ..

        ...and who isn't seeking the end zone...

        What else is new nowadays, lets see... uhh...mmm. Cardinals- Rangers tied 1-1...gas prices drop 2 cents...

        Sarcasm over. Its just another football game!!!


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