Last week (okay, four days ago), the Dallas Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins 27-24 in overtime. Now, the Cowboys are preparing to host the Miami Dolphins, with both teams playing in their second game in four days, and third in eleven days. That extra period of football the Cowboys played could be an advantage for the Dolphins.
But, what interested me was, why did the game even go that far? The Dolphins beat that same Redskins team the week prior 20-9, and the game was never a contest. But the Cowboys, a team many people predict as a playoff team, struggled against Washington. Why?
Looking at the box score, the Cowboys let Rex Grossman pass like crazy. He finished the game 25-for-38, 292 yards (7.7 YPA), with 2 TDs and 1 INT. That gave him a 95.3 passer rating. For the 13th ranked pass defense, that's unacceptable coming from Grossman.
But, I wanted more information. So, I did what any good investigator would do: asked someone else. In this case, I turned to SB Nation's resident Cowboys expert, Dave Halprin, from Blogging The Boys - one of the best blogs on SB Nation, by the way.
Dave told me, "Part of it was the division rivalry, and more specifically the Redskins/Cowboys rivalry. Games between the two always seem to be close. But one of the big factors was special teams where we had some major breakdowns in coverage and one terrible punt. Those efforts gave the Redskins short fields to work with and they converted them for scores.
"We also got uneven play form our offensive line, allowing too much pressure and not really able to get our run game going. Missing fullback Tony Fiammetta also hurt in the run game. Overall, it was not the Cowboys best effort, but they did manage to pull out the win."
While I realize the Dolphins cannot be betting on poor punting, the rest of the reasoning makes me feel even more confident going into this afternoon's game. Cameron Wake, Jared Odrick, and Jason Taylor have all been getting to the quarterback lately - maybe not racking up huge numbers of sacks, but putting pressure on the passer, and getting in some good hits. If they can take advantage of some "uneven" play from the Cowboy's offensive line, they should be able to rattle quarterback Tony Romo into some mistakes.
And, with those mistakes, Miami could come out of Dallas on a four game winning streak. Let's hope so.