Denver takes it to the Cowboys, 20-6

The Cowboys took two steps backwards Saturday night from their performance last weekend in Oakland. All three quarterbacks played marginal at best, the receivers didn't catch the ball, and the defense looked like it wasn't even there. All in all, it was a game to forget if you are a Cowboys fan.

The Denver Broncos showed why they are a strong Super Bowl contender for the AFC last night as they soundly defeated the Dallas Cowboys 20-6. Don't be fooled by the score though, it could have easily been much worse.

The first half saw the Denver defense completely shutdown the Dallas offense, and although this could somewhat be expected due to the number of starters that Dave Campo elected to sit for this game, there appeared to be a serious talent gap between these two teams.

The Defense
It has been said many times during training camp that the Cowboys defense simply refuses to cover the tight-end.

Nowhere was that more evident than Saturday night at Texas Stadium.

Brian Griese repeatedly completed passes to the tight-end over the middle of the field and wrapped up the first half by completing a 2 yard pass to a wide open Patrick Hape to take a 13-0 lead.

Unfortunately, the score was not indicative of the first half of play. The Broncos didn't even bring the punter on the field until midway through the third quarter and by halftime, Denver outgained Dallas 245-100 yards, with 14 first downs compared to 5 for the Cowboys.

Denver continued to dominate in the 3rd quarter. Even when Dallas pinned the Broncos on their own 1 yard line, Denver was still able to advance the football at will. RB KaRon Coleman advanced the ball to midfield on a 45 yard burst down the sideline and the drive was then halted by a turnover.

It became fairly obvious that even the 3rd team offense for the Broncos could have put up as many points as it wanted to once the offense was kicked into high gear.

The Quarterbacks
Starting Quarterback Tony Banks saw limited action and completed 1 of 5 passes for 18 yards. Banks, was victim to several dropped passes and really did nothing to stand out other than showing some zip on some of his passes.

Quincy Carter came in the game early in the 2nd quarter and moved the ball somewhat effectively, but it was obvious he wasn't throwing the ball with same authority as he was last weekend in Oakland. He threw several passes with a severe wobble and was seemingly hassled out of the pocket all night long. Carter finished the night 5-11 for 45 yards and an interception.

Anthony Wright entered the game with about 4 minutes left in the 3rd quarter and promptly bounced a pass to a receiver on a 10-yard out pattern, but to his credit he then successfully completed a strong 18 yard pass to Swinton for a first down on 3rd and long deep in Denver territory.

The drive was then thwarted when Wright heaved a pass into the endzone that was batted down.

The next possession saw Wright throw an interception that was returned 48-yards for a touchdown by CB Jason Suttle.

Don't feel too sorry for Banks, Carter, and Wright though. None of them received too much help from any their receivers. Damon Hodge continued his poor performance by dropping another easy pass similar to last weekend in Oakland and there were numerous dropped passes throughout the game by everyone that lined up.

Head Coach Dave Campo was definitely not pleased with the peformance, "Offensively, I don't know how in the heck we can evaluate our quarterbacks, we don't have anyone that can catch the football. Right now, we don't have a third receiver." There was one bright spot on offense, and that was TE James Whalen. Whalen showed why he was a dominating tight-end in the SEC by grabbing three consecutive passes late in the game from Anthony Wright. They almost connected for a fourth time in the endzone, but the lofted pass was batted away at the last second by a Denver cornerback.

Special Teams
Even the special teams went through several lapses as a punt was blocked in the first half, and there was only 10 men on the field as kicker Tim Seder lined up for a 43-yard field goal in the 3rd quarter.

John Avery also was banged up on a kickoff return.

Fortunately that is why they play preseason games, to help get out these kinds of kinks. Dallas has never paid much attention to the preseason, and its way too early to get too concerned about anything.

Hopefully the addition of Rocket Ismail, Emmitt Smith, and Joey Galloway to the lineup next weekend in New Orleans will provide the spark that this team needs to put some points on the board.

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