Cowboys Lose To 49ers: Numbers + Blunders

ARLINGTON - 'I've got to perform better and I will going forward,' said Tony Romo after Sunday's season-opening 28-17 loss to the 49ers. Based on the numbers and the bumblers, the first part of that statement is true and the jury's still out on the second.

The Dallas Cowboys are trying to salvage some positives from the mess that was Sunday at AT&T Stadium.

"We know that we’re a great football team and we’re confident,'' insisted Dez Bryant after Dallas lost a game that never seemed like much of a contest. “We just can’t beat ourselves, plain and simple. And that’s what we did. … I’m not taking any credit away from the 49ers, but it would be different if we didn’t beat ourselves.”

That's some good salvaging. But first? We have to tell you that Tony Romo threw three interceptions in the game. Dallas is now 1-10 when that happens, with the lone win coming in that Monday Night Miracle in Buffalo in 2007. A difference between then and now is those old Cowboys had five Pro Bowlers on their defense, while the 2014 unit has none.

The '07 Cowboys were able to keep it close with forcing five punts, an interception, and a missed field goal on the Bills' 10 drives.

Sunday's defense couldn't stop the 49ers early ... and when it stopped San Francisco late, it was too late. The Niners' first offensive series was a three-play, 80-yard drive that took only 1:28. Combine that with a poor offensive outing, and the 49ers ran away with the game quickly.

DeMarco Murray ended up being a bright spot that was the most positive aspect of the post-loss Dallas locker room. But he started off the game with a fumble that 49ers defensive back Chris Culliver returned 35 yards to put the Niners on top 7-0 with barely a sweat broken in the first quarter. Murray responded on the next drive with hard running. He carried the ball four times for 24 yards, averaging six yards per carry. On second-and-1 from the San Francisco 2. Coming out in goal-line formation, Romo called a timeout as the play clock ran down to zero. After the 30-second pause, the offense returns in shotgun formation. Romo faked a handoff to Murray and then looked for Bryant, who was covered in the corner of the end zone. 49ers defensive end Justin Smith sacked Romo and forced a third-and-11. Dallas ultimately settled for a Dan Bailey field goal to cut the deficit to four, the lowest it would ever be.

Speaking of the fourth-year running back rushing into the final year of his contract, he became the first running back to gain 100 yards against SF since Marshawn Lynch on 12/23/30. As a matter of fact, Murray's 118 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries was more than Lynch's 111 yards in the aforementioned game.

A passing positive? Romo threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams to extend his streak to 29 straight games with a touchdown pass. What was the last game No. 9 didn't throw a touchdown pass? A 16-10 victory over Tampa Bay on 9/23/12.

Dallas hasn't put together three straight Opening Day wins together since 2007-09, which were also the franchise's last playoff years.

Much was made about how porous the Cowboys front seven would be in this game. However, the 49ers defense committed three holding penalties and allowed Bruce Carter to sack Colin Kaepernick in the second quarter. The Cowboys defensive line of no-names found ways to hassle Kaepernick, and also limit the 49ers from having a 100-yard rusher.

There is no excuse for the Cowboys offensive line, especially given the amount of talent and resources spent to bolster it. Tyron Smith had a false start on the game's first drive and a leg whip later in the game that would have made Flozell Adams facepalm. Rookie Zack Martin also had a false start and an illegal use of hands to the face penalty. Perhaps the most damning part was the line gave up three sacks and let Romo get smacked around most of the afternoon.

"We do know that if we don't score more than that," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, "we're going to have a tough time against any team."

Not with these sort of numbers. Not with these sort of bumblers.

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