Scoring points was paramount Sunday. But so was controlling the ball and keeping Brett Favre and Green Bay offense off the field, which meant offering a balanced attack with a good dose of running mixed in with some passes.
Somewhere, however, that plan went awry, and well before the game got out of reach.
After running the ball four times on their first drive, a 13-play effort that resulted in a field goal, the Cowboys ran twice more at the start their second drive -- a nine-play effort that also ended in a field goal.
After that, nothing. The Cowboys, who actually led 6-3 after the first quarter, called 15 straight passes to end the first half en route to a game-long pass-run disparity of 36-16.
Only three times since 2000 have the Cowboys had fewer rushing attempts in a game.
Coach Bill Parcells said the Cowboys were doing what they had to do to win and that the flow of the game had forced them to not try to establish a solid ground game.
That definitely was the case late. However, the early numbers indicate that their remains a lack of commitment and/or lack of patience with the running game.
It was certainly the continuation of a season's worth frustrations for running back Eddie George, who actually had some success when he got the ball, rushing 10 times for 41 yards.
"It is frustrating to lose, and you just have to go along with the punches with the plays that we are getting at running back," George said. "The goal is to win, and we just have to find ways to win. Personally, you would like to have that opportunity to get more carries, but you have to take the cards that are given you and go along with the routine."
George, who has not gotten more than 18 carries in a game this season, knew his role would be different in Dallas than it was the last eight years in Tennessee. He says he is trying to be patient. But he acknowledged for the first time on Sunday he needs more carries to be successful.
"Given my style over the years, I need to touch the ball at least 10 or 15 times, and that is when I start to get going," George said. "That is typical of any good running back in the league. I just have to take what is given to me, and I am doing the best I can do with the opportunity they are giving me. I just think, overall, we have to play better. I don't know if 25 carries would have helped the scoreboard tonight."
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