Carter Saves the Day

It happens in Dallas just like clockwork. You could almost set your alarm by the constant out-of-proportion expectations concerning the Dallas Cowboys quarterback. The bar has been set far too high and irrational goals are the norm for whoever is under center on Sundays. Quincy knows this tune, with all eight verses.

One week after the debacle in Houston, a more serene Quincy Carter took the reigns of the team in its 2002 home opener. The second year player that has operated as the bell cow for offense for exactly ten games was stage center again Sunday facing the Tennessee Titans. A must win game if he had designs on not being tarred and feathered and run out of Dallas on a rail.

Minus a first quarter of three and out for both teams during the first four possessions, Carter looked like a real NFL starter. His performance was almost a polar opposite of the embarrassment against the Texans.

Carter threw for 240-yards on a 14 for 24 day. He didn't turn the ball over and was sacked once as he showed more get-along when the pocket collapsed this time. While he only gained 7 yards on the ground, minus the sack yardage, he bought himself time to throw and grabbed positive yards when the play fell apart.

Yet Carter is hesitating in the pocket as he scans the field for an open man. His inexperience causes him to wait out the receivers instead of recognizing when his legs can do the most damage to the defense. There is a fine line between running early and making the defense pay. He will learn to discern the difference as time wears on. Yet inconsistency, which is the hallmark of a rookie, is evident in his play.

But there are the flashes of playmaking that hearten the Cowboys and were the reason he was taken in last year's draft. After a pump fake Carter threw a perfect pass into double coverage for a touchdown to Joey Galloway early in the fourth quarter. The pass may have been ill advised but the ball hit Galloway in the hands.

Yet again with the inconsistency all the Dallas faithful must endure, Carter missed Ken-yon Rambo on a deep post when his receiver had five yards on the defender. Again in the fourth quarter Carter over threw Darnay Scott on another deep in that would have sealed the game. The final score should have been Dallas 35, Titans 13.

But most of the day Carter threw accurate passes. He tempted the Titans corners with the out but put the ball where the receiver could make a play. He was helped by a more inspired receiving corps and a coordinator that called for the deep pass. Something mostly missing against the Texans.

Furthermore the defensive coordinator called a terrific game today. While the usual bend-don't-break defense was on the field, they had enough pressure to throw the Titans out of sync in the second half. Defenses are as helpful to an inexperienced quarterback as a receiver that will play defense on an errant pass when needed.

Quincy is learning a new offense for the second time in the bigs. He is holding the leadership reigns of a team that spent millions to improve over the 5-11 they have posted in the last two seasons. The weight of the press and fans along with a team wanting to flex its newfound muscles rests on Carter's shoulders.

But his consistency is in line with all the quarterbacks that have preceded him in Dallas. The first sixteen games are the hardest. And Quincy is showing some weeks he understands it and others he doesn't.

Just what you'd expect from a rookie.

Other Notes
Defensively the Cowboys spent money to improve an anemic pass rush. Last years total of 24 sacks was one of the lowest in the league.

The addition of Kevin Hardy and La'Roi Glover has resurrected the front seven. To date the team has 9 sacks in two games.

While six sacks came against David Carr, the rookie phemon for the Texans. Pressure is coming from many directions and forcing errors by the opposition.

Greg Ellis had two sacks against the Titans, while Kevin Hardy had one. LaRoi Glover is applying serious pressure from the defensive tackle spot, which gives Ellis the advantage man-up against the tackle.

Jerry's money was well spent on both Hardy and Glover and it has shown in the first two outings.

Antonio Bryant has apparently been given the nickname, "The Kid." In the radio broadcast of the game, both Babe Laughenberg and Brad Sham called him this several times.

On the long pass play to Bryant of 29 yards, he bobbled the ball then hauled it in for a nice gain. The concentration needed to regain possession as he ran down the field is another aspect of his game that suggests he is special.

Far too many receivers that have worn the star over the last several years would have given up on that play.

Not bad play for someone known as "The Kid."

Just when you think Emmitt Smith can't make positive yardage he runs through a hole and tears off a long gainer.

His 22-yarder in the 4th quarter of the game against the Titans was instrumental in giving the team field position, which helped manage the clock.

Emmitt needs unofficially 414 yards to pass Walter Payton.

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