Every week TheRanchReport.com grades the Cowboys on their performance win or lose.
This week, it would be an understatement to say there wasn't much to complain about as Dallas rolled to a 28-10 win:
The first drive was a thing of beauty as Tony Romo completed all five of his passes and the Cowboys drove 80 yards in just over five minutes to quickly move ahead 7-0. The second drive? More of the same as Romo found a wide-open Terrell Owens for a 35-yard touchdown. In fact, for the entire first half, it seemed as though Romo had minutes instead of seconds to throw every single pass he attempted. Overall Dallas ended its first half of the 2008 season with an astounding 11 plays for 10 yards or more. The second half was more of the same as Felix Jones opened the scoring on his first career carry from 11 yards out early in the third. While Romo was banged around a bit more later in the game, and made a bad decision by throwing an interception in the end zone, for the most part Dallas did whatever it wanted to on offense all afternoon long. Marion Barber and Jones provided a nice 1-2 punch in the backfield and Jason Witten seemed to be wide open the entire game. Even Patrick Crayton turned in a strong performance and third-stringer Tashard Choice helped Dallas play keep-away on the final drive of the game. How could you not give 'Boys an "A"?
After two Dallas penalties on third down kept Cleveland's first drive alive, resulting in the Browns' first touchdown of the game, the Cowboys' defense settled in nicely. In fact, through three quarters Cleveland only had 142 yards of total offense and by that time Dallas was already ahead 28-7. Kellen Winslow showed why he is one of the top tight ends in the game but it was nowhere near enough to power the Browns to the upset win. Also, credit Anthony Henry for a fundamentally sound game spending most of his time covering and tackling Braylon Edwards.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
Punter Mat McBriar was solid but Adam Jones was shaky on a couple of punt returns, including one in which he fumbled before quickly recovering the loose ball. Orlando Scandrick was average as a return man as well, but fortunately the Cowboys didn't need big plays from their special teams to win the game. Nick Folk wasn't needed either.
The offense was creative, and for the most part the defense was stifling. What's not to love? The boos raining down in Cleveland Browns Stadium for most of the second half told the story: Dallas was clearly the better team and was going to be reflected in the final score.
The Browns were 10-6 a year ago, not to mention one of the top offensive teams in the league. Meanwhile the Cowboys were 13-3 but coming off a disappointing loss in the Divisional round of the playoffs to the New York Giants. It seemed logical to assume we could learn a lot about both teams by the outcome of Sunday's game and we did- Dallas took the first of what it hopes are many steps towards the Super Bowl and Cleveland still needs to improve defensively before it can be considered as serious contender in the AFC. Bottom line- there was only one team on the field that looked confused for long stretches Sunday, and it wasn't the Cowboys.
GRADES: Browns Confused; 'Boys Roll
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