• Dwayne Harris is clearly the #3 WR now, and he may even be good enough that the Cowboys don’t really have to worry about the WR position this offseason. Great “yards after catch” ability. He gets north-south, and gobbles up yards quickly. The same can be said of his style as a punt returner. Really nice role player that contributes big plays. He had one of the biggest plays of the game when he gained 18 yards on a screen pass, mostly on his own. That came right after a 13 yard sack on first down. The change from 2nd and 23 to 3rd an 5 was enormous. The Cowboys would then convert that 3rd down and later score on the drive. That probably doesn’t happen without Harris’ nice run after the catch.
• Doug Free!!! That was his first really good game of the season. I don’t recall hearing his name called at all, which s perfectly fine. He’s been a penalty machine all season with 15 of them (that leads the NFL), but he didn’t have any on Sunday. He also neutralized Lamarr Woodley all day. Bigtime performance by a guy that has had a terrible season. On the penalty front, Tyron Smith had 2 on Sunday. He now has 11.
• “HEEEEEAAAAAATH!” Bad job, Cowboys fans.
• Here’s what I wrote about Brandon Carr a few weeks ago:
Before the season began, I’d be a liar if I were to claim I knew a lot about Brandon Carr. It’s not like I had seen a lot of Chiefs games. In the preseason, I thought Carr looked great. But in the games that count, he has not impressed me at all. Two weeks ago, the Redskins beat him on a back shoulder throw for a TD, although in fairness, it was a perfectly placed ball by RG3. Last week in Philly the Eagles beat Carr on a fade in the end zone. Earlier in the season he had an ugly play against the Bears in which Brandon Marshall got so wide open against him for a TD that Jon Gruden thought it was a busted coverage. It wasn’t. Carr was just playing so far off Marshall that Marshall was able to run a little slant that was completely uncontested. It didn’t help that Carr was rubbed off by the Bears’ TE on the play, but even if he hadn’t been, it still would have been a big gain anyway. Those are just 3 examples that come to mind.
Opposing teams are not afraid of Carr. He has been targeted 62 times, according to PFF, while rookie Morris Claiborne has been targeted 49 times. Despite the high number of targets coming his way, Carr has just one INT. That INT was on a play in which he was beaten on a quick slant, but the ball was thrown way behind the receiver and Carr collected the gift.
The Cowboys desperately needed help in their secondary this past offseason. They expended their first two draft picks on Morris Claiborne and paid Carr $50.1 million for 5 years. While the duo is unquestionably better than Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins, the Cowboys have not yet gotten good returns on those investments so far.
• Why does Nate Livings keep losing his mouthpiece on big collisions?
• The Steelers’ defense is wildly overrated, as I mentioned in the preview for this game. They don’t give up a lot of yards, but they are 17th in red zone defense. They were also without their two starting corners for much of the game, and the Cowboys opted to attack #35, Josh Victorian. The Cowboys threw at Victorian 9 times, according to PFF, connecting on 7 completions for 88 yards.
• DeMarco Murray had his first fumble of the season as a runner. He previously had one as a receiver. That was inside the 5 yard line. I don’t think it was one of those fumbles where you start to worry about his ball security. James Harrison really had an opportunity to wind up an punch it out from behind. Just a really good play by the Steelers.
• The Cowboys are still extremely sloppy at times on offense. On one series, they had a 3rd and 10. 3 penalties and a timeout later, they were 3rd and 30. It’s Week 15. Those kinds of things should not be happening.
• Antonio Brown… Oof, just a nightmare 4th quarter.
• Another week, another AFC North team that had 1st and 10 from their own 20 with less than a minte left, and a chance to maybe make a play and get in field goal range, but instead opted to take a knee. I’ll never understand that. The defense is going to give you 15-20 right off the bat on a quick slant or draw play. Take it, and then see what happens from there. Or if the defense gets a quick stop, then take the knee. Last week it was the Ravens against the Redskins that decided that it wasn’t worth the risk. Both teams wound up losing in OT.
• I’m not sure if any of the Cowboys’ reporters talked to Jason Garrett about the “almost” decision to try a 60+ yard FG, and whether or not Garrett actually had a purpose for showing FG, or if he just temporarily lost his mind. I’d love to hear that answer.
• Kudos to the Cowboys. They have injuries out the wazoo, they’ve managed to just kind of “hang around,” and with two games to go they control their own destiny for the division title.
• In comparison to the other 2 NFC teams vying for the division title, the Cowboys have the 2nd most difficult opponent, in my opinion. The Skins play in Philly (easiest), the Cowboys host the Saints, and the Giants travel to Baltimore.