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Game Notes: Bailey Continues Reliability; Butler’s Big Play
ARLINGTON, Texas - Dan Bailey has been cool under pressure in his young NFL career. The Cowboys’ kicker has already made an impressive seven game-winning field goals in just two seasons. His ability to remain calm in big moments is reflected by his general attitude about the accomplishment. Sunday night, Bailey was asked what it meant to him to have already accomplished all this so quickly.
“Honestly, not much,” Bailey said. “One thing that everybody in this locker room agrees with is that it’s tough to get wins in this league. So any way we get a win is good in my book.”
At one point, it looked like head coach Jason Garrett was going to give Bailey a chance to beat the Steelers in regulation. With just 32 seconds left in a tied game, the Cowboys sent Bailey out to try a 61-yard field goal before calling a timeout and opting to punt the ball instead. Bailey talked about whether or not he was prepared to kick a field goal that would have exceeded his career-high by 10 yards.
“As far as confidence goes, I was pretty confident about it,” Bailey said. “Given the situation and how much time was left on the clock, I understand doing it the way we did it. I think that was the right call.”
Bailey denied that the Cowboys brought him out on the field merely as a decoy in the last minute of regulation.
“I think we were all just trying to figure out what the plan was,” Bailey said. “In my mind, I was getting ready to go out there and kick it. But we evaluated it and chose something different and it worked out.”
Bailey may have been denied the chance in regulation, but he did end up making a kick from the 1-yard line to win the game in overtime. It was the second week in a row that Bailey made a field goal to end the game. The week prior he hit a 40-yard field goal as time expired to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals.
Bailey talked about how thankful he was to be able to make plays that determine the outcome of games for the Cowboys.
“You always enjoy those moments,” Bailey said. “It’s very rare that you get a lot of those opportunities. The more chances you can to get out there and help the team, the better. And it’s always a little bit of fun.”
The final field goal was set up by a Brandon Carr interception that was run all the way down to the 1-yard line. The significance of the play was not lost on Bailey and he joked about Carr’s inability to make into the end zone.
“Tonight, for me, Brandon made the biggest play of all,” Bailey said. “I appreciate him not getting in. It was obviously a great play so he made my job a lot easier.”
Butler Steals Momentum From Pittsburgh
In a game where Victor Butler was asked to fill in more on defense in order to make up for how thin the Cowboys were at linebacker, he made perhaps the biggest play of the game on special teams.
With 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, and Dallas down 24-17, the Cowboys’ offense was unable to respond to the Steelers’ latest touchdown and was forced to punt the ball away.
Antonio Brown averaged 17 yards per return in the game, and when he fielded Brian Moorman’s punt, he looked to be on the verge of a huge play that could have potentially given the Steelers a 14-point lead.
Brown dodged a few tackles and returned the ball 22 yards, but just before it looked like he might be able to break free for an even longer run, Butler knocked the ball out of his hands and John Phillips was able to recover the fumble.
The play proved to be a huge shift in momentum as the Cowboys’ offense took advantage of the turnover and the good field position by driving the remaining distance and eventually scoring a touchdown off of a 3-yard run by DeMarco Murray.
Murray Continues To Find End Zone
Murray’s statistics in the Cowboys’ victory over the Steelers might not blow your mind. He had 14 carries for 81 yards. But make no mistake, he had an impact on the game.
Since returning from injury, Murray has been a crucial part of setting the pace on offense and has recorded a touchdown in all three games that he has played in since coming back.
In the six games that Murray missed due to a foot injury, the Cowboys’ running game was nearly non-existent. They rarely won the time of possession and defenses were able to sit back and expect a Romo passing play.
Murray has been able to make big runs at big moments in his three games since his return. On Sunday against the Steelers, Murray was instrumental in setting the pace on offense. He recorded an impressive 55 yards on the ground in the first quarter, forcing the Steelers to respect Dallas’ running game for the rest of the day.
After the game, Garrett talked about the significance of Murray’s contributions and how he affected the outcome.
“I thought we were solid and persistent running it,” Garrett said. “DeMarco made some good runs. I think having that part of our game and not being one-dimensional is really important for us going forward. It slowed them down a little bit on defense.”
Jones Donates $5 Million to Perot Museum
In a brief pregame ceremony before Sunday’s game, the Cowboys announced that Jerry and Gene Jones had donated $5 million to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. The recently opened museum is located in Dallas and is 14 stories high.
In honor of their contribution and support of the institute, the museum’s atrium will be named the Gene and Jerry Jones Dallas Cowboys Atrium. During the ceremony, Gene and Jerry Jones presented the Perot family with a No. 12 Dallas Cowboys jersey to commemorate the event.
The museum is located in Victory Park near Downtown Dallas. Its grand opening was on Dec. 1 and is now open to the public.
Dan Bailey was true on both of his field goal tries tonight: 50 and 21 yards. His 21-yarder came with 13:41 remaining in the overtime period, giving Dallas the 27-24 win. Sunday was Bailey’s third game-winning kick of the season and the seventh of his career. His seven tie Rafael Septien for the most in team history.
Dez Bryant’s touchdown catch was his sixth consecutive game with a touchdown reception, the longest streak in his career, tied for the fourth-longest touchdown streak in team history and tied for the second-highest touchdown catches streak in franchise history.
Sean Lissemore notched his first sack of the season to give him 3.5 for his career.
Brady Poppinga had his first start as a Dallas Cowboy as the club opened with five linebackers.
Tony Romo finished Sunday’s game completing 30-of-42 passes (71.4 percent) for 341 yards, two touchdowns and a rating of 111.3. He upped his season passing attempts total to 568 to establish a single-season club record.
Romo’s 30 completions gave him 379 completions this season to extend his single-season club record.
Romo’s 341 yards gave him 4,269 for the season, the fourth 4,000-yard season in his career, the fourth in team history and the second-most yards in a season in club record books.
Romo’s 341 yards also gave him 25,103 for his career, making him the 64th quarterback in NFL history to reach 25,000 career passing yards.
In reaching 25,103 career-passing yards, Romo passed Tommy Kramer (24,777), Bob Griese (25,092) and Ken O’Brien (25,094) for 62nd on the NFL’s all-time passing yards list.
In reaching the 300-yard mark with 341 yards, Romo improved his club record of 300-yard games to 39. Dallas now holds a 25-14 (.641) record when Romo hits 300-plus yards.
In topping 300 yards again, Romo has eight 300-yard games this season. His eight tie his club record established in 2009.
Romo had a passer rating of 111.3. It was his 48th career game with a rating above 100.0 to improve a club record and rank fourth in the NFL since 2006.
Marcus Spears had his first sack of the season to give him 10.0 for his career.
Anthony Spencer had 1.5 sacks to give him 10.0 sacks for the season to improve his single-season career best. Along with DeMarcus Ware’s 11.5, this season is the first time since 2007 that the Cowboys had two defenders top 10.0 or more sacks: DeMarcus Ware (14.0) and Greg Ellis (12.5). This season is the fifth time in franchise history Dallas accomplished the feat: 1983 (Randy White and Anthony Dickerson), 1984 (Randy White and Jim Jeffcoat), 1985 (Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Jim Jeffcoat and Randy White) and 2007 (Ware and Ellis).
DeMarcus Ware’s half sack gave him 111.0 for his career and moved him into a tie with Randy White for second on the Cowboys all-time (unofficial) sack chart. Harvey Martin tops the list with 114.0.
Jason Witten finished the game with five catches for 43 yards. For the season, Witten has 97 catches – the most in a season in his career, second-most in a season by a Dallas Cowboy and the fifth-most in a season by an NFL tight end.
Witten’s 43 receiving yards upped his career total to 8,832 and allowed him to pass Terance Mathis (8,809) and Terry Glenn (8,823) for 57th on the NFL’s all-time receiving yards chart.