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2012 Game Recap: What We Learned In First Four Games staff

With the regular season now in the books, the focus does start to shift towards the offseason.

But before we get there, let's go back to the 2012 regular season, where the Cowboys finished 8-8. It was a rollercoaster of a season with lots of ups and downs, twists and turns.

The staff writers of – Rowan Kavner, Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus and Jonathan Auping - were on hand for every moment. So let's go through the season and find out what we learned from each game.

Game 1 – NY Giants:Coming out of training camp there were plenty of questions about how this team could handle going on the road basically on a short week and performing on the national stage but there were also questions how would this Cowboys offense cope without their Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten if he was unable to play with the lacerated spleen. After days of speculation, Witten in fact did suit up giving his teammates an emotional boast. Tony Romo was flawless in the way he managed the game and DeMarco Murray punished the Giants front seven running the ball but in a surprising developing Kevin Ogletree was able to play the game of his career with eight catches and two touchdowns. It was Ogletree's slant route with the game on the line for the Cowboys on third down that sealed the victory. By his play, it appeared that the questions of who the Cowboys third receiver was going to be were answered. – Bryan Broaddus

Game 2 – Seattle:

From a big picture standpoint, the most relevant thing we learned is the Week 1 win over the Giants didn't mean this will be a different season after all . . . We also learned how the Cowboys could be dominated up front as the Seahawks rushed for 182 yards, mainly in the second half . . . And if we didn't already know, we learned how quickly a game could change on special teams as the Cowboys fell behind 10-0 thanks to a fumble on the opening kickoff and a blocked punt for a touchdown … We also found out just how bad the lacerated spleen injury was affecting Jason Witten. He caught a few passes but dropped a few more and wasn't himself at all in terms of mobility to catch passes. We know now it had to be the injury, considering Witten went on to have the best season any tight end has ever had in NFL history.  -  *Nick Eatman *

Game 3 – Tampa Bay:

The game turned out to be an example of what could have been in terms of the Cowboys' defense, and more specifically, their secondary. Needing to make up for an offense struggling to move the ball, the Dallas' defense held Josh Freeman to just 110 yards on the day. With a passer rating of 45.2, it was Freeman's worst game of the season. The Buccaneers finished the season with the ninth ranked offense in the NFL, but was basically shut down by the Cowboys defense. Following the Tampa victory the Cowboys' passing defense was ranked in the top three in the league. But three of their top five tacklers for that game (Sean Lee, Bruce Carter and Barry Church) including the player who recorded the defense's first interception of the season (Lee) would go on to sustain season-ending injuries. As the season went on, the Cowboys defense continued to play hard, but overall, couldn't make up for the losses of so many key players.  -- *Jonathan Auping *

Game 4 – Chicago:

The offensive struggle taught us just how poor the Cowboys' rushing offense can be. DeMarco Murray's numbers slowly decreased in the three games after the opener, ending with his 24 yards against the Bears. We learned that the receivers and quarterback Tony Romo aren't always going to be on the same page. Romo threw five interceptions, the first of which occurred on a miscommunication with Dez Bryant. The next interception came on a dropped pass by Kevin Ogletree, demonstrating consistency at receiver could be a recurring issue.  As it turned out, the inconsistencies between Romo and Bryant would slowly cease. We also found out Romo might force throws that aren't there when the running game's not going. The first couple interceptions can be attributed to miscommunications or drops, but the rest were desperation heaves.  Lastly, we found out what an elite receiver can do to the Cowboys' secondary, as Brandon Marshall grabbed seven catches for 138 yards and a touchdown. – *Rowan Kavner *

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