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 DallasCowboys.com – 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 5 – Baltimore:It was the beginning of a brutal five game stretch with four of the games coming on the road. It doesn't matter how well your team plays, if as a coach you don't manage the game correctly, you have a shot to lose. Jason Garrett's team played well enough to win that football game but you have to make choices to put them in position to finish the game and he didn't. The play selection and use of that last minute gave his team no chance. The offense had success running the ball and if he could have selected a play to get Dan Bailey in better position to attempt a game winning kick, then the result might have been different. We learned that coaching has just as much to do with wins and losses as the players. – Bryan Broaddus
Game 6 – Carolina:
Missing DeMarco Murray for the first time this season, we learned the Cowboys would struggle finding success running the football, though they could still win games without him. Dallas ran all over Baltimore a week prior with both Murray and Felix Jones, but no Cowboys' running back averaged more than 3 yards per carry against the Panthers. We learned if the line can create any pressure, the Cowboys' defensive backs are capable of intercepting a pass. Morris Claiborne's interception of Cam Newton after pressure from Josh Brent marked the first interception of the season by a defensive back. We also found out Dan Bailey can forget about a past week's performance and deliver anywhere on the field from 50 yards out and in. After missing a 51-yarder that would have beaten the Ravens a week prior, Bailey went on to nail all four of his kicks against the Panthers, including two fourth-quarter kicks and a 49-yarder. He'd only miss two kicks all year. - *Rowan Kavner *
Game 7 – NY Giants:
In the Cowboys' week eight loss to the New York Giants we learned two things about Tony Romo that, quite frankly, we probably already knew. In the first half Romo was forcing throws all over the place. He took risks throughout the game and tried to make big plays at times when he probably should have just thrown the ball away or taken a sack. He threw four interceptions in the game and the Cowboys' fell behind 23-0 at one point largely due to his mistakes. But just like we were reminded that Romo is the type of quarterback that can put a team in that kind of whole, he also reminded us that he is one of the few quarterbacks that can nearly dig his team out of that same hole. He rallied the Cowboys in the second half by throwing for an incredible 437 yards with virtually no help from the running game. At the end of the day, it was a few Dez Bryant fingertips at the end of regulation that were the difference between a win and a loss, and in retrospect, perhaps making or missing the playoffs. -- *Jonathan Auping *
Game 8 – Atlanta:
We learned a few things about the Cowboys and some about the Falcons, too. At 7-0, Atlanta showed it didn't have to play its best game to win and stay undefeated. But for the Cowboys, we learned once again this team isn't good enough to squander scoring opportunities. In the first half, the Cowboys had a big punt return from Dwayne Harris and a logn pass to Kevin Ogletree, and only managed to get field goals. In the end, the defense had played well all game, but couldn't make the necessary stops in the end. The missed tackle by Orlando Scandrick on Jacquizz Rodgers was huge … We also learned the Cowboys seem to do much better in the hurry-up offense, something we would notice throughout the season. – *Nick Eatman *