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2012 Game Recap: What We Learned In Third Quarter 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 9 – Philadelphia:

The Cowboys travelled to face the Eagles with both teams sitting at 3 – 5. A loss by either team would surly end any real hope that they might have had for the playoffs. It was a stretch of games where the Cowboys had not done a very good job of finishing games, matter of fact, the last four had come down to either the offense having to put points on the board late or the defense failing to making a stop to give them a chance to score , with only the Carolina game being one where they were able to get both. Against the Eagles this was going to come down to who had more mental toughness because both teams were really evenly matched. What we learned as this game wore on, that this Cowboys squad was mentally tough because they were able to find through the ups and downs of the game for the season saving victory. – Bryan Broaddus

Game 10 – Cleveland:

We learned swing tackle Jermey Parnell would be useful down the stretch of the season. Left tackle Tyron Smith's high ankle sprain opened the door for Parnell to play left tackle. After Smith's return, Parnell still found playing time rotating in with Doug Free at right tackle the last few weeks of the season. We also learned the backups everyone wanted to see on the offensive line didn't reap great benefits. Injuries forced Mackenzy Bernadeau to shift to center and Derrick Dockery to start at right guard. The Browns brought down Tony Romo seven times and the Cowboys once against struggled to run, totaling 63 yards rushing. We found out kicker Dan Bailey is especially useful in overtime. The Browns game was the first of three overtime contests the Cowboys would play in between Week 11 and Week 16. Both overtime wins in that timeframe were decided by a Bailey kick, starting with his 38-yarder to win it against Cleveland. - Rowan Kavner

Game 11 – Washington:

On Thanksgiving anyone who hadn't quite bought into the hype about Robert Griffin III learned that he was in fact the real deal. More specifically relating to the Cowboys, we learned that the Dallas' defense, which was already missing a number of players due to injuries, was just not good enough to contain an offense with a top-notch quarterback and a good game plan. Griffin was able to post a 131.8 passer rating while throwing four touchdowns and one interception. Alfred Morris also posted 131 yards rushing and a touchdown, which we would later learn was a sign of things to come at the end of the season. On a more positive note, Anthony Spencer had perhaps his best game of the season and stood out as a leader on the field with so many key players out and DeMarcus Ware playing through injuries. Spencer had 10 tackles and two sacks in the game. It was games like this one that will make the Cowboys' upcoming decision on Spencer, who is a free agent, all the more interesting.  - Jonathan Auping

Game 12 – Philadelphia:

At this point, we had been seeing the growth of Dez Bryant. He had scored a touchdown in three straight games, but they hadn't just put the ball in his hands and asked to go when the game. But against the Eagles on Sunday night, Bryant took his game up to yet another level. Bryant helped the Cowboys rally once again by scoring two touchdowns, one from 85 yards out and the other from six. The 6-yard score was most impressive to me because Romo simply tossed it Bryant in the flat and let him steamroll the cornerback to the end zone. That was a Man's Touchdown. If anything, we learned the Cowboys could start counting on Bryant to not only get them back in the game, but get over the hump. – Nick Eatman

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