There are still 11 games left in the NFL season, but the Cowboys won't be a part of them. The focus at Valley Ranch now shifts to the 2014 season.
Before the preparation for free agency and the NFL draft begin, however, let's take a look back at 2013. The Cowboys submitted their third consecutive 8-8 record, but that didn't come without some fireworks and a few forgettable moments.
The staff of DallasCowboys.com – Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, Rowan Kavner and David Helman – was on hand for all 16 games. Through another up-and-down season, let's see what we learned between Sept. 8 and Dec. 29.
Game 5 – Denver:
Man, what didn't we learn about this game? Ok well, we learned this offense CAN open it up and score some points with anyone. Of course, that became the benchmark for the entire season. Any time the offense struggled, it was always something like, 'well, open it up like the Denver game." ... Against the Broncos we learned Terrance Williams can be a down-field playmaker … We learned that even Tony
Romo's greatest game, can still end with an unfortunate interception … And we also learned that late-game picks in 2013 will be behind the receiver. Romo's pass was behind Gavin Escobar in the Denver game. He also threw behind Miles Austin against the Packers, as did Orton against the Eagles. *--Nick Eatman *
Game 6 – Washington:
I wasn't even sure if Dwayne Harris would keep his roster spot when training camp opened in July. Harris showed why I'm an idiot with one virtuoso performance Oct. 13 against the Redskins. The third-year receiver punished Washington in every aspect of special teams, starting with an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown that gave Dallas a 14-3 lead in the second quarter. Two field goals allowed the Redskins to cut the deficit to 14-9 before Harris took over again. On the Cowboys' first possession of the second half, he returned a kick from five yards deep in his end zone to the Washington 15, setting the stage for a two-play touchdown drive. Harris amassed 222 yards and a touchdown on just four returns, which was actually more than the Cowboys' 213 total yards of offense. Harris was outstanding on special teams all season, and no game showed that better than his enormous night in the 31-16 win against the Redskins. – David Helman
Game 7 – at Philadelphia:
We thought we'd found out Nick Foles wasn't a consistent or stunning quarterback, but what we really found out was as poor as the Cowboys' defense had been all season, it still pestered the Eagles' offense, which struggled against the Dallas front. The Cowboys held the Eagles to just three points in a 17-3 win, marking the only time all year Philadelphia failed to score a touchdown and the first time since 2009 the Cowboys kept a team out of the end zone. Those performances would be few and far between for this
defense. The Cowboys also learned they lost some dynamism in the backfield with Murray out. Joseph Randle was steady, averaging 3.4 yards per carry in his first action as the primary ball carrier, but he didn't provide the same pop. We also found out George Selvie wouldn't be a flash in the pan. He started strong before going two games without a sack in Weeks 5 and 6, but he answered with two sacks on Foles, the latter of which knocked Foles out of the game. The Cowboys would need Selvie to play that way the rest of the year. -Rowan Kavner
Game 8 – at Detroit Lions
This is where I felt like that Brandon Carr's season took a turn for the worse. I am not going to sit here and tell you that covering Calvin Johnson was going to be easy, but Carr is a much better player than he showed. The previous weeks against the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles, he had been outstanding. Monte Kiffin and this defensive staff had every right to believe that Carr could handle that job, but as that game wore on, Carr played [embedded_ad]
scared and instead of battling Johnson like he battled Pierre Garcon, he allowed Johnson to take the fight to him down after down. It didn't matter what route Johnson ran that afternoon in Detroit, Carr wasn't even in the same area code. What was so disappointing to me after the game was how upset Carr was after the final Lions touchdown coming off the field and yelling at the coaches where is if had just played with that type of fire the entire game, the outcome could have been different. Corners need to play with a short memory and for Brandon Carr that was a game that affected him the remainder of the season, which was a shame. – Bryan Broaddus