• Wrote in my matchup section for DallasCowboys.com to watch Dez Bryant against Joe Haden, the talented corner for the Browns. Haden missed the game and the Browns suffered because of it. Bryant was at his best, recording a game-high 12 catches off 15 targets, but against Haden, it might have been a different story.
To his credit, though, Bryant only had one play where I thought he made a mental mistake, not lowering his head and getting a first down when he had a chance. Instead his team had to play third-and-1 and survive a review to keep the drive going.
It was a nice game plan by head coach Jason Garrett to try and work Bryant on double moves against the Browns corners. Any type of shutter-go or double move is right in his wheelhouse. On his touchdown, Romo sent him on the shutter-go and threw the ball in the perfect spot. Sheldon Brown, who likes to play with his rear to the field, didn't find the ball and Bryant was able to finish the play.
These are the types of games that we'd like to see every week from Bryant, and if he continues to put himself in position to make plays like he did today, the quarterback will reward him.
• Garrett said after the game that his team had a healthy respect for the Browns and the matchup they had going into this game. In my film study, I had more respect for their offense than I did their defense.
I really didn't feel like Cleveland's front seven was good enough to attack the Cowboys offense the way it did. Even with Tyron Smith in the game, Dallas' offensive line struggled to effectively provide any type of protection for Tony Romo or give the backs any room to run.
Without looking at the tape. as Romo likes to say, I didn't have a feeling for how Mackenzy Bernadeau did at center but I will later tonight. I do know that tackles Doug Free and Jermey Parnell were nowhere near good enough, which for Free was a real step back. Since the Ravens game, on tape, he had been playing much better, but there were too many times against the Browns where his pad level was way too high. He was he unable to stop the charge of defensive lineman Jabael Sheard, who is not known as a power player.
There have been issues all season with this line that the quarterback has been able to mask. Garrett has even had a difficult job calling plays because the team cannot run the ball with any success, which puts his them in some terrible situations. The Cowboys will look at Smith's ankle and see what needs to be done, but it looks like on a short week, it will once again be Parnell on the left side against the Redskins. At least he will get more reps in practice than he did last week.
• For weeks, my Talkin' Cowboys teammate Mickey Spagnola has been screaming for the offensive coaches to get Dwayne Harris in the game as a receiver. The last two Sundays, Harris has done nothing to make you believe that when given the opportunity, he can't make the most of it.
Harris is one of those kids, much like a Barry Church and Danny McCray, that grew before our eyes during training camp. He came to camp in better shape and was focused on trying to win a spot on this roster.
To his credit, he has not been afraid to do the dirty work when necessary. He is a fearless blocker, whether it's on special teams or offensive snaps. The traits that you have to like about him is that he can play anywhere. You can put him in the slot or outside, it doesn't matter.
In this game, he had to be more than a special teams player and when Kevin Ogletree got knocked out, he had to become the go-to-guy when Garrett went to his three-wide sets. There has never been a question about his hands or the way he runs routes, but rather if you had to play him for extended periods of time, how would he react?
The one thing I have always noticed about Romo is that he is not afraid to call a player's number if he feels like that receiver is in the right spot. Today, the numbers were not flashy but Harris was in the right spot, and for Garrett, that was the most important thing.
• I have always said this about this defensive coaching staff: That if you dress for them on game day, you had better be ready to play. I mention this because there were different combinations that coordinator Rob Ryan used as he tried to work around injuries and some lack of talent at certain positions.
With Ryan, you never get the same look on consecutive downs. They did a really nice job in the second half of matching what the Browns were trying to do on offense, including playing a five-man line or getting into some 4-3 packages with Alex Albright, Dan Connor and Bruce Carter on the field.
Of the 61 tackles on defense, 21 of them were made by linebackers. As a group, I thought they were outstanding and I am sure when I study the tape that will be the case. As this game wore on, Anthony Spencer became more and more of a factor, even though there were times where he appeared to be struggling through some type of injury. The thing that stood out to me the most on the defense today was the secure tackles that safeties Gerald Sensabaugh and Danny McCray were able to make in space on Trent Richardson to get their defense off the field on key third downs. This was going to be no easy task dealing with Richardson, but to their credit, they were able to make tough plays in space.