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Eatman: Looking For Positives Among This Desert Turnover Fest


PHOENIX– Whether the game counts or not, this place never fails.

When the Cowboys come to Arizona, weird stuff happens. In the last five years, we've seen plenty of odd occurrences, like the 2008 game that started and ended with a special teams touchdown for the Cardinals. In 2010, Stephen McGee nearly rallied the team for a Christmas night win until David Buehler missed an extra point and the Cowboys eventually lost on a last-second kick.

The next year, the Cardinals won the game in overtime when a screen pass to some guy with about four names weaved through the defense for a 50-yard touchdown.

Those games obviously mattered a lot more than Saturday's 12-7 loss to the Cardinals here at University of Phoenix Stadium.

But still, chalk this one up to another strange day of events, including five first-half turnovers by the Cowboys.

Dwayne Harris fumbled the punt. Lance Dunbar basically just lost the ball after a great play and then Dez Bryant coughed it up after a nice catch and run. Kyle Orton throws two picks in the second quarter and there's your handful of turnovers. The Cowboys still had a shot to win this game before backup quarterback Alex Tanney threw an interception in the final minutes for the sixth turnover.

It's kind of hard to evaluate the offense without the ball.

Preseason or not, you want to give yourself a chance to compete. That's probably why Tony Romo was so disgusted after Bryant's fumble, prompting the quarterback to slam his helmet down on the sideline. These guys are smart enough to know it's only preseason but they also want to look good when you're on display.

And for a while in the first half, it was one of the ugliest performances we've seen in a while. Probably since the last time we made it to Arizona.

What stood out to me about this game Saturday, is how they can't get away from the "yeah, but" mentality.

Wow, look at that speed from Dunbar. He really can be a dynamic part of this offe…. Fumble! So, great play by the little running back. Yeah, but he fumbled.

Dez Bryant looked strong again on several plays. Yeah, but he fumbled.

Tony Romo had a nice game, completing 7 of 10 passes for 142 yards. Yeah, but he completely overthrew Terrance Williams on a would-be touchdown in the first quarter.

Honestly, the "yeah, but" thing is what this team has done the last two years. The Cowboys had a nice win against the Giants to open last year. Yeah, but they got hammered the next week in Seattle. And it went like that all year. This good play here, but bad play there stuff gets you 8-8.

We know this team has enough talent to win games. They have another skill players to do some dynamic things. But if they keep moving one step forward and one step back, you'll never go anywhere. And that's exactly what has transpired the last two years. It's pretty much what happened here Saturday in Phoenix.

For the first half, the Cowboys were clearly in Arizona physically. But it sure seemed like they were mentally ready to get back home.

Still, despite those turnovers, the Cowboys had a chance to win the game. The defense didn't allow a touchdown and when that happens, you always have a chance.

Obviously, the final outcome of the game is not important. But the fact the defense kept holding up despite going out there with a short field, and yet they kept holding the Carson Palmer-led Cardinals to field goals is a good sign.

Defense is one of the first points I thought the Cowboys should be happy about it.


  • Let's start on defense. The Cowboys go three-and-out to start the game and after Harris' fumble, they go right back out there. I thought Bruce Carter flew around to the ball well, showcasing his speed. But overall the defense looked sharp and I only think getting Spencer, Claiborne and Ratliff in the mix will make it better.
  • Dez Bryant. Ok, he fumbled the ball and we know that's something that will hurt this team if it becomes a trend. But he won his share of battles with Patrick Peterson. This guy has a chance to really blow up this year. It'll be fun to watch.
  • I don't think you can dismiss what David Arkin did in the game. Last week, I thought he struggled some against the Raiders but against the Cardinals' first unit, he not only held his own, but did some pushing out there.
  • Miles Austin has taken a few big hits out there at camp. It was good to see him hitting back a little. That play on the sideline surprised everyone. But it shows he's got some physicality to his game.
  • Fans finally got to see what Lance Dunbar can do. It's unfortunate that play ended like it did. But he's got the juice this offense lacks. Hang onto the football and he could be a dynamic weapon.
  • Alex Tanney continues to remind me of a young Tony Romo. I've had people blast me for comparing him to Romo and that's not what I'm doing. I'm comparing 2013 Tanney to 2003 Romo. He's got something to him that you have to like. He's spunky with some moxie. Romo was like and still is to some degree. I'm not sure if Tanney can make it to the practice squad. But if he keeps playing like he did Saturday, he'll be hard to cut. [embedded_ad]

As Jason Garrett said after the game, this one will be remembered for the turnovers.

"You can't turn it over six times and expect to win ever," Garrett said.

Yet they almost did. I really don't think this team will turn the ball over like that this year. If they do, then there's no shot to be competitive.

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