ST. LOUIS -- After two cut-and-dry games to open the season, the Cowboys got back to the familiar zany football that has marked much of the past few years. Dallas overcame a 21-0 deficit and got contributions from the unlikeliest of places while rallying back for a 34-31 win.
Here are the instant reactions from the staff of DallasCowboys.com – Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, Rowan Kavner and David Helman.
Nick Eatman: Well while I did see this game being close like it was and the Cowboys winning by three, this was the opposite of my thought about the team that strikes first will win. Playing catchup like that didn't seem to be their best way of winning, but you have to give this team credit for battling back like this and not panicking. I did see the Rams giving lots of focus to stopping Dez and Murray to free up the other weapons. Beasley and Witten came up with big plays, as did Terrance Williams. That's how you have to attack a team that takes away your first options. This was a really good win because there are always games when you have to get a few breaks to win. That happened here in St. Louis, but the Cowboys certainly shouldn't apologize for winning. It was hard fought but the better team won.
Bryan Broaddus: Had a strong feeling that after studying the Rams all week with the way that they liked to play their safeties tight to help in the run that Jason Witten would have several opportunities to make some plays against their defense. Witten has such a knack for finding space in a secondary when you try to only cover him with a linebacker and it appears from my seat in the press box that is exactly what they tried to do. What I was surprised about late in the game on the 3rd down pass that Scott Linehan didn't try and create something simple for Romo to complete to Witten but instead trying to go outside. Witten ended the day with 4 catches for 49 in a very workmen effort which was good enough to help in the victory.
Rowan Kavner: I thought the loss of Rolando McClain would make the defense look completely different and DeMarco Murray would hit the 100-yard mark again, and those predictions panned out. I also thought it'd end up a close contest, but no one could have foreseen the Cowboys would first get down 21-0 to pull out the win in St. Louis. Beasley didn't have the impact I thought, as it was all Dez Bryant through the air again. Without McClain, the Rams had a lot of success moving linebackers early. But the defense settled down, made just enough plays – from two of the most heavily criticized players in Bruce Carter and Morris Claiborne – and did just enough to help the Cowboys chip away. There were issues, but the Cowboys have to feel good about how they answered and the way Tony Romo looked late.
David Helman:I should have known better than to expect the Cowboys to enjoy comfortable road wins in back-to-back weeks. These were the Cowboys we're much more accustomed to seeing, though they managed to hold on in this one. I did manage to get the Cowboys' final point total right, but I was pretty far off for St. Louis. My big takeaway from this is that this defense is going to need all the help it can get in the coming weeks with opponents like New Orleans and Seattle on the upcoming schedule. I know that Morris Claiborne and Bruce Carter made game-changing plays, but these guys need Justin Durant, Rolando McClain and Anthony Spencer to be contributing if this unit is going to improve. Offensively, you have to be encouraged by the continued use of DeMarco Murray, and the fact that the line didn't allow a sack. This is a valuable win, considering the home stretch that awaits the Cowboys in the coming weeks.
Here are the Week 3 gut feelings from staff writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, Rowan Kavner and David Helman.
Nick Eatman: My opinion of Rams has been a rollercoaster ride this past week and they've only played one game. Losing so badly to the Vikings at home was surprising, then beating the Bucs on the road was, as well. But the way Tampa looked Thursday night in Atlanta, what can you really tell about that close victory the Rams had last week? I guess it doesn't matter. What we know is that it won't be easy to go up to St. Louis and get a win. I think the Cowboys are the better team, but it doesn't always matter. To me, whoever strikes first will probably win. The Cowboys have seen that firsthand the last two weeks, and if they can get an early lead and establish the run, it'll play right into their hands. If they're having to play catch-up, it favors the Rams. I see Terrance Williams or Cole Beasley having a nice day because they will get plenty of looks. I won't be surprised if DeMarco Murray is held to less than 100 yards because they will make sure and stop that part. This one will be close but Dan Bailey saves the Cowboys late – possibly on a record-breaking field goal.
Bryan Broaddus: Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams knows that his run defense is bad and, there really isn't anything that he can do to correct that. He can start Aaron Donald at defensive tackle instead of Kendall Langford, and that would help to get a tackle or two behind the line of scrimmage, but Langford continues to start. Williams will try and walk safeties up like he has the previous two weeks, but just take a look at where those adjustments have landed him. The Rams are not physical enough to play toe-to-toe with this Cowboys offensive front and win this game upfront playing that way. The Rams have built their defense to rush the passer, and until they find a way to stop the run that will not happen. DeMarco Murray has over 145 yards on the ground and leaves St. Louis extending his mark as the top rusher in the NFL.
Rowan Kavner: It's hard to project how teams will look by the end of the year after only two games, but this appears to be one of the most winnable games the Cowboys are going to have the rest of the way, particularly considering the quarterback issues in St. Louis. That said, the Cowboys have some problems of their own, particularly at linebacker with Rolando McClain and Justin Durant banged up. [embedded_ad]
I think if McClain can't go, this defense looks completely different and the Rams will have some success on the ground. I think DeMarco Murray makes it three straight games with 100 yards on the ground and Cole Beasley ends the day with the most catches for the Cowboys, who edge out the win by a point in St. Louis.
David Helman:I tend to think of myself as the most pessimistic writer on this staff, but I am incredibly confident that the Cowboys can go into St. Louis and get a win – and a comfortable one, at that. The Rams are allowing an average of 151 yards on the ground, and I basically just don't believe they'll be able to handle DeMarco Murray and this offensive line. Regardless of who St. Louis starts at quarterback, be it Austin Davis or Shaun Hill, I don't think he'll make enough throws to expose the Dallas defense. Zac Stacy should have some success if Rolando McClain isn't mopping up tackles in the middle, but I'm not sure he can get more than 100. I think Murray is going to have three rushing touchdowns, and Jason Witten will catch one. Cowboys will win – something like 34-20.