ARLINGTON, Texas – The staff writers of DallasCowboys.com shared their initial feelings of the Cowboys' 51-48 loss to the Broncos here at AT&T Stadium.
My gut feeling is that I can't really wrap my brain around what I just saw. I thought the game would be a shootout, and I thought the Broncos would win. But reducing that insane performance to the word "shootout" doesn't really do justice to what just happened. How fitting is it that Peyton Manning bombed away for 414 yards, but the perpetually criticized Morris Claiborne came away with a fumble recovery and the only interception of the future Hall of Famer so far this season? How fitting is it that Tony Romo submitted probably the best performance ever by a Dallas quarterback but threw the interception that decided the game? I don't even know for sure what it means, except that Dallas can play with anyone in the league – but can also find a way to lose those games. I also know that next week's Sunday night game against Washington feels like a must-win with a two-week road swing looming.
Only Tony Romo can throw for 500 yards, five touchdowns and still come up short of expectations. Sunday's back and forth battle was even more of a shootout than we predicted. I thought Dez Bryant and Jason Witten would both have monster days – and they did – with the Broncos' weapons simply being too much to keep up with. That was partially the case, but not entirely. The Cowboys had the Broncos right where they wanted them at the end, as Dallas possessed the ball with two minutes remaining in a tie game. After scoring at will, they just didn't have enough at the end with Romo's first pick of the day. Many thought the Broncos would win, but not the way they did, having to hold back a Dallas attack that fought back relentlessly.
I wish these feelings could be put to better use somehow than just a Sunday afternoon story we post after the game. I guess you could argue that Manning was too strong in the end. This game came down to his mistake occurring early enough to recover from and Tony Romo's mistake was fatal. That's what it came down to. Romo out-Manning'd Manning for nearly four quarters. But trying to force the ball in there late in the game proved to be the difference. My overall gut feeling was that we'd see a good game and I was wrong about that. It was a great game, but unfortunately for the Cowboys, they just came up short. This will go down as one of the NFL's best games of the 2013 season.
I was not one bit surprised how well that Cole Beasley played in this game against the Broncos. There were plenty of times during the week while studying this defense, where I felt like using Beasley as that mismatch player out of the slot, could pay off for this offense today. What Beasley showed in this game that he was more than just a slot player. There were some plays where he ran routes from the outside which is a look that the Cowboys had not shown this season. The screen play to him down on the goal line, was also another creative design by this coaching staff to take advantage of not only his quickness but his ability to secure the ball on the move. Cole Beasley might be a one trick pony but today, he showed me that he is a much more than that. Photos from the Broncos-Cowboys game >>
Here we're the gut feelings for staff writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, David Helman and Rowan Kavner, posted Saturday afternoon.
I feel a lot better about this game now than I did on Monday, but I'm not sure exactly how good. The Cowboys were unable to fluster Philip Rivers last week, which doesn't give me much confidence they'll be able to get to Peyton Manning on Sunday. The linebackers' performances in San Diego, combined with Morris Claiborne's recent struggles don't give me much faith the Dallas defense can slow down the Broncos. I think Tony Romo and Co. are up to the challenge of keeping up, and I think they'll be able to put 28 to 31 points on the board. Manning will make the difference, however, and I see the Broncos making a play late to ice a seven to 10-point victory.
Time to see just what this Cowboys team is really made of, in particular its defense. The Cowboys have let two teams pass for more than 400 yards through four weeks, and Peyton Manning hasn't even come to town yet. The Dallas defense has to ready itself for the best passing attack it may ever see, and that's with Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees still on the horizon. The linebackers and secondary have had their struggles against much lesser receiving threats than the ones posed by the Broncos. They'll need to take their drops and their reads to another level to help their offense out, and both Dez Bryant and Jason Witten need to be near perfect. In the end, the Broncos simply have too many answers offensively to keep up.
The NFL is a crazy league and it always seems like we end up seeing the opposite of what everyone thinks will happen. But in this case, I just see the Broncos being too strong. However, Manning has not thrown an interception all year but I'm predicting he will throw one early in the game, maybe even on the first drive. And why not, why not say Morris Claiborne will get it? I really think the Cowboys will have some success on offense, particularly on the ground. And I can see where the Cowboys take a lead into the third quarter. But Peyton Manning continues to score and the Broncos pull it out in a high-scoring affair. I can see Terrance Williams getting his first touchdown this week.
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This matchup for the Cowboys and Broncos could come down to two of the shortest players in the NFL. What Wes Welker and Cole Beasley lack in height, they make up for it in play making ability. Welker has been successful over a number of years and at a very high level. Beasley is just starting his career and hopes to one day even be mentioned in the same breath as Welker. What they both bring to their clubs, is that ability to be a mismatch player. To work out of the slot and put pressure on a defense right now with a subtle move. Where these players, are so dangerous is how they perform in space. Their stop-start quickness, is hard to defend. My gut feeling tells me the Cole Beasley will have a big game against the Broncos on 3rd down and will make several key catches that keep drives going.