ARLINGTON, Texas –Sean Lee and Bruce Carter have a very bright future with the Dallas Cowboys, but neither could be of any help in the second half against the Washington Redskins. Both inside linebackers were out of the game with injuries. Filling in for them were two veteran linebackers in Ernie Sims and Dan Connor.
It's hard not to feel the effects of not having two players like Carter and Lee, but Sims and Connor did a good job of compensating for their absence. Sims is a former top-10 draft pick of the Detroit Lions who has bounced around the league in recent years. The Cowboys picked him up after the season-ending surgery to Lee. Connor spent his first four years with the Carolina Panthers before signing with the Cowboys last offseason.
Sims had four tackles in the game and Connor recorded three of his own, including one for a loss.
Both players may have to play prominent roles in the defense going forward. After a great first half, Carter went down in the third quarter with an elbow injury. Following the game Carter said that the plan was to undergo an MRI to see how serious the injury is.
Cowboys Unable To Run The Ball
The Cowboys brought something of a makeshift offensive line into the game against the Redskins. Their two primary centers, Phil Costa and Ryan Cook, were both inactive with injuries. Mackenzy Bernadeau moved from guard to center.
In order to replace Bernadeau at guard, Derrick Dockery was moved to the starting lineup. Tyron Smith was active for the game, but did not start due to an ankle injury, which put Jermey Parnell into the starting lineup.
All things considered, the Cowboys' pass blocking was not especially bad. Romo was sacked twice for a combined 18 yards. However, Dallas' running game was almost nonexistent. Dallas only rushed the ball 11 times for a total of 35 yards. They only handed the ball off to a running back nine times in the game.
In the second half, Dallas ran the ball only twice.
The fact that the Cowboys were playing from behind nearly the entire game undoubtedly contributed to the low rushing numbers, but the fact of the matter is that the Dallas was never able to establish even a semblance of a running game.
In the few times that the Cowboys did run the ball, there seemed to be no openings with which to gain yardage, causing Dallas to quickly abandon the run. It resulted in 62 pass attempts for Romo.
The Redskins threw the ball 28 times and ran the ball 30 times for a total of 142 yards on the ground.
Dan Bailey was true on all three of his field goal tries, including a 51-yarder, which tied his career long. It was the third time he's hit a 51-yard field goal. The first was against St. Louis (Oct. 23, 2011) and the second was against the Giants (Oct. 28, 2012).
Dez Bryantled the team with a career-high-tying 145 yards and a pair of touchdowns on eight catches. He had an 85-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. It was the longest catch of his career, tied for the ninth-longest play in team history and was the longest pass reception by a Cowboy since Jason Tucker had a 90-yard touchdown catch against the Giants on Jan. 2, 2000.
Bryant's145 yards gave him 2,369 for his career and allowed him to pass Daryl Johnston (2,227), Preston Pearson (2,274), Raghib Ismail (2,281), Joey Galloway (2,341) and Bill Howton (2,368) for 21st in franchise history.
Bryant'smultiple touchdown reception game was his second multi-touchdown game of the season and fourth of his career. It also gave him 21 career touchdown catches to move past Butch Johnson (19) and Terry Glenn (20) for 14th in franchise history.
Bryant's 145-yard outing tied the second-most yards by a Cowboys receiver on Thanksgiving Day. Michael Irvin has the high (157 – vs. Pittsburgh, Nov. 28 1991) and both Lance Rentzel (vs. St. Louis, Nov. 23, 1967) and Miles Austin (vs. Oakland, Nov. 26, 2009) were also tied for second with 145 each.
Tyrone Crawford had his first career sack (for 0 yards). It occurred in the second quarter.
Charlie Peprah intercepted his first pass as a Cowboy in the fourth quarter. It was the eighth pick of his career.
Tony Romo finished the game completing 37-of-62 passes for 441 yards with three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Romo's 62 attempts tied his club record while his 37 completions were a career-best and second in franchise history. His 441 yards were a career-high and good for third in franchise history.
Romo's 85-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant was the longest pass completion of his career. It also tied the ninth-longest completion in franchise history and was the longest since a 90-yard Troy Aikman-to-Jason Tucker scoring hookup against the Giants on Nov. 2, 2000.
Romo's three scoring throws gave him 92 touchdowns in home games to pass Danny White (91) for the most home touchdowns in franchise history. Romo accomplished the feat in his 47th home appearance while White did it in 84.
Romo's three touchdown tosses gave him 165 for his career and tied him with Troy Aikman for the all-time Cowboys club record.
Romo's441 passing yards was his fifth 300-yard game of the season and the 37th of his career. Dallas now holds a 23-14 (.622) record when Romo tops 300 yards.
Romo's 441 yards was his second 400-yard game of the season and the third of his career. Romo's three career 400-yard games sets a club record while his two this season also establish a single-season club record.
Romo threw for 441 yards to give him 3,357 for the season. Romo now has five 3,000-yard seasons to tie Troy Aikman for the most in team history.
Romo's three touchdown tosses gave him 17 for Thanksgiving. He broke a tie with Danny White for the most touchdown throws on Thanksgiving Day in Cowboys record books.
Jason Witten led the team with nine catches to give him 82 for the season, his sixth season with at least 80 receptions. Witten's six 80-catch seasons ties Tony Gonzalez for the most all-time among league tight ends. Witten's six also tie Gonzalez and six others for the sixth-most 80-catch seasons among all pass catchers in NFL history. Jerry Rice has the NFL record with 12.