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Notes: Rookie Learns Fast; Melton Banged Up & More


ST. LOUIS - If nothing else, credit Anthony Hitchens for being a fast learner.

In his first NFL start, the Cowboys' rookie linebacker made one tackle for a loss, and it just so happened to come on a crucial 4th-and-1 in the Dallas red zone. The reason why Hitchens was able to knife into the backfield and stonewall Zac Stacy was simple -- he knew the play.

"They ran the play earlier in the game already," he said. "I was just reading my keys, and once I seen the guard pull, I shot the gap."

The tackle, which held St. Louis to a 24-20 lead, was the highlight of a solid debut for Hitchens. You wouldn't confuse him with Sean Lee, as the Cowboys surrendered 448 total yards and allowed four yards per carry. That said, Hitchens led all tacklers with 13 stops and wasn't picked on by the Rams' efficient attack.

"I'm more of a guy to focus on the bad things I did in this game and not the good, so I can just keep improving," he said. "I still have a lot of room for improvement, and my team expects me to improve."

Hitchens said it was nerve-wracking making his starting debut, and on the road, no less. Fortunately for him, the two injured veterans he replaced -- Rolando McClain and Justin Durant -- were on hand to offer encouragement.

"I had nerves. If you don't get nervous for this game, something is wrong with you, so I had nerves early on," he said. "As the game kept going, I had JD and Ro on the sideline telling me 'Come on, just play football. You're alright. You've been doing this your whole life.'"

Groin Problem

For the last two years it was hamstring injuries. But 2014 has seen an abundance of groin injuries.

Rolando McClain and Justin Durant were both out of the game Sunday, nursing groin injuries. Now the team can add Henry Melton to the list once again. Melton suffered the setback Sunday afternoon and missed some time against the Rams, but did return to the field in the fourth quarter.

"Melton had a little twinge but played with it," owner Jerry Jones said. "He took himself out right at the end. But he played with it for most of the day."

Melton finished the day with one tackle but a fumble recovery.

Melton had some groin issues back in training camp as he was also rehabbing his knee injury from last season.

Jones said he hoped both Durant and McClain could return to practice this week and play against the Saints. It's more likely Durant would be able to but McClain is still a week out and wasn't able to do much of anything last week in practice.

-Nick Eatman

Fight Club

Executive vice president Stephen Jones believes the Cowboys are starting to define a distinct characteristic about their play.

After winning on the road in Week 2 and overcoming a 21-0 deficit to beat the Rams in St. Louis, Jones believes this Cowboys team is all about fight. That was the team's mantra at training camp, where they wore T-shirts bearing only that five-letter word.

"We're starting, I think, to define our team as fighters," Jones said. "We're not going to give up, and we're not going to give up in what we do well, which is run the ball."

Jones also said quarterback Tony Romo was "starting to look a little Tony-esque" in the win, particularly late in the game as the Cowboys mounted their comeback. But even when they did that, DeMarco Murray stayed involved to get his third straight 100-yard rushing game.

"We didn't get away from running the ball," Jones said. "They stacked it, and we kept running it."

-Rowan Kavner

Quick Hits

  • The Dallas Cowboys came back from a 21-point deficit through the second quarter to mark the most points overcome to win a game in a non-overtime game in team history. Sunday's outcome also tied the 21 vs. New Orleans (10/21/84, OT) and 21 at Washington (9/12/99, OT) for overall games including overtime as both of those games were overtime victories
  • The win Sunday improved Dallas' 2014 record to 2-1, the fourth consecutive season (2011-14) the team has started with that record and the 25th time overall in team history
  • Sunday's win marked the 12th straight win on the team's third game of the season, dating back to 2003 (9/28 @ N.Y. Jets)
  • Sunday marked the first time the team had back-to-back road wins since 2012 at Philadelphia (11/11) and at Cincinnati (12/9).
  • Dan Bailey hit two field goals Sunday to up his consecutive field goal streak to 28 to move past Chris Boniol (1995) to establish the longest consecutive field goals made streak in team history.
  • With one touchdown Sunday, Bryant moved his career receiving touchdown total to 42 to break a tie Billy Joe DuPree for sole possession of seventh on the team's all-time receiving touchdowns list.
  • DeMarco Murray posted 100 yards against the Rams to give him 3,066  for his career and allow him to hit the 3,000 career rushing yards to become the 10th player in team history to reach that mark.
  • With 100 yards in each of the first three games of the season, Murray became only the third player in team history to accomplish that feat, joining Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith. It also ties for the second-longest streak with Dorsett's 1981 total. Smith owns the franchise record with four 100-yard rushing games to start the 1995 season. [embedded_ad]
  • With Sunday's win, Tony Romo earned his 21st come-from-behind victory – a franchise best - in the fourth quarter or overtime. The last time he did it was a 24-23 victory at Washington (12/22/13)
  • Tony Romo had 18 completions to move his career total to 2,499 to surpass Jake Plummer (2,484) for 37th on the NFL's all-time completions list
  • With his touchdown pass Sunday, Romo continued his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown through 31 games – the longest streak in franchise history - and broke a tie with Dan Marino and Ben Roethlisberger for the sixth-longest streak in NFL history while also serving as the second-longest active streak, behind Peyton Manning's 41 straight games.
  • With one touchdown pass Sunday, Romo extended his NFL record streak to 35 consecutive games with a touchdown pass on the road. His streak began on Oct. 11, 2009 at Kansas City.
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