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Scout's Eye: Final Drive, Fourth-Down Call Among 12 Thoughts

  • I am always looking for indicators that will tell me what I might learn about a team in future games. Today I had to look no further than that final offensive drive for the Cowboys that netted the Dan Bailey field goal. In my opinion, there is nothing more difficult for an offense to have to deal with than a four-minute drive to kill a game. For the Cowboys to take the ball with 5:28 left, knowing that their defensive teammates were in trouble, and reel off 10 gut-busting plays to take 4:29 off the clock was both mentally and spiritually uplifting for the defense. The desire of DeMarco Murray not to be denied, along with the gutsy call and throw by Tony Romo, are the types of situations in games that tell you a great deal about the makeup of a team going forward and their ability to finish games.
  • I agree with Jason Garrett when he says that he has to look at the tape to try and figure out how guys might have played in a game, and this is surely the case in regards to Jermey Parnell. From my seat in the press box, it appeared that Parnell struggled early in the game with Mathias Kiwanuka and his ability to get up the field on the rush. There were snaps where Parnell was chasing him, trying to work him past Romo, and for the most part he was successful. In the second half I thought he did a much better job with his pass-set and technique in the way that he was able to handle Kiwanuka's rush. Parnell wasn't Doug Free, but it also appeared that he didn't have many mistakes, especially once he settled in.
  • It sounds like a broken record, but there was a time when Dez Bryant would have had the start to a game like he did against the Giants and you would have not seen or heard from him the remainder of the day. To the Giants' credit, I thought that their corners did a really nice job of covering him early and frustrated him a bit. Where Bryant has developed as a more complete receiver is when he is not at his very best and still finds ways to overcome those poor starts by continuing to run his routes with purpose and find ways to get open. What I have learned about Bryant is that all it ever takes with him is that one catch, and once he gets that, they will most likely happen in bunches. That was the case on Sunday.  
  • It was nice to see Terrell McClain show up in this game from that under-tackle spot. I was starting to have my doubts that all that praise that I put on him from those OTAs were not going to be seen. The coaches continued to have faith in him and he finally lived up to that player I believed he could become. Now he just needs to continue to build on this going forward in the rotation.
  • At the time I agreed with Garrett when he decided to punt on that fourth-and-1 in the second half. He had a seven-point lead and pinning the Giants in their own end of the field was the right decision. I wasn't expecting the turnover, but with Eli Manning in the pocket, you never know what was going to happen. My thought was at worse you could have worked with a short field and taken advantage of that. The turnover was a huge bonus, which made the decision even smarter.
  • Gavin Escobar has quietly been dealing with a knee injury and he continues to play through it. He is finally starting to regain some of that mobility that he had in training camp and you can see it in the way he was moving up the field, especially on his second touchdown catch where he tracked the ball and hauled it in. From the end zone you knew that Romo was going in that direction the entire time due to where the safety was playing. Escobar will continue to get opportunities just like Terrance Williams, Lance Dunbar, Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris have, too. He might be a quiet kid, but he plays with a lot of toughness, and he needs to get credit for that.
  • I am honestly surprised that the Giants went after Sterling Moore in this game and not Brandon Carr. I would have lost my paycheck that Manning was going to take a vertical shot on Carr with Odell Beckham, but it was Moore that the Giants determined was the one that needed to be attacked.
  • I talked about the game that Escobar had catching the ball against the Giants, but Romo could have worn these Giants linebackers and safeties out with Jason Witten if he wanted to. There are games where certain defenses can attempt to match up with Witten and try to take him out of the game. That wasn't the case at all with the Giants. Witten was 2-for-2 on targets and catches, but I made the comment on Twitter during the game that Romo should think about going in his direction more because I felt like he was open the majority of the time. I can't tell you how many times I had my eyes focused on him and he had separation in the secondary. But, we shouldn't expect anything different from him.
  •  It's never easy to have to deal with Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, and I knew going into the game that it was going to be a tough assignment, even for a player that has the talent level of Tyron Smith. I am again interested to see how this tape looks on Monday, but my gut doesn't tell me that Smith was a good as he had been against Pierre-Paul and in games in the past. I might be totally off there, but this might not have been one of Smith's best games. I will take a very close look at it and come up with an opinion.
  • Seeing Larry Donnell on tape and now live, the Giants have got a big-time talent on that offense. He will be a headache for defensive coordinators for future years to come with his ability to not only get down the field, but also catch the ball as well. Big man with very soft hands. He was a problem for these Cowboys linebackers and safeties throughout the game.
  • Linebacker Keith Smith was brought up from the practice squad to dress for this game, but he did not play a snap. We had also seen that earlier in the season when Corey Toomer did that for two games. To make that move, the Cowboys had to put defensive tackle Ken Bishop on waivers. The former personnel man in me was sick to have to expose Bishop, and I am sure there are several guys in the front office that are hoping he goes unclaimed on Monday at 3 p.m., so they can put him on the practice squad.
  • The Orange Nike Shoes are now 6 – 0 on the season and are looking forward to next Monday night against the Redskins.   
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