Special Teams Falter Early And Late

while, dating back to preseason. Sure, that's not a true test to measure, considering many starters are not playing on offense and defense, meaning the special teams units are usually just a hodgepodge of players thrown together at the last minute.

Still, there's no reason to be giving up huge return yards and that's what we saw in the preseason.

In the regular season, it's been better, but still some problems here and there. Last week against the Bengals, the Cowboys regained the momentum and led 24-16 late in the third quarter after a Terrell Owens touchdown, only to surrender a 70-yard kickoff return that led to a Cincinnati touchdown.

"It's a been a problem - not just today," said Burnett. "We've seen this coming. And it's not Bruce Read's fault. It's on us - the players. We are not getting the job done. We are not making the plays we need to make. Whether it's missed assignments or missing tackles, we're not getting it done."

In this game, it seemed to be a little bit of both.

On Barry Sanders' kickoff return . . . I mean, J.J. Arrington, it looked like four different guys should've made the tackle. The Cowboys even forced him to the sideline, which is what you want to do when he's made it through the first wave of defenders. But then he cuts it back and there's no one there to bring him down. Personally, I saw Justin Rogers get smashed in the back, but I'm sure that happens on every play. Not making excuses here.

Although it looked like bad tackling, Burnett said he expects to see more missed assignments when the team reviews the film on Monday.

"I haven't seen the play, but I can bet money that if you let a guy go (93) yards for a touchdown, somebody didn't do their job," Burnett said. "We probably could've made a play. We should've made a play. But you don't give up kickoff returns for touchdowns without making mistakes."

As for the blocked punt, it didn't appear to be a missed assignment more than just the Cardinals winning an individual battle and making a play.

"I think we just missed a block," said Read. "That's all I could tell right now. We just lost the game."

Davis is the up-man on the punt team, standing about five yards off the ball. He said Morey had blocked him all game long and he noticed he had moved out wider to the left side of the punt team. When Davis started to head up the field to cover the punt, he noticed Morey didn't run with him this team. That's when he heard the double-thud.

"I heard that and heard the crowd," Davis said. "I knew it was over right then."

And it's shame it ended like that. The Cowboys had a miraculous comeback, scoring 10 points in about two minutes to tie the game.

But so much for momentum. The Cowboys win the toss and then go three-and-out and get a punt blocked for a touchdown.

The offense had its moments. The defense stepped up as well. But it was special teams that doomed this team at the end. And, at the first, too.

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