Rams scored a season high in a year they came into this game averaging just 12.4 points a game, but it's the most points they have scored in the past 16 games and the second most in the past 22. And, of course, the 24 points the Rams scored in the first half, taking a 24-7 lead, were five more than their season high thanks to those three first-quarter touchdowns - a first for them since 2001, circa "Greatest Show on Turf."
Feel that pit in your stomach swelling yet?
"We just haven't played well over the past four weeks," Zach Thomas said.
And because of that, do not hand this team a soft pillow to rest its head upon. Do not give them an excuse about not being fired up to play or that it doesn't have any sense of urgency or that injuries were the culprit, although, collectively they certainly do take their toll. And do not blame this all on Brad Johnson having to start for the four-fingered Romo, who couldn't quite convince anyone he was ready to go during team warmups on Sunday. Lastly, do not blame this on a week's full of distractions, for as Greg Ellis said, none of the stuff of last week happened on Sunday.
Think about what beat the Cowboys on this day after Johnson led them on a 74-yard touchdown drive to open the game, their first opening-drive touchdown in five games:
- Took just 1:51 to realize Roy Williams was back on the field, Rams quarterback Marc Bulger hitting rookie Donnie Avery on a 42-yard post, beating Anthony Henry to the inside and Williams in an all-too familiar position, trailing in their wake.
- On third-and-nine from their 23 the following possession, with Johnson barking out signals, Andre Gurode prematurely snapped the ball, sailing past the unsuspecting quarterback in shotgun for a 15-yard loss, forcing brand new punter Sam Paulescu to hit his first Cowboys punt from the shadows of his own goal line. The ball went a meager 36 yards, setting the Rams up on their second scoring drive, but first touchdown of the season from inside the red zone if that can possibly sink in.
- Then two offensive plays later, Johnson's batted pass at the line of scrimmage is intercepted by Rams linebacker Will Witherspoon, and yep on first-and-goal from the one, the Rams had their second red zone touchdown of the season and a 21-7 lead.
And wait, that all would have been bad enough for one quarter, but here came one more shot to the lower abdominal wall: Marion Barber, after a 13-yard gain on a dump pass over the middle to burn the blitzing Rams, fumbles the ball - again - wiping out any hopes of a scoring drive with 55 seconds remaining in the first quarter. This, too, is a troubling trend since Barber has fumbled five times in seven games, now losing two.
So when Josh Brown hit his 52-yard field goal late in the second quarter, the Cowboys found themselves down 24-7 at halftime, in need of some serious magic. But, unfortunately, Boy Wonder was on the sideline only able to supply moral support and insight, not the heroics we've come to expect from Romo.
Now before we dismount here, there are two more troubling trends contributing to this downward spiral, where it ends, nobody knows at this point. The Cowboys offensive line is not playing well, Johnson getting sacked three times and getting hit another umpteen it seemed just a continuation of the pocket abuse Romo had been taking and why he was sitting on the sideline with a broken finger instead of breaking a previously porous Rams defense's heart.
Two, the Cowboys are unable to run the ball consistently, the operative word being "consistently" here. Yeah, I know it says Barber had 18 carries for 100 yards but 17 of those carries went for just 65 yards - 3.8 yards per carry. And worse, of those 100 yards, 21 came in the fourth quarter on two carries after the Rams took their 34-7 lead and could give a hoot if Barber ran the ball.
And this against the league's 30th team against the run coming into the game and the 31st in total defense. Are we to assume Haslett is some miracle worker?
To compound the Cowboys growing problems and concern hovering