Dallas Escapes at Home

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Photo by: Richard A. Brightly/Icon SMI

The wins just seem to keep getting more and more difficult. This time the Cowboys escaped with a 23-20 win over the Browns in overtime, but at this point in the season the only thing that matters to them is that they got a big 1 in the win column. The win brings them to 5-5 on the year, and only one game back of a tie for the lead in first place of the NFC East. This one seemed far from certain, however, as the Cowboys needed to rally twice just to stave off the upset-minded Browns. Tony Romo threw for over 300 yards and a touchdown, and Felix Jones added a rushing score, both in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys needed every score on a day where they just could not get anything going in the first three quarters.

Despite missing cornerback Joe Haden and playing on the road, it was the Browns who jumped out to an early lead in this game. Brandon Weeden hit Benjamin Watson on a 10 yard strike in the first quarter to give the Browns a 7-0 lead, and Phil Dawson added two field goals in the second quarter to give Cleveland a surprising 13-0 halftime lead. The Cowboys continued to struggle until the fourth quarter, when the offense finally began to click. Early in the fourth, Felix Jones plunged in from two yards to cut the deficit to 13-10, but Dallas needed a big play from Tony Romo to finally jump ahead. With 7 minutes left, Romo escaped the pocket to his left and hit Dez Bryant in the corner of the end zone to give Dallas a 17-13 lead. Shortly after, however, bad Tony Romo reared its ugly head, as Romo failed to protect the ball and fumbled with just under 5 minutes left. The Browns drove to the 1 before being stopped, but they stopped Dallas on three straight plays to get the ball back in good position with just over a minute remaining. On the first play after the punt, Weeden hit Watson again over the middle for a 20-17 lead. Dallas responded by driving down the field, aided by two costly Browns penalties, and kicked the game tying field goal. Then, after trading possessions in overtime, Dallas finally sustained a drive, and with 6 minutes remaining Dan Bailey kicked the game winning field goal, propelling Dallas to a 5-5 record and establishing a firm foothold in the NFC east picture.

This appeared to be a season killing loss until the final minute of the game. As I mentioned in my preview, Dallas would need to control the ball and limit turnovers to win the game, and that is exactly what they did. They certainly made the game interesting though, spotting Cleveland a 13 point lead before clawing their way back, and then (in classic Cowboy fashion) seemingly handing Cleveland the game with a Romo fumble and a Weeden touchdown. However, just in the nick of time Dallas benefited from a couple of penalties to put them in field goal range, and the defense did its job from that point through the rest of overtime to ensure that Dallas could win the game. Up next for Dallas is a Thursday Thanksgiving game against the rival Redskins, in what promises to be a great game, and one that could vault the Cowboys further into the postseason conversation.

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