The offensive starters for the Dallas Cowboys began to shine on their third possession, after a slow first two series that were set back by holding penalties, Saturday against the visiting Minnesota Vikings and their head coach Mike Zimmer. Tony Romo was magical once the offense shook off some early season rust and a couple of drive ending holding calls. The first team looked to be in mid-season form against a respectable defense.
Romo found Terrance Williams on a crossing pattern and once T Will had the ball there was no one able to catch him as he took the play 60 yards for Dallas’ first score.
The kickoff team gave up a 107 yard touchdown to Minnesota’s return specialist Cordarrelle Paterson following the Romo to Williams touchdown. It was a combination of the Cowboys over pursuing and the talent of Paterson that made the kick off team look bad. However, the good news is – the special teams looked much better after that return.
This will NOT be a one dimensional team! Darren McFadden carried the ball 4 times for 37 yards and that is an average of over 9 yards per carry. This offensive line is going to produce at least one 1000 yard rusher this season.
McFadden’s run was set up by a big punt return from Cole Beasley. Beasley returned a punt 36 yards to get the momentum headed back in the Cowboys’ favor. McFadden’s run set up an 8 yard touchdown pass from Romo to rookie wide receiver Lucky Whitehead. Romo bought time with one of his patented spin moves, protected the ball, reset and delivered a strike to a wide open Whitehead.
Romo finished his preseason by going 5-8 with two touchdowns.
Brandon Carr was the victim of a perfectly thrown ball from Teddy Bridgewater to Mike Wallace early in the game. Carr had decent coverage, but the pass was thrown only where Wallace had a chance to make the play. This set up Minnesota’s first score. Carr did not let this big play hurt his confidence. Later in the game, Carr came away with an interception where he had perfect coverage on the play and took the ball out of the hands of the wide receiver for the teams’ first takeaway of the preseason.
Saturday’s dress rehearsal also included the return of Sean Lee, one of the defensive Captains who has not seen live game action since December of 2013. Lee had two stops inside the red zone which forced Minnesota to resort to a field goal. Lee also blew up the Vikings’ full back on a play allowing Andrew Gachkar to make a tackle which forced Minnesota into a punting situation.
Andrew Gachkar started the game at the Mike position and he was really solid playing next to Sean Lee. I thought the combination of Lee and Gachkar looked natural and both players were making quality stops. Lee left the game before the half ended, but Gachkar remained on the field at the Mike. Gachkar was a solid off-season acquisition and he has been very good in each of the last two games.
The first team defense came to play. With Nick Hayden and Tyrone Crawford starting in the middle of the line they looked stout. The first team held the Vikings to a total of 18 yards rushing in the first half. Rookie Randy Gregory continued his good start forcing several quarterback hurries.
Dustin Vaughan came in to replace Romo mid-way through the second quarter. Vaughan did not have an outstanding evening. There were several plays where the number three quarterback should have been able to extend drives, but Gavin Escobar, Ben Malena and Tyler Clutts all had dropped passes. Even though you could plainly see the frustration on Dustin’s face, to his credit, he did not lose his composure and he did not turn the ball over. Vaughan will need to show more in the preseason finale if he has any hopes of sticking around this season.
The Cowboys showed their fire power with the first stringers on the field. Romo was in terrific form. The running game looked as potent as ever and the defense starters didn’t allow a touchdown. It was a good evening for the dress rehearsal and the Stars did shine last night in Texas.
Whitebear560.com – Whitebear560 Facebook – @Whitebear560 Twitter.