<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Blue Star]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcdfw.com/blogs/blue-star http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.png NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth http://www.nbcdfw.com en-us Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:46:38 -0600 Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:46:38 -0600 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Cowboys Lose a Turnover, Gain an Onside Kick]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:42:14 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460474742.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys, especially under Jason Garrett, have not been known as a team to break out the rogue onside kick in a game situation that doesn't necessarily call for it. Garrett has traditionally been very conservative in such instances.

So years from now when folks look back on the pivotal win over the rival Eagles on Sunday and see the Cowboys recovered an onside kick on the opening kickoff, football historians everywhere will have their eyebrows raised.

(Full disclosure: The preceding was a dramatization of a turn of events that will likely never happen)

But that's exactly what the record books will show after Elias Sports Bureau ruled on Wednesday that the opening kickoff was indeed an onside kick, and not a fumble by the Eagles. It's the correct ruling, considering it's fairly clear Josh Huff nor Brad Smith touched the ball before C.J. Spillman recovered it to set up a quick Dez Bryant touchdown catch.

Don't expect the Cowboys to go on a streak of going for onside kicks on the opening kickoff. In fact, that might never happen again in Garrett's tenure, but for one night, anyway, it happened.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[3 Reasons the Colts Will Beat the Cowboys]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:47:37 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460468624.jpg

Last Sunday's win in Philadelphia was the Cowboys' biggest in a few years, but fans who think they can rest easy on the way to the playoffs need to think again.

The Indianapolis Colts come to Arlington — where the Cowboys have struggled this season — having already wrapped up the AFC South with a 10-4 record. Only the Ravens and Patriots are outscoring their competition by more points than the Colts, who also rank third in the NFL in scoring offense.

If the Eagles beat the Redskins and Giants in their final two games, the Cowboys will miss the playoffs with a loss to the Colts. Indianapolis is a dangerous team because of...

1. NFL’s Best Young QB

We’ve heard about the great Andrew Luck since his redshirt freshman year at Stanford, but this season he’s actually exceeding the hype. Put simply, he is the best quarterback in the NFL younger than 30 and it’s not particularly close.

Arm strength, accuracy, pocket presence and movement…name the quality and Luck has it. He is also extremely athletic, posting combine numbers eerily similar to Cam Newton after college, but his intelligence is what sets him apart. He has an understanding of the game uncommon in a third-year quarterback, which has accelerated his learning curve exponentially.

After two relatively mediocre seasons, Luck is finally producing at a level more commensurate with his potential. His Adjusted Yards per Attempt (yards per attempt weighted with touchdowns and interceptions) of 8.0 ranks fifth in the NFL. He has thrown more interceptions than ideal, but it seems like they stem more from calculated risk than inaccuracy or bad decisions.

There’s a very good chance Luck passes for more than 350 yards against the Cowboys Sunday. It can be frustrating, but try to just sit back and enjoy watching an elite quarterback grow up.

2. Young TE Tandem

On the surface, the Cowboys giving up an average of about 60 yards and .5 touchdowns per game to tight ends doesn’t look too bad. But the truth is, tight ends on teams that use them properly have had their way with the Dallas defense.

And not many teams use their tight ends as much as the Colts.

Many draft “experts” raised an eyebrow when Indianapolis selected tight ends in consecutive rounds of the 2012 draft, but tight end Coby Fleener and H-back Dwayne Allen have quietly become two of the more productive tight ends in football (both rank among the NFL’s top 20 in receiving yards).

Fleener is the deep threat you'll see running down the seam a handful of times Sunday. He's averaging 16.4 yards per reception, tops among tight ends with more than 20 catches, and his 15 receptions of 20 yards or more ranks second only to New England’s Rob Gronkowski. Both are redzone favorites, rank fifth (Allen) and sixth (Fleener) among tight ends in touchdowns.

3. An Emerging CB

It’s too early to rank Colts’ cornerback Vontae Davis among the league’s elite, but he’s getting close. He’s always had the size, length, speed and pedigree (brother to 49ers tight end Vernon Davis), and his production is catching up.

The Colts defense is fairly mediocre as a whole, ranking 13th in the NFL in passer rating against (85.5), but Davis has been shutting down receivers — minus a few hiccups — since he held the Broncos’ Demaryius Thomas to 48 yards in Week 1.

Not many defensive backs can shut Dez Bryant out, but Davis is the best cover corner the Cowboys face this season not named Richard Sherman. If Davis can limit Bryant the way he has with comparable receivers this year, the Cowboys offense might struggle to keep up with the Colts.

Bottom Line

Sunday's game between the Cowboys and Colts features two teams in very different playoff positions. The Colts have already won their division and are working on a bye while the Cowboys must win out to ensure they even make the postseason.

The Cowboys have struggled at home (3-4) this year, and now they have to figure out a way to buck the trend against the highest scoring offense they face this season or risk spending another January on the couch.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Four Cowboys Among Leaders in Pro Bowl Voting]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:39:14 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/4599562081.jpg

With the Pro Bowl teams set to be announced next week, the fan balloting portion was closed on Monday, and four Dallas Cowboys are among the leaders at their respective positions in the fan voting, which counts for one-third of the total vote, along with players' and coaches' voting.

Of course, the most obvious of the bunch is running back DeMarco Murray, who was the leading vote-getter for running backs and was the fifth-most voted on player in the league.

One of Murray's main protectors, second-year center Travis Frederick was the top vote-getter among centers.

Two more Cowboys finished second at their respective position in tackle Tyron Smith and kicker Dan Bailey, who somehow managed to not win despite being the best kicker to ever walk the Earth.

The Cowboys have hurt for Pro Bowl players in recent seasons, but it appears they'll be well-represented this year.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[HIstory Favors Cowboys at Home Over Colts]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:29:21 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/459656676.jpg

As you rush around for last-minute Christmas gifts, ponder this: The last time the Cowboys won a home game you were mulling over your Halloween costume.

Yeah, it’s been that long.

The team’s 7-0 road record is as confounding as its continuing futility at home. The Cowboys are 3-4 at AT&T Stadium, last winning way back on Oct. 19 over the Giants. And this “Home Sour Home” trend isn’t new. Since moving into their $1.2 billion stadium in Arlington in 2009, the Cowboys are only a mediocre 26-22 at home.

If the Cowboys lose to the Colts Sunday in their home finale and then beat the Redskins in Washington next week, they would cap arguably the strangest season in NFL history by being the first team to go 8-0 on the road but only 3-5 at home.

In fact, of the other five teams to go 8-0 on the road none finished with fewer than six home wins and all advanced to the conference championship or Super Bowl.

The Cowboys’ feat would not only make history, it would put their playoff hopes in serious peril.

The good news: To cough up their NFC East lead they’ll have to do something that’s happened only once in the last 54 years and twice in the history of ever. Lose to the Colts at home.

It occured in 1960 when quarterback Don Heinrich was out-dueled in front of 25,000 fans in the Cotton Bowl by a guy named Johnny Unitas. And again in 1996, when the defending champs got touchdowns from Emmitt Smith and Deion Sanders but were beaten on a late rally engineered by a guy named Jim Harbaugh.

Whether in Baltimore or Indianapolis, the Colts have always been in the AFC and, therefore, haven’t made many visits to North Texas. They’re 2-5 on the road against Dallas, making them one of the Cowboys’ favorite guests.

No NFL team has been playing the Cowboys longer with less success on the road. Only nine teams have fewer road wins against the Cowboys than the Colts, and all nine began traveling to DFW in 1970 later.

A look at teams’ records in road games against the Cowboys: 

TEAM -- W-L
Eagles -- 22-36
Giants -- 21-33
Redskins -- 17-36
Cardinals -- 11-31
49ers -- 9-8
Rams -- 8-9
Vikings -- 7-7
Browns -- 7-9
Packers -- 6-12
Dolphins -- 5-3
Bears -- 5-7
Steelers -- 5-9
Titans -- 4-3
Saints -- 4-11
Raiders -- 3-2
Broncos -- 3-2
Lions -- 3-8
Falcons -- 3-9
Chargers -- 2-2
Jaguars -- 2-2
Colts -- 2-5
Seahawks -- 2-6
Ravens -- 1-0
Jets -- 1-2
Patriots -- 1-4
Chiefs -- 1-4
Bills -- 1-4
Panthers -- 1-4
Bengals -- 1-5
Buccaneers -- 1-10
Texans -- 0-2



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bryant's Award a Long Time Coming]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:40:04 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460479420.jpg

Dez Bryant has had a pretty decorated career since joining the Dallas Cowboys out of Oklahoma State.

This season, he's leading the NFL in touchdown receptions with one game remaining despite a cold period earlier in the season in which the Cowboys were relying almost exclusively on the running game.

You would've probably thought Bryant would've won NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors before Wednesday, but you'd be wrong as it was his first time winning the award.

Want to hear an even bigger surprise? It was the first time a Cowboys wide receiver had won the award in December since Michael Irvin won the award in 1991 — before the Cowboys' dynasty had even begun.

It's pretty remarkable, actually, that Irvin never won the award during the Cowboys' dominant stretch, and really just as amazing that Terrell Owens didn't pull it off in his few years in a Cowboys uniform.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mock Draft Has Cowboys Going Cornerback]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:37:58 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/187477062.jpg

Don't get too caught up in mock drafts, especially not in December, but when guys like ESPN's Todd McShay release their first mock draft, we have to at least take a gander, right?

That's exactly what McShay did on Wednesday, and the "draft expert" had the Cowboys picking 25th in the draft and taking Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson, a move that would make some decent sense at least from a position-of-need perspective.

McShay said the following about Johnson:

The Dallas defense held up better this season with the help of a dominant running game and ball-control offense, but corner is still a position of need for the Cowboys. Former first-round pick Morris Claiborne was benched this season prior to his season-ending injury, and the Cowboys could use an infusion of youth and talent at the position. Johnson doesn't have elite physical traits, but he's fast and fluid enough as an athlete to keep up with most receivers and is physical and aggressive as a press corner despite his lean frame and shorter arms. His instincts and awareness are excellent.

McShay is right about Claiborne — he's been a monumental bust in terms of where he was selected in the draft and given the fact the Cowboys traded up to get him. There's also the fact that the Cowboys are unlikely to bring Brandon Carr back unless he takes a serious pay cut, which chances are he won't do.

Again, it's really far too early to be talking about mock drafts, but the Cowboys will almost certainly be looking defense, and lots of it, so there's probably something to this.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fantasy Land: Studs and Duds, Week 16]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:40:52 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460474696.jpg

A two-time champion in a hardcore keeper league, including some know-it-all media "experts," Adam Boedeker gives his fantasy expertise on a weekly basis.

Stud of the Week

Tony Romo, QB, DAL — We've heard all week that the Colts' strength on defense is against the pass and they can be run on fairly easily, making it an even bigger story to see if the NFL's leading rusher takes the field with his surgically repaired broken hand. But let's be real, the Colts' defense isn't real great at anything. Romo has had a rough go at home this year, whether it's been because of injury or just bad performance, and in his home finale against the game's best young quarterback, expect a big game from Romo.

Honorable mention: Matt Ryan, ATL (at NO); Mark Ingram, NO (vs. ATL); Joique Bell, DET (at CHI); DeSean Jackson, WAS (vs. PHI)

Dud of the Week

Johnny Manziel, QB, CLE — I know what you're thinking here: The Browns rookie has nowhere to go but up after his horrific NFL starting debut last week, and to some extent, you'd be right. But don't be fooled by how bad the Panthers are, because ther defense is actually pretty solid, and has been especially good this year against quarterbacks. Manziel will not only be hearing it from Panthers defenders, but also from Carolina fans in what will be an awful road start for the former Heisman winner.

Honorable mention: Philip Rivers, SD (at SF); Giovani Bernard, CIN (vs. DEN); Josh Gordon, CLE (at CAR); Larry Fitzgerald (vs. SEA)



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Parnell Ready to Start if Called On]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 16:00:18 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/457517772.jpg

Dallas Cowboys tackle Jermey Parnell is ready to go if Doug Free is unable to play Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts at AT&T Stadium.

Free suffered an ankle injury in the 38-21 victory over the Eagles in Philadelphia and was forced to miss the entire second half. Fortunately, it was not the dreaded high ankle sprain and Jerry Jones himself has expressed optimism that Free will be ready by Sunday afternoon.

But if he can’t, Parnell will step in, as he did on Sunday night.

As a swing tackle in this league, you’ve got to always be prepared,” Parnell said, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “That’s point blank, period. The reps out on the field to in the classroom, just always be prepared, and you’ll be ready.”

If Parnell is thrust into the starting lineup on Sunday, it won’t be the first time this year. Back in October, Free suffered a foot injury, and Parnell ended up starting in three games.

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Crawford Wants a Compliment From Andrew Luck]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 16:00:48 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/458288796.jpg

A couple days ago, a report emerged in the Wall Street Journal detailing Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck’s penchant for sincerely complimenting defenders who lay a big hit on him.

After being told of this peculiar habit, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford wants to be complimented on Sunday when he and the Cowboys face off with Luck and the Colts at AT&T Stadium.

I want to get that compliment if he does it on sacks and stuff,” Crawford told 105.3-FM The Fan on Tuesday, via the Dallas Morning News. “Maybe I can play around with his mind. I’ll say, ‘Thanks man. Maybe we can do it again sometime soon.’ I like being nice. I’m not a mean guy. We’re all trying to be polite.”

Crawford does have three sacks in his last three games--his only three on the season--including two in the Cowboys’ 38-27 victory over the Eagles on Sunday night.

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Murray Nominated For Payton Man of the Year]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 15:58:48 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/4599562081.jpg

DeMarco Murray has been named as the Dallas Cowboys’ nominee for the 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, the NFL announced on Tuesday.

The award honors players for outstanding performance on the field as well as in their community. Each nominee receives $1,000 to donate to the charity of their choice. The three finalists, to be announced next month, get another $5,000 and the winner receives $20,000 to donate.

Murray leads the NFL with 1,687 yards on 351 carries this season, and has caught 54 passes on his way to being considered a serious MVP candidate.

Among those joining Murray as Man of the Year nominees are the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and the Chargers’ Philip Rivers.

The winner of the 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award will be announced on January 31, 2015.

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Randle "Ready to Ride" If Murray Can't Go]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 16:01:27 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/459967304.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys remain optimistic that running back DeMarco Murray will be able to play in Sunday’s matchup with the Indianapolis Colts at AT&T Stadium after suffering a broken bone in his hand against the Eagles, but if he can’t go, Joseph Randle believes he’ll be ready to carry the load.

In fact, Randle says the chance to start won’t change his preparation this week.

I’m ready to ride no matter what,” Randle said, per the Dallas Morning News. “Whatever the situation is I’m ready for it. I’m always one play away so I’ve been approaching every week like I’m the starter.”

Randle has 237 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries in 2014. Lance Dunbar, who will join Randle in filling in for Murray if he’s held out, has 91 yards on 26 carries.

“If my number is called, I’ll be ready if he’s not able to go,” Dunbar said of Murray. “I like to compete. I like to play. If it happens, I would love to get more carries.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Garrett Gives Vote of Confidence to Brandon Carr]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:14:17 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/2013-cowboys-redskins-b-%2860.jpg

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr hasn’t had a great 2014, but the team remains confident in their $50 million man.

In the 38-27 victory over the Eagles on Sunday night, Carr allowed a 72-yard reception to Jeremy Maclin, just the latest in a rough year for the former Chief. He has six pass breakups on the year and a sack, but has yet to record an interception--not exactly what the Cowboys had planned, we imagine, when they brought him in prior to the 2012 season.

He’s done a really nice job in coverage,” head coach Jason Garrett said, per ESPN Dallas. “I think he’s tackling better, and I think he’s showing up more as a physical guy just like the rest of our defense. We’ve got to do a better job of preventing some of those big plays.”

Garrett went so far as to praise Carr’s performance against the Eagles.

“Oh, I thought Brandon did a really nice job in the game and unfortunately, he’s been involved in a couple of plays each of the last few weeks within the game that gives them a big play,” Garrett said. “He does make the gamble on the one (against Philadelphia). If he had a chance to do that over again, you probably would not have made that decision and would have tackled the guy for a 13-yard gain. But he went and made that play. That’s a play he thought he needed to make at that time. He’ll look at it, and he’ll learn from that.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Frank Heinz, NBC DFW]]>
<![CDATA[Expect Murray to Play on Sunday]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:13:17 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/s-demarco_murray_sot_KXAS3YM4_1200x675_372639299622.jpg

Common logic would suggest the chances of DeMarco Murray playing a football game in the NFL on Sunday are probably pretty low — close to zero, in fact.

But logic can't be counted on in situations like this.

Murray broke a bone in his hand on Sunday night, had surgery on Monday, and now is making it a near assumption he'll try to give it a go this Sunday when the Cowboys host the Colts with their season on the line.

And truth be told, it makes a lot of sense.

Murray has been an injury-prone runner dating back to his time in college at Oklahoma, where he missed several big games for the Sooners. Until this year, Murray hadn't played a full season for the Cowboys and missed big games when they could've used him due to injuries.

This season, Murray is finally healthy and the results are showing he's an elite running back as he's on a near-record pace for workload by a running back this year.

Emmitt Smith was known for his toughness and warrior mentality, and he suffered the same injury and had the same surgery back in 1999. He was expected to miss three to six weeks and missed one. That was 15 years ago. You have to figure that medical and technological advances can find some kind of suitable protection for Murray's hand, which mind you, is his left hand when he carries the ball exclusively in his right hand.

On Tuesday, Murray was at the team facility with his hand wrapped and told reporters he felt "great."

With Murray's history of missing some big games and with his free agent contract status approaching and, most importantly, with the magnitude of this upcoming game on Sunday, you can expect if it's at all possible for Murray to play, he will.

]]>
<![CDATA[Power Rankings: NFC East]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:16:53 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460476026.jpg

In a weekly post, we'll talk about where teams in the NFC East sit after each weekend of play.

1. Dallas Cowboys (10-4) — Look at that, the Cowboys have a double-digit win figure and there are still two weeks to play — pretty impressive. For now the Cowboys hold a pretty firm grip on the top spot after their impressive win in Philadelphia on Sunday night handed the Eagles their second straight loss. Now, the Cowboys control their own destiny with two weeks to play, which is all you can ask for as a Cowboys fan.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (9-5) — Two straight losses and two straight poor games for Mark Sanchez and the Chip Kelly offense mean the Eagles are in a bit of desperation mode now. Though they have two cupcakes to close the season, a loss would hand the Cowboys the division and essentially eliminate the Eagles from postseason contention. Now, they have to hope for a Cowboys loss to the Colts or Redskins and win out themselves.

3. New York Giants (5-9) — Like we said last week, Odell Beckham Jr. is worth the price of admission alone if you're a Giants fan, and he proved it once again on Sunday with a three-touchdown showing. There is a large gap between No. 2 and No. 3, but there might be an even larger one between the Giants and the...

4. Washington Redskins (3-11) — Colt McCoy was placed on injured reserve and Robert Griffin III took back over on Sunday, but couldn't lead the Redskins to a win the Giants. So, it appears the team is now RG3's for the final two weeks, whether Jay Gruden likes it or not.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bryant Gets Nod for Weekly Award]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:17:28 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460479400.jpg

Dez Bryant matched New York Giants rookie receiver Odell Beckham on Sunday by catching three touchdown passes, but Bryant was able to get his in primetime in a game to decide first place in the NFC East in the Cowboys' win over the Eagles.

And because of that, Bryant was awarded NFC offensive player of the week honors on Wednesday morning after his six-catch, 114-yard performance. On top of his three touchdowns, he had another catch that helped set up a DeMarco Murray 2-yard touchdown run after the Eagles had taken a brief lead in the third quarter.

Bryant won the award for the first time this season, and it gives him another feather in his cap heading into the offseason when he'll be a free agent looking for a new deal.

His numbers should speak for themselves, however, as he leads all of football with 13 touchdown catches and is now over 1,000 yards on the season.

Bet your bottom dollar that the Cowboys will fork over pretty much whatever Bryant wants because he's proven to be a transcendent talent and has matured a ton since his rookie season.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Columnist Details Cowboys' Ideal Offseason Plan]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:18:01 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/458296770.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys' short-term future is still very much up in the air in what has been the team's best season since the Wade Phillips era, for whatever that is worth. They have 10 wins, and barring disaster they'll finish at least 11-5, but this Sunday's game against a 10-win Colts team will likely determine their postseason fate.

No matter what happens for beyond the regular season, this season can probably be deemed a success for a team that many expected to go somewhere in the neighborhood of 6-10.

The Dallas Morning News columnist Rick Gosselin laid out a pretty sound plan for the Cowboys this offseason, no matter what happens in the next few weeks, while speaking with Norm Hitzges on KTCK The Ticket on Tuesday morning.

Gosselin's plan: Franchise running back DeMarco Murray and give Dez Bryant his long-term contract — the same plan yours truly laid out a while back — but Gosselin added an important bit regarding the 2015 NFL Draft.

Gosselin suggested the Cowboys spend every single pick in the next draft on defense, as their financial situation after bring back Dez and Murray will make it tough for them to spend money on free agents to upgrade the defensive side of the ball.

Gosselin suggested the only way the Cowboys will be able to field a defense is to have a few rookies who are capable of stepping on the field right away and starting on defense, and by law of averages in order for that to happen, they better draft seven or eight defensive players.

It goes against the idea of possibly spending a fourth straight first-round pick on an offensive lineman to further solidify that dominant group, but it might be the best plan for the Cowboys this spring.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[On Deck: Indianapolis Colts]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:39:03 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/colts-cowboys.jpg

On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every Cowboys game during the 2014 season.

The Opponent: The Colts are riding a four-game winning streak, and have proven to be able to win games in several ways, including Sunday's defensive struggle against Houston. The Colts have the best young player in football in quarterback Andrew Luck, who is having an MVP-caliber season.

Past Meetings: The Cowboys are 9-6 all-time against the Colts with the Cowboys winning the last two meetings. The last time the teams played was in 2010 when the Cowboys notched an overtime win in Indy.

Key Matchup: Colts tight ends vs. Cowboys secondary — Everyone knows about T.Y. Hilton and how dangerous the young wideout is, but the Cowboys have struggled against tight ends this year and the Colts have two very good ones. Coby Fleener has 682 yards and six touchdowns this season, and Dwayne Allen has established himself as one of the league's most dangerous red-zone threats with 395 yards on 29 catches — eight of those going for touchdowns.

Who's Hot: Luck didn't have his best statistical game of the year in Sunday's defensive game against the Texans, but he did still manage to toss two touchdown passes and throw for 187 yards. But on the season, Luck has been phenomenal with 4,492 passing yards to go with his 38 touchdown passes.

The list is long here. Tony Romo was great on Sunday night, tossing three touchdown passes — all to a red-hot Dez Bryant. Jason Witten had one of his better games of the year with seven grabs for 69 yards and the Cowboys' defense forced three turnovers while getting another on special teams.

Who's Not: The Colts' run defense has struggled this season, which would be reason for DeMarco Murray to be licking his chops had he not had hand surgery on Monday and was not currently a question mark for Sunday.

Murray was held under 100 yards for the second time in as many games against the Eagles, but he still scored twice. A small feather in the cap of the Eagles, however, was the fact they have now held the league's leading rusher to two of his worst three rushing performances of the season.

]]>
<![CDATA[Dez Bryant Still Improving]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:09:44 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460479420.jpg

Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones told reporters this week that, by his estimation, Dez Bryant’s three-touchdown performance in the 38-27 victory over the Eagles on Sunday night was the best of his young career--and perhaps it was.

But both head coach Jason Garrett and Bryant himself believe he still has a ways to go before he reaches his full potential.

There is so much room for improvement,” Garrett said, per the Dallas Morning News. “The way you get better is you come to work every day. It’s important to him. He loves it. And he gets well-coached. He gets coached hard.”

Bryant went to his first career Pro Bowl last year, and with 79 catches, 1,148 yards and 13 touchdowns on the year, certainly looks poised to return in 2014.

“I learn new things and things just become easier by the day,” Bryant said. “It’s almost kind of scary to me just because of the fact of how much I love the game, not only myself, I want my teammates to be great.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Garrett: Zack Martin Was "Just Fantastic"]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:10:27 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456305802.jpg

It wasn’t until after the Cowboys 38-27 victory over the Eagles that we learned that rookie right guard Zack Martin had suffered an ankle injury early on in that game, as Martin played the entire contest--and played well.

Zack was just fantastic,” head coach Jason Garrett told the team’s website. “He hurt that ankle early on in the game and just kept playing and fought through it, really a tough, tough individual, really mature guy. I thought he handled that situation well.”

The Cowboys are optimistic that both Martin and Doug Free, who also suffered an ankle injury on Sunday night, will be able to play against the Colts on Sunday. Free actually had to leave the game, and missed the entire second half, where Martin didn’t miss a beat.

“I twisted it, and we’ll see how it is,” Martin said. “But I just taped it up and got back to it.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jason Garrett Still Preaching "Fight"]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:10:57 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460474742.jpg

Back in training camp, head coach Jason Garrett and the Dallas Cowboys donned workout shirts with the concise message, “FIGHT” printed on the front.

Every day it’s a fight to be your best, whatever your field of endeavor you have,” Garrett explained back in July, according to the Dallas Morning News. “We talk about that a lot, and it’s really an important thing to understand. This is a unique opportunity that we all have--to play and coach for the Dallas Cowboys in the National Football League.”

Five months later, Garrett is still preaching the importance of fighting and, on Sunday, the team did just that.

Trailing the Eagles 24-21 late in the third quarter after blowing a 21-point first half lead, it looked like the team was on their way to another December collapse. But the collapse didn’t happen. Rather, the team battled back, and finished with a crucial 38-27 victory.

"The people who are most successful in life and the teams that are the most successful have a lot of [fight, will and determination]," Garrett said Sunday, per ESPN Dallas. "I think we demonstrated that tonight. Obviously got off to a really good start. They're a good football team. We knew they were going to battle back. We knew it was going to be 60 minutes. I thought we made real critical plays in all three areas to help us win this game. Obviously the overriding factor was out will and our fight and our determination to get it done."

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jerry: Premature to Call 2014 a Success]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:11:54 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/457124380.jpg

Just about anyone would agree that, at 10-4 midway through the month of December, the Dallas Cowboys have exceeded expectations in 2014. But owner and general manager believes it would be premature to declare the year a success at this point.

It’s difficult for me to admit that at this time,” Jones told 105.3-FM The Fan, via the Dallas Morning News. “We have a team that’s good enough to not only be in the playoffs, but in my mind, advance in the playoffs. And now that we know that, now that we’ve seen it evolve into that, then I do want to see what it could do in the tournament.

“And I’m pretty positive about how we’re playing and if we can continue to potentially get a little better, which I think that game in Philadelphia will make us better. And if we continue to have those types of experiences and minimize the health issues, the injury issues, then I’m not ready to say this is a good season no matter what.”

The Cowboys are currently in first place in the NFC east, but they still have work to do. They’ll face the Colts at AT&T Stadium on Sunday before finishing the season against the Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, MD--and if they finish with the same record as the Eagles, Dallas will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season.

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Optimistic About Doug Free]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:12:35 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/doug-free-giants.jpg

Just a couple days after Doug Free suffered an ankle injury late in the first half of the 38-27 victory over the Eagles, the Dallas Cowboys are optimistic about the veteran right tackle’s status going into Sunday’s matchup with the Colts at AT&T Stadium.

That’s not to say the team isn’t at all concerned with the injury, though.

Doug has been working with this ankle, and it is a concern,” Jones told 105.3-FM The Fan, via the Dallas Morning News. “I have every reason to believe, though, that by the time Sunday gets here that we’ll be able to get him out there and get some play out of him. That’s going to be the way this injury is probably for the rest of the year, to some degree.”

Free missed the entire second half of the Eagles game with the injury, and was replaced by Jermey Parnell. Parnell stepped in for Free back in October, when Free suffered a foot injury.

“He’s shown that he can go into a ballgame and play,” Garrett said. “He did that at the end of the Seattle game if you remember. He played in the last handful of plays there and did a nice job. That’s always a big test for a guy who hasn’t played a lot who’s been a backup player: Can you just go in and can you function on Play One and do your job over and over and over again?

“He certainly has the physical ability to do it. I think he’s handled himself well in a mature manner to show he can go in emotionally and handle those situations. Looks like he played well in the ballgame.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Even Without Murray, Cowboys' Running Game Would Be Productive]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:13:07 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460476608.jpg

For a championship, of course I want to see DeMarco Murray play Sunday against the Colts despite a broken hand.

But out of curiosity, it would be intriguing if he didn’t.

Murray’s having an MVP season for the Cowboys. On pace to lead the NFL in rushing, break Emmitt Smith’s franchise rushing record and have the most touches by a running back since James Wilder of the Bucs way back in 1982. But, as I’ve said before, I still think he leaves plenty of yards on the field with poor vision and incorrect cuts.

Through 14 games he has 80 percent of the team’s carries. If he can’t play Sunday, what would Dallas’ running game look like?

Obviously it would be a committee, with carries distributed between Lance Dunbar, Joseph Randle and maybe even Ryan Williams called up from the practice squad.

Thanks to Murray’s history of injuries, this isn’t a complete shock to the system. When he missed two games last year Randle stepped in with 91 yards on 33 carries. Dunbar has also shown explosiveness in the run game and on screen passes.

Look, the Cowboys have a better chance to beat the Colts with Murray toting the football 25 times. I’m just saying I don’t think it becomes hopeless if he doesn’t play.

The offensive line is better than its given credit for, and I think that will be evident if Murray can’t play against the Colts.
 

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Murray Outgains McCoy in Rematch]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 13:48:34 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460476608.jpg

Sunday night was not DeMarco Murray’s prettiest rushing performance of the season. Far from it. But he worked his way to 81 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries and, for those who care about such things, out-gained the Eagles’ LeSean McCoy. McCoy was held to 64 yards on 16 carries.

In the teams’ first matchup on Thanksgiving Day, McCoy ran roughshod over the Dallas defense to the tune of 159 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries, while Murray was held to a season-low 73 yards and a score on 20 carries.

Murray was quick to praise the Eagles’ defensive front, which made him work for every inch on Sunday night, after the 38-27 victory.

It was a damn good D-line, a damn good defense,” Murray said, per ESPN Dallas. “These kind of games, you’ve just got to fight and claw. They won a couple of times but we were able to get a couple wins as well.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Eagles See a Different Tony Romo]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 13:49:11 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460474530.jpg

On Thanksgiving Day, just four days after facing the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, the Dallas Cowboys were charged with taking on the Philadelphia Eagles in North Texas.

As you probably remember, that game didn’t turn out so well for the Cowboys. They were drubbed by the Eagles 33-10, and quarterback Tony Romo played arguably his worst game of the season, going 18 of 29 passing for 199 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions for a total QBR--which runs on a scale from 1-100--of 18.6.

On Sunday night, the Eagles saw a different Romo.

With 10 days of rest prior to the rematch with Philly, Romo went 22 of 31 for 265 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. His total QBR was 91.6.

Tony Romo was a lot better tonight,” said Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin, per ESPN Dallas. “He moved a lot better. You could tell the rest helped him.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Romo Proves Sanity, Fulfills Prediction]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 12:11:44 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460474696.jpg

Try to take yourself back to August for a second.

Tony Romo, a 35-year-old quarterback seemingly on the decline, was coming off two back surgeries in the offseason and playing for a team that no one saw getting any more than seven wins this season, tops.

And take yourself back to the Cowboys' season opener in September against the San Francisco 49ers at JerryWorld. Romo was rusty, and it showed as he threw three early interceptions in a Cowboys loss that didn't quell any of those 6-10 fears.

But since then, wow. Romo has been fantastic, and even with that awful first half against the Niners and a near-equally poor showing on Thanksgiving Day, Romo is second in the NFL in quarterback rating with a 110.4 behind only Aaron Rodgers' 111.2.

He's passed for 3,188 yards, 28 touchdowns and just eight picks — five of which came in those two aforementioned games.

Most importantly, Romo now has 10 wins to his credit, and two of the Cowboys' losses were games in which Romo missed time (Washington) or didn't play (Arizona). Is he the team's MVP? No, that's DeMarco Murray. But he's right up there in the conversation in what very well could be his finest season yet. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Garrett's Top 5 Victories as Head Coach]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 12:50:16 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460479420.jpg

If Jason Garrett indeed becomes a coaching free agent after this NFL season, his resume just became considerably more sparkling. Because atop the Christmas Tree of his Cowboys’ career, he now has a shining star.

Cowboys 38, Eagles 27. When everyone expected his team to lose, Garrett’s Cowboys won.

Can’t imagine Garrett not being re-signed by Jerry Jones. In case the owner needs a refresher of the employee’s work, I present Garrett’s Top 5 wins as head coach of the Cowboys:

5. Nov. 14, 2010 -- Cowboys 33, at Giants 20 – After taking over from Wade Phillips in the wake of a humiliating loss to the Packers, Garrett proves immediately and emphatically that he can change the culture at Valley Ranch.

4. Dec. 22, 2013 -- Cowboys 24, at Redskins 23 – Needing a win to force an NFC East Championship Game, Dallas rallies for the game’s final 10 points and wins on a hobbling Tony Romo’s TD pass to DeMarco Murray with 1:08 remaining.

3. Oct. 12, 2014 -- Cowboys 30, at Seahawks 23 – Romo’s 3rd-‘n-20 escape to Terrance Williams caps dominating performance against defending champs and improves surprising season to 5-1.

2. Dec. 9, 2012 -- Cowboys 20, at Bengals 19 – In the wake of Josh Brent’s crash that killed teammate Jerry Brown, gutsy team rallies to win on Dan Bailey’s 40-yard FG at the gun.

1. Dec. 14, 2014 -- Cowboys 38, Eagles 27 – Just 17 days after getting humiliated 33-10 by the same team on Thanksgiving, Dallas jumps to a 21-0 lead and wins in Philly – in December - to snag control of the NFC East.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Witten "Had Some Juice," Romo Says]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 13:49:51 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/456297934.jpg

Cowboys tight end Jason Witten was good enough on Sunday night that Eagles head coach Chip Kelly singled him out at the half, telling NBC’s Michele Tafoya that the Philly defense needed to do a better job of containing the veteran on third downs--of which he converted three in one scoring drive in the first half.

Witten finished with 69 yards on seven catches, in a performance that, at times, was reminiscent of those days when he played the role of Tony Romo’s security blanket.

Jason was incredible, just the way he ran his routes today," Romo said, per the Dallas Morning News. “His ability to use leverage, he had some juice and showed some speed. He made it difficult on them.

"The way they wanted to call the game had to change a little bit just because of his ability to beat his man, and that was just great to see because he’s been outstanding for so long, just to have it on a night like tonight where he was a guy that gave us such big third down key plays was great to see."

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dez Did a Whole Lot of X'in on Sunday]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 12:18:22 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460475968.jpg

Dez Bryant didn't waste any time causing commotion on Sunday night after he was in a verbal sparring match with Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins in pregame warm-ups, and as everyone soon found out, Jenkins wasn't doing himself any favors in riling up Bryant.

Dez went on to have his first three-touchdown game of his career and consequently had the lactic acid working in his shoulder and forearm muscles from X'in so many people out on Sunday night.

It was a truly dominant performance from Bryant, whose first touchdown of the night was a thing of beauty as he did his best Odell Beckham, one-handed grab impression before his next two did their best to upstage it on nearly identical plays with two beautiful Tony Romo throws.

While Bryant got off to a bit of a slow start this season, he's really turned it on lately and his three touchdowns put him in sole possession of the lead for touchdown receptions in all of the NFL on Sunday night.

At least he has a solid week to rest those shoulders and forearms before the Cowboys play their final home game (of the regular season, anyway) against the Colts on Sunday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Lean on Stars in Season-Defining Drive]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 12:19:04 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460474530.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys, their fans and their owner up in his box were laughing all the way to the bank early in Sunday night's rematch with the Eagles up in Philadelphia, and it all started with that opening kickoff and ensuing Cowboys touchdown.

Just a few minutes into the second quarter, the Cowboys took a 21-0 lead on Dez Bryant's second touchdown of his three on the night, and it seemed then that the rout was on.

But not so fast, my friends. In true Cowboys fashion, they found a way to let the Eagles back in the game and seemed well on their way to falling apart when the Eagles capped a 24-0 run with a Darren Sproles touchdown run with 5:42 left in the third quarter to take their first lead of the game at 24-21 — a lead that seemed much bigger than that.

Then, the offense hit the field again after a quarter of failure and all the momentum in the world going against them, and they went on what could turn out to be a season-defining drive in a hostile environment, stuffing a big ol' proverbial cheesesteak in the big mouths of all the Philly fans along the way.

Tony Romo was great on the drive, but he leaned on his biggest playmakers, who all helped get the job done on an 8-play, 72-yard drive that consumed nearly five minutes off the clock and put the Cowboys back in front to stay with under a minute to play in the third quarter.

The drive: DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Murray, Murray, Murray, Bryant, and Murray with a two-yard plunge into the end zone to finish it off. The clock never stopped on the drive. It was a thing of beauty, and it might've just saved the Cowboys' season.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Martin, Free Dealing With Ankle Injuries]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 13:50:53 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/457517772.jpg

Cowboys starting right tackle Doug Free left Sunday night’s 38-27 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the third quarter with a right ankle injury and spent the rest of the game on the sidelines, and he wasn’t the only member of the offensive line to suffer such an injury.

Rookie right guard and serious Pro Bowl candidate Zack Martin injured his ankle in the second quarter but, unlike Free, he was able to finish the game--which he took as a good sign moving forward.

I just have to get it checked out,” Martin said, per the Dallas Morning News. “I twisted it. We’ll see how it is.”

As for Free, the elder statesman of the Dallas offensive line insisted afterward that he would be fine. Head coach Jason Garrett, on the other hand, said the team would just have to wait and see.

“We’ll see what Doug’s status is,” Garrett said. “Obviously serious enough to keep him out of the game.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jerry Hints That Jason Garrett Will Return in 2015]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 13:50:21 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460472310.jpg

Dallas Cowboys owner won’t confirm that Jason Garrett will return as head coach in 2015, but he sure made it sound like that was the plan after Garrett led the team to a crucial 38-27 victory over the Eagles in Philadelphia on Sunday night.

In fact, Jones hinted that the only reason he wouldn’t make a declaration now is because, as a rule, he doesn’t like to discuss contracts during the season.

"The only reason I'm not going to because I've said that I'm just not going to talk about his business," Jones said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas. "His business in this context is his contract. I'm just not going to talk about that. I haven't talked about it, and there’s no need to talk about it. We'll sit down after the season and take a look at how things are going.

"It's very obvious that he is doing very well and his hard work is paying off."

Garrett has yet to make the playoffs as head coach but, after Sunday’s win, he has the Cowboys at 10-4 and in the driver’s seat in the NFC East going into the final two games of the season.

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Three Phases: Cowboys-Eagles]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 12:20:14 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460476026.jpg

Every week, we'll grade the Cowboys on the three phases of the weekend's game.

Offense: A+

The biggest glaring deficiency in the Eagles' rout of the Cowboys on Thanksgiving was the subpar play of arguably the best part of Dallas' team — its young offensive line. On Sunday night, the unit turned it around in a big way. The Eagles sacked Tony Romo three times, but there were also several times when he had seemingly all day to throw the ball. DeMarco Murray was held to just 2.6 yards per carry on 31 carries, but he found the end zone twice, and Dez Bryant was simply phenomenal. The dominant receiver hauled in six grabs for 114 yards and had his first three-touchdown game of his career. He was dominant.

Defense: A

The general thought was that if the Cowboys could hold the Eagles under 30 points, they'd have a shot. And the Cowboys' defense did just that. Did they give up some big plays? Sure. But they did their job, and along the way they exposed Mark Sanchez for what he is, which is a below-average NFL quarterback. The Cowboys' defense forced three turnovers, including two Sanchez interceptions and held serve early while the offense was able to build a 21-0 lead. When things got really hairy and the Eagles roared back, the defense didn't fold up shop but instead fought back and kept the Cowboys in the game. One of the more surprising stats: The Cowboys had four sacks — two each by Jeremy Mincey and Tyrone Crawford.

Special teams: A

Against one of the best special teams units in football, the Cowboys were the ones who made the big play on the opening kickoff in what amounted to a really long, accidental onside kick. And Dan Bailey? Man, Dan Bailey. The field goal kicking cyborg drilled a 49-yarder to give the Cowboys a two-score advantage with under five minutes to play — essentially the dagger.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Chad Hennings: Where Are They Now?]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 12:23:42 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Chad+Hennings+Where+are+they+now.jpg David Watkins answers the question of what Chad Hennings is doing after Cowboys football.]]> <![CDATA[Whitt Watch Top 10]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 00:58:43 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460474742.jpg

10. Wow. Hear that? That’s the sound of sad, sulking silence from critics of Tony Romo and champions of “the Cowboys always choke in December” narrative. My condolences.

9. Philadelphia may be the armpit of America, with its stinky streets and grumpy residents. But one thing it isn’t is intimidating. Cowboys are now 5-1 in their last six trips to Lincoln Financial Field.

8. Things were going so well early that the Cowboys recovered the opening kickoff, turned a sack into a first down and jumped to a 21-0 lead. For most of the first half the Eagles resembled their NBA brethren, the sorry Sixers.

7. If you weren’t already, aren’t you now giddy that the Cowboys are suiting up Zack Martin instead of Johnny Manziel?

6. No doubt this was the best win of Jason Garrett’s career, helped by one of his best challenges. The head coach tossed his red flag just a second before the Eagles’ snapped the ball, resulting in a fumble by Brent Celek and setting up Dan Bailey’s game-clinching 49-yard field goal.

5. The Eagles helped. A lot. Mark Sanchez missed open receivers and Philly committed four turnovers. Props to safety J.J. Wilcox for an interception and forced fumble, both with the game in serious limbo.

4. All in one 60-minute game, the Cowboys went from DirecTV Rob Lowe, to Cable Rob Lowe, and then back to DirecTV Rob Lowe.

3. It was late in the third quarter and the Cowboys were on the verge of another December implosion. A 21-0 lead had deteriorated into a 24-21 deficit. The national naysayers were howling. The buzzards were circling. The Lincoln Financial Field crowd was blood-thirsty and frenzied. And then … the Cowboys calmly drove 78 yards for an order-restoring touchdown. The possession started with a 1-yard run by DeMarco Murray. But facing 2nd-and-9, Romo hit Dez Bryant for a 22-yard gain that stopped the bleeding and turned the momentum. The Cowboys didn't’t face a 3rd down on the drive, which ended with Bryant’s second touchdown catch. The Cowboys of last year – of the last four years, really – don’t produce that kind of drive. This team is different. That drive was the evidence.

2. Cowboys are 7-0 on the road for only the third time in franchise history. Standing between them and an unprecedented 8-0 will be a Dec. 28 finale at the 3-11 Redskins. They are also 7-1 in their last 8 NFC East road games.

1. Eagles’ fan Bradley Cooper had a better chance of covering Dez than Eagles’ cornerback Bradley Fletcher.
 

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chad Hennings: Where Are They Now?]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 12:23:15 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Chad+Hennings+Where+are+they+now.jpg

If you're looking for a motivational speaker, you won't find many as diverse as Chad Hennings. After all, there's not a lot of people who can claim this:

"You know how many guys can actually say that you flew a mission in a combat area in Northern Iraq and in that same year played in a Super Bowl? I mean, I can hardly comprehend that," said Hennings.

It's those life experiences that make Hennings a dynamic public speaker.

He flew 45 successful combat missions in the Air Force before winning three Super Bowls with the Cowboys. Add to the fact he's an entrepreneur in real estate and you have the recipe for a great storyteller.

"That's where from my diverse background of having experiences of being in the military flying jets, playing for a professional football team; Super Bowl caliber football teams with the Dallas Cowboys, and then also being involved with different aspects of business, many different vertices of business, I can talk to a variety of audiences and be able to establish that connectivity with them. Like, not only instant credibility but be able to talk the talk," said Hennings.

Hennings started in the real estate game six years ago and recently started a new, successful company called Rubicon. Walking through the office, you can't help but notice the many jerseys hanging on the wall. Hennings makes a point to hire college athletes — like former Texas A&M wide receiver Ryan Swope.

"We wanted to establish a culture where it's a team concept. So we purposes duly recruit former athletes, college athletes and military individuals because they work well together in the confines of a team. They're aggressive, but they can play well with others, " He said.

If he hasn't impressed you enough, Hennings is also the author of two books. It's just another example of how this well-rounded American hero is impacting lives every time he speaks.

]]>
<![CDATA[Huge Game for Cowboys]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 00:58:58 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460476608.jpg Dallas Cowboys DeMarco Murray talks Cowboys win over the Philadelphia Eagles. More at NFL.com and DallasCowboys.com

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Beat Eagles in Philly, 38-27]]> Sun, 14 Dec 2014 23:37:18 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460474530.jpg

In a hard-fought, rollercoaster of a game, the Dallas Cowboys came away from Philadelphia on Sunday Night with a 38-27 victory over the Eagles, and sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

The Cowboys came out hot, recovering Dan Bailey’s opening kickoff after some confusion among the Eagles’ return team allowed the kick to bounce untouched until it was recovered by Dallas’s CJ Spillman. Five plays later, DeMarco Murray cashed in on the break with a one-yard touchdown run. Murray finished with 81 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries.

Dallas extended on their early lead as Tony Romo hit Dez Bryant on touchdown passes of four and 26 yards to give Dallas the 21-0 lead. Romo finished the night 22 of 31 passing for 265 yards and three touchdowns--all to Bryant. This marks a career-high for Bryant, who finished with 114 yards on six catches.

Philly came to life midway through the second quarter with an 11-play, 84-yard drive, capped by a five-yard run from Chris Polk. Eagles kicker Connor Parkey added a 47-yard field goal with under two minutes to close the gap to 21-10 going into half.

The Eagles continued their onslaught after intermission. Polk took in a one-yard touchdown run to cap a seven-play, 86-yard drive and three minutes later--after Romo was stripped on a sack, giving the Eagles the ball at the Dallas 14--Darren Sproles took in a one-yard touchdown run. The Sproles run gave the Eagles their first lead of the day, at 24-21.

It also made it 24 unanswered points for the Eagles, but the Cowboys would answer on the ensuing drive as Murray scored his second touchdown of the day on a two-yard run to give Dallas the lead once again, at 28-24. Bryant caught his third touchdown pass early in the fourth to extend the lead to 35-24. Parkey added a 43-yard field goal to make it a one-possession game again, but Bailey quickly answered with a 49-yarder to once extend the lead to 11.

The game would effectively end with Mark Sanchez being intercepted by Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter, giving the Cowboys the 38-27 win and, for the moment, the top spot in the NFC East.

At 10-4, the Cowboys will host the Colts next week at AT&T Stadium.

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sideline Images: Cowboys Vs. Eagles]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 12:13:52 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/4604794001.jpg Game photos: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football. Cowboys win 38 to 27.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Lead Eagles at Half, 21-10]]> Sun, 14 Dec 2014 21:26:21 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cowboys-eagles12.14.14.jpg

After 30 minutes of football in Philadelphia, the Cowboys lead the Eagles, 21-10.

The Cowboys came out hot, recovering Dan Bailey’s opening kickoff after some confusion among the Eagles’ return team allowed the kick to bounce untouched until it was recovered by Dallas’s CJ Spillman. Five plays later, DeMarco Murray cashed in on the break with a one-yard touchdown run. Murray finished the half with 47 yards on 14 carries.

The Cowboys extended their early lead as Tony Romo hit Dez Bryant on touchdown passes of four and 26 yards to give Dallas the 21-0 lead. Romo finished the half 14 of 20 passing for 151 yards and the two touchdowns.

Philly came to life midway through the second quarter with an 11-play, 84-yard drive, capped by a five-yard run from Chris Polk. Eagles kicker Connor Parkey added a 47-yard field goal with under two minutes to close the gap to 21-10.

The Cowboys will receive the kick to open the second half.

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

]]>
<![CDATA[Place Your Bets: Week 15]]> Sun, 14 Dec 2014 00:17:29 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/459955032.jpg

If you live in Nevada, Oregon, Montana or Delaware, you're in luck. Otherwise, go to Canada or Europe and get your bet on for the NFL weekend! All games are Sunday unless otherwise noted.

1. Oakland (+10.0) at Kansas City — The Raiders have been playing somewhat good as of late, and the Chiefs haven't been very good and took a massive blow defensively with the loss of star safety Eric Berry, who was diagnosed with lymphoma. Derek Carr has earned the trust of the Raiders' coaches as their QB of the future, and he should have a decent game and help keep it close even if the Raiders don't win.

2. Washington at New York Giants (-6.5) — There's slam dunks and then there's this. The Redskins are in a world of hurt and have looked awful while having one of the worst quarterback situations in recent memory going on right before our eyes. The Giants have just four wins this year, but they still have some players, unlike the three-win Redskins.

3. Jacksonville at Baltimore (-14.0) — Two-touchdown favorites rarely pay off, but in this instance, we like the chances. The Ravens are playing well and even though their defense has been a bit shaky recently, it won't matter against the Jaguars, who lost rising running back star Denard Robinson for the season and will turn to Toby Gerhart. Yes, Toby Gerhart.

4. San Francisco at Seattle (-10.0) — Like the Cowboys and Eagles, these two teams met two weeks ago in San Francisco in a game the Seahawks won easily on the road. This week, they meet again in the toughest venue in the NFL in Seattle. Look for the Seahawks to roll in what could be a final meeting for quite some time between Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh.

5. Dallas (+3.5) at Philadelphia — Just like the above game, the home team won the first meeting as the road team two weeks ago and did it in convincing fashion. There were some factors working against the Cowboys in that Thanksgiving Day game, most notably that Tony Romo wasn't able to have his customary rest day in the middle of the week leading up to the game. Things will be better Sunday night. The Cowboys might not win, but if they don't, it will surely be closer than their last meeting.

Last week: 3-2. 2014 season: 28-37.

(Yes, it's been an awful season!)



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Now For Sale: Dez Bryant Ugly Christmas Sweaters]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 15:51:45 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dez-sweaters-xmas.jpg

The Ugly Christmas Sweater phenomenon that has swept the country in recent years has made its way to professional sports.

This year, you can buy an ugly sweater dedicated to your favorite pro sports team.

Read more on this story from our media partners at The Dallas Morning News.

Fresh Brewed Tees can be seen here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/NBC 5/Fresh Brewed Tees]]>
<![CDATA[Jerry Expects the Same From Eagles]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 15:23:45 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cowboys-jerry-jones.jpg

Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones isn’t expecting the Eagles’ gameplan on Sunday to be much different than their gameplan on Thanksgiving Day, when they beat the Cowboys 33-10.

Jones’s reasoning is simple: Philadelphia absolutely pummeled Dallas in that game, so why would they change things up now?

They’re not going to do anything different than they did last time,” Jones told 105.3-FM the Fan, via the Dallas Morning News. “They’re going to try to run that McCoy. The bottom line is, we know what they’re going to do. And I would do the very same thing if I were them, they had a lot of success doing it.”

Working to the Cowboys’ advantage is that, after playing on Thursday night last week, they’ve had a long week to prepare for the Eagles this time around.

“I don’t want to compare the practices before Thanksgiving with the practices we’re having right now, because they were nonexistent,” Jones said. “That’s just the way the Thanksgiving Day game is, I’m talking about the practices. We just didn’t practice meaningfully.

“Now, when you take your pads in today’s NFL, a padded practice takes on a special meaning because there are fewer of them. When you save that for Wednesday before we’re getting ready to play, that tells you all you need to know about where our mindset is. We certainly are focused. We’re practiced up. We are, relatively speaking, healthy, and we stand warned.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Frank Heinz, NBC DFW]]>
<![CDATA[Marinelli, Cowboys Looking to Slow McCoy & Co.]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 15:24:15 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/459661586.jpg

In the Thanksgiving Day matchup between the Cowboys and Eagles, LeSean McCoy ran roughshod over the Dallas defense to the tune of 159 yards on 25 carries. The team finished with 256 yards on 45 carries on their way to a 33-10 victory.

Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli knows his group will have to find a way to slow McCoy and co. if they want to reverse their fortunes in the rematch this week.

At the end of the day, they’re a very physical run team,” Marinelli told the team’s website. “Their offensive line is extremely physical, well-coached, tough--and they’ve got a back who knows how to run it.”

According to safety and defensive captain Barry Church, the key to containing McCoy is, simply enough, discipline.

“With McCoy, he’s like a punt returner back there--if you have a gap open, you’ve just got to stay in yours,” Church said. “If you try to bounce and try to make the play, he’s just going to cut up right where you had left. You’ve got to stay disciplined and make sure you have the edge on this guy.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dez Confident Going Into Rematch with Eagles]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 15:24:45 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/183075982.jpg

Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant said in the minutes after the team’s 33-10 Thanksgiving Day loss to the Philadelphia Eagles that he couldn’t wait to face the Eagles again. He didn’t have to wait long for the rematch of course, and now that it’s drawing close, he’s no less excited for a shot at redemption.

“Oh man, it actually went by pretty quick,” Bryant said, per the Dallas Morning News. “I couldn’t wait to get into meetings, watch film, and look at these guys again. Can’t wait.”

Bryant, who was limited to 73 yards and no touchdowns on four catches in the team’s first matchup with the Eagles, more or less echoed Orlando Scandrick’s statement earlier this week--that this matchup has the feel of a playoff game.

“Basically,” Bryant said. “It’s the way you have to look at it. The way we prepare, we’re very confident. We can’t wait until Sunday.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Murray Approaching Emmitt Smith's Record]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 15:25:17 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/4599562081.jpg

With three games remaining, Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray is just 168 yards short of the franchise record for rushing yards in a single season, which is currently held by the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith.

Murray is humbled just to be mentioned with Smith, who set the record in 1995 with 1,773 yards.

“Obviously, you’ve got to respect the best running back ever to play the game,” Murray said, per the Dallas Morning News. “Just to be mentioned in the same breath as him is definitely humbling. It’s a lot of credit to the O-line and the coaches who put the game plan together and us as a team. It’s definitely not an individual accolade. A lot of people put a lot of work into it, not just me.”

This has been Murray’s approach to individual accomplishments--and he’s had quite a few--all season. Even when around his family, apparently, Murray doesn’t have any desire to talk about non-team-related milestones.

“My family knows better than to talk to me about it,” Murray said. “I don’t get too much of it. These guys (teammates), they talk about it a little bit every now and then. I kind of tune them out.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[3 Ways Cowboys Can Attack Eagles' Offense]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 12:50:55 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/460117660.jpg

The Eagles gashed the Cowboys’ defense for 464 yards and 33 points on Thanksgiving, but they’ve done that to nearly every team this season. Except two.

The Eagles averaged 3.9 yards per play against San Francisco and 3.3 against Seattle. Against everyone else, they average 5.8 yards per play. So what makes Chip Kelly’s former Pac 12 coaching peers so successful at stopping his offense?

1. Gap, Assignment Discipline

The Eagles have a talented roster, but Chip Kelly is the real star. He’s basically a magician who schemes large running lanes and open wide receivers. He uses unbalanced lines to reposition defenders, read option to hold rushers and brilliant route combinations to create separation.

The No. 1 key to stopping Philadelphia’s offense is simple: Do your job. It sounds so easy, but Kelly’s offense dangles play action and misdirection in defenders’ faces like a carrot on a stick. Plus, they take so little time between plays that defenses’ heads start spinning.

The 49ers’ and Seahawks’ defenses are well coached in this aspect. Edge defenders keep contain, linebackers and safeties read their keys and, most importantly, no one is caught out of position.

2. Read and React

The Cowboys defensive front has shown promise when attacking, but the best defense against the Eagles is a “read and react” approach.

In an “attacking” defense, linemen shoot gaps and aggressively swarm to weakness in a formation. The Cowboys linemen, though, must hold the point of attack — “stack and shed” — and diagnose a play before pursuing.

This approach is what announcers often refer to as “bend but don’t break,” as teams sacrifice small amounts of yardage to prevent big plays. Plus, forcing more plays in drives increases the likelihood of mistakes by the offense.

3. Zone Coverage

Much like the safe approach by the front seven, playing zone coverage will keep the ball in front of defensive backs, preventing long touchdowns and increasing the chance of interceptions.

The 49ers like to disguise coverage while the Seahawks basically tell offenses how they cover, but their ability in zone coverage is what gives the Eagles trouble. Eagles’ quarterbacks were 1 for 14 on deep passes for 22 yards against the 49ers and 1 for 4 for 35 yards against the Seahawks.

Mark Sanchez seems to like throwing interceptions, and zone coverage gives the Cowboys defensive backs a better chance to help him in that regard.

Outlook

Stopping the Eagle’s offense won’t be as easy for the Cowboys as attacking their defense. The Eagles have a talent advantage in this matchup, so the players will have to be focused and opportunistic.

The good news for Cowboys fans, though, is that the defense doesn’t have to be perfect. As long as the offense has a better showing, which they should, the defense should just have to hold on in the red zone to pull out a win and retake first place in the division.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>