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Field Goals Won't Cut It This Time

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Dan Bailey has been a very pleasant surprise for the Cowboys so far this season.

    The kicker entered the year as a major question mark but he's made eight field goals over the last two weeks, each and every one of which was crucial to the wins over the 49ers and Redskins. After all of the kicking troubles of the last few years, you'd be crazy if you kicked this gift horse in the mouth. 

    So let's find somewhere else to kick it, because Bailey is playing far too big a role in the Cowboys season thus far. Relying on field goals is an even worse way to go through life than fat, drunk and stupid. Kickers miss field goals, holders muff snaps and a million other things can go wrong when you don't score touchdowns.

    That leads to another problem. How in the world are the Cowboys going to score touchdowns when just about everybody on the offense is battling some kind of injury? This includes Kevin Ogletree, who must have suffered some kind of blow to the head to flat out forget where to line up on plays that the Cowboys have practiced all the time over his years with the team.

    Jason Garrett's play calls are a good place to start. He did a fine job with them against the Redskins last week, emphasizing the run and quick passes to protect a wounded Tony Romo and cover for a depleted receiver corps. As long as Felix Jones is able to carry the ball often, you can expect more of the same this week.

    The problem with this strategy is that it plays right into the hands of the defense once the ball makes its way into the red zone. As long as you keep passing plays in front of you and don't break down against the run, the other team isn't going to find its way into the end zone.

    Taking more shots down the field will only work if the offensive line can keep the Lions from stomping all over Romo, however. The Lions don't have the best secondary in the world, but their pass rush has kept teams from taking advantage. The Cowboys line hasn't been good enough to keep that from happening thus far, with Doug Free's play at left tackle being a particular trouble spot through the first three games of the season.

    Give Romo time and he'll make plays, regardless of who is running under the passes. That's the way to get touchdowns and the way to beat the Lions. Bailey's emergence has been great, but the team's a lot better off if he's a non-factor.