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Cowboys Need to Throw a Flag on Penalties

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The jolly hangover provided by the Cowboys' opening victory over the Giants has faded away a bit. 

    And, as with all hangovers, that means it is time to fully assess the events that put you in that state in the first place. You can't just remember the good times when you make such an assessment, either.

    It wasn't all Tony Romo touchdown passes and making the crowd erupt with laughter when you told your story about the time you saw George Clooney step in dog poop. No, you have to make a full accounting right down to puking in the bushes outside your friend's house while the world seemed to be spinning off its axis. 

    For the Cowboys, that means paying close attention to their penalties. The Cowboys were flagged 13 times against the Giants, including five penalties on a drive that saw the Cowboys facing a 1st-and-30 after moving the ball inside the Giants' five-yard line. 

    Miles Austin scored a touchdown on that particular play, a bright shining example of how little the lack of discipline wound up costing the Cowboys last Wednesday. That's not the way these things usually play out, though. The typical result of getting penalized 13 times is short fields that the opposing offense storms down for touchdowns and give up running plays to set up for a punt before the roof totally caves in. 

    Even more troubling than the quantity of the penalties was the quality (or lack of quality, really) of them. No one loves a facemasking penalty or an illegal block in the back, but those things happen when you're trying to make a play and they aren't too egregious unless they happen over and over again. You can also live with Doug Free holding a pass rusher to stop Romo from getting killed.

    Five false starts and two delays, though? Those are as galling as it gets. 

    You can come up with plausible explanations for both. Tyron Smith jumped because he wanted to help himself as much as possible against the Giants pass rushers. The delays were part of it being opening night and everything moving full speed for the first time. 

    Valid, but meaningless. As is the fact that it will be very loud in Seattle this weekend when the Cowboys play the Seahawks. It will be and that causes false starts, but the Cowboys can't put themselves into those positions again and expect to wind up winning. 

    The physical side of things went just fine for the Cowboys. The mental side needs clearing up or the next hangover is going to be especially brutal.