The Dallas Cowboys proved without a shadow of a doubt on Sunday that, talented or not, they know how to do everything possible to ensure a loss. And lose they did, 34-27, to the Tennessee Titans.
Dallas committed two costly pass interference penalties on their first series, and the Titans took advantage with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Vince Young to Nate Washington to give Tennessee an early 7-0 lead. This sort of damning, undisciplined play was an unmistakable theme of the game, as the Cowboys committed 12 penalties for 133 yards, the most since November of 2006.
Rod Bironas would add a 52-yard field goal to extend to Tennessee lead to ten before the Cowboys were able to answer.
When they did finally answer, it was in the form of a 51-yard field goal by kicker David Buehler. The attempt was set up by a crucial 28-yard reception by Miles Austin, one of the few instances of any offensive efficiency for Dallas in the first half.
The second quarter saw more woes for the Dallas defense early. Tennessee opened the quarter with a far-too-easy, six-play, 67-yard drive highlighted by a 28-yard Chris Johnson run and punctuated with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Young to Kenny Britt. After that, Dallas’ defense tightened up. The offense, however, remained stagnant until their final possession.
If nothing else, the Cowboys came out swinging in the second half.
On the third play of the opening possession of the half, Romo hit Austin for a 69-yard touchdown, the longest touchdown reception of Austin’s career. It’s worth noting that it was also the first time the Titans had surrendered a passing play of more than 50 yards in 719 throws.
But the team was not without their flaws the rest of the way out. David Buehler missed a 49 yard field goal attempt on the team’s next drive. On the drive after that, Tony Romo surrendered an interception.
On the first play after the interception, Young hit Britt for what was initially ruled an 80-yard touchdown. On review however, it was determined that Mike Jenkins had touched Britt down at the Dallas 28. The Titans could only muster a field goal after that, to take a 20-17 lead. Dallas knotted things up in the fourth quarter, on a 26 yard Buehler field goal.
But for the second time on Sunday, the Titans would take the lead back on a drive born of a Romo interception. This time, Alterraun Verner would grab a tipped pass intended for Martellus Bennett deep in Dallas territory and return it to the Cowboys one yard line. Chris Johnson ran it in on the next play to regain the lead for Tennessee, 27-20.
Dallas answered on their next drive, with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Romo to Jason Witten to tie the contest at 27 all. However, after the score, the Cowboys were flagged for excessive celebration, which would set the Titans up with a short field going into the kickoff, and serve as a dark harbinger for things to come for Dallas.
The Titans’ Marc Mariani returned the ensuing kick to the Dallas 11. Three plays later, Johnson scored his second touchdown of the day, giving the Titans a 34-27 lead and all they’d need to send Dallas to a 1-3 start. Romo was intercepted to end the game, and send Cowboys fans into fits of crying and binge drinking.
Dallas will head to Minnesota for a date with the Vikings next week.
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