Cowboys 24, Bengals 18: My Top 10 Whitty Observations

10. Per the NFL’s new, stricter stadium rules, fans aren’t allowed to bring purses or backpacks into AT&T Stadium. Yet somehow, they smuggled in boos. After an early Bengals’ punt-return for a touchdown, there were audible boos. Not boisterous. Not cascading. But discernible. Never heard pre-season boos before.

9. You want a smidge of discipline and accountability from Jason Garrett? You got it. Running back DeMarco Murray fumbled midway through the first quarter, then sat out the rest of the first half in lieu of Phillip Tanner. Murray then played the first series of the second half. Moral to the story: Don’t fumble. I like it. And, apparently, the message was received loud and clear. Murray caught a pass, broke four tackles and scored Dallas’ third touchdown.

8. Not surprisingly, the Doug-Free-at-right-guard experiment was a flop. Free had never played a single snap at guard in the NFL … or college … or high school. Suddenly – because of injuries to Ron Leary and Nate Livings and the ensuing shuffling of linemen - he’s lined up against Geno Atkins, one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. On the Cowboys’ first snap Free miscommunicated with right tackle Jeremy Parnell, leading to a sack of Tony Romo. By my count, Free had a false start penalty and allowed two sacks. I’ve seen enough.

7. Even with former Cowboys Terence Newman and Pacman Jones in their secondary, the Bengals are boring. Anyone watching Hard Knocks this summer? Me neither.

6. Welcome to the NFL, Gavin Escobar. The rookie tight end missed a pre-snap assignment in the second quarter – he was supposed to go in motion – and got an earful of Romo’s increased leadership. Yelled out, then yanked out of the game. Ouch.

5. Dan Bailey missed a 50-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. No worries. He’s human. Went 29 of 31 in 2012 and his two misses were, yep, from 51 and 54 yards.

4. I’d say Dez Bryant is perfectly perched for a monster season. He had five catches on Dallas’ first scoring drive, including a touchdown in which he manhandled Bengals’ cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick in the end zone. In a little more than three exhibition quarters, Dez has amassed 13 catches for 183 yards.

3. Somewhere in Chicago, Joe DeCamillis is smiling. The fired special teams coach – replaced by Rich Bisaccia – must feel a tad vindicated as this preseason Dallas has stumbled its way to two fumbled punts, three penalties, a blocked field, a missed field goal, a 51-yard kickoff return and Saturday night’s 75-yard punt return by Brandon Tate. That return, of course, came after Chris Jones’ punt caromed off AT&T Stadium’s JumboJerry scoreboard. Second guy to turn that trick. First was the Titans’ A.J. Trapasso back when the joint opened in Aug. 2009. Surprised it doesn’t happen more often.

2. Romo’s touchdown pass to Miles Austin was vintage No. 9. Bought more time with his legs and delivered a strong, accurate pass with his arm. Remember back when his extra weight was an issue earlier this summer? Not anymore. He won't play Thursday vs. the Texans, meaning he'll end the preseason 26 of 36 for 367 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and passer rating of 123.3. Pretty good regular-season game, eh?

1. Monte Kiffin’s defense keeps on keeping on … creating turnovers. Another three last night, most significantly Barry Church’s forced fumble inside Dallas’ 5-yard line on Cincinnati’s opening drive. Cowboys have five interceptions, after nabbing just seven picks of all 2012, and nine turnovers in four games. The first-team defense – despite playing without injured starters Morris Claiborne, Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff – hasn’t allowed a touchdown.

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 writes a sports/guy stuff blog at and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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