At times in this game, I could have sworn the 2013 Dallas Cowboys defense had come back to haunt me. The Rams did what they wanted and when they wanted. Austin Davis picked the Cowboys apart in the first half and Zac Stacey had his way in the rushing game as well.
First drive of the game, the Rams moved down the field with ease and chewed up a lot of time in the 1st quarter and scored easily to make it 7-0. The Cowboys answered with their own drive and while nice, for the third game in a row the Cowboys’ first drive ended with the slippery hands of DeMarco Murray.
Rams took advantage of that turnover. Austin Davis connected with Brian Quick and before you knew it, the Rams were up 14-0.
On the second scoring play, Mo Claiborne was left behind. It was one of many times during the game that Davis would pick on Claiborne. For the rest of the first quarter the Cowboys struggled to get anything going. The Rams were determined to stop DeMarco Murray, and they were doing just that.
St. Louis also made things difficult for Tony Romo, who struggled to get the Cowboys passing game going for the third game in a row. Romo’s struggles finally climaxed when the Janoris Jenkins picked off a wayward pass intended for Dez Bryant and returned it for a touchdown.
That turnover put the Cowboys in a huge 21-0 deficit, but it also seemed to wake up the Cowboys offense.
On the very next possession the Cowboys drove down the field with big runs by DeMarco Murray and a big defensive interference call on a pass intended for Cole Beasley that put the ball at the one yard line. Murray took it in for a touchdown the very next play.
On the Rams next possession, they continued to move the ball. But disaster struck when they turned the ball over on a fumbled snap. Henry Melton recovered the laid egg to keep turning momentum in Dallas’ favor. The Cowboys were then able to get in field goal range for Dan “Mr. Automatic” Bailey, who connected to cut the lead to 21-10 right before halftime.
Dallas wasted no time finding the end zone to start the second half when Romo hit a wide open Dez Bryant for a 68 yard score that pulled the Cowboys within four.
Later in the third quarter that Cowboy defense stood strong on 4th and one when the Rams pulled a guard and allowed Anthony Hitchens to meet the runner in the backfield and stuff the play. Hitchens, in for the injured Rolando McClain today, seemed to be around the ball all day. From that point, the offense drove the ball down the field for another Dan Bailey field goal.
With that score, the Cowboys trailed by a single point after facing a 21 point deficit.
The Rams were able to add three points to lead it 24-20 but Romo and the Cowboys answered on their next possession by marching down the field with a good mix of run and pass plays that eventually led to a Romo – Williams slant pass for six.
Finally, with their first lead of the game at 27-20 and about midway through the 4th quarter, the Cowboys were in the fight. But that wasn’t going to be the last time this Cowboy team would find the end zone.
Things went from bad to worse for the Rams on their next possession. Bruce Carter, who up to that point was not having good game, picked off a Davis pass and took it to the house for six. That score would give the Cowboys a 10 point lead with just over 4 minutes left to play in the game.
The Rams finally started clicking again on their next possession.
Austin Davis came out throwing to shake off his errant contribution to the Dallas scoreboard and led a beautiful drive down the field that ended with a touchdown. The score? 34-31 with just over two minutes left in the game.
The Cowboys received the kickoff but weren’t able to do much before punted the ball back to the Rams with just under two minutes left to play.
The Rams began their final drive on their own 14 and were looking to tie or possibly take the lead in the final seconds of the game. Davis completed a few short passes but his next pass would be his last. Davis decided to take a shot down the left sideline on a secondary that had been abused for much of the game, again targeting the struggling Morris Claiborne. But on this play, it was the Cowboy secondary that made the play.
Claiborne, who had been picked on all day by the Rams and Austin David, made a reaching leap to pick off the slightly overthrown pass to end any chances of the Rams scoring another point. The comeback win meant the Cowboys set a record for overcoming their largest deficit to win in regulation time.
This game was a tale of two teams for the Dallas Cowboys. The first half looked very much like the 2013 team, but in the second half, this looked like a different team. And that team was your 2014 Dallas Cowboys.