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Cowboys Nostalgia: The Worst Monday Night Game

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vikingsvsgiantshelmets4For all the fines that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hands out, the fact that no one was penalized for Monday night's tilt between the Giants and Vikings is shocking. Neither team managed to tally over 300 yards, there were four turnovers between them, and the star of the game was arguably Giants RB Peyton Hillis...remember the guy who was on the cover of Madden 12? In a game so bad that announcer Mike Tirico flat out said during the 3rd quarter "This is a terrible quarter of football", the Vikings had Josh Freeman, the same Josh Freeman who has completed just 42 percent of his passes this year, throw that ball 53 times, while Adrian Peterson only got 14 carries. I'm sure the fact that Minnesota lost 23-7 had nothing to with that, though.

Statistically, the Giants-Vikings game was the 2nd worst game in the illustrious history of Monday Night Football. According to website Awful Announcing, with a minimum of four games into the season, the two teams had the 2nd lowest combined win percentage of Monday Night opponents coming into the game in the program's history. With the Vikes at 1-4 and the Giants at 0-6, their combined 1-10 mark yielded an .091 win percentage.

Of course, that begs the question...what was the lowest? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the 2001 Week 5 tilt between the Washington Redskins and your Dallas Cowboys.

If the Dallas Cowboys season by season records were Robert DeNiro's filmography, the 2001 season would basically be Little Fockers. Sure Emmitt Smith was still around, but let's just say when he compared his situation to "a diamond surrounded by trash", he might've had a point. Say what you will about the Dave Campo Cowboys, but at least they were consistent. Campo lasted three years at Valley Ranch and ended each one with an identical 5-11 record. Most, if not all, of the Cowboys faithful knew it was going to be a rebuilding year, but this was just sad. Troy Aikman's retirement opened the door for the next great Cowboys quarterback, who turned out to be....Quincy Carter. A second round pick out of Georgia, Carter's first start was a 9-19, 34 yard, 2 INT performance in Dallas's opening 10-6 loss to Tampa Bay...and things didn't get better. Carter was actually injured for the Boys first prime time game of the year, and quarterback duties went to...Anthony Wright. Wright was actually coming off a solid performance during the previous week's 28-21 loss to Oakland (14-22, 126 yards, 2 TD's), but he eventually became one of the many names between Aikman and Tony Romo. Sandwiched between the Tampa and Oakland losses were embarrassing defeats to San Diego (32-21) and Philadelphia (40-18).

Washington wasn't much better. To say new coach Marty Schottenheimer did not get off to a good start in DC would be an understatement to say the least. The Redskins, too, started 0-4, but their defeats were even uglier than Dallas's. Their closest game had been a 23-9 loss to the Giants the week before. Prior to that, San Diego, Green Bay, and Kansas City had blown out the Redskins by a combined score of 112-16. While they had some good players in RB Stephen Davis, TE Stephen Alexander and CB Champ Bailey, all of whom made the Pro Bowl (in contrast, Dallas only sent legendary OL Larry Allen to the Pro Bowl), they were done in by an inconsistent defense and the perpetually mediocre Tony Banks at QB.

Week 5 of the 2001 season was filled with entertaining games. A young quarterback making his 3rd career start named Tom Brady led the New England Patriots to a 29-26 overtime win over San Diego. The St Louis Rams, the eventual NFC champion, survived a 15-14 scare from the New York Giants. In that week's Sunday nighter, Rich Gannon's Oakland Raiders topped Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts 23-18 (yes, the Raiders used to play on Sunday night!). The same could not be said about the Monday night tilt between the two 0-4 teams.

As predicted, the game was awful as projected, if not worse. The Washington offense, in particular, resembled Georgetown football more than they did a an actual NFL franchise, especially a proud one like the Redskins. Washington had 10 drives in the game. Seven of the first eight ended in Bryan Barker punts, and the one outlier in that group was a missed 44 yard field goal by K Brett Conway. Dallas's offense at least moved the ball, albeit clumsily. The five first half Cowboys possessions included two Micah Knorr punts, a Wright interception to CB Fred Smoot in Washington territory (the Redskins would go three-and-out on the subsequent drive), and a pair of field goal attempts by K Tim Seder, the second of which sailed through the uprights from 28 yards out, giving the Cowboys the halftime advantage in a 3-0 barnburner. The game's biggest highlight probably occurred during the halftime session, as a Tom Landry statue was unveiled at midfield, one that would stand outside of Texas Stadium until its closing in 2008, and currently stands outside of AT&T Stadium.

While the 3rd quarter consisted of five punts between the two teams, the 4th quarter actually became entertaining. After the quarter began on another Seder miss, this one from 52 yards out, Washington took advantage of the good field position. Starting on their own 42, the Redskins used four consecutive Davis runs, the longest going for 19 yards, to the Dallas 31 where Banks found WR Michael Westbrook to score the game's first touchdown.

The Cowboys drove back into Washington territory, led by Emmitt's 24 yard run, but were forced to settle for another field goal attempt, one that Seder actually made to make it 7-6 with 6:45 to go. As the Redskins got the ball back, they seemed destined to run out the clock, with Davis leading the way with several short but time consuming runs. As they drove to the Dallas 43, Davis picked up another first down, but was stripped of the ball by rookie DT John Nix, a 7th round pick out of Southern Miss. The ball was recovered by Greg Ellis at the Dallas 33, and the stage was set for late game heroics. The Cowboys quickly got into Redskins territory, courtesy of two Wright passes to Darrin Chiaverini and Raghib Ismail of 15 and 18 yards, respectively. A few more Smith runs set up Seder for the win, and he nailed the field goal from 26 yards out to mercifully end the game and give the Cowboys a 9-7 victory. Smith and Davis finished the game with 107 and 99 yards, respectively. In the weeks following the debacle, the Redskins, probably furious they were defeated by a Cowboys team as awful as this, won their next five games and 8 of their final 11 overall to finish 8-8, though one of those loses was to the Cowboys at home on December 2.

So, Giants fans, Vikings fans, and any football fan in general who braved Monday night's dud, just remember that even though you had it bad, you didn't have it as bad as Cowboys and Redskins fans that fateful October night. Whereas you saw Eli Manning and Josh Freeman struggle, we saw Anthony Wright and Tony Banks do the same. Just as a legend like Emmitt Smith was wasted on the 2001 Cowboys, Adrian Peterson suffers the same fate with the 2013 Vikings. So just remember, as eyeball gouging as that game was...and trust me it was awful...never forget the souls who glued their eyes to this matchup that no one should ever speak of again.

Unless you're talking about this column. In that case, feel free to discuss it however you'd like.

 

Minnesota Vikings v New York Giants



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1 Comment
  • JM

    Nice review. I had totally forgotten about that season!

Star Blog

Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

The Dallas Cowboys lead the NFC East at 1-1, and have a favorable schedule ahead of them. With such an inexperienced roster, early season growing pains were expected, and likely should be still as the team comes off their first win to play in Seattle on Sunday.

Through a season opening clunker in Carolina and hard-earned divisional win against the Giants, the Cowboys have exceeded already high expectations on defense.

With the currently 0-2 Seahawks, Lions, and Texans awaiting Dallas, the time is now for Scott Linehan's offense to hit their stride. It will take more than a five week assessment to determine if the Cowboys are truly playoff contenders for 2018, but it could take even less than that for Cowboys Nation to realize this team is fighting an uphill battle at QB and WR.

Following Dak Prescott's 64-yard touchdown pass to Tavon Austin against the Giants, the Cowboys punted on four of their remaining seven drives. The Cowboys did a better job mixing up their early down play calling to remain ahead of the chains for most of the night, but even still their execution was lacking. Finishing three of ten on third downs, the Cowboys didn't sustain the type of originality on offense that earned them an early cushion.

Thankfully, the Cowboys turning back the clock to 2016 on a clinching touchdown drive of 14 plays would be all the defense needed. Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott would both convert a pair of first downs on the ground. The Cowboys took a 20-3 lead, and more importantly the game clock down to 5:45 with an eight minute and 23 second march.

As such, the Cowboys offense is an enigma. With the return of Brice Butler, the team is currently carrying seven wide receivers and four tight ends.

On defense, the Cowboys are expecting reinforcements in Xavier Woods, Randy Gregory, and David Irving to further bolster this aggressive, blitzing unit in the coming weeks. For the offense, Dallas must make the most out of the unknown depth they have, without any drastic change in style around the corner.

The Cowboys record under Prescott proves they're at their best when Dak is efficient. The ceiling for a new-look Cowboys offense built for Dak is not as high for this reason. Through just two weeks, it's clear that the Cowboys offense will be as good as the sum of its parts - instead of relying on any individual talents.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Cowboys' record when Dak Prescott ... Doesn't throw an interception: 20-4 Records at least a 100.0 passer rating: 15-1 Commits no turnovers: 18-1

After a strong preseason from rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup, the third-round pick has played less than half his team's offensive snaps through two games. Cole Beasley has seemed to regain his connection with Prescott, snagging a team high nine catches so far. Terrance Williams has been a non-factor, and the same is surprisingly said about FA acquisition Allen Hurns.

Regardless of what the Cowboys do over the coming weeks, a few narratives and lingering questions about the team feel evident. With the defense set to tee off against the Seahawks sub par OL this week, Rod Marinelli's unit will still likely not receive the credit it deserves heading into week four.

With the task at hand being maintaining their standing atop the division, the Cowboys must also be out to prove they can sustain success without a consistent passing game.

All of this to effectively say, the Cowboys are going to Seattle expecting to control the game on defense. To finish off Russell Wilson in his home opener (already at 0-2), it will take a sharper performance for a full four quarters on offense too.

A win at the Seahawks might not mean as much as it has in past seasons, but in improving the Cowboys record to 2-1 on the way back to AT&T Stadium, it could be all the confidence they need to understand the NFC East is theirs for the taking while continuing to truly find their identity.

2014 NFL: Week 6 Cowboys vs. Seahawks highlights

Week 6 Own by nfl

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Cowboys Defense So Far So Good as Seahawks Up Next

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Cowboys Defense So Far So Good as Seahawks Up Next

Dallas may only be 1-1 on the season, but the Cowboys are officially tied for first-place in the NFC East, and fresh off a workmanlike victory over divisional rivals, the New York Giants. It was a game they should have won, and did win, but the takeaways so early in the season are that, although the offense has not clicked on all cylinders, the defense is getting high praise.

The Cowboys sacked New York’s Eli Manning six times and limited the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft, Saquon Barkley, to a mere 28 yards rushing. It was also a night in which Dak Prescott not only out-gained Barkley by 17 yards on the ground, but torched the Giants’ secondary on a 64-yard touchdown strike to Tavon Austin which proved New York’s Safety Landon Collins wrong when leading up to this game he remarked that the key to a Giants’ victory would be getting Prescott to throw. When Prescott was made aware of the comment in a midweek interview he replied, "…challenge accepted," and the third-year veteran made good on his word leading to the 20-13 victory.

However, Prescott ended the night with just 160 yards passing yet the ankle injury he sustained in Week 1 showed no signs of rearing its head as Prescott moved seamlessly in the pocket and ran the ball well.

As we move ahead to the Cowboys meeting in Seattle, we take a quick check over to one of the most reputable online sportsbooks in the industry - Intertops according to the reviews - where we can monitor the line on this pivotal NFC clash as the week progresses.

Seattle boasts a talented quarterback of their own in Russell Wilson but one who will find the sledding tough if the Dallas defense continues to shut down All-World wide outs like Odell Beckham Jr. and contain future rushing stars like Saquon Barkley. Outside of Wilson, Seattle is not loaded offensively, with their biggest target, Doug Baldwin, ailing with a knee injury and a backfield which consists of two young rushers in second-year man Chris Carson and a first-round rookie in Rashaad Penny who dealt with nagging injuries throughout the preseason and looked unsettled in Seattle’s 27-24 loss to the Broncos.

The Cowboys defense has already proven its worth in Carolina with Cam Newton under center and again last week against New York. The unit is surrendering an average of 14 ½ points per game and is incorporating more blitz packages than we’ve come to expect.

The difference this year is that the players they have on defense are capable of getting to the quarterback quick enough so that the coverage linebackers and secondary aren’t alone on an island for too long. The one concern is the status of Linebacker Sean Lee, who checked out of the game in the fourth quarter Sunday night and brought to mind his hamstring issues of a year ago, but apparently it was in fact cramping, and not straining, of the hammy which allowed Lee to return.

The bottom line in terms of the Cowboys' upcoming matchup on Sunday afternoon is that they will get the Seahawks coming off a short week, as Seattle played on Monday night and should be relatively healthy for the contest.

Dak Prescott may not have the formidable offensive line that he has had in the past, nor a top-tier arsenal of receivers, but he does have the elusive Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield and is capable of extricating himself from pressure situations when no target is available.

If the Dallas defense continues to play at the current level, it will not only be limiting the opposition on the scoreboard but putting its offense in good field position throughout. So check out Intertops, one of the most trusted and reputable online sportsbooks, to see where this line goes because a Dallas win and an ATS cover are just days away.



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Taco Tuesday: Cowboys DE Taco Charlton Starting to Dominate?

Brian Martin

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Taco Tuesday: DE Taco Charlton Starting to Dominate?
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

There has been quite a bit of talk about what a bad decision it was for the Dallas Cowboys to draft Taco Charlton with their first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Nearly everybody wanted someone different, not a player that needed time to develop.

Well, fast forward a year later and it looks as if the Cowboys made the right decision.

Don't look now, but Defensive End Taco Charlton is starting to live up to that first-round pedigree. In the first two weeks of the 2018 season, Charlton has already looked like a much improved player from what we saw a season ago. Imagine that, a little bit of time to develop and he's turning into a solid player.

I know I may be getting a little bit ahead of myself, especially suggesting that he is starting to dominate, but I can't help myself. I'm that excited about how much he has improved in one offseason. I may be alone here, but I have high hopes he could turn into something special.

In 2017, Taco Charlton failed to start a single game for the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie. That's not really what you want from your first-round draft pick. To makes matters worse, in 16 games he only registered 25 total tackles, four QB sacks, two passes defensed, and one forced fumble. As you can imagine, it didn't sit well with most Cowboys fans.

Luckily, it looks as if Charlton's offseason in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program has paid off. Already in 2018 he has accumulated six total tackles, one QB sack, one pass defensed, and recovered a fumble. If he keeps this pace up, we could be looking at #97 reaching double-digit sacks this year.

Taco Charlton

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton

Now, I wouldn't call what Taco Charlton has accomplished so far this season dominating, but he is proving to be a starting quality DE along the Cowboys defensive line. It's a unit that has looked really good in the first two weeks of the season and is expected to be even better once Randy Gregory and David Irving are able to return to the field.

In the meantime, the Dallas Cowboys are happy to get plays like this from Taco Charlton.

Taco Charlton Eli Manning sack

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

This is a play Charlton is expected to make. He was left unblocked, but we've seen players left unblocked before not make the play. So, it may not be as impressive as some QB sacks. But, I'll take the routine tackle any day over someone trying to make a splash play and failing.

If you're looking for an impressive play from Taco Charlton, take a look at what he was able to do against Odell Beckham Jr. in the passing game.

Taco Charlton covering Odell Beckham Jr

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

In case you're wondering, that's Taco Charlton in OBJ's hip pocket 15 yards down the field in pass coverage. It looks as if that's where Eli Manning was wanting to go with the ball, but tight coverage by the Cowboys, and Charlton, across the board ended up resulting in a QB sack.

If you don't find that impressive, I don't know what will. A 275 pound DE covering arguably the best and highest paid wide receiver down the field is almost unheard of. I would count that as impressive.

What do you think of Taco Charlton's play so far in 2018?



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