Just one day removed from tragedy an inconsistent Dallas Cowboys team battled back, a strenuous task that the aforementioned team has shown time and again that they’ve struggled to accomplish.
As you all know football is the ultimate team sport, however, there are always a few eye opening performances (both good and bad).
From stat sheet stuffers to players who duck running back truckers, here is my “Hero and Zero” from today’s 20-19 Dallas victory:
Hero: Anthony Spencer
Spencer turns in yet another monster day as he yet again stepped up for Dallas. He made things excruciatingly difficult for Cincinnati’s offensive front in a multitude of ways leading the team in sacks (2), QB hits (2), tackles (11), and solo tackles (5). No I didn’t make a mistake, he did lead the team in each and every one of the above categories.
This is not at all unfamiliar territory for Spencer this season. ProFootballFocus.com currently ranks Spencer as the number one 3-4 outside linebacker in the league this season putting him ahead of the likes of DeMarcus Ware, Clay Matthews, James Harrison, and even the ever so impressive Aldon Smith. No one plays the run quite as well as Spencer, but he’s also on the verge of completing his first 10 sack season (1.5 away) so his presence as a pass rusher cannot be ignored.
He made arguably the play of the game by sacking Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton on a pivotal 3rd & 4 at the 6:35 mark late in the 4th quarter. This sack lead to Dallas’ game winning field goal as time expired.
Dallas really has a lot to think about this upcoming off-season as Spencer will be free to test the market, and a player as complete as he can’t be had for a modest amount of money. Many fans have clamored for Spencer to be cut in years prior, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone wanting to get rid of him now. Heck if anything they’re in fear of Dallas not retaining his services.
Spencer isn’t exactly making things easy for Dallas in regards to making any commitment on him. He’s playing really well, but there’s no denying the uncertainty of throwing big money at a player that after years of inconsistent play steps up in the infamous contract year. Regardless, Spencer is looking at a big payday if he finishes this season the way he’s started it.
“Hero” honorable mention: DeMarco Murray
Zero: Doug Free
I think I speak for everyone when I say “really?”. Yes it’s yet another week when Free has turned in yet another stinker. Surprised? No? Well one week removed from Garret stating that he hadn’t considered benching Free for his poor play lately, Garrett elected to rotate 3rd year tackle swing tackle Jermey Parnell with Free. It appears that not only has the fan base seen enough, but perhaps that the coaching staff has as well.
This is somewhat of a surprise move considering the huge investment that they’ve made in him. I think back to 2008 when a disappointing Roy E. Williams was consistently deployed upon the field until his inevitable off-season departure. Despite Roy’s mediocre (at best) play on the field he was never benched, largely in part due to the money invested in him.
I feel that Free could very well be on the verge of that occurring, and his “performance” today was nothing to write home about. He added two more penalties to add to his already league leading 14, and yet another sack. Things are looking grim for Mr. Free and his any future aspirations Free has of remaining in Dallas.
As sad as this is Free is the veteran of this rag tag offensive line. He’s the only lineman that survived from Dallas’ previous group whom were cast away (Leonard Davis, Marc Colombo, Kyle Kosier, Flozell Adams). Being that this is the case a league leading 16 penalties, 6 QB sacks, and astounding 39 QB hurries given up on the season just aren’t cutting it.
“Zero” honorable? mention: Brian Moorman
Dallas was able to overcome a terrible tragedy, a 9 point 4th quarter deficit, several missing starters on defense, and a road crowd. This folks is something to build upon. Feel 'free' to leave any thoughts and/or comments below.