Week 16 Game Recap: Dallas Cowboys 24, Carolina Panthers 20
What you need to know
RB Julius Jones finally exhibited the skills that made him an early round fantasy pick this season. He chalked up his first 100 plus yard rushing game of the year by bursting through the holes his offensive line created, making quick, decisive moves on would be tacklers and showing excellent open field speed and vision. He put in a workhorse effort, carrying the ball 34 times for 194 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
QB Drew Bledsoe didn’t air it out much, completing a modest 15 of 23 passes on the day, but he came through when his team needed him, hitting Terry Glenn in the corner of the end zone with 24 seconds left to win the game. Both veteran receivers, Terry Glenn and Keyshawn Johnson, had solid games. Glenn caught four balls for 88 yards and the aforementioned touchdown while Johnson grabbed six passes for 89 yards. No other Cowboys wide receiver caught a pass.
The Cowboys’ defensive unit kept the game close. They limited DeShaun Foster to 68 yards on 22 carries and kept Jake Delhomme from completing more than 50% of his passes. They also stripped Delhomme of the ball on three occasions, though they were able to recover only one of the fumbles. Rookie LB DeMarcus Ware was certainly the hero of the Dallas defense, garnering all three of the unit’s sacks and recording seven tackles in the game.
WR Steve Smith was frustrated by the Dallas Cowboys’ secondary, his quarterback’s inability to find him and finally a line judge’s flag. Dallas really focused on stopping Smith by offering safety help on virtually every Carolina offensive snap, limiting Smith to only one catch for 18 yards on the day. When he did find some space, Delhomme was often looking the opposite direction and Smith made his frustration known to the Carolina sideline and anybody else who was looking his way. Smith made a great play in picking up a Jake Delhomme fumble and advancing it close to a first down, but let his temper get the best of him when he grabbed and yelled at a line judge at the end of the play. It looked like Smith was roughed up a bit out of bounds and felt he needed to plead his case. He put his hands on the official’s waist to turn him around to speak / yell at him and he was ejected. Afterwards, Smith acknowledged his mistake: "You're not supposed to touch a ref, I understand that," Smith said.
QB Jake Delhomme played a mistake-filled game. He threw an ill-advised interception into triple coverage, completed less than 50% of his passes and fumbled the ball three times (though his team recovered two of the three muffs.) If it weren’t for the three big plays to Ricky Proehl and Drew Carter, this game would have been a terrible fantasy disappointment for those with Delhomme at the helm.
RB DeShaun Foster struggled in this game, averaging just a hair over three yards per carry and managing not a single double-digit rush. The Dallas defense deserves credit for finishing tackles well, but Foster needs to do a better job of shedding contact. With Stephen Davis shelved for the season, one would expect a bit more production out of Foster.
What you ought to know
|QB Drew Bledsoe, Pass: 15 - 23 - 209 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0|
This was a run dominated game, belonging to Julius Jones, and Bledsoe wasn’t asked to do a whole lot. His response was a modest 15 of 23 performance, netting 209 yards and the game winning touchdown with 24 seconds left on the clock. Bledsoe’s lone mistake was when he overthrew an open Terry Glenn in the first quarter for an interception, stalling a nice Dallas drive. He was sacked five times, but didn’t seem to let it rattle his cage.
|RB Julius Jones, Rush: 34 - 194 - 2, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (3 targets)|
This was a career game for Jones. He finally looked like the running back that pre-season rankings made an early fantasy draft pick. He showed good burst at the line, broke through first contact often and recorded his only 100 yard plus rushing game thus far this season. On his 43 yard touchdown run in the third quarter, he surfed through the middle of the line and left the Carolina secondary trailing him, diving just inside the pylon for the score. Jones was an excellent weapon for combating the blitzing Carolina defense and he finished with 194 yards on 34 carries and a pair of scores.
Barber spelled Julius Jones a few times and acted as a third down back, but wasn’t a factor in the game.
The fullback was targeted once and grabbed it for a single yard.
Johnson was a first down machine with all six of his catches moving the chains. He finished with 89 yards on ten targets and six catches, all team highs for the game.
Glenn, who dislocated his thumb on his second catch of the game, returned to catch the game winning touchdown for the Cowboys. He showed true veteran poise in reaching over his shoulder for the ball and getting complete control before his feet crossed out of bounds. He finished with a solid four catches for 88 yards and the lone score.
Crayton was targeted on Bledsoe’s second pass attempt of the game and then disappeared.
Witten continued hit feast or famine season with a serious famine game, catching only one ball for nine yards on two targets.
Cundiff had a 32 yard kick blocked just before halftime and was bailed out of another by a questionable roughing the kicker penalty. Kickers making these types of mistakes don’t normally enjoy much job security.
The Cowboys rush defense kept the lid on DeShaun Foster in this game, limiting him to just a hair over three yards per carry and giving up no big plays. They made sure tackles and were a key to the Cowboys success in the game.
The Cowboys defense gave up some big plays, but overall kept Jake Delhomme dancing and limited him to a sub 50% completion rate. Rookie LB DeMarcus Ware sacked Delhomme three times, stripping him of the ball on all three sacks. CB Ken Lucas had a gift interception and Aaron Glenn let an easy one slide through his hands late in the second quarter.
|QB Jake Delhomme, Pass: 14 - 31 - 260 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0|
Delhomme did not look sharp, fumbling three times, completing less than 50% of his passes and throwing one seriously ill-advised interception. He did manage some big plays, two of which went to rookie WR Drew Carter, and kept the Panthers in the game. His 14 of 31 performance with 260 yards and a pair of touchdowns provided his owners with a good chunk of fantasy points.
Demarcus Ware and the Cowboys’ defense gave Foster a great deal of trouble early on, limiting him to only 37 yards on 13 carries in the first half. He fared only slightly better in the second half, gathering 31 yards on only nine carries, a game average of just over three yards per carry. He found very little space and didn’t seem to have the ability to make tacklers miss. His longest carry was only nine yards.
|RB Nick Goings, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 2 - 24 - 0 (3 targets)|
Goings recorded a pair of catches for 24 yards and a single carry for four yards.
Hoover was targeted twice out of the backfield and lumbered for 11 yards on one catch.
Carter benefited most from Dallas’ double coverage on Steve Smith (and Smith’s ejection at the end of the third quarter.) He had a team high ten targets, though he managed to catch only three balls, including a 32 yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. This was only his second active game in the NFL.
Proehl had only two catches in the game, but both were huge. He nearly had an 80 yard touchdown in the first quarter, but was caught from behind 11 yards short of the goal line. Late in the fourth quarter, Delhomme found Proehl ahead of coverage and led him perfectly into the end zone for a 35 yard touchdown. He finished with 104 yards.
The Cowboys’ defense focused their efforts on stopping Smith today by double-teaming him on nearly every Carolina snap. He was able to work free on occasion and really showed his frustration when QB Jake Delhomme didn’t find him. Smith made an excellent heads-up play when he picked up a Delhomme fumble and advanced it for positive yards. At the end of the play, Smith was thrown to the ground out of bounds by a Dallas defender, lost his temper and was ejected from the game for grabbing an official. Smith made only one catch for 18 yards during his three quarters of play.
Colbert was targeted only three times and did not record a catch.
The tight end caught all three passes aimed at him for 35 yards.
Kasay was a perfect two of two, hitting from 47 and 24 yards. He also made both of his extra point attempts.
The Panthers rush defense didn’t show up for work today, allowing Julius Jones to run roughshod over them for 194 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Cowboys’ offensive line was able to open holes for him, something they haven’t done much of this season, and Jones exploited the opportunities. It was a disappointing performance for this unit.
The Panthers’ secondary limited Drew Bledsoe to modest numbers and sacked him five times on the day. Ken Lucas received a gift interception in the first quarter when Drew Bledsoe badly overthrew Terry Glenn. They allowed only one play in excess of 20 yards, but weren’t able to contain Terry Glenn with under a minute left to play and it cost the Panthers the game.