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2013 Game Recap: What We Learned In First Four Weeks

Posted Dec 31, 2013


There are still 11 games left in the NFL season – the playoffs -- but the Cowboys won’t be a part of them. The focus at Valley Ranch now shifts to the 2014 season. 

Before the preparation for free agency and the NFL draft begin, however, let’s take a look back at 2013. The Cowboys submitted their third consecutive 8-8 record, but that didn’t come without some fireworks and a few forgettable moments.

The staff of DallasCowboys.com – Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, Rowan Kavner and David Helman – was on hand for all 16 games. Through another up-and-down season, let’s see what we learned between Sept. 8 and Dec. 29.

 

Game 1 – NY Giants:

One of the biggest storylines of the 2013 offseason was the need to create more turnovers. The Cowboys managed a mere 16 takeaways on the year in 2012, with only seven of those coming off interceptions. That needed to get better. The season-opening win against the Giants indicated it would, as the Cowboys picked off Eli Manning three times and tallied six total turnovers in a 36-31 win. The game served as a

preview of what was to come, as the Dallas defense surrendered 478 yards of offense but turned the tide with turnovers – including two that were returned for touchdowns. Barry Church’s fumble return at the start of the third quarter put the Cowboys up 20-10. Then, as New York drove to potentially take the lead midway through the fourth quarter, Brandon Carr’s pick-six made the lead 36-24 and iced the win. The lesson was clear: the Cowboys had learned how to take the ball away, but they’d need to continue doing so to offset a leaky defense. – David Helman

Game 2 – at Kansas City:

This was the game I had circled all offseason because it typically tells us what type of team the Cowboys will be. And once again, they failed to follow up a dramatic Week 1 win with another victory. Against the Chiefs, we learned this Cowboys team was really no different. Stacking wins together wasn’t happening then and didn’t really happen all year as they went 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 7-7 and of course, finished 8-8 … We also learned the Chiefs were actually a good team and they proved it with a remarkable turnaround … We also learned that going away from Dez Bryant in a game is bad. Bryant torched KC’s defense early on but the Cowboys didn’t stick with the plan and didn’t target him as much later in the game. -- Nick Eatman

Game 3 – St. Louis:

We learned DeMarco Murray is capable of taking over a game. It had been a while since anyone saw the running game look like a dominant, sustainable force. Murray finished with 175 rushing yards in that game, averaging 6.7 yards per carry and scoring a touchdown. That marked his first 100-yard rushing

game since the opener the previous season. The game was dominated by the defense and running game from start to finish, marking the team’s first win by at least 20 points since the 2011 season. Little did we know at the time that the stunning rushing performance in that game would carry over at the end of the year, as the running game and offensive line became the one consistent mark of the Cowboys to cap the 2013 season. – Rowan Kavner

Game 4 -- San Diego Chargers

The Cowboys travelled west to face the San Diego Chargers feeling pretty good about the way they played defense in the previous two week against the Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Rams. Monte Kiffin and his troops were facing a Chargers offensive line that was down three starters and lost another backup during the game. What we learned in this game was that,

despite those loses, as long as you have Philip Rivers under center, anything is possible and he was brilliant in his execution. Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt had an outstanding game plan with quick passes and timely running which had this Cowboys defense confused and physically beaten. It was very clear that this defense had no answer for Antonio Gates, Danny Woodhead, rookie Keenan Allen and Ryan Mathews. This was a game that showed opponents that this Cowboys defense would have trouble with linebacker coverage and how to take advantage of them in their drops and it was something that they would have to deal with all year. – Bryan Broaddus

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