The Cowboys' running game got shut down by a good front seven for the second straight game. Dallas gained 45 yards on 22 carries, an average of only 2 yards per pop. You know Jason Garrett lacks confidence in his rushing offense if he calls a gimmicky toss to Miles Austin on a critical third-and-1. Felix Jones has yet to get in a rhythm during the regular season, but his health is a bigger concern. Jones played most of the game with a harness after suffering a separated shoulder.
Can folks stop calling Tony Romo a choker for at least a week? Playing with broken ribs, Romo was simply spectacular down the stretch, completing 12 of 15 passes for 201 yards and a TD during the fourth-quarter rally and overtime. Miles Austin performed like an elite receiver, with nine catches for 143 yards and three scores. Jason Witten (seven catches, 102 yards) was a chain-moving machine. Jesse Holley (three catches, 96 yards) came up huge on the last two series. Backup Jon Kitna threw two picks, but that didn't spoil the day.
Give the Cowboys' front seven credit. They've fixed whatever flaws they had while getting gashed in the preseason. Just like the Jets' Shonn Greene in the season opener, San Francisco's Frank Gore had little room to run. The Cowboys limited him to 47 yards on 20 carries, quite an accomplishment against a Pro Bowl back. Second-year inside linebacker Sean Lee was Dallas' best defensive player for the second straight game, racking up 10 tackles, including two for losses.
The Cowboys survived without two of their top three cornerbacks. Of course, the 49ers were missing two of their top three receivers. No. 1 overall bust Alex Smith actually looked like a legitimate NFL quarterback, completing 16 of 24 passes for 179 yards and two scores. He picked on Alan Ball, a lot, but Ball came up with a big play, intercepting a pass to set up a touchdown. The pass rush produced six sacks, including two apiece by DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher.
This would have been an F if Dan Bailey hadn't redeemed himself with the game-tying 48-yard field goal at the end of regulation and a chip shot to win it in overtime. It's simply inexcusable to miss a 21-yarder, as he did in the first quarter. A squib kick also backfired when the 49ers returned it to midfield. The Cowboys succeeded in containing dynamic return threat Ted Ginn Jr., who averaged 11.3 yards on four punt returns -- good, but not game breaking -- and didn't get a chance on a kickoff.
You can question whether Jason Garrett gets too cute with his play calling. What was up with that double-reverse to Kevin Ogletree that lost 4 yards? A gimmicky toss to Miles Austin on a crucial third-and-1? But give Garrett a ton of credit for the resolve this team has developed during his tenure. He constantly preaches that injuries aren't excuses, demanding that the next man stand up. When guys like Jesse Holley, Alan Ball and Kevin Kowalski play key roles in wins, you know that message is getting through.